Live updates: eviction of Leith Hill protection camp

Bury Hill Wood gathering 170204 Fil Jackson 4

Leith Hill Protection Camp. Used with photographer’s permission

An eviction is underway at a protection camp at the site earmarked for Europa’s oil exploration well at Bury Hill Wood, near Leith Hill in Surrey. We’ll be updating this post with information as it comes in. The camp was established on 28 October 2016 and an eviction order was issued by the High Court on 23  January 2017.


People in tunnels have been underground for more than 16 hours.

Images from throughout the day

Thanks to Dan Harvey for permission to use pictures below



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Thanks to Kim Tee for permission to use pictures below



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Eviction underway 12 hours

No reported arrests or extractions from tunnels.


Forestry Commission: “Genuine visitors not affected by injunction”

Statement from the Forestry Commission:

“Genuine visitors to the public forest at Bury Hill are not affected by the Europa Oil and Gas court order, which applies solely to those on land the company has leased. Our work to manage the rest of the forest is also unaffected.”


“Protectors deserve medals” – MEP


Keith Taylor MEP during a visit to the camp in November 2016. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Statement from Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for southern England:

“The extraction of oil at Leith Hill risks damaging our local environment and health and it is absolutely right that local residents and environmental activists should be concerned.

“When I visited the protection camp in November, I was very impressed by the courage, fortitude and dedication of the people living there who have literally placed their lives on hold to be on the frontline of the fight against fossil fuel extraction and the new and little understood technologies planned for extracting tight oil in the Weald Basin, including horizontal wells and matrix acidisation.

“Profit driven oil companies like Europa might be happy to gamble with our future and our environment but I am not.

“Peaceful, non-violent direct action is often the only means of protest left available when the government consistently fails to listen to the legitimate concerns of ordinary people.


“Despite the very clear opposition to oil exploration in the Weald, permission to drilll an exploratory well in this pristine ancient woodland was granted on appeal by the planning inspectorate, ignoring the views of many of the local people.

“When the democratic deficit is this great, people are left with only one option – peaceful protest, as is their right.

“It is of paramount importance to democracy itself that this right is facilitated by the police. The safety and wellbeing of the protesters currently in tree houses and locked-on in tunnels at Leith Hill must be prioritised above all else and I am urging the authorities to exercise restraint in the handling of this eviction so that we do not have a repeat of the accusations of violence seen at Balcombe in 2013.

“The people at these protection camps are defenders of the earth and they deserve medals.  We simply must keep oil in the ground, no amount of pragmatism about our reliance on fossil fuels will save us from the impact of climate change when rising global temperatures hit a 2 degree increase.

“That is the reality. We need to be investing in substitutes for oil and oil products now, not sometime in the future.”

Link to statement


Eviction underway 11 hours


Support on Twitter for protectors

Leith Hill tweet4

Leith Hill tweet5


New photo from the site

Protector in tree house


Eviction now been going on for 10 hours

BBC News reporting 20 people are in tunnels.


Aerial photo of the site from this morning

aerial photo Danny Vc Llew

Leith Hill Protection camp filmed this morning. Tower constructed by protectors still standing. Photo: NED


BBC Surrey video from the site


“Fencing is part of permitted development”

Surrey County Council says the fencing installed by Europa at the site is part of plans for groundwater monitoring boreholes. This is classed as permitted development which does not need planning permission. The council says it will be attending the site only to check whether the fencing is in line with the plans.

Leith Hill eviction 170621 Danny Vc Llew1

Fencing installed at Bury Hill Wood site, 21 June 2017. Photo: still from video by Danny Vc Llew

Leith Hill eviction 170621 Danny Vc Llew2

Fencing installed at Bury Hill Wood site, 21 June 2017. Photo: still from video by Danny Vc Llew


Rescue staff at the camp


Photo: SGI


Photo: SGI

A spokesperson for SGI said:

“Specialist Group International’s role is to safely and respectfully remove the protesters. The safety of the people is our number one priority at all times.”


Surrey Mirror reporting that no Surrey County Council staff are on their way to the camp. A spokesperson is quoted as saying the eviction does not concern the council’s role as planning authority.


