West Newton A

West Newton A well site in East Yorkshire is the location of a deep well for petroleum exploration and testing.

This wellsite experienced serious problems during testing in summer 2014.

As Rathlin Energy were carrying out a mini-frac test, on 12th August, there was an incident that resulted in an emergency well shutdown.  There is strong evidence that the mini-frac went wrong and damaged the well.  There were ongoing gas leaks and noxious smells, and 2 of the 3 tests that were planned (including the mini-frac) were abandoned.  There were 19 breaches of permit recorded by the EA, who are currently taking Enforcement Action against them, and an investigation by the HSE, which is why they were unable to move on to testing at Crawberry Hill.  The lower sections of the well had to be plugged and abandoned.

Rathlin Energy had hoped to commercially produce from this well, but in September 2014 said the Well had been mothballed.  They denied the the mini-frac took place, saying they decided not to carry out the test because it was not needed.  Video evidence later emerged of their Field Manager, on site at the start of August, confirming a mini-frac was currently under way.

Rathlin Energy then announced plans for a new well just a few fields away – West Newton B.

They still have permission to drill a second well at West Newton A, so they could go back and try again.


October 2014

West Newton well site, October 2014.  Not going according to plan. Click to go to the West Newton Gallery page.


West Newton 1 - Well Schematic

West Newton 1 – Well Schematic

West Newton well is a 3,250m deep, vertical well, right down to the Bowland Shale.  It is 66cm wide at the top, getting narrower in stages, to just 12cm (4 1/2″) at the bottom.

The site is on a farm owned by the Caley family, Norman Caley Ltd.  Rathlin Energy (UK) Ltd have a lease which includes the right to lease the land for up to 50 years.



West Newton well site is North East of Hull, halfway to the coast, near Withernwick.

Pipers Lane / Fosham Road
HU11 5DA

OS map reference TA 19268,39131

map of well sites_

map West Newton site OS

Click for interactive Streetmap.


Burton Constable Hall is on the road from Sproatley to New Ellerby.
Head north on this road with the hall on your left, and take the 2nd right down a dead end road, signposted “High Fosham” just before you reach Marton.
The well site is down there on the right.


Planning Permission

Planning Permission for testing was Approved in 2012.
The full application, comments & associated documents can be viewed here:

Planning » Application Summary 12/04193/STPLF

A 3 year planning extension was granted unanimously in November 2015.  A “no fracking” planning condition was added.

Sep 2015 Planning Variation for another 3 years 15/03056/STVAR
Planning Officer’s report.  Taken from the Agenda here for 26th Nov 2015.

The Planning Conditions are listed in the Notice of Decision:
1st click here:  Planning Application Documents, then here:  Notice of Decision

Environment Agency Permits

EA Permit Application

Front Cover and Contents
02 EPRA – West Newton – B9 Application Form
03 EPRA – West Newton – Non Technical Summary
04 EPRA – West Newton – Site Plans
05 EPRA – West Newton – Waste Management Plan
06 EPRA – West Newton – Site Condition Report
07 EPRA – West Newton – Environmental Risk Assessment
09 EPRA – West Newton – Planning Decision Notice
Drilling Products
Final EA objections to Rathlin West Newton Site 4 March 2014


EA Permits Issued – May 2014

EA Permit (installation and a mining waste operation) & Decision Document
EA Permit (radioactive substances activities)



Site Visits & Reports

Despite numerous incidents and apparent breaches of planning conditions and Rathlin Energy’s total lack of experience, regulators rarely visited the well sites, until things went wrong in mid August.  All site visits are listed below (we know this from a Freedom of Information request), along with any reports to which we have access.  Please let us know if you become aware of any additional visits not listed.


East Riding of Yorkshire Council Site Visits

No site visits since planning permission granted.

Additional information from ERYC:

Site visits took place to both sites by the Case Officer Mrs Shirley Ross when the planning applications were being processed by the Council. This is standard practice on all applications and allows the case officer to familiarise themselves with the proposed site and wider surroundings.

The officer has produced site notes and detailed Committee Reports when the planning applications at both Crawberry Hill and West Newton were being processed and these are available on line. No further monitoring reports have been produced by the officer.

Health & Safety Executive Site Visits

6th August 2014
Two Well Operation Inspectors were on site 7.5 hours.  No written report as everything was satisfactory.


Environment Agency Site Visits

3rd June 2014

EA Report – mining waste REDACTED.PDF
EA Report – installation REDACTED.PDF

3rd July

The following systems were lacking:
* Management Systems and Operating Procedures
* Accident and Emergency Incident Planning

EA Report – installation CAR REDACTED.PDF
EA Report mining waste CAR REDACTED.PDF

25th July

EA Report – installation CAR REDACTED.PDF

28th Aug

Rathlin Installation CAR – REDACTED
Rathlin waste activity CAR – REDACTED

“Very strong smell of gas/H2S”

5th Sept

Rathlin Energy BB3001FT waste activity CAR REDACTED

10th Sept

Environmental Permit compliance inspection, and to carry out odour monitoring following a report received via the Environment Agency incident line.
Warning Issued.  Must Implement odour management.

Rathlin Energy waste activity CAR REDACTED

“extremely strong hydrocarbon type odour present on site”

This odour was later reported in this Guardian article.

EA also stated:

Following communication with the Environment Agency Rathlin Energy voluntarily suspended well testing operations at the West Newton Well Site.

19th Sept

Environmental Permit compliance inspection and odour monitoring. The inspection confirmed that no well testing was taking place on site. Odour management techniques were discussed with the site operator.

Ratlin BB3001FT CAR installation REDACTED
Ratlin BB3001FT CAR mining waste REDACTED

24th Sept

Rathlin BB3001FT CAR installation REDACTED
Rathlin BB3001FT CAR waste activity REDACTED

“hydrocarbon type odour was present on site”

EA also stated:

We have investigated the source of the odour and believe it to have been caused by the cold venting of low flows of natural gas via the enclosed flare stack. The operator has now made changes on site to ensure natural gas is only sent to the flare stack at pressures above the minimum flare operating pressure. The change means that the natural gas, and the odorous components within it, will be combusted. We expect these measures to reduce odour from the site.

The Environment Agency gave its agreement to re-commencement of well testing operations on 24/09/2014.

10th Oct

EA Compliance Assessment Report – 10th Oct 2014

“The operator is carrying out vermin control on site using rodenticide in bait boxes and that is believed to be contributing to the numbers of small dead mammals found in the open section of containment ditch.”

Rathlin Energy denied this, see Incident page here.

30th Oct

EA are visiting site weekly.  Reports to follow.


Notice for EA reports: Contains Environment Agency information © Environment Agency and database right.


Mid October: Letter to residents living very close to West Newton
20141020 EA Letter to WN local residents

West Newton “Community” Liaison Committee Minutes

2013 02 13 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2013 03 20 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2013 04 24 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2013 05 22 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2013 08 06 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2013 09 10 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2013 11 06 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2014 02 26 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2014 05 13 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2014 09 16 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2014 11 06 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2015 02 18 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2015 05 12 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2015 09 03 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2016 02 03 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN
2016 06 21 Rathlin Community Liaison Committee Meeting WN


Odour Management Plan – includes air sample results with VOC levels

Odour Management Plan