Drilling for destruction again

This month we have again been consulted by West Sussex County Council for another oil exploration site located in ancient woodland. This time the application is near Singleton in West Sussex – not that far from Markwells Wood.

Central Government has given a clear direction that ancient woodland should be protected from development but this seems to be regularly disregarded by planning decision makers. I have rather a foreboding feeling that this application will be dealt with in a similar way, particularly as there is already a small station within the woodland.  This coupled with the recent decision at Markwells wood setting a clear precedence gives rather a worrying outlook.

This application at Singleton oil field will result in the loss another 0.4 hectares of ancient woodland. What is most frustrating about this kind of application is that the oil that is produced here will not even be enough to make an impact on oil prices in the UK. The amount that can be extracted is likely to produce enough for a few weeks worth of oil – is it really worth destroying our most valuable piece of heritage for this?


About Alice Farr

Senior Campaigner - ancient woodland
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Planning, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Drilling for destruction again

  1. Paul Stevenson says:

    We cannot have an economy without people working as primary producers (quarry workers, petroleum geologists, roughnecks, roustabouts, steel workers, subsea BOP inspectors/divers, chemical engineers, mudloggers, nuclear physicists, nuclear powerplant technicians, oil refinery personnel, coal miners, farmers etc etc.). Ecologists/environmentalists should know this best of all. Weve paid for them to sit through a three year degree course where they no doubt get told about food chains e.g wolf eat mountain goat eat lichen/ericaceous veg. U cant have life as we know it without primary producers: holds true 4 economy or ecology. (Oh yeah and my env credentials. I a hedgelayer and dry stone waller and I do it becoz it provide habtat for wildlife.) People who say we can have an economy/country withou primary prod aint thinking atraight. Nope. Not thinking straight. We cannot function w an economy consisting of public servants and people pickling sharks and people working in the service sector. We have to have some people at least doing an honest days work.
    Besides the average bod will not want to go back to livin in a mud hut (or cob as television presenters like to call it) will they?As 4 Surrey/Sussex ancient woods well as any pub bore will tell you with modern inclined exploration drilling techniques not a single rig will have to be sited within 50m of an a.w.

  2. Eric Rogers says:

    I agree with the approach suggested by Bill Watson, 1/10/08, but increase the ratio to 10:1

  3. Adrian Stracey says:

    To pick up on David’s & Seumus’s comments, they are correct HDD or Horizontal direction drilling is a well establish technoloy. The longest onshore HDD was back in 1999 for Rugby cement. If my memory is correct it was approximately 1600m. The draw back is, it is very expensive and if the reserve is marginal then it probably isn’t commercially viable. Lets face it, it’s all about money, albeit short term returns. The difference with Wytch Farm is the volume of oil, i believe its Britains largest onshore field. Suddenly it’s worth it.

    HDD will require bore samples to establish the soil composition, but this is really to establish the depth to which the drill should be made. Fissures are a major problem with HDD. The drill fluid is under pressure and it tends to follow naturally fissures and in my experience it aways breaks out somewhere, often in peoples back gardens, golf courses and once to my knowledge in a fish pond….it killed the fish. The drilling fliud is Bentonite, an inert mud like substance. Bentonite is naturally occuring., whether or not it can be synthesised i ‘m not sure. It can be cleaned up without any lasting effects..unless anyone knows different. This off course will not help the fish.

  4. Marion Edwards says:

    I can only support all the comments – but as a simple soul I have always been under the impression that oil will have been formed in an area below the surface – so can be accessed vertically from a number of places, or as Seumas Foster says, indirectly. What a shame about Vivienne’s shed, though – it makes you realise that there are several different hymn sheets being used in local councils.

  5. David Hartgill says:

    The drilling technology to drill deviated and inclined wells is already well proven. The tools and skills are readily available but will cost more. Moving the surface location to a less sensitive area is therefore a real option.

    The drilling company should return the site in pristine condition any damage to the soil will impact the surrounding trees and wildlife. Are soil samples being taken before and after? What fluids are they using, what measures are being taken to contain these fluids. A professional exploration company should be well prepared for these questions.

    Has anyone looked at the work done on Wytch Farm (Poole Harbour) to see the sort of actions that can be taken to protect the area. BP drilled 10 to 12 km from Poole Harbour out to sea and is I think recognised as a good example of what can be done.

    Certainly the option should be explored of encouraging the exploration company to plant some trees.

  6. Andy Smyth says:

    why is there not a petition? Cut down on cars, not woods, especially ancient ones.

  7. Bill Watson says:

    This country does need every drop of oil it can get and depriving middle eastern Sheikhs of more money to squander can not be a bad thing.

    Instead of protests – which will fail – we should try to negociate that for every acre of land that is touched in any way at least two acres are provided elsewhere for wildlife. The land should be given to a local wildlife organisation or a national one like the Woodland trust.

    The land will be returned one day – do not forget Chernobyl now one of the best wildlife areas in Europe.

  8. Seumas Foster says:

    Ask WSCC if drilling technology is sufficiently advanced to drill the exploration well(s) from the edge of the wood, I bet it is. Recent advertisements by a major oil company seemed to be saying how a clever solution involving drilling around corners was a major development for environmental protection.

  9. Vivien Cruickshank says:

    Once again, it is all to do with big bucks!. W.S.C.C. refused us permission for a small shed in our wood on the grounds that it wasn’t in keeping with the locality. Since when was an oil well in keeping with a woodland?.

  10. Tina Coooper says:

    As I understand the plans, the actual test drill site is only half the story. There is going to be a huge construction project involving hundreds of tons of material and lorry trips to build a roadway to the test area. That will not be easily reclaimed by nature if the drill site is eventually found useless and abandoned.

  11. Sarah Patton says:

    Of course not! But what can we do? We are up against huge organisations and, much as I dislike WSCC, they are restricted by planning law.

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