Members of the Isle of Wight Council's planning committee are expected to decide the future of the Arreton oil well application on Tuesday, October 19, according to those opposed to the scheme.

Campaigners say they have been told that this is the date when County Hall will consider giving licensee UK Oil and Gas PLC (UKOG) permission to construct and operate a well site, for the 'exploration and appraisal of hydrocarbon minerals'.

The plan requests two exploratory boreholes - a main borehole and a side-track - and UKOG wants to be on the site for three years.

In 2019, a public meeting was held at Newclose Cricket Ground to reveal the plan, which aims to see if a full-scale operation to extract fossil fuels at the rural greenfield location would be commercially viable.

Isle of Wight County Press:

In 2021, a consultation re-opened and final plans were submitted, with some updates to access and rights of way, site layout, sections and its potential impact on the environment.

The Arreton site lies west of the village, on privately-owned agricultural land.

Those against the scheme say they fear that if the exploration is a success, a much longer project would be applied for, though it would be subject to extra planning permission.

More than 1,100 comments have been lodged on the Isle of Wight Council's website, where the current application has been advertised and thousands of objections have previously been recorded.

The plan also calls for associated machinery and equipment, the construction of a new access track, a new boundary fence and entrance gates.

The scheme requires an access route, off the busy Newport to Sandown road.

Isle of Wight County Press:

As part of the plan (CLICK HERE to see it in full), UKOG says it will restore the land after it is finished.

Read more:

Campaigners say that will be too late for the surrounding countryside and are calling for councillors to turn down the application.

Don't Drill The Wight (DDTW) said: "The newly appointed Isle of Wight Council has recently produced two important Island Strategy documents - an updated Draft Island Plan Strategy (IPS) and a Mission Zero Climate and Environment Strategy 2021 - 2040. (MZCES)

"The IPS states the importance of its environmental role as "contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment (the Island is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve); and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.

"The (MZCES states in its introduction: 'This document and the Action Plan attached to it will form a key part of creating a sustainable future for our Island and, together with other strategies and plans in existence and coming forward in the next few years, in particular the Island Plan Core Strategy, it will support our valuable yet fragile environment and our status as a UNESCO Biosphere reserve.'

"We trust that our planning committee will be inspired by these aspirations and support our local communities by rejecting UKOG's application for Arreton."

Isle of Wight County Press:

In June 2020, similar plans for a site in Surrey were rejected, against the recommendation of the county council's planning officers and last month, plans to expand an existing site in East Yorkshire were turned down.

DDTW said: "It is imperative that local councils should have the right stand and reject all...developments when they threaten their local environments [and] ultimately, the health of the planet."

In 2019, UKOG chief executive Stephen Sanderson said: "If we drill our wells and it is not promising, the sites will be reinstated and there will be no impact.

"But we would not be doing this if there was no chance of oil. We need to know if it's commercially viable."

It has led to fears that this could be a forerunner for a much longer operation and also plans for a second site, near Godshill.

DDTW says it plans to hand a digital petition, with over 4,000 signatures, to Isle of Wight Council's planning officers.

Ten wells have been drilled on the Isle of Wight, between 1925 and 2005, but none were taken to a further stage of production.

One of the proposed Arreton wells is only 700m away from a previous site.

UKOG has previously said it would transport any oil found on the Island to Fawley, via Red Funnel's freight ferry, which runs from East Cowes to Southampton.

The Isle of Wight Council said it could not confirm what was on the agenda for the next planning meeting until papers were published, which is expected to happen next week.