“The decision… puts the park’s purposes in grave danger, dismisses local decision-making and is yet another black mark against this country’s progress towards net zero.”
So wrote representatives of the Campaign for National Parks, Winchester Action on Climate Change, Friends of the South Downs, Petersfield Climate Action Network and Alton Climate Action Network, in a letter to The Times published in The Times on 2 October.
They were dismayed by the news that oil drilling is to resume at the Avington field in the South Downs National Park, after a break of more than five years.
Oil was last produced at the site near Winchester in 2017. IGas sought to extend its life for another five years – but the South Downs National Park Authority rejected the application in June 2020.
IGas appealed and a planning inspector overturned the decision in December 2021. This went unnoticed until UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) made a statement on their website in July 2023. UKOG has a 5% stake in the field. They say there is an estimated 59 million barrels of oil in place at Avington.
Winchester Action on the Climate Crisis (WinAcc), a local charitable group, is working hard to stop this from going ahead and to protect the district and county from further fossil fuel projects.
Read more about the proposal on WinACC’s website: winacc.org.uk/the-proposal-to-pump-oil-in-avington