12/04/2015 18:38 BST | Updated 09/06/2015 06:59 BST

Let's Drill This Green and Pleasant Land


Vast Oil Reserves Discovered in Southern England

The announcement that there could be up to 100 billion barrels of oil beneath the South of England comes only weeks after INDC pledges by the EU to slash emissions by 40% by 2030.

With new oil fields opening up are ambitions for real change at Paris scuppered even before they have been signed?

"We think we've found a very significant discovery here,probably the largest (onshore UK) in the last 30 years" Stephen Sanderson, UK Oil and Gas Investment (UKOG) Chief Executive.

This latest announcement relates to the oil field in the Sussex, Weald Basin (below). Described as a giant oil-filled sponge by UKOG chairman this basin discovery has certainty revitalised interest and debate surrounding the future of UK onshore fossil fuel reserves.


Oil Weald

It is estimates that 5%-15% of that oil could be recovered from the Weald Basin area but extracting that oil might prove problematic. Despite claims by UKOG that the oil is held in rocks which are naturally fractured and therefore conventional drilling will suffice to extract the oil these claims are proving contentious with other experts who believe that controversial fracking will have to take place to tease out the Weald reserves.

Regardless of the To frack or not to frack concerns this announcement should really be a time to challenge and debate the UK's stance on the future of fossil fuels ahead of UN negotiations in Paris later this year.

The announcement has been heralded as a fantastic boost for the British economy and industry, but hearing the news that we're delighted to have struck oil really feels outdated in an age where the coupling between carbon emissions and economy is breaking, sustainability is getting traction and green innovations are re-defining business practices around the world.

Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK's chief scientist, said: "Dotting the English countryside with drilling rigs and pipelines to squeeze the last drop of oil out of Britain doesn't make any sense."

The success of the Guardians- Keep it in the Ground campaign highlights the need for a rational discussion surrounding national fossil fuel reserves rather than the current jubilation that we've yet again struck oil.

This latest move to further pursue fossil fuel is a desperate sign of our addiction to oil. It's a craving which runs deep within power structures of our society and economy and one which is proving hard to break. Even without these new discoveries we need to keep a vast amount of known fossil fuels in the ground to even stand a chance of limiting climatic warming to 2 degrees.

Rather than rejoicing at this news we should view it as a step in the wrong direction for tackling climate change and a hindrance to meeting emission reduction targets.

The news which should be making headlines and have us jumping up and down with glee is the proposal for the largest tidal lagoon in the world at Swansea and the subsequent industries that this venture supports.

As we approach Paris the UK must commit to a radical shift away from a carbon based economy and transition to a clean and green way of revitalsing the country.

Photos: ViaVia