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