Canadian firm can drill for oil and gas in Yorkshire Wolds
A CANADIAN energy company has finally been given the go-ahead to drill for oil on the Wolds.
Rathlin Energy UK will sink an exploratory well to look for oil and gas deposits in a field off Walkington Heads on Crawberry Hill, near Bishop Burton.
Once work begins, it will need to continue 24 hours a day for between five and ten weeks, according to planning documents.
If oil or gas is found, the company has permission to sink a second well.
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Drilling was approved at an East Riding Council planning committee meeting yesterday.
A spokeswoman for Rathlin said: "We would like to thank the planning committee for considering our application and we are pleased that they have decided to approve it.
"We will deliver on our promise to be a good neighbour and our consultation with the local community will continue via the residents' liaison group we established earlier this year.
"We will now set about resolving any new planning conditions before work gets under way later this year."
Rathlin first applied to drill last year, on a site 380m away from the site approved yesterday.
Permission for the work was granted by East Riding Council in January.
But it fell through when landowner Andrew Oxtoby did not agree commercial terms, forcing Rathlin to seek new permission elsewhere.
Although campaigners in Walkington and Cherry Burton strongly opposed the first application, they accepted this one was likely to go ahead.
Peter Rolinson represents Walkington on a liaison committee with Rathlin and objected to the original drilling application.
He said: "I couldn't see any reason why this planning application should have been overturned.
"It's essentially the same as the one that was passed last time.
"I feel as though residents in Walkington accept that fact."
If Rathlin finds fossil fuel with its exploratory drilling, it will need to secure further planning permission before extracting it.
And Mr Rolinson said villagers would be prepared to fight again at that stage.
He said: "We will be more concerned about the second planning application for production, should the company find anything in exploratory work."
When Rathlin first announced its intention to drill, villagers were worried it would use fracking.
This is a controversial process where rocks are fractured using pressurised fluid pumped underground.
Environmentalists have raised concerns it can cause explosions and contaminate groundwater.
Rathlin had already promised families it would not use fracking on the site.
In yesterday's meeting, councillors banned them from using the method.
Mr Rolinson said although he was against the drilling, he believed Rathlin had done its best to address families' concerns.
He said: "To be fair to Rathlin, they've done everything they said they were going to do so far.
"By talking to them, you can find out more about their proposals than by maintaining a silence."
Rathlin decided to drill after commissioning a seismic survey of the area around Walkington to look for oil and gas deposits.
This involved hundreds of wires being laid over several square miles around the village to build up a 3-D map of the rock beneath.
Rathlin has pledged to exceed its environmental promises and make the wells ecologically friendly.