PROTESTERS have gathered outside County Hall — hoping to appeal to councillors before today's crucial vote on potential oil exploration at Arreton.

Members of the Isle of Wight Council's planning committee will consider an application by UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) that could see two deep holes drilled on privately-owned greenfield farmland at Arreton, over three years.

The aim is to see if there is enough oil underneath for a financially viable extraction.

There is security on the doors of County Hall this afternoon.

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Planning officers have recommended the three year scheme be given conditional approval, but the scheme has attracted widespread opposition.

Those opposed say it comes as fundamental questions are raised about the future of non sustainable energy, both for the Isle of Wight and the planet.

UKOG insists the site will not be polluting and will be restored to nature when work is complete.

Last week, campaigners presented a petition of more than 4,000 signatures to County Hall, calling for the application to be rejected.

Those against it include Cllr Suzie Ellis, who represents Arreton, and Cllr Jonathan Bacon, member for the environment.

UKOG say boreholes would be six inches in diameter and lined with steel and concrete, three quarters of a mile or more below the surface, to protect from contamination.

It said there would not be polluting discharge and said an 'impermeable membrane' would be laid down to protect the active area' of the site, and drinking water sources.