Campaigners in the Lincolnshire Wolds have launched a bid to raise £20,000 to fund a legal challenge against a planning inspector's decision to allow oil drilling in the Lincolnshire Wolds.
The inspector authorised Egdon Resources to proceed with oil drilling in Biscathorpe, despite acknowledging the project's potential harm to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Now, local group SOS Biscathorpe, which has been fighting the plans, is urgently seeking to raise £20,000 to fund their appeal against this ruling. So far, they have raised more than £3,600.
Lincolnshire County Council previously denied permission for the drilling near the village of Biscathorpe, citing significant environmental concerns and uncertainties over the project's timescale.
This decision was backed by local Conservative MP Victoria Atkins, Natural England, Historic England, five nearby parish councils, and other organisations.
However, Planning Inspector Paul Thompson ruled in favour of Egdon Resources, citing the "national need" for oil production as justification, despite acknowledging the project's adverse impact on the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB.
Egdon Resources, which had conducted a drilling operation near Louth in 2018 with minimal impact, claims the site could yield 30 million barrels of oil and provide supplies for 15 years.
In his ruling, Thompson imposed conditions, including that drilling should cease before the end of November 2039, and the site must be restored to agricultural land or wildlife habitat thereafter.
The campaigners say further drilling would ruin the Lincs Wolds AONB. | Image: supplied
Opponents, led by SOS Biscathorpe, argue that the decision disregards the significant ecological value of the area.
The group has engaged environment law specialists from Leigh Day and is preparing for a High Court statutory review challenge.
SOS Biscathorpe's efforts are not just about preventing oil drilling; they are a stand for preserving the rare chalk stream habitats near the River Bain, which support a myriad of the UK's endangered wildlife.
The group, receiving widespread support, is represented by local resident and claimant Mathilda Dennis.
“SOS Biscathorpe is fighting on behalf of every community up and down the UK that wants to protect our natural environment for the long term health of the planet and its people,” she said.
Fellow Member Amanda Suddaby said the predicted output of oil would "barely" meet the UK's needs.
"Even if you discount the overwhelming climate change arguments against new oil drilling, such a small amount of oil that could in any case be exported, does not justify 15 years of harm to this beautiful, supposedly protected, area,” she said.
Julia Eriksen from Leigh Day highlighted the flaws in the decision-making process, especially the disregard for the downstream greenhouse gas emissions, which are pertinent to fossil fuel developments.
"The inspector acknowledged that the development would cause harm to the AONB however allowed the appeal regardless.
"This case will also argue that the inspector’s approach to the legal requirements for assessing downstream greenhouse gas emissions, which is relevant to many other fossil fuel developments, was flawed.”
Both Egdon Resources and Lincolnshire County Council were approached for statements on the bid, but they declined to comment ahead of potential legal proceedings.
The funding bid is available at https://www.gofundme.com/f/SaveBiscathorpe