Borehole plans on display for residents

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RESIDENTS in the Esk Valley will have the chance to see plans for a proposed exploratory borehole to be drilled in Westerdale by the oil and gas exploration company Egdon Resources.

The plans will have to be approved by the North York Moors National Park Authority, who will be asked to approve the construction of an access road to the site on land south of Broadgate Farm.

If permission is granted it will be the second exploratory borehole that Egdon have drilled in the area.

The first, in 2006, failed to find commercial quantities of gas and the site has since been restored to farmland.

Mark Abbott, Egdon’s managing director, said the company planned to hold a public exhibition in Westerdale Village Hall from 2pm to 8pm on Friday 16 March to give local residents the chance to view the plans and discuss them with the Egdon team.

“We definitely want to get feedback from residents and other stakeholders before we submit the planning application,” he said.

The company expects the exploratory drilling operation to last for no more than six weeks. When it has been completed, the rig and associated equipment will be dismantled, leaving only a concrete base.

That will remain while the results of the drilling are analysed but if commercially-viable quantities of gas are found, new planning permission will have to be sought before it can be exploited.

Asked if he was concerned about the operation causing any disruption in the area, parish councillor for Westerdale, John Randles, who lives in the village, said: “After the last time they drilled in 2006 the field was completely restored so you couldn’t tell where they’d been. If they did decide to exploit the gas, they might put in a pipeline to transport it.”

Colin Grice, who farms the land where the 2006 exploration was carried out, said the field where the work was done was so well restored after it was completed that it was in better condition than it had been previously. Other sites in the area have been explored for gas in the past including one on Blakey Rigg near Ralph’s Cross, a favoured spot for tourists.