MANY of the concerns about the current exploratory drilling taking place in the bay are not alarmist, but are the result of the continuing uncertainty created by the unsatisfactory consultation process.

On behalf of Bournemouth council, I submitted robust objections to the proposals back in February 2018 and raised specific concerns about the impacts of the drilling operation on the marine environment, risks around potential pollution and the possible adverse impacts on the tourism economy and jobs.

To be clear, this is absolutely not about whether wind power or oil extraction are preferred sources for energy supply, but it is all about ensuring that our local natural environment is properly protected for present and future generations.

This matters to the whole area from Mudeford and Christchurch Harbour to Poole Bay, Poole Harbour and beyond to the Jurassic Coast.

In terms of any proposed changes to the quantities of deposit muds or chemical discharges onto the seabed as a result of the drilling operation, we are seeking greater clarity from the Regulator that mitigation measures are being properly complied with, and if any changes to consents have been granted that we understand their justification in the light of the approved environmental impact assessment.

The council’s position is that we are following the operations very closely and seeking assurances from the Regulator that mitigations approved as part of their consent process are being thoroughly followed and upheld.

Although I understand that there are insufficient grounds on which to challenge the decisions made, I can assure residents and businesses that although the council is not currently considering legal action, we will continue to monitor the situation diligently and on a daily basis.

Subsequently, we were surprised and disappointed that an extension for the operations to the end of March was approved by the Regulator, particularly given that the council was not consulted, nor even invited to comment. We would want to see this operation finalised at the earliest possible opportunity so that all risks to our marine environment can be eliminated.


Leader of Bournemouth council