Protesters swarmed a county council planning meeting today to counter a local oil drilling company’s application for more security to keep out campaigners.
Lincolnshire County Council gave the green light for a series of changes to Edgon Resources’ planned exploratory drilling site near North Kelsey.
They include higher fencing, lighting and up to 12 security and welfare cabins on an adjacent field.
Edgon Resources said it was making the changes on the advice of Lincolnshire Police following recent demonstrations at their Biscathorpe site.
The Biscathorpe demonstrations in January saw a 74-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman arrested and charged with obstructing a highway and obstructing a constable respectively.
Paul Foster, speaking on behalf of Edgon, told councillors: “In recent years onshore oil and gas exploration in the UK has attracted considerable interest from a small number of active protesters.
“Edgon has a duty of care to ensure it’s employees, contractors, deliveries, visitors and indeed protestors are protected from risk of injury, and that it’s lawful operations are allowed to proceed unhindered.
“The amendments… will help prevent protesters getting access to the site, however the nature and scale of protester activities at Biscathorpe in January and February has raised the prospect of similar activities at Kelsey.”
However, climate change activists said the threat posed by protesters had been “exaggerated”. They peacefully campaigned outside the council offices to demonstrate.
They said previous actions, which included sit-down and slow walking marches had been, on the whole, peaceful and pleasant.
Objector and nearby resident Amanda Suddaby said following the meeting: “The protests at Biscathorpe have been utterly peaceful, calm and good natured. There’s been a good relationship between the protesters and the gate, and the police, on the whole.
“The arrests were massively disproportionate responses to what was happening.”
During the meeting, Councillor Julie Killey went so far as to say officers who arrested two protesters at the Biscathorpe site in January had been “heavy-handed” in their approach.
Concerns were raised that the additional cabins would see the site double in size.
Councillor Hilton Spratt accused the developers of getting planning permission “by stealth” pointing to the number of conditions and variations which have been given the go ahead since the plans were originally approved in 2014.
Councillors stopped short of allowing the hours of operation for HGV drivers being extended to 7pm at night during some phases of construction, which Edgon said it would need to accommodate the extra security measures it was implementing.
Increases in the allowed noise levels were also approved – though not by as much as the developers had wanted.
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