Oil refinery’s £800m new diesel plant plan set for green light

Fawley oil refinery
The diesel plant proposed for Fawley oil refinery include a pair of 50-metre high chimneys

AN £800m diesel plant at Fawley oil refinery has been slated for approval tomorrow (Wednesday) by New Forest councillors despite more than 100 objections.


The huge investment at the ExxonMobil site, the largest refinery in the UK, will go before the district council’s planning committee.

First revealed in the A&T, the proposal includes a pair of 50-metre chimneys and would be built on a cleared area about 500 metres from the nearest homes.

The huge project is to expand “ultra-low” sulphur diesel production at the facility by almost 45% – or 38,000 barrels per day.

A committee report has advised approval – despite 115 objections being lodged with NFDC carrying concerns of pollution, more “intolerable” noise, global warming, and risks of potentially explosive accidents.

Fawley Parish Council gave the proposal its backing, however, on condition of environmental controls and managing labour transport during construction.

As well as creating 1,000 construction jobs, ExxonMobil has said it would also help safeguard the future of the similar number of existing positions at the plant, one of the biggest employers in the region.

If approved, it expects construction to be completed ready for start-up in 2021

The application was referred to the planning committee by NFDC’s chief planning officer, Claire Upton-Brown.

Advising approval, the report said: “This site is the largest oil refinery in the UK and provides approximately 20% of the UK refinery capacity and the site plays an important role within the national and international economy.

“This proposal for significant investment brings significant benefits to the ongoing future of the refinery.”

Visual impact would be limited, the effect of traffic “negligible” and noise and vibration would be within “acceptable limits”, it said.

“Air quality matters have been the subject of close scrutiny by our environmental health officer who has concluded that any impacts would be minimal,” it said.

There would be no “significant adverse impacts” on the environment, it said, and pollution and waste could be controlled by conditions.

It added: “While a large number of objections have been received to this application it cannot be a vehicle to prevent the use of carbon fuelled vehicles particularly as emissions from vehicles would still occur regardless of where the fuel is made.”

The application will be debated tomorrow at NFDC’s Appletree Court offices in Lyndhurst.