DESPITE receiving more than 1,000 objections, exploratory oil drilling could happen on the Isle of Wight as planning officers give it the green light.

Decision day is looming for the UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) application in Arreton for two boreholes, nearly 18 months after the original application was submitted.

Read more about the application here ... Arreton oil well permission recommended but will councillors agree?

The site of the proposed application is on the main road between Newport and Sandown (A3056), and officers have recommended consent be granted, conditionally, for a period of three years, to construct, operate and decommission the exploration and appraisal site for hydrocarbons.

Should UKOG wish to take the development further and produce oil, if the site was deemed viable, a further planning application and decision would be needed.

However, objectors have rallied round with 1,064 negative public responses recorded by the Isle of Wight Council as well as from six parish councils and the Island's MP Bob Seely.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Among the areas for concern is the detrimental impact the exploratory drilling may have on the Island's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) qualification and local wildlife, with objectors arguing sustainable, renewable alternatives already exist on the Island.

The council's environmental health team, ecology officer and AONB Partnership, raised no objections to the development.

National bodies like Natural England, the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive did not object either.

Supportive comments were received from 70 people and said no hydraulic fracking was proposed and the Island has seen a number of drilling projects before that have operated without any noticeable environmental impacts.

In their evaluation, council officers said the provision of hydrocarbons is an emotive issue but a decision must be made in accordance with the policies laid out.

Explaining, council planning officers said national policies determine there is a need for fossil fuels and the planning framework states 'great weight' should be given to the benefits of mineral extraction, especially to the economy.

Planning policy guidance says extraction can only take place in areas where the Department of Energy and Climate Change has issued a licence under the Petroleum Act and, for the south of the Island, UKOG has a 95 per cent share of one.

While national policies seek to reduce the reliance on hydrocarbons they do not rule out its use, but council officers 'concluded on balance; there was a need for the development.'

Officers said the economic benefits would be 'relatively minor' at the local level but nationally, the benefits of the proposal would be substantial and 'great weight' must be attributed to that fact.

Having considered all the factors, officers said they were satisfied the development would not pollute the environment nor harm protected species.

They said the project would not harm nearby properties or compromise highway safety.

The Isle of Wight Council's planning committee will make the final decision next week, on Tuesday, October 19, having received training to deal with the matter.

The full report from council officers can be read here: