What is West Newton Drilling Site?
Following the drilling of a Well in 2014 Rathlin Energy have returned to drill a second well at West Newton HU11 5DF, just a short drive from Hull. They plan to drill to a depth of around 2000 metres and then use thousands of litres of hydrochloric acid and other chemicals to "stimulate" the limestone. Their aim is to release oil and gas.
Why should we be worried?
In 2014 Rathlin Energy attempted to drill a well at the same site and intended to use similar practices to produce fossil fuels. But Rathlin Energy had to abandon this exploratory well after attempting a mini frack and losing control of the well leading to an emergency shut down. The damage done at the time was huge with 19 environment permit breaches, leaking tankers, an uncertified drilling rig, toxic gas leaks that were recorded for weeks and many recorded deaths of local wildlife and birds.
It has also been recognised that this drilling process is and does contribute to climate change both globally and locally. We can also see through very similar practices in the south of England that there is good reasons to be concerned about the potential of seismic activity by looking at recent tremors recorded around the Sussex area. These tremors are being linked to drilling and extraction at the Horse Hill Well Site near Gatwick, that has and is using a similar process and model to Rathlin Energy site at West Newton.
What's happening now?
Over the last month we have seen a massive push forward in this site. This started with the delivery of the drill that was facilitated over a five day period by Humberside police force. This saw around fifty officers attending daily to oppress and stop any attempt at legitimate protest. This included health and safety breaches of the highest order as we saw police with no personal protection equipment riding flatbeds in to site, and continued targeted policing of campaigners including destroying our only sheltered space and kitchen.
Since the delivery of the rig drilling and construction has started. This has already created and industrial scar on the landscape with a huge floodlight rusty structure dominating the skyline. This new arrival has also brought 24 hour a day disturbance to locals and wildlife in the form of excessive lighting, constant low frequency and loud noises, increased emissions from generators and traffic, and a huge increase in heavy goods vehicles through the local villages, bringing increased pollution levels and danger to these country roads.
Throughout this process we have been recording the activity of this site and looking in to concerns we have. One issue that has stood out has been the amount of water that has been taken on to this site to be used and contaminated by the drilling and construction of this Well. So far we have recorded around half a million litres of water entering the site on tankers supplied mainly by a local company called Total Environmental Services.
This water is being drawn from local reserves, and was originally being taken from a outlet that was not designated for this site's use. We reported this and have since been "reassured" that they are now taking water from the correct source and are using a metred stand pipe.... This commitment to assuring industry is prioritised over community flies in the face of all current reaserch. This research indicates the UK is currently suffering huge deficit in annual water reserves, a problem that is set to get worse as we enter the hotter periods of the year. What do we want this year more hosepipe bans or a ban on this industry?
From current activity, first week of May 2019, we believe that they have completed the first phase of drilling and have concreted in the casing that will form the upper part of the well. This means we may only have around thirty days left to get our message out as part of this stage of operations at this site. The time to act is now!
Throughout this process we witnessed huge amounts of waste product being pumped in to skips lined with plastic. Some of the industrialised contaminated waste has since been taken off site by Total Environmental in tankers, but we have also witnessed contaminated skips being transported very clumsily without proper precautions.
Why do you need to be here?
Since the camp started in early 2019 there have already been several serious incidents recorded and reported by the campaigners currently living on the ground at the site at West Newton. It is important that we maintain this presence in order to highlight issues and practices, and record any further incidents, and do what we can to stop the continued industrialisation of our countryside.
This campaign has and is widely suppported by local communities, individuals and politicians across the UK. We have received many letters of support and have made every effort to communicate openly with the council, despite this the camp has been evicted three times but we have managed to bounce back and re establish very quickly with local support. This has enabled us to keep to the commitment we made to the community that we would be here to do the job the council is failing to do, and the environment agency have admitted they don't have the resources to do!