DrillOrDrop readers points out that bailiffs are using the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) to move people off the land. The brown-coloured land is CROW land, over which people are free to roam.


Local person reports Surrey County Council enforcement team on the way

A local resident reports:

“I have been told that SCC planning officers are on the way to camp with an enforcement team to make it clear that erection of the fences is illegal and has no planning permission, but they weren’t there when i left at about 10.30am.

“Theoretically, they could be made to take the whole lot down, but the police don’t seem to be very interested in the law and stated to my face ‘The Bailiffs are taking the lead here, we are here to support them’.”


“Not seen likes of tunnels for many years”

The Surrey Mirror quotes Peter  Faulding, the CEO of Specialist Group International, says that he has not seen the likes of the tunnels built at Leith Hill “for many years”


Eyewitness account: “Bailiffs using common law as reason for eviction”

An eyewitness, Jack Dark, reported that bailiffs were stopping any access to the woods, regardless of boundaries of the exploration site or the injunction area.

The eyewitnesses said the only paperwork being shown by bailiffs was a letter to unknown persons requiring them to leave and a map indicating an area, described as larger than the well site. When asked what powers were being used, the bailiffs said “common law”, the eyewitness said.


Jack Dark added that the police were not intervening but reported that officers said  anyone attempting to get closer would be arrested for a breach of the peace.


“Protesters’ lives are at risk”

Statement from Dorking-based world specialist tunnel rescue and forensics company,  Specialist Group International, which is at the site:

“A fifteen-person rescue team from Specialist Group International are currently onsite to ensure the safe removal of environmental protesters from tree houses, a large manmade fortress and a complex network of tunnels.

“Peter Faulding is leading his rescue team to ensure that people are safely and respectfully removed without injury.

“The tunnels are very dangerous and the protesters lives are at risk. Life support air is being supplied to those protesters deep inside tunnels. At this stage, we do not know how many protesters are underground.

“The safety and welfare of the protesters are the number one priority.

“Peter Faulding has led all the major protester removal operations since the Newbury Bypass in 1995 and personally removed “Swampy” from the A30 Honiton Bypass in 1996. Peter has not seen tunnel systems like this for many years.

“The team will carefully search all the tunnels and dismantle the fortress piece by piece to prevent injury.”


Police in attendance

Statement from Surrey Police:

“Surrey Police officers are in attendance while a security firm, Specialist Group International working for the leaseholders of the land and appointed bailiffs execute a High Court eviction order to remove people occupying an area of land.

“This is a civil matter where the leaseholders and bailiffs [took the lead in the operation]. Police are in the vicinity to prevent a breach of the peace or criminal offences.

“Surrey Police recognises the rights of people to assemble and protest in a public place and will always seek to facilitate peaceful protest while balancing the rights of those protesting with the rights of others.”


BBC Surrey reporting an impasse between protectors locked-on and bailiffs. The station quotes Europa’s chief executive, Hugh MacKay, that four people had been evicted but others were underground locked-on. “Our priority is to make the tunnels safe”, he said.

Mr MacKay said the protectors were “aware of the injunction order”.


Scene from edge of Leith Hill protection camp

Leith Hill tweet3


Leith Hill tweet2

Jenny, a protector at the camp, told DrillOrDrop that a number of people were in tunnels under the site and were locked-on. She said there may also be people in tree houses.

She said Heras-style fencing had been installed around the site. Protectors who were not locked-on or in tunnels or tree houses had been removed, she said. Some people were dragged but no protectors had been physically injured.

Jenny confirmed that protectors had been removed from a section of the camp outside the area covered by the injunction.

She said protectors, legal observers and local people were watching from the opposite side of Coldharbour Lane. No legal observers or photographers had been allowed into the camp area.

Jenny said three Police Liaison Officers were at the site, along with about six tactical support unit officers.

She added that the eviction began at 4.55am and confirmed that about 50 bailiffs were taking part in the operation.


Reports of lock-ons at the site and that staff from Surrey County Council and police officers are heading towards the camp.

Leith hill tweet 1


Livestream from the eviction site

Leith Hill livestream1

Still from livestream by Leith Hill Protectors


Reports that people were being removed from outside the court injunction area. Reports say there is no police presence but possibly up to 50 bailiffs

Leith Hill tweet bbc


Eyewitnesses report the eviction began at protection camp established at the site earmarked for Europa’s oil exploration well near Leith Hill in Surrey.

