Horse Hill “Gatwick Gusher” planning decision delayed until summer


Horse Hill oil well in Surrey. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

The decision on whether further testing and drilling should go ahead at the so-called Gatwick Gusher oil site at Horse Hill in Surrey has been put back until July 2017.

Officials at Surrey County Council have asked the company behind the plans, Horse Hill Developments Ltd, for more information.

A spokesperson for the council said:

“We have asked for more clarity on issues such as air quality, the landscape, road frontage and site boundaries.”

When the company has submitted the information, the council will announce a new public consultation, likely to last about three weeks.

The council and Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL) have agreed on a new deadline of 31 July 2017 for the decision.

The planning application, published online in November 2016, includes proposals to:

  • Carry out extended well testing on the existing Horse Hill-1 well (HH-1)
  • Drill a sidetrack to HH-1
  • Drill a second deviated borehole and flow test it
  • Install security fencing to a larger area of land than the existing site
  • Install acoustic and light barriers, plant, cabins and equipment
  • Restore the site to agriculture and woodland

One of the major investors in the Horse Hill site is UK Oil and Gas Investments plc (UKOG).

It made this statement on the request for more information:

“Surrey County Council have carried out a very thorough public consultation. Information requests have been received from SCC themselves and other third party statutory consultees in the areas of transport, emissions and noise and ecology. We will provide our answers in March.

“Bearing in mind that Surrey CC decided that the Horse Hill planning application did not require an Environmental Impact Assessment, the original target period for determining our application was 13 weeks. However, this did fall over the Christmas period and there has been a lot of public interest and feedback. Horse Hill Developments Limited fully appreciates and understands the planning process.

“It is worth noting that similar operating activities to those being proposed in 2017 have been carried out at Horse Hill previously, with the exception of the first onshore use in the UK of an enclosed flare, which is a significant environmental advance and highly endorsed by the Environment Agency.”

Delay to Markwells Wood application

This is the second planning application involving UKOG that has been delayed.

The company is also seeking consent for appraisal and production of oil at Markwells Wood in the South Downs National Park.

That planning application includes drilling a sidetrack to the existing well, drilling three new hydrocarbon wells and one water injection well and production of hydrocarbons from four wells for a 20-year period.

The Environment Agency and Portsmouth Water have objected to the application’s groundwater risk assessment. Many local councils have also objected, along with more than 2,000 members of the public.

The South Downs National Park Authority has asked for more information about the location of the wells, alternative sites, impacts from volatile organic compounds and volume of hydrocarbons. The authority also wants revised groundwater and landscape impact assessments, information on the impact of noise and vibration on bats, the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and the use of acid.

When this information has been provided there will be another public consultation.


Horse Hill planning application SCC Ref 2016/0189

DrillOrDrop’s review of the Horse Hill planning application

DrillOrDrop Key facts, link and timeline on Horse Hill

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

12 replies »

  1. Surprise surprise. You can expect diddly squat O&G decisions by council’s till after elections. Shows you how weak minded and greedy they really are. Nothing new.

  2. I suspect this is no real issue to those parties involved here. They have enough on their plates elsewhere. Might even moderate, or remove, the need to raise further funds for development at a later stage.

  3. Maybe Mr Sanderson should make an appt to see someone in government to discuss planning policy guidelines. Delaying without justification. This site has already been operating. And why has Drill or Drop got this story already?

    • No good blaming the council. Why have UKOG not released the news before as they must have known about it for some time. IMO they have been hiding the bad news as bang goes the chance of getting a placing away at a decent price now. Annual financials due at end of March and plenty of expenditure to come in the next financial year so expect they will need to raise another 4 million.

  4. Well done to the council… Everyone knows that this is FRACKING by the back door. I was a supporter of this company in the early days… But after having many discussions with those opposing it and those involved with it and having gained access to documentation leaked to me. I’ve came to the conclusion that this so called ‘Gatwick Gusher’ can only progress with fracking. The company are playing a game of smoke and mirrors trying to deceive the public by stating in public forums that they’ll never frack. Doc’s I have tell a totally different story. Don’t mention the ‘F’ word states one of the emails….. #Frack off UKOG

    • Brokerman Your comment is total nonsense. There cannot be fracking because the drilling is less than 1000m and fracking cannot take place if it is not over 1000m. You clearly know nothing of the laws or the geology involved and are just trying to make issues which don’t exist. Scaremongering is just idiotic and unreasoned.

      What is clear is that the agencies involved are scrutinising the application in depth but, like most public sector agencies, prefer to sit on the fence, waste thousands of pounds of public money on consultants to avoid taking a decision themselves. Clearly Horse Hill Developments have had to bite their tongue for the purposes of the process and are anxious to ensure that every i is dotted and every t crossed in terms of compliance. It would seem to me that UKOG are keen to ensure that they gain a reputation as an operator which is cognisant of the environmental issues involved and is keen to keep any environmental impact to a minimum and should be congratulated for that rather than have people like Brokerman come up with idiotic conspiracy theories. Quite why Surrey CC need to make the company jump through several more hoops to simply repeat a process with minimal environmental impact (apart from idiots trying to jump on tankers to the danger of everyone) which they have already gone through is a mystery but HHD have taken it on the chin and put their hand up to do the right thing.

  5. It won’t be fracked due to drilling depth. Remember the tortoise and the hare. Disappointing, but slow and steady wins the oil gushy race!

    • Colin Gong. I think you will find that the flow test that was done last March and for which the application was being made to retest with a longer flow test was drilled to 840m – it looks like your reference to 2650m should have been in feet for those of us for whom that does actually mean more. So the original comment is still nonsense


    Use the above link to for the HH well facts. Ft and m are a factor of 3.281 apart…….

    “I’ve came to the conclusion that this so called ‘Gatwick Gusher’ can only progress with fracking. ”

    Well please let us all know how you have reached this petrophysical conclusion BrokermanDaniel (@BrokermanDaniel)?

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