Oil firm seeks extra security against protesters at Leith Hill drill site


Photo: Mole Valley Green Party

Europa Oil and Gas has said it needs extra security to protect its oil exploration site near Leith Hill in Surrey from protesters.

The company’s proposals to drill and test for oil at Bury Hill Wood were approved by a planning inspector in August 2015 following a seven-year planning dispute.

It is now applying to Surrey County Council for permission for a double line of security fencing and facilities for guards.

In its application, the company said:

“In some instances protestors [sic] have caused significant delays at exploration drillsites in other parts of the country and have essentially prolonged the drilling process.

“Without adequate security arrangements protestor activity could potentially introduce delays to the allocated 18-week timescale to undertake the required exploratory works at the Site and could also create safety issues.”

Europa Oil and GasEarlier this month, Europa said drilling at the site, also called Holmwood, would begin next year. Its security plans were not included in the original application. The latest bid said:

“There is now a requirement for additional security to be provided at the Site due to increased risk of protestor activity at conventional onshore oil exploration wellsite’s [sic].

“The prevailing security environment has changed substantially since the original planning application was made in 2008.

“It is now standard practice to have enhanced security even for conventional onshore oil exploration wells.

“Europa has taken professional security advice to identify the requirements for additional security measures at the Site and has been advised to provide an additional security fence and welfare facilities for on-site security personnel.”

Europa is now seeking permission for:

  • Double row of perimeter security fencing: 2m high outer Heras fence and 3m deer fence
  • Access gates
  • Two offices and a canteen
  • Toilet block
  • Two accommodation cabins
  • One fuel tank
  • Two water tanks
  • One generator

The company said delivery and collection of the fencing would generate eight extra vehicle movements. A further 20 vehicle movements would be needed to deliver and collect welfare facilities. The fencing and facilities would be in place for the 18 weeks of site preparation, drilling, testing and restoration.



Photo: Leith Hill Action Group

Opponents of Europa’s proposals at Bury Hill Wood argued that oil drilling was inappropriate because the site was in the Green Belt and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They said the scheme would have an impact on the landscape and traffic would disturb local residents and other road users.

On its latest proposals, Europa said:

“The security fencing is considered not to be obtrusive to its surroundings. The deer fencing is formed of a green wire mesh linked between wooden posts, whilst the outer heras fence will be of a steel mesh with tubular steel frame and will sit upon the ground”.

The application added:

“The proposed development of the permitted development site, and installation of temporary welfare facilities would not permanently alter the already identified landscape and visual impacts of the development.

“The development is temporary in nature and is well screened by established woodland preventing views from the local and wider landscape.”

Surrey County Council said the fencing and welfare facilities would not result in “significant environmental impacts” and would not require an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Consultation and decision

A public consultation on the application for the fencing and facilities is open until 28 October 2016. The details of the application (reference SCC Ref 2016/0170) can be seen here.

At the moment, the application is due to be decided under delegated powers by a Surrey County Council planning officer. But it could go to the council’s planning committee if there are objections or a request by the local councillor. Should it go to a committee, the earliest meeting it could be considered would be 7 December 2016.

  • Surrey County Council is currently examining Europa’s proposals to meet the 20+ conditions imposed by the planning inspector on the original permission.

This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

7 replies »

  1. Yes I can see how scary the Mole Valley Green Party members must be to Europa Oil and Gas . They must be quaking in their fracking boots? And you know what those deer are like?
    If the original security application did not mention security fencing, should they not go through the whole application again?

  2. Maybe they are as bad as the 100 middle aged, middle class citizens of Harrogate who Ken and Lorraine wouldn’t appear in front of unless the police were involved LOL.

  3. TBH the good folks of Surrey really don’t give a damn and won’t until their lifestyle or property values drop . . They probably won’t protest u nail it’s too late, and their families and land are destroyed. Their loss,unless of course they are investors in the fossil markets

  4. Why will their families be destroyed Dianna. I don’t think Europa OG have applied to destroy families, after all they are family people themselves. People, such as you, who make wild statements without any substantive evidence are really somewhat silly. I expect that you run a car or have access to one, or use a bus or a train. I expect that you use electricity and perhaps even gas. I expect that you use the many side products of oil , plastics etc…? You come out with sweeping statements bu off not viable alternative . The fact is we cannot close the energy gap with renewables for many many years to come, but if you don’t like that, then why not stop using gas, petrol, electricity, plastics, etc… ? No just another case of what is good for other people, I suspect !

    • Hi Victor

      ‘The fact is we cannot close the energy gap with renewables for many many years to come’ – we do need to try harder and the government needs to up their game or they won’t meet their targets.

      ‘then why not stop using gas, petrol, electricity, plastics, etc… ?’ – I agree. It’s time people realised what the impacts of using fossil fuels are. No one is advocating stopping altogether, that would at this time be impossible due to people’s mindset, but we do need to replace where we can with clean energy generation, insulation and smart use to reduce burn and this ridiculous supermarket process of selling you more and more plastic packaging instead of food! The good news is it is happening today, but needs to speed up.

      ‘No just another case of what is good for other people, I suspect !’ – This is not for you to judge. You do not know this person or what steps they do or do not take to minimise impact of fossil fuel burn.

      It’s interesting that fossil fuel supporters and those who want to get rid of fossil fuels all talk about renewables ‘in the future’. Why put off till tomorrow what we can do today? If indeed this is the future for all why are we not maximising the potential of renewables right now! It’s the same wind, sun and water that is here and now that will be in the ‘future’.

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