Letter:Discreet digging for black gold

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The Independent Online
I WAS disappointed by your article "The blackstuff goes well beyond Windsor" (11 December). Your main premise misleads by implying that the issue of an exploration licence by the DTI gives carte blanche to unchecked oil and gas exploration in that area. This is not the case. Stringent local planning procedures must be adhered to for all drilling and production applications, as is indeed happening at Windsor. As far as I know, no such applications have ever been, or are likely to be, submitted for the well-known urban monuments that you list. Apart from many other considerations, most local authorities stipulate a minimum distance of 300 metres between a proposed drilling site and adjacent dwellings.

The onshore oil industry is a low-key, relatively unobtrusive business that has made strenuous efforts to develop the hydrocarbon assets of this country in an environmentally acceptable manner.

My company participates in production from three fields located in attractive countryside in southern England, where a few carefully landscaped sites drain oil from the surrounding areas by means of directionally drilled wells, extending in some instances for several kilometres beneath the surface. Fields are typically small and profits unspectacular, but onshore production averages some 7 per cent of our national requirement.

Your scare regarding subsidence is unhelpful, since this is a rare phenomenon world-wide and is the result of specific geological circumstances which more that 50 years of onshore production in the UK has clearly demonstrated do not exist here.

Peter Mikkelsen Tonbridge, Kent