Oil company claims Markwells Wood notice is ‘not valid’

A notice ordering UK Oil and Gas to restore woodland at Markwells Wood is invalid, the company has claimed.

The site was the subject of a highly controversial planning application for exploratory oil drilling that was withdrawn last year after a renewed objection from the Environment Agency as to water contamination risks.

At the time, UKOG said withdrawing the plan was a temporary move and it hoped to put in a new application.

Last month, campaigners celebrated when the South Downs National Park Authority served a breach of condition notice on UKOG, ordering the drilling company to leave the site and restore the ancient woodland area.

The anti-drilling groups took the notice as confirmation UKOG would not be able to renew its plans for the area.

But a statement issued as part of the company’s annual report yesterday read: “Subsequent to the year-end UKOG received a breach of condition notice from SDNPA.

“UKOG does not consider the Notice to be valid.

“Moreover, UKOG is of the opinion that the notice was misleading as it failed to recognise UKOG’s extensive good faith discussions with the various regulatory authorities.

“Critically, the notice fails to mention that UKOG submitted a new Markwells Wood planning application to SDNPA dated 16 September 2016; the condition to rehabilitate within the specified timeframe was effectively suspended while SDNPA considered this new application.”