Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Environment campaigners criticise Fawley oil refinery upgrade plan

Fawley refinery
Image caption Diesel production at Fawley would increase by 38,000 barrels per day under the expansion plans

A planned upgrade of the UK's largest oil refinery would increase fossil fuel consumption, campaigners have claimed.

ExxonMobil has announced it intends to increase production of "ultra-low sulphur diesel" by almost 45% at its plant at Fawley, Hampshire.

Environmental campaign group Save our Shores said it opposed "turning to more dirty diesel production".

The corporation said diesel vehicles were "likely to play a prominent role for many years to come".

The £800m plans include a new "hydrotreater" refinery to produce cleaner fuels, supported by a new hydrogen plant.

The company said the expansion would help reduce diesel imports.

It said 1,000 construction jobs would be supported before operations started in 2021.

Image copyright Mark Renders Getty Images
Image caption ExxonMobil said the expansion would help reduce the UK's imports of diesel

Save Our Shores said it was "absolutely appalled" at the plans for the complex on the edge of Southampton Water.

"We oppose any and all plans to expand fossil fuel exploration, extraction and processing capacity - turning to more dirty diesel production ... is absolutely not the answer."

It said it ran contrary to the UK's climate commitments and the motion approved by MPs earlier this month, declaring an environment and climate emergency.

Save our Shores said it would work with residents and groups to urge New Forest District Council to refuse planning permission.

In a statement, an ExxonMobil spokesman said: "We anticipate that diesel vehicles, including diesel hybrids and diesel powered heavy duty vehicles, are likely to play a prominent role for many years to come.

"The investment will help reduce the need to import diesel into the United Kingdom, which imported about half of its supply in 2017."

He also said the work would "help improve the refinery's overall energy efficiency".

Fawley Refinery manager Simon Downing previously said the investment would "support the long-term competitiveness of Fawley",

A public consultation on the planning application runs for three weeks.

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