Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Fawley oil refinery expansion gets go-ahead

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

Plans to create a new £800m diesel plant at the UK's largest oil refinery have been agreed by councillors.

Esso is to build a hydrogen-generating plant, an automotive diesel oil production facility and diesel storage tank at Fawley, near Southampton.

The firm said expanding production would help reduce diesel imports and create 1,000 construction jobs.

Environmental campaigners criticised the scheme, saying it would increase fossil fuel use.

More than 100 people objected to the plans, raising concerns that included pollution, harm to wildlife and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

New Forest District Council planning committee agreed the application, which had been recommended for approval.

Fifteen members voted in favour of the plans, one opposed them and one abstained.

A spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, which trades as Esso, said the development would "help to secure future employment for 2,000 people on site and the many thousands more in the New Forest economy who serve the site and its workers".

"It would also have a positive impact on UK energy security," she added.

Campaign group Save Our Shores had lobbied the council to refuse the plans, saying "turning to more dirty diesel production is absolutely not the answer".

Fawley refinery, on Southampton Water, covers an area of more than 1,000 hectares (about 2,500 acres) on the edge of the New Forest and provides 20% of the UK's refinery capacity.

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