CAMPAIGNERS have launched an attempt to block plans to invest £800m in the future of Fawley refinery.

The Save Our Shores (SOS) action group is fighting the refinery’s proposal to boost production of ultra-low sulphur diesel by 38,000 barrels a day - an increase of almost 45%.

ExxonMobil says the move would help reduce the need to import diesel into the United Kingdom.

The company has published proposals to build a huge hydrotreater unit, which would remove sulphur from diesel, as well as a hydrogen plant.

But SOS is disputing claims that the development will create up to 1,000 construction jobs and is urging New Forest District Council to reject the application.

Daily Echo:

An SOS spokesman said the Committee on Climate Change had called for the proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles to come into force in 2030 - a decade earlier than the current target.

He also claimed that the Fawley scheme contravened the UK’s climate commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. We oppose any and all plans to expand fossil fuel exploration, extraction and processing capacity,” said the spokesman.

“We’ll be looking to co-operate with local residents and groups in the New Forest and surrounding area to coordinate a response to this proposal and do all we can to make sure that planning permission is not granted by the district council.”

Fawley’s proposals were revealed by the Daily Echo in September last year.

Daily Echo:

Refinery manager Simon Downing said: “This latest significant investment supports the long-term competitiveness of Fawley, Britain’s largest integrated refinery and petrochemical plant. It also reflects ExxonMobil’s strong and continued presence in the UK.”

Mr Downing said the proposed development would have “no discernible impact” on people living near the 3,200-acre site, adding: “During the construction process there will be some traffic considerations but we don’t anticipate any subsequent changes in noise or emissions.”

The proposals represent the biggest investment in the future of Fawley refinery for almost 30 years.

An ExxonMobil spokesman said: "We anticipate that diesel vehicles, including diesel hybrids and diesel powered heavy duty vehicles, are likely to play a prominent role for many years to come.

"The investment will help reduce the need to import diesel into the United Kingdom, which imported about half of its supply in 2017.

"The more than £800 million investment includes a hydrotreater unit to remove sulphur from fuel, supported by a hydrogen plant, which combined will also help improve the refinery’s overall energy efficiency."