Angus Energy has made a strong defence of its operations at the Brockham oil site in Surrey, saying it had all the consents it needed.
The front page of today’s Times newspaper included an article headlined “Oil firm drills in Surrey ‘without permit’”.
At 2am, Angus tweeted:
“Sidetrack fully approved by all regulators & does not need planning permission – according to the SCC’s [Surrey County Council’s] own criteria”
Angus has also posted a page on its website about press reports and Brockham. It said:
“We stand by our statement no breach has occurred.”
The website added:
“Any characterisation that Angus Energy deliberately misled its investors and the public or misunderstood clear advice is offensive, wrong and self-serving.”
Media reports over the past two weeks have raised questions about whether the company had planning permission for a side-track well, drilled at the site in January 2017.
On 9 March 2017, Surrey County Council made a statement saying it was:
“extremely disappointed to find out that Angus Energy has acted without planning permission and contrary to our advice and guidance.”
On 16 March 2017, the council said it had invited the company to apply for retrospective planning permission for the side-track (more details).
Correspondence released on 15 March 2017 under a Freedom of Information Act request showed that Surrey County Council had told Angus Energy it did not have planning consent for additional drilling at Brockham.
The Times reported this morning
“Residents are calling on the council and the Environment Agency to hold an inquiry and to prosecute the company if it has broken the law.”
But a statement on the Angus website said:
“We stand by our statements to the public, the SCC and our investors.
“We firmly believe we have acted in a professional and correct manner and followed all permissions and guidelines from the OGA, EA, HSE and the SCC. Naturally we will continue to do so.”
The website added:
“The government’s guidelines make it absolutely clear that the remit of local councils covers the surface impact of the operations including matters such as noise, visual impact and traffic movements. All of our surface work was covered by our planning permission. We work with our local council on many important surface issues that rely on their expertise and requirements.
“The sidetrack that has been drilled doesn’t fall within these circumstances and doesn’t need planning permission according to SCC’s own criteria.
“Despite having every opportunity at a number of meetings and in extensive correspondence, SCC has not identified any way in which the sidetrack causes any planning harm.”
In response to a TV news report on BBC London on 9 March, the company said:
“We believe this report was deeply flawed. It violated BBC’s own editorial guidelines. We will have more to say on this after we file our complaint with the BBC Director General and OFCOM.”
DrillOrDrop has invited Angus Energy to respond to statements by Surrey County Council and the references in the FOI correspondence on planning consent. It has not replied. Today we asked the company for an interview. We will update with any response.