65 replies »

  1. “Protectors deserve medals” said big fat Keith as he struggled to get out of his diesel car, put on his plastic sunglasses and asked if the protesters would ‘do him a receipt’ so he could claim back the lentils on expenses.

    • I did my bit for protecting the planet and became a vegetarian.
      24hrs later I nearly fainted so tucked into a nice big juicy steak for my iron. At least I tried!

  2. LRW-you only have to see the embarrassing comments by his co-leader in the House today, that they state things to show they are there. The fact they are irrelevant and inaccurate doesn’t matter. But good at job creation- a party with one MP that needs a job share for leader of the party!

  3. The MEP thinks that matrix acidisation is “new and little understood” Difficult to know what to say, but he’s wrong.

    • “Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has been visiting oil drilling sites in Surrey and Sussex to offer his support to local campaigners fighting against unconventional oil extraction.”

      Unconventional oil extraction in Surrey and Sussex? Matrix acidisation has been around for over 100 years; does he not understand that most potable water wells are matrix acidised?

      “The simple aim of matrix acidizing is to improve production—reduce skin in reservoir engineer parlance—by dissolving formation damage or creating new pathways within several inches to a foot or two around the borehole. This is done by pumping treatment fluid at relatively low pressure to avoid fracturing the formation. Compared with high-pressure fracturing, matrix acidizing is a low-volume, low-budget operation.”

      “Matrix acidizing is almost as old as oil-well drilling itself. A Standard Oil patent for acidizing limestone with hydrochloric acid [HCl] dates from 1896, and the technique was first used a year earlier by the Ohio Oil Company.”

      Perhaps it is only he and his Green Party that think it is “new and little understood”? Simple chemistry…..

      Perhaps this is what eating only vegetables can do to you?

    • It has to be said that getting these people out will only take time. How long could you stay underground, locked on? I would hope the bailiffs would not be giving them food and water, as they should provide their own.

        • Wooohooo!
          And i thought you lot had run out of ways to make me sick to my stomach?
          Well hello again!

          (that’s a quote Paul)

          Well, this is a fascinating and revealing display of the overheated testosterone driven ego isn’t it?
          Is this the sad frustrated old fart tory bitterness of the post shattered electoral ambition thwarted blues?
          Or is this the natural behaviour of tory politically cannibalistic blood rage?
          What does this exhibition of hysterical howls of humanities finest tory specimens indicate?
          That we can in all confidence hand over vast tracts of our precious villages, towns and countryside into the hands of these paragons of humanities finest?
          Regardless of all the poisonous issues, just on these revealing displays alone, i don’t think so, do you?

          • “Old fart”? Guarantee I’m younger and fitter than you old bird but yes full of testosterone which has jumped up a notch as I realise my enemy of champagne socialism is knocking at the door.

  4. The real question for me is, if these people know so much about drilling & fracking, how come they don’t know that the process in the UK is not financially viable? The prices of oil & gas are way below the cost of extraction and because renewables are cheap they are unlikely to rise. Many fracking wells in the US are closing down because they’ve run out of $. That’s what’s really driving the divestment campaign.
    The only people making a profit are the people who hire out the equipment – they set up companies to drill on borrowed money, take the borrowed money as hire fees, put the operational companies into bancruptcy, set up another one. A ponzi scheme, that could trash huge areas of the country to make short term profits.
    Mind you, how much of the profits have to be paid in kickbacks and “security”? And to people to carry on spreading misinformation on comment pages?

    • Jacky – I would stick to your day job. You clearly do not understand what you are talking about. And renewables cheap? Wind and sun free? Try googling Contracts for Difference and Feed in Tariffs….

      • Some suggestions for further reading: (free on line course on the politics & economics of the fossil fuel industry, from HanYang univeristy, Korea – led by one of the world experts on the subject) and – you might like to check the impact fracking has on roads in Texas, and consider the implications for Dorking… And yes I know there are no plans to frack, it’s oil extraction, but the equipment is still pretty huge and (if there are any) the products will have to be transported somehow – if not by road then in pipes – and remember, pipes always leak in the end.
        Top tip: Don’t mistake simple terminology for lack of knowledge – those of us who really understand the issues can explain them in plain English.

