FRACK Free Isle of Wight has labelled the Oil and Gas Authority’s decision to extend UK Oil and Gas (UKOG)’s licence to drill oil at Arreton as “ridiculous” and accused the authority of “breaching its own rules.”

UKOG has been granted a two-year extension to its exploration licence for oil and gas on the Isle of Wight, which was originally issued in 2016.

Earlier this year, Frack Free Isle of Wight and UK Oil and Gas clashed over the drilling plans, after the campaign group wrote letters to local residents warning them about possible environmental damages drilling could cause.

The chief executive of the drilling company hit back, accusing Frack Free Isle of Wight of making “outrageous and malicious claims about what we plan to do on the Island.”

In a statement issued this week, UKOG said they view the Arreton drilling licences as one of UKOG’s premier appraisal stage assets.

The site is believed to contain 14.9 million barrels.

The UK produces one million barrels a day nationally and consumes 1.6 million.

Sylvia May, chair of Frack Free Isle of Wight, said: “This granting of the licence extension shows how ridiculous the licensing system and related legislation is for onshore oil and gas.

“Oil and gas companies seem to be able to continue to blight local communities by threatening to drill for oil and gas even if they’ve failed to make adequate preparation to meet the existing time limits of their contract.

"It would seem the Oil and Gas Authority now have the right to overrule legislation to suit the licence.”

A spokesperson for UKOG said: “Extensions like this are completely routine. We realised we needed more time, so we applied for it.

"This is completely within the rules and happens all the time.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. We haven’t even submitted a planning application yet. We’re hoping to do that by the end of the year.

“Drilling won’t start for another year or two at least.

"I don’t understand why Frack Free Isle of Wight are so angry now.”

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