Massive expansion of oil drilling at Horse Hill given the go-ahead

September 15, 2019 3:54 PM
Horsehill petition

Lesley Bushnell District Councillor for Capel, Leigh & Newdigate who attended the meeting, joins the protestors outside County Hall.

Surrey County Council has just granted UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) planning permission for four extra production oil wells and a water reinjection well (11th September). The Planning and Regulatory Committee failed to take into account both government policy on climate change and their own recent declaration of a Climate Emergency. Furthermore, the recent worrying spate of earthquakes around Newdigate were not deemed valid in terms of planning objections; earthquakes apparently come under the jurisdiction of the Environment Agency and the Oil and Gas Authority, bodies which did not object on these grounds. Consequently, they were afforded no weight in the planning decision.

The Committee voted 7:2 in favour of the application. It is notable that the two members who voted against are Lib Dem Councillors, both of whom gave spirited arguments. Stephen Cooksey spoke up for residents who are quite rightly concerned about a possible link between earthquakes and the drilling at Horsehill. Penny Rivers pointed out the dangers of drilling in a seismically active area whatever the cause of the tremors. They asked that the Committee decision be deferred until more conclusive evidence was available but this was voted down. Worryingly, it seems that the seismic activity could cease to be monitored in the near future. If so, we shall have no way of measuring potential effects of future drilling.

Currently, planning permission for mineral resources are all heavily tilted in favour of producers, as laid down by the Government's National Planning Policy Framework. This policy needs to be challenged and changed in light of the Climate Emergency.

Meanwhile in the south of Mole Valley the granting of this application has further disturbing implications since the recent purchase by UKOG of the PEDL 43 site known as the A24 site.