Firm looking to dig deep for gas

EXPLORATORY drilling to test gas reserves underground is set to get underway in the National Park.

An oil and gas exploration company called Egdon Resources plc has formally submitted an application for a three year temporary planning consent to drill an exploratory borehole near the village of Westerdale.

The well will be drilled on land south of Broad Gate Farm and the company also wants to build two short access tracks to the site.

Plans have been put to the National Park Authority following a public exhibition in Westerdale Village Hall earlier this year where managing director Mark Abbott and other members of his team spoke about the proposed project.

Following on from that meeting some changes were made to the original plans including a reversal of the suggestion to close a bridleway near to the well site.

Mr Abbott said: “It was clear from the feedback we received that our proposal to close this path for six months was not popular.

“However, following discussions with National Park staff, we now propose to keep it open and will erect signs, warning users of the presence of construction vehicles.”

He added that otherwise there had been a positive attitude from the public towards the proposals.

He said: “I think this was because there is a general acceptance of the need to exploit our recoverable gas resources and also because of their experience of our previous attempt to find gas in the area in 2006.

“We strive to be good neighbours and the site of that first borehole has now been fully restored to a high standard.”

If planning consent is granted, the company expects the exploratory drilling operation to last for no more than six weeks, after which the rig and associated equipment will be dismantled.

Only the concrete base will remain while the results of the drilling are analysed.

If commercially-viable quantities of gas are found, a new planning permission will have to be sought before it can be exploited.

The drilling is separate to the temporary drilling sites which have been set up in other parts of the area on behalf of potash-mining company York Potash.