Council lawyers back planners in dispute over Angus Energy’s Brockham well

Brockham night working Brockham Protection Camp

Drilling at Brockham, Surrey, January 2017. Photo: Brockham Oil Watch

Surrey County Council’s position that Angus Energy drilled its new Brockham oil well without planning permission has been supported by lawyers.

The council consulted a barrister in its dispute with Angus over the sidetrack well, drilled in January 2017.

Surrey said the well was not covered by the existing planning permissions for the site; Angus argued that it was.

According to correspondence from the council, seen by DrillOrDrop, a barrister acting for Surrey County Council confirmed the view of planning officers that the sidetrack was unauthorised.

The details of the legal opinion were confidential, according to the correspondence, but a council officer wrote that the tenor of the opinion was not. The officer said:

“We have Counsel’s Opinion which confirms the view of Officers that the sidetrack is unauthorised. We are proceeding on this basis with Angus.”

Angus Energy has strongly denied that it drilled without planning consent. In May 2017, the company told shareholders it had consulted its own QC. She had confirmed that the sidetrack, called BR-X4, was authorised by permission granted in 2006, the company said.

Discussions on retrospective application

DrillOrDrop also learned this week that discussions between the council and the company about a retrospective planning application for the sidetrack were “ongoing”.

We asked the council whether its position had changed on the sidetrack and whether there had been any discussions about a retrospective application.

The council’s spokesperson said:

“Our position remains the same in that we believe they should still have planning permission for side-well. Conversations regarding retrospective permission are still ongoing.”

DrillOrDrop invited Jonathan Tidswell-Pretorius, Angus Energy’s executive chairman, to comment on the council’s statement. This post will be updated with any response.

DrillOrDrop report: Council twice told Angus Energy it didn’t have permission for Brockham oil well – documents reveal

Other applications

In May, Angus applied for retrospective permission for equipment and buildings on the Brockham pad at Feltons Farm, off Old School Lane. The public consultation on this application ended earlier this week. The next scheduled planning committees of Surrey County Council are on 13 September and 18 October 2017.

The company has also applied to the Environment Agency to vary its environmental permits at Brockham. The public consultation on this application has been extended until 7 September 2017.

The application seeks permission for venting from oil storage tanks, well workover operations, including hot oil and acid washes, and the reinjection of produced water from the Brockham and Lidsey well sites.

Application documents also give details of the drilling history of the site  (see DrillOrDrop’s updated timeline for Brockham)

7 replies »

  1. Well, well, nothing changes does it?
    The old Angus sidetrack sidestep two step shambling dance around the law, hoping to resurrect the dead duck driller thriller!

    In fact look down and the earth is moving right right now as their barristers rise from their uncred graves to shuffle again?
    And the first uncred to rise is…….

    It cant be? It looks like……….Michael Jackson??!!!

    More Angus Uncred rise and start their dance……….listen?……….you can hear them chant………a deep dark beat fills the air and its……..

    “Driller Thriller”

    It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark
    Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart
    You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
    You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
    You’re paralyzed

    ‘Cause this is driller, thriller night
    And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike
    You know it’s driller, thriller night
    You’re fighting for your life inside a driller, thriller tonight

    You hear the door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run
    You feel the cold hand and wonder if you’ll ever see the sun
    You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination
    But all the while you hear the creature creepin’ up behind
    You’re out of time

    ‘Cause this is driller, thriller night
    There ain’t no second chance against the thing with forty lies
    You know it’s driller, thriller night
    You’re fighting for your life inside a driller, thriller tonight

    Night creatures call
    And the uncred start to walk in their masquerade
    There’s no escapin’ the laws of the failien this time (they’re open wide)
    This is the end of their life

    They’re out to get you, there’s dim ones closing in on every side
    They will possess you unless you change that number on your dial
    Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together
    All thru the night we’ll save you from the terror of the scream,
    We’ll make you see

    That it’s a driller, thriller night
    ‘Cause they can drill you more than any ghost would dare to try
    Girl, this is driller, thriller night
    So let us hold you tight and share a driller, driller, chiller
    Thriller here tonight

    That it’s a driller, thriller night
    ‘Cause they can drill you more than any ghost would dare to try
    Girl, this is driller, thriller night
    So let us hold you tight and share a driller, thriller

    It’s gonna be tonight

    [Vincent Price:]

    Darkness falls across the land
    The midnight hour is close at hand
    Creatures crawl in search of crude
    To terrorize the whole neighbourhood
    And whosoever shall be found
    Without the hole for getting down
    Must stand and face the hounds of shell
    Or rot inside a corporation shell
    The foulest stench is in the air
    The funk of forty thousand years
    And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
    Are closing in to seal your doom
    And though you fight to stay alive
    Your body starts to shiver
    For no mere mortal can resist
    The evil of the driller……….

