The Isle of Wight is today breathing a sigh of relief after UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) announced it was not going to contest the rejection of its oil drilling plan for Arreton.

A statement from the company said it was not looking to appeal the decision in light of the expected £500,000 cost of doing so. 

UKOG told the Drill or Drop independent news website: “Given the number of new opportunities available to the company, all of which are considered to offer far greater success case economic impact and higher probabilities of success than the proposed Isle of Wight project, the company has decided not to appeal against the planning refusal.

“The envisaged £0.5 million planning appeal costs will therefore remain available and could be used for developing new oil & gas and geothermal/energy storage projects.”

The plan was to drill at Arreton and another site nearby and for the past few years protestors from Don't Drill the Wight have been opposing the proposal.

What Don't Drill the Wight say

Sylvia May of the group, told the County Press: "We are delighted to hear that UKOG has finally decided not to appeal the decision of the planning committee to reject the Arreton Oil site application.  It is a huge relief for us all on the island.

Isle of Wight County Press: Protestors at County Hall before the recent planning meeting. Protestors at County Hall before the recent planning meeting.
"We hope that this will give our council the confidence to include a specific statement within their upcoming review of the Island Minerals and Waste Plan rejecting all plans for fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

"The Isle of Wight exploration licence is still active until July 2023 but it is doubtful that it will be sold on by UKOG to another operator.
"We are continuing to monitor the government's policies on future plans for offshore developments, since the Isle of Wight offshore licence P1916, which was dropped by UKOG in 2018, could be included in the next offshore round of licences.

What the Isle of Wight Councillor for Arreton said

Suzie Ellis, Isle of Wight Council member for Central Rural, said on her Facebook page:  "As the ward member for the parish of Arreton where oil drilling exploration was proposed - I am delighted that UKOG has announced that it will not appeal the refusal of planning permission.

"This is great news for local residents, campaigners, and the Island as a whole.

"Securing the refusal of this application was a team effort, led by Don't Drill The Wight. I was pleased to play my part, as the ward councillor, in making the case for refusal in my representations to the Planning Committee.

"When the application was refused, I made clear (see post below) that - in the event of an appeal by the applicant - I would be writing to the Secretary of State asking that he “recovers” the decision for his own determination. I also said that by making this intention clear at that stage, it would help the applicant decide whether pursuing an appeal - of a unanimous decision - would be a worthwhile step.

"Clearly, UKOG has its own publicly stated reasons for not pursuing an appeal, but I consider that the possibility of it being referred to the Secretary of State was a factor in helping them conclude that challenging the Isle of Wight Council's decision was not worth doing.

"Either way, I am delighted at this outcome - particularly as it gives certainly to everyone concerned. My thanks to everyone who was involved and supported this campaign. Arreton is safe from oil drilling."

UKOG and the Isle of Wight Council have been approached for comment.