FEARS oil drilling on the Isle of Wight could impact the UNESCO Biosphere status it holds has been one of the main objections to the proposals — but the company behind the plans say it will have a negligible effect upon the status.

The Isle of Wight was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in June last year, marking the Island as an area of environmental significance as it became only the seventh destination in the UK to be given such status.

As part of the status, the Island conserves species and ecosystems, fosters sustainable development and supports research and monitoring of conservation and development.

Since UK Oil and Gas's (UKOG) plans to construct and operate exploratory boreholes in Arreton were made public, those against the proposals have argued, among other points, that the Island's Biosphere status would be in danger.

Read more: Revealed: Detailed plan for Arreton oil drilling

Now, however, UKOG has submitted a statement to the Isle of Wight Council's planning department regarding the proposed development and its compatibility with the UNESCO Biosphere, saying it would not compromise the integrity or favourable conservation status of the reserve.

It says the proposed development is in a 'transition zone' relating to the Biosphere - one where people live and work in a sustainable manner - and the only development criteria for the zone is that sustainable resource management practices should be promoted and developed.

Isle of Wight County Press:

In the environmental statement linked to the application, UKOG say the significant effects derived from the proposed development and its mitigation mean the residual effects would be 'negligible'.

UKOG also say the proposal is compliant with objectives in the Isle of Wight Island Plan to make the development sustainable.

The current planning application (20/00513/FUL) has, according to campaign group Don't Drill The Wight, received more than a thousand letters of objection.

Read more: Arreton Parish Council adds voice to oil drilling objections

Read more: Oil drilling 'entirely inappropriate' for Isle of Wight — says Bob Seely MP

Read more: 'That's not what you told us' - Oil boss rounds on Seely over objection

The site in Arreton could be home to the boreholes to explore whether it would be viable to produce hydrocarbons in the future. If it is a successful mission, UKOG would need to submit another application for the drilling process.

The Isle of Wight Council is due to make a decision on the planning application in the Autumn, at a meeting of the planning committee, with the agreed extended date for decision published on its website as of October 21.