Corallian Energy’s plans to build an exploratory well six kilometres away from a nature reserve has anguered local environmentalists.
Only six kilometres will separate Corallian Energy’s oil explorations from Studland Bay, a renowned nature reserve. The rig will be on location for 45 days and if oil is discovered, it will be extracted from Wytch Farm, Britain’s largest oil field.
The reserve is home to a unique fauna and flora and local environmentalists fear that its proximity to Studland’s delicate ecosystem is not worth the risk.
Angela Pooley, coordinator of East Dorset Friends of the Earth thinks that the fauna living in the bay are being forgotten. She said “It has a very sensitive area for little seahorses. Studland Bay is one of the few areas around Dorset with seahorses.”
She said: “We shouldn’t be looking at fossil fuels. We should be looking away from them and moving towards renewable energy.”
Environmentalists are also angry that the company has been given the go ahead because plans for an offshore wind farm on the same location were opposed by the government in 2015 on the grounds that it would impact on the coast.
Dr. Stephen Watson is studying a sustainability plan for Poole Bay with a group of scientists. He believes the oil rig would be a backwards step for Dorset’s green plan.
“In terms of biodiversity impact on the species that live there, oil could cause smothering effects on things like the sabellaria reef and other species of importance to the harbour.”
Corallian Energy plans to drill around the summer months. When explorations end, the well will be removed, leaving nothing on the seabed. If oil is discovered, the company assures that further drilling would occur away from Studland and Poole Bay.
David Gaudoin, managing director of Corallian Energy, says:
“We acknowledge that there are a number of marine protected areas within the vicinity of the proposed drilling location, which support a range of important habitats and species. A detailed assessment has therefore been undertaken to determine if the proposed drilling operations are likely to have any significant effects on the environment.”
The company’s Environmental Statement is open to the public and formal consultations end on the 19th of February.