Local government officials that have blocked the start-up of the Wressle oil field, in Lincolnshire, have overstepped their remit, so says City broker SP Angel.
It was announced on Wednesday that North Lincolnshire County Council turned down an application for planning permission.
Europa Oil & Gas (Holdings) PLC (LON:EOG), a key stakeholder in the Wressle project, says the council’s planning decision goes against a positive recommendation by the council’s own planning officer which followed an extensive and thorough review of the field development plan.
Hugh Mackay, Europa chief executive, on Wednesday told investors that the company is disappointed with the decision and the partners in the project will consider options including the right to appeal.
SP Angel oil and gas analyst Zac Phillips, in a note, said: “If the public record of the statements made at the planning meeting are correct the rejection of the Wressle development planning application was not based on the merits of the application, but in reaction to the Environment Agency's handling of the flood response in the recent past.
“On this basis, the councillors have overstepped their remit and while they may have a point about the Environment Agency, they have opened themselves up to legal challenge.”
Phillips added: “The planning approval process must only be concerned with planning matters and, with no respect any concerned, they should do their jobs, not grandstand.”
Europa Oil & Gas has a 30% stake (albeit it has recently agreed to divest down to 20%) in Wressle, alongside AIM quoted partners Egdon Resources (LON:EDR) and Union Jack Oil (LON:UJO) which own 25% and 11.67% respectively.