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