Picture post: Leith Hill drilling protest and update


Picture: Jon O’Houston

Hundreds of people gathered at Leith Hill in Surrey yesterday (3 December 2016) to protest at plans by Europa Oil & Gas to drill an exploratory oil well nearby.


Picture: Jon O’Houston


Picture: Jon O’Houston

The company received planning permission for a deviated well at Bury Hill Wood, on the edge of Dorking, after two planning inquiries and two court cases. It is currently negotiating with Surrey County Council over more than 20 conditions attached to the permission. A traffic management plan, detailing how heavy goods vehicles would get to the site, has still not been published.

Recently, Europa applied for permission to increase the size of the drilling site, called Holmwood by the industry. It also wants to install additional security fencing and temporary buildings. Surrey County Council and the Local Government Secretary have said the enlarged site does not need an Environmental Impact Assessment. Leith Hill Action Group, which has opposed the plans for nearly eight years, said:

“We think this is not in accordance with the relevant regulations and, more importantly, that it is by no means obvious that the Inspector’s decision to grant permission in 2015 would have been the same if presented with this larger proposal with much greater visual impact”.


Picture: Jon O’Houston

Heather Ackroyd, an opponent of the plans, told BBC South yesterday:

“They’re ripping up decades of nature protection. Nothing is sacred anymore. It comes down to people getting out, bringing up their children, bringing up their passion, bringing up their voice and saying this will not happen here or elsewhere across this country.”


Picture: Jon O’Houston

DrillOrDrop has asked Europa Oil & Gas to respond to local concerns but it has not replied.


10 replies »

    • This is what community support looks like. Thank you for coming out against this intrusive and harmful process.

  1. Fantastic turnout and show of force by locals and their supporters! I thought the industry was meant to be supporting the communities chosen to ‘host’ their sites, yet Europa has made clear it wants to drill in what is perhaps the most inappropriate place of any onshore oil/gas proposed site regardless. How does pushing ahead to sink an unnecessary well in ancient woodland, in an AONB, at one of the most visited and well known ‘beauty spots’ in the South East ‘support’ or ‘respect’ the communities around Leith Hill? Particularly when the UK has now (finally!) signed up to the Paris Agreement that requires all of these unknown fossil fuels to be kept in the ground.

    Well done to everyone taking part in the walk and good luck for a successful campaign!

  2. There are now about 4,000 members in the local group and there is a passion the like of which i have never seen before. The idea that any company could even get HGVs close to the proposed site let alone drill without destroying the whole beautiful area is a joke, there is no room for a car to pass even one cyclist, just goes to show the mentality of these money grabbing dirty fossil fuel companies. There is only 12 % of forest left in the UK and 2.5% ancient woodland , a vital habitat for many already endangered species, the source of Surreys drinking water starts about 200 mtrs below the site and feeds into the river Mole and then the Thames. The area attracts many nature lovers and is protected by law, a fact that this Government seems to choose to ignore.
    No doubt some right spark will say we need the energy and that its not fracking but as CEO of UKOG Stephen Sanderson said , there are 1200 sq miles of Weald basin and to make production work they will need to drill back to back wells across the whole area .

  3. Interesting point of view John. I love the photo of all those folk which was clearly taken remotely by a drone. I wonder how much oil or bi-products there is in:
    The drone
    The camera
    The batteries
    The phone belonging to each person
    The electrical charge of the drone, cameras and phones
    The sunglasses
    The boots
    The gloves
    The textiles
    The toiletries and cosmetics and soaps
    The bicycles
    and out of the picture…..
    The houses
    The 4×4 diesel guzzlers, cars, vans, trucks, motorbikes
    The fuel to power all of the above
    The horse-boxes
    The tires
    + a million other things

    I pray the local authority finally swipes this 8 years of protest aside, and the rule of law is upheld. At the same time I trust all of the protestors in that picture will enjoy seasons greetings with there plastic xmas trees, plastic xmas gifts and fossil fuel powered heating to keep their little tootsies warm. Merry Xmas.

    • See the pictures in the article? See the one with the tower? It saved the need for a drone, someone must have walked up it. The only drone at Leith Hill recently was the one used by Europa’s hired security. It buzzed the pheasant shoot and there is now a £750 bounty on it, apparently.

      Your argument about leaving one energy technology (fossiil fuels) behind for another new more efficient non-planet damaging one (renewables) is flawed. By the same token – us not wearing shoes or using the number of other pointless examples on your list, our ancestors would have carried on using only horses rather than develop transport such as cars or aeroplanes.

      If you want to stay in the dark ages with your retrograde perpsective, that’s up to you. Just don’t try and force it down the throats of those who have more imagination, don’t want it, and aren’t driven solely by greed.

      Merry Christmas to you too!

    • Actually the photos were taken by me from the top of the tower using no fossil fuels whatsoever just the use of legs and a lens. Don’t apologise for your mistake it’s always easier to make things up than use the truth eh?

  4. Ahhh, another alternative ID post, who are you? peeny? Mr M? Any one of a dozen others, who knows? (who cares!)
    Just for your information whoever you are, I wonder how much unpolluted air you breathe, clean water you drink, wholesome food you eat, un-partitioned land you walk upon absent of razor wire and legal threats, and what about the peace and health you experience in the forests and fields and hills of this beautiful land. How much good nature and friendship you get from people you pass in your rambles in this green and pleasant land.
    And most of all how little you appreciate this planet and how little we care about your personal profit, or those of your ilk, and how much we love this land and like the Swanage Dakota defenders we will fight you to the last.
    We can do without oil and gas, it will be hard, but we have done it before, what we cannot do without is an unpolluted planet to live on, and that is what you threaten, its a no brainer, something you should be familiar with. Care for the planet and it will care for you.
    Look at Leith Hill, look at Swanage, look at Dakota in the USA, where the rule of law is upheld. Go figure.
    Merry Christmas, we have all the presents we need, and they are the slow but sure turning back to sanity in this country and USA.

  5. surreycc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/257142
    Item 7 approved today.

    7 MINERALS/WASTE MO/2016/0981 – Land at Bury Hill Wood, off Coldharbour Lane, Holmwood, Surrey RH5 6HN

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