Corallian Energy limited has been granted consent to drill the Coulter Appraisal Well in Poole Bay, starting this month. However, Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) still has concerns, despite positive comments from Corallian over limiting the dumping of oiled drill cuttings on the seabed in an area with vulnerable features and bird foraging.
Following DWT’s concerns, all contaminated cuttings will now be safely disposed of onshore and the drilling will occur during the winter to reduce impact on migratory species, spring and summer time spawning fish and foraging seabirds.
DWT continue however to be worried about the remaining drill cuttings that will be discharged on the seabed with the potential to impact species within the vicinity. Short-snouted seahorses (protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981) are recorded within the licenced area in Poole Bay.
Experts from DWT are also worried that drilling will occur with a potential risk of pollution, albeit small, in such a highly prized natural environment. DWT Chief Executive, Dr Simon Cripps said, “Poole Bay is not the place for such activities. The time, effort, money and research necessary to conduct such a project would be better used on renewable energy alternatives and not drilling in such a sensitive area.”
This is particularly relevant just a few weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning on the consequences of carrying on burning fossil fuels as we are today. Peter Tinsley, DWT Living Seas Manager says: “Globally we already have enough oil and gas to go way beyond the IPCC target – we don’t need to explore for more.”