Environmentalists’ outrage at proposal for South Downs oil drill

Markwells Wood, Forestside near Rowlands Castle

Markwells Wood, Forestside near Rowlands Castle

Published in the Portsmouth News on the 22nd September 2016

Story by Danny Randon


GREEN campaigners have criticised an application to drill for oil in the South Downs National Park.

United Kingdom Oil and Gas Investments PLC (UKOG) has applied to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) for 20 years of oil extraction at Markwells Wood, Forestside near Rowlands Castle.

Although UKOG state the well will not be fracked it has asked for permission to drill horizontal wells, stimulation of the wells by acidisation, and to drill a well to reinject waste water. Friends of the Earth is concerned that horizontal wells require extraction techniques that can have risks for the environment due to the processes, chemicals and pressure used.

Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth’s south east regional campaigner, believes that national parks should not be subject to such an extensive period of drilling.

She said: ‘We believe that oil drilling should simply not be allowed in one of our most precious landscapes.

‘The processes they want to carry out have risks for our environment. We have serious concerns about the techniques needed to get the oil out of horizontal wells and reinjecting the waste water back underground is worrying.

‘Our national parks should be protected for people to enjoy.’

IGas currently operates six oil and gas wells at Singleton in the national park.

The independent gas and oil exploration and production company also has three wells at Storrington in West Sussex, where planning permission for oil production runs until December 31, 2017.

The Horndean oil field, to the east of Markwells Wood, is just outside the park boundary.

Long-standing local resident Michael Harbour has also protested against the application.

He said: ‘I regularly cycle on the South Downs and really don’t want to see this kind of industrial blot on the landscape for the next 20 years.

‘This is a tranquil beautiful area that should not be opened up for an oil bonanza.’

The application is yet to be validated and published on the South Downs National Park Authority website. A short period of public consultation is expected.

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