Search for oil comes to countryside near Bishop Burton (video)
East Yorkshire could be set to play a major part in the fight to maintain crude oil supplies. Reporter Jim Coldwell finds out more
THE search for fossil fuels has been the subject of international debate for decades.
With oil levels depleting, the search for fuel has come to the quiet countryside of East Yorkshire and drilling has begun near Bishop Burton.
Canadian energy company Rathlin Energy UK has begun work to sink an exploratory well into the East Yorkshire countryside.
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The drilling is taking place in a field off Walkington Heads, in Crawberry Hill, to look for oil and gas deposits.
According to the company, the drilling is set to continue 24 hours a day for between ten and 12 weeks.
Rathlin decided to drill after commissioning a seismic survey of the area around Walkington to look for oil and gas deposits, although there remains only a one in ten chance of fuel actually being discovered.
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.
A spokesman for Rathling said: "The seismic studies have shown there is the potential for oil being found there.
"We will test throughout the county to see whether other areas are suitable. The geologists believe there is potential."
If oil or gas is found, the company has permission to sink a second well.
Drilling was approved at an East Riding Council planning committee meeting in September last year after an initial application was withdrawn.
Campaigners in nearby Walkington and Cherry Burton strongly opposed the first application.
Peter Rolinson represents Walkington on a liaison committee with Rathlin and objected to the original drilling application but supported the company's second suggestion.
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.
"This is only the very early stages.
"Rathlin is carrying out its exploratory drilling and, at the minute, as far as I'm aware, there is no disruption to residents.
"In fact, you can hardly see the rig at the minute but things may change if they do find something."
John Danby, 78, lives in Walkington.
He said: "It is all about looking to the future. I have no objections with them drilling for oil.
"There is a fuel shortage at the minute, so it is something that needs to be done. If they find oil then maybe it will bring more jobs and money to the area."
If Rathlin finds fossil fuel with its exploratory drilling, it will need to secure further planning permission before extracting it.
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 – a controversial process where rocks are fractured using pressurised fluid pumped underground.
At the time, environmentalists raised concerns that it can cause explosions and contaminate groundwater.
However, Rathlin promised residents it would not use fracking on the site.
Mr Rolinson said although he was against the drilling, he believed Rathlin had done its best to address residents' concerns.
He said: "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 has pledged to exceed its environmental promises and make the wells ecologically friendly.
Although data revealed there may be a possibility of finding oil at the Walkington Heads site, Rathlin can give no guarantees resources will be found.