You may have heard about the many offshore oil and gas projects and licenses in the North Sea. But less is known about the UK’s onshore sites. Now Friends of the Earth’s new map reveals the full extent of fossil fuel extraction sites on our doorsteps.
Our map shows several operating opencast coal mines and dozens of oil and gas sites across England and Wales with hundreds of operational wells between them hiding in plain sight. And there are plans for new investments at many sites to extract more oil, gas and coal out of the ground.
What our fossil fuel map shows
- Oil and gas well site: sites where there’s at least one active oil or gas well. Some sites may have multiple active wells.
- Oil and gas well site with new planned activity: sites where companies recently applied to drill new wells, bring existing wells back into use or extend the deadline of planning permission.
- Coal mine: currently active coal mines.
- Coal mine with new activity planned: sites where companies recently applied to extend planning permissions for existing mines and one new planned coal mine.
You can see the status, planned activity and number of wells at each site by clicking on its location pin. We've named each site based on the names of the wells, so the sites may be called different names locally.
The map has a layer showing where coal, oil and gas fields naturally occur. It also shows the current license areas for oil and gas exploration, where one company is given rights to pursue a range of oil and gas exploration activities, but still needs to have consent and planning permission to start or extend any activity.
MPs' constituencies are shown across England and Wales. Clicking on any point on the map will bring up that constituency and its MP, and shows the number of oil, gas and coal sites, how many active and inactive sites there are and how many sites have new activity planned.
Current and planned fossil fuel sites in England and Wales
Last updated: August 2023
Existing oil/gas wells were mapped using open data on onshore wells from the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA). Individual wells were combined into oil/gas sites according to their location and operator, with sites given names based on the wells located within them. These currently active sites were only included on the map where they have at least one well classed as operating.
The site and well data may show discrepancies from what’s happening on the ground. Abandoned or suspended wells aren’t featured on the map due to data limitations, but it’s possible that some of these could be used again.
Oil/gas sites where new or extended activity is planned were mapped using data from planning portals and the Drill or Drop Planning page, which takes information from council meetings minutes and other sources. This page is not comprehensive and there may be additional planned activity not featured on the map.
Onshore oil and gas fields, prospective shale gas areas and oil and gas licence areas were mapped using NSTA data. Coal fields shown on the map are taken from ‘Coal resources for new technologies’ data published by the British Geological Survey (BGS), combining the ‘opencast’ and ‘underground mining’ layers. The fossil fuel resources layers show where fossil fuel resources may exist, but do not necessarily indicate locations where extraction could occur.
The National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) layer was created by combining data from National Parks and AONBs in England and Wales.
Westminster Constituency boundary data from the ONS was used in combination with 2019 General Election and subsequent by-election results collected from the House of Commons library. The election statistics do not reflect the latest by-elections that took place in July 2023. New constituency boundaries will come into effect at the next General Election.