Europa’s exploration site at Bury Hill Wood near Dorking is “the last place in the world” you want to have oil drilled, Green Party Euro MP Keith Taylor told opponents of the scheme this morning.
The site, also called Holmwood, is near the Leith Hill beauty spot, in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Green Belt.
Speaking during a visit to the site, Mr Taylor, MEP for southern England, said Europa’s project was “about making as much money as possible”.
“There is nothing in it for the local community. A way of life is being disturbed in return for rich shareholders making a wedge of money.”
The project, to drill an offset exploration well to reach oil 1.2km away, was approved in August last week by a planning inspector after a seven-year campaign by opponents and two public inquiries. More details
Mr Taylor met people who established a “protection” camp four days ago on the proposed wellpad. He said:
“I take my hat off to you.
“This is something that needs to be opposed. More strength to your elbow. You are not alone.
“All over the place there are people like yourselves who are called defenders of the earth. We should defend our heritage and protect our future.”
Mr Taylor said the UK had to develop alternative ways of getting about that did not use fossil fuels if we were to meet climate change commitments made in the Paris Agreement.
Local people who opposed the scheme have supplied the camp with food, equipment and even a wood burning stove. Mr Taylor said:
“These people love their countryside. It is part of their culture. It is part of their children’s future. We need to value that. We need to oppose this scheme.”
Lucy Barford, of the community group, A Voice for Leith Hill, said Europa’s scheme threatened rare birds, such as redwing, cuckoo and nightjar.
She said there would be 1,200 heavy goods vehicle movements along the historic sunken green lane during the 18 weeks of the project. The site would be illuminated at night and the rig would have a flashing light on top. There were also concerns about risks to drinking water and noise, she said.
Jarrod, a member of the protection camp, said:
“It is insulting that they should even think of doing something like this in an area like this.
“We intend to work in whatever way is needed with people who have already been resisting this development. Hopefully we can make sure Europa will not bring anything up this road. Not one lorry.”
Another member, Callum, (pictured above) from Warrington, said he would stay at the camp for as long as was necessary. He said he had created a tree house to help protect the site. Asked what he would do when Europa’s contractors arrived, he said:
“I will be up that tree straight away.”
Europa is negotiating with Surrey County Council over its traffic management plan for Bury Hill Wood. It has also applied for planning permission for an extra security fence around the site. More details
DrillOrDrop invited Europa to respond to the comments made by opponents of the scheme today. We will update this post with any reaction. DrillOrDrop also asked the Forestry Commission for a comment but we have not any response.