        • Don’t confuse lack of experience with experience. Oil has been produced for many years onshore UK including Hampshire and Dorset, West Sussex, East Midlands, Notts and Yorkshire. Perhaps the oil is exported via the Starship Enterprise?

          Pipes always leak in the end? What a load of rubbish. I repeat, “I would stick to your day job. You clearly do not understand what you are talking about.”

      • [Edited by moderator] much more fun to be had on the Standing Rock sites.
        Shame you can’t come up with any arguments, or evidence to support your views.
        Still, you have my sympathy and prayers, especially if you live near Dorking. Enjoy the traffic jams.

  5. I thought it would not be long before the other member of the duo was unleashed!

    Interesting that when one is challenged, the other suddenly appears. Quite quaint really (or sinister).

    Also interesting how editing can be a little one sided? (Or perhaps we should all post at particular times to achieve some balance, before the editing function kicks in?)

    I did think this was a site for debate about oil and gas rather than politics. But then, as the “protest” is now in the hands of the anti capitalists they do require feeding. As I have stated before, this is not a good development for the real, concerned, locals whose voices are now drowned out but was always going to be the way it developed.

    • Oohhh silly boy! Whoops! Are you suggesting a relationship between Jacky and myself?
      You couldn’t be more wrong old thing?
      We are just good friends.
      What are you trying to say, naughty? Out with it! Ooeerr, no missus!
      Give us a hug big boy!

    • Martin, we are good buddies but this blog is about the larger topic of psychology and that is reflected through politics. These anti people have no valid arguments in terms of fracking but I do get a jolly good kick of winding them up. Queue the sob stories via US and Oz.

  6. Paul-you can see the pattern. Post any nonsense, it is just to excite certain individuals. It can be way off- piste, factually incorrect, or a bit of both. With oil dropping to a record low price it is all because fracking is failing in USA!! I do need my comedy moments each day, and this site never fails me. No wonder it has such a reputation.

    (Thank you USA, just filled my cans for my mower with that lovely cheap(er) product before all that fracking grinds to a halt., and OPEC can hike the prices up again. Us old things have to watch our pennies, and then we can invest in up to date sources of information Jackie.)

  7. “Paul-you can see the pattern. Post any nonsense, it is just to excite certain individuals. It can be way off- piste, factually incorrect, or a bit of both”

    Oh dear! Oh dear! strange how your words fit precisely your own actions and exhibit what we have all seen [Edited by moderator]

    These human beings you are all so quick to pour scorn and derision upon, are doing what we all may have to do soon, and that is protect our beautiful land, our air and our water from the ravening lust for profit from this hateful invasion.

    At the end of the day, we are either on the side of the light wolf and try and make something better for our children, or to be on the side of the dark wolf and do your best to hand your children a burned out ravaged husk of a future, for which they will no doubt thank you from the bottom of their poisoned hearts. So be it, you have chosen your path, and we have chosen ours, live with it.

    I once thought we could live together and sort this out like responsible adults, i see now, that was pointless, [Edited by moderator]
    So be it.

    • You tell em’ Phil but leave the big guy to me, i’ve not finished with him yet, i’ve not even started, he wont un…oops…address me directly, but i’ll soon change that!

  8. Sorry PhilC, [edited by moderator] Maybe (but I doubt it) if people could try and stick to facts, when they clearly know the facts, it would help but we both know that you have found the facts do not support your cause and that part of the “debate” ended with FOE nonsense. Bit strange for an engineer, but that is your choice.

    These people are doing exactly what was done at the Newbury bypass protest which was a total waste of time and money and subsequently found to be wrong in all respects they claimed their protest was about (I was there). Exactly the same methodology, false facts and scaremongering. Initially it was amusing to all and obtained some sympathy from the metropolitan set, but it soon became boring to us locals who did know the facts. When the antis resort to these old tactics that can now be seen, in retrospect, to be have been an incorrect judgement, I suspect it will be quickly picked up as “here we go again, same action, same misjudgement”. I do not think responsible adult will be the opinion it creates.

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