Oil drilling plans are ‘entirely inappropriate for the Isle of Wight’ says MP: Read his objection in full

Bob Seely MP has set out a range of objections to the plans for oil drilling on the Isle of Wight, which he states would be entirely inappropriate for the Island. Read them in full here

bob seely in parliament

Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely, has submitted formal objections to plans for oil drilling at Arreton.

The application, submitted by UK Oil and Gas Plc (UKOG), proposes the construction, operation and decommissioning of a well site at Arreton for the exploration and appraisal of hydrocarbon minerals – something Mr Seely says is unsuitable and which could jeopardise the Island’s biosphere status. 

Points of objection
Mr Seely said the plans would have a negative impact on the environment, increase the Island’s carbon footprint and significantly increase traffic in the area. He also said the plans were visually intrusive and not in line with the commitment the Island made last year when it gained UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status.

Seely: Plans … entirely inappropriate for the Isle of Wight
He said:

“It is important that we carefully consider any inward investment into the Island, particularly as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and I recognise that the oil and gas industry is important to the UK, however, it is entirely inappropriate for the Isle of Wight.

“Our Island is 94% rural and 50% AONB, with 28 miles of Heritage Coast, and 395 local wildlife sites. Oil exploration here could threaten this.

“We worked hard to gain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status last year and we should not jeopardise that. I therefore cannot support plans that could harm the Island’s conservational status. We must look to preserve our environment and keep it safe for future generations.

“The Island has a unique opportunity to pioneer tidal energy, recycle 100% of its own waste, develop a smart grid, and reduce the use of oil-based plastics. We must press on with ideas that make us greener and more sustainable.”

Bob Seely’s Objection to the construction, operation and decommissioning of a well site for the exploration and appraisal of hydrocarbon minerals, Arreton

Since 2017 I have campaigned to protect our unique and special environment. I am today outlining my opposition to restarting oil exploration on the Island.

The Oil and Gas industry is important to the UK. However, it is not appropriate for the Isle of Wight. Specifically,

  1. The application is contrary to the “strong links” between the Island Plan Core Strategy (2012) and Eco Island. Eco Island pledged to have the lowest carbon footprint in England by 2020. The Core Strategy plans to “create wealth whilst reducing our carbon footprint”. The application will increase our carbon footprint.
  2. DM17 of the Island plan plans to “restrict traffic growth by 2.3% per annum”. The site will increase traffic by up to 15 two-way HGV movements and 30 two-way personnel trips per day. It has been recommended for refusal by Island Roads because it is a “hazard to both site and highway users”.
  3. The Tourism Development Plan used by the Core Strategy observes a demand for “high environmental excellence” and minimisation of greenfield development. The application is visually intrusive, on farmland, and has negative environmental associations.
  4. In 2019, we became a UN Biosphere, a “learning sit[e] for sustainable development”. Restarting oil exploration does not demonstrate our commitment to this designation.

More generally, we need to preserve our conservational status. Our Island is 94% rural and 50% AONB, with 28 miles of Heritage Coast, and 395 local wildlife sites. We have been celebrated by Tennyson and Keates, settled by Romans. We tread on geology of chalk cliffs and Jurassic coast hundreds of millions of years old. Oil exploration detracts from our status as an environmental hotspot.

Second, the development conflicts with our economic aims. Our visitor economy is worth £520 million annually.  Oil exploration may threaten that.

Third, we need to make sustainability part of the Island’s identity. The UK was the first to undergo the industrial revolution. We are now the first major economy to aim for net zero. We are embarking on an era of reform: legally binding targets on environmental improvement, biodiversity, air quality and resource efficiency; more powers for local authorities to act; an independent environmental regulator. What we are doing is making a difference – greenhouse emissions are down more than 40% compared to 1990 levels. We have cut sales of plastic bags by 90% since 2015. We will work to avoid all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. The Island has a unique opportunity to pioneer tidal energy, recycle 100% of its own waste, develop a smart grid, and reduce the use of oil-based plastics. We must not put off this action.

Restarting oil exploration on the Island has the potential to harm the Island’s conservational status, economic aims, and identity as a sustainability leader nationally. I therefore oppose this application.

This comment reflects our understanding and the documents publicly available online at the time of writing. While we have taken every effort to present accurate information for your consideration, as we are not a decision maker or statutory consultee, we cannot accept any responsibility for unintentional errors or omissions and you should satisfy yourselves on any facts before reaching a decision on this application.

News shared by the office of Bob Seely. Ed

Image: © Parliament TV

Wednesday, 15th July, 2020 9:15am


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Filed under: Arreton, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Planning, Top story

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7 Comments on "Oil drilling plans are ‘entirely inappropriate for the Isle of Wight’ says MP: Read his objection in full"

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Don’t forget our IW Council gave away one millions pounds to the tidal debacle


They have drilled for oil on the IOW for many years, going back at least to the 70’s / 80’s and no one has committed to building an extraction well yet! What happened to the Tidal project that was meant to be at Hurst Point / Fort Victoria?

Benny C

Good old Bob. ‘I won’t do anything much but I will say what I think you little voters want to hear to make it look as if I’m doing something incredibly supportive’. But, Bob, just hear yourself, practically useless, without a delivered outcome people can see. Go and get another sausage and reflect on your role. Or we will do it for you in 2024.


Practically useless is too kind


Yet again someone trots out the idea of tidal power as green This notion was rejected by the UN Conferences of the Parties at Cancun for not being sustainable (i.e. tidal barrages did more environmental harm than good), and as a consequence all tidal projects were excluded from the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism.


That was ten years ago, in the early years of tidal technology. A lot can change in ten years.


No, tidal energy technology has not moved because there are virtually no operating sites in the world except an ancient one in France and a couple in S Korea (both of which failed UN criteria). Paris Accords allow countries to cheat on their climate achievements so I suppose new ungreen projects can be considered green under the new framework.