Dorset

Jurassic Coast oil drilling protest site works 'will not go ahead'

Swanage camp site Image copyright Swanage Protection Camp
Image caption Infrastrata said the project at California Quarry, Swanage, would not involve fracking

No work will take place on a project to drill for oil and gas on Dorset's Jurassic Coast this winter.

On Monday, Infrastrata said it was expecting to carry out ground works at California Quarry, near Swanage, but has now informed the county council the works will no longer take place.

The site is currently being occupied by environmental campaigners.

The firm said, although it held a licence to drill at the site, it was no longer involved in the project.

Infrastrata - which was granted a licence by the Oil and Gas Authority to drill at the site - has been divesting its drilling interests to concentrate on its gas storage business.

It sold its interest in the Swanage project to a newly-formed company - Corallian - in November last year but remains the licence holder until a new licensee is assigned by the Oil and Gas Authority.

Any new licensee will have to reapply to the county council for planning consent before work can begin.

Under the agreement with Corallian, Infrastrata will be entitled to a share of any future profits from the site.

'Cause a catastrophe'

The decision to cancel preparatory works comes as protesters, calling themselves the Swanage Protection Camp, continue to occupy the site.

They said they are concerned about protected species and the safety of local residents.

Campaigner and Green Party activist Stuart Lane said: "If there's an accident during the work - and leaks - it could cause a catastrophe in the town."

The quarry is also close to Durlston Country Park, a site of special scientific interest, and lies within an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Isle of Purbeck is already home to the largest onshore oil field in western Europe at Wytch Farm.

Extraction also takes place at Wareham and Kimmeridge.

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