    [Dissolve Into maniacal laughter, in best Vincent Price tradition deep echo]

    And as they shuffle off into the night quivering with unco-ordinated jerks, the old sidetrack, sidestep, two step dumbstep

    Oh, hang on a minute? What’s this? A movement in the ground? One of the driller thriller corporation shuffle dancers late out of the tomb is it?
    It emerges shakily shambling into the night air and looks vaguely around it, confused and disoriented, it opens its dirt filled mouth and says………………?

  2. 9 people spent time in police cells trying to bring attention to this unlawful activity. Hopefully the CEO gets the sane opportunity now.

  3. The facts are quite straight forward…

    – There is extant planning permission for the Brockham site to drill up to 6 wells, of which only 3 have been drilled to date
    – A sidetrack from an existing well bore is not a new well, but part of the existing well
    – A sidetrack is deemed to be a component of maintenance works to optimise an existing well
    – Other sidetracks at the Brockham site were drilled in years gone by and did not require special planning permissions, nor did they invoke any claims of law breaking
    – No new formations were drilled into by this sidetrack that weren’t previously encountered by the existing well, which was fully permitted
    – No new depths were drilled by this sidetrack that weren’t previously achieved by the existing well, which was fully permitted
    – No official sanctions have been issued to Angus Energy as a result of SCC’s poor interpretation of the facts. Had a planning breach occurred, or any law been broken, sanctions would have been imposed in the intervening 7 months+ since the sidetrack was drilled
    – There was a concerted propaganda campaign by protestors and a rogue councillor to spread misinformation via poorly researched journalists who have acted merely as dumb relays to propagate said misinformation
    – The same rogue councillor continues to leak confidential information to parties outside of the council, demonstrating a total lack of integrity and with the sole purpose of pursuing a personal agenda which is not representative of the council itself
    – People who spend time in police cells do so as a result of breaking the law
    – People who spend time in police cells cost taxpayers money
    – People who spend time in police cells should find more constructive ways to contribute to society

    • The facts are very clear

      A side-track is a planned deviation from a previously drilled section of the wellbore. HSE will be notified of a side-track as it is a ‘material change’ as set out in the Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995.

      A side-track is given it’s own separate well identity number

      A ‘material change’ means you are doing something different than what you were given permission for.

      It would require an amendment to the granted planning application.Consideration would be needed on the plug and abandonment of the defective area of the well.

      Amendments can be dealt with in two ways. Normally, an operator would have to make a planning application under s73 of the TCPA 1990 to amend conditions of an existing planning permission. Such applications are subject to the same consultation / publicity process as any other planning application.

      Amendments to the wording of conditions can also be dealt with through the non material amendment process (s96A of TCPA 1990)

      A sidetrack is a material change therefore requiring a new planning application under s73 of the TCPA 1990

      A company who applies for retrospective permission either does not understand planning law or chooses to try and avoid planning law.

      A serious concern. No wonder communities refuse these proposed developments.

  4. R8LMX- a good summary of some facts (very welcome on this subject.)

    When this was first publicised I stated there was obviously mischief afoot, and I would resist making further comments as the motivation, sourcing and promotion were all too obvious. I don’t think anything has changed, other than development in the Weald has reached a stage that some desperation has set in to try and interfere with it. The timing is not accidental. Meanwhile, development will continue and this little episode may actually result in exactly the opposite of what was intended.

  5. In my opinion it is how the OGA, Environment Agency and Planning Authority define a well.
    From a planning perspective they give permission for a number of houses to be built on a plot. If years later they decide to split that house in multi occupancy they need to get planning permission.
    The number of wells on a site are probably decided mainly by the footprint above ground. The main question is are sidewells counted as new wells or are the number of wells the number of holes in the ground at surface level?
    It would appear that the OGA and EA agree with Angus and the Planning Authority do not.

  6. If you read all the planning documents it’s obvious that some years ago a non-senior planning officer sent a factually incorrect report to committee. It seems that the current SCC planning dept and counsel have referred to this factually incorrect committee report and have not fully examined all of the actual planning application documents. In short, SCC planning and counsel are being lazy or just may be trying to protect themselves and hide their former colleague’s gross mistakes. I also agree that it appears that SCC think a sidetrack is a new well when to all the sub-surface experts it is not so.

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