The UK’s Environment Agency (EA) has issued a permit to Rathlin Energy, which plans to begin commercial operations in Yorkshire. 

The UK Government announced the latest consultation on the draft permit on 29 August, following an initial consultation that took place in December 2021. 

In a press release, EA area environment manager Kathryn Richardson said: “The Environment Agency is satisfied that the appropriate measures are in place for oil and gas extraction without causing harm to the environment or human health and, after exploring the issues and concerns that have been raised, it cannot find any reason to refuse the application.”

The government has faced extensive criticism in recent months for its pro-oil and gas stance. At the end of last month, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced plans to approve hundreds of North Sea oil and gas licences. Opposition leader Kier Starmer, however, has said that if he is elected in the UK’s next general election in 2025, he will block all new North Sea drilling

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, in order to limit global warming to levels of 1.5°C, no new oil and gas fields can be developed. 

Rathlin Energy has operated the exploratory oil and gas drill site at West Newton A in East Riding since 2013 under an environmental permit. The company has also applied for another permit so that it can drill at a nearby site known as West Newton B. 

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The latest approval will allow for the creation of six additional wells and sidetracks. The company also plans to install oil storage facilities and gas engines which will produce electricity for the national grid.  

Richardson added that the views of the local community were “reviewed” and “considered”. Environmentalists have repeatedly protested at the site against the expansion of drilling. 

The company has already obtained planning permission from East Riding of Yorkshire Council.