“Gagged” residents protest outside meeting to discuss Surrey oil drilling scheme

171018 SCC meeting Dan Harvey

Opponents of the Leith Hill traffic management plan wearing masks of red tape. Photo: Dan Harvey

Opponents of oil exploration plans near Leith Hill in Surrey are taking part in a silent protest because they say their voices aren’t being heard on traffic arrangements.

The campaign group, a Voice for Leith Hill, says residents have been blocked from speaking at a meeting of Surrey County Council’s planning committee this morning.

Members of the group and other local campaigners are wearing gags across their mouths for the protest outside County Hall in Kingston.

The committee is to consider a traffic management plan for exploratory oil drilling by Europa Oil and Gas at Bury Hill Wood, near the Surrey beauty spot.

“Blocked from speaking at committee”

A Voice of Leith Hill said residents have been told that they can’t speak on the traffic management plan because they were allowed 15 minutes to address the committee at a previous meeting.

Julian Everett, from the group, said:

“We feel we’re being shut out of the democratic process as it nears its end.

“Once these permissions are in place Europa Oil and Gas will soon be bringing its massive trucks up the lane.

“We urge councillors to let us speak and hear our substantial objections. They should turn down this unworkable traffic plan, which will bring misery to local residents and cause damage to this fragile environment”.

The group said since the plan was last discussed substantial changes have been made including the number of lorry movements, loads of lorries, speed projections and the introduction of a Tree Preservation Order on the proposed lorry route in Coldharbour Lane.

Residents will still be allowed to speak on a separate application for security fencing at the site.

Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, who opposes onshore oil and gas drilling, said:

“I want to send my solidarity to the dedicated campaigners and residents fighting to protect their community and the beauty and tranquillity of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

“Coldharbour Lane is a stretch of the pre-Roman sunken lane with high tree-lined banks and a favourite route for cyclists currently signposted as unsuitable for HGVs.”

“I do not believe that the updated traffic management proposals are in any way adequate to protect its unique character. Sunken lanes are an important historic, social and ecological feature of our landscape which simply must be protected.”

Local groups have also complained to Mole Valley District Council about its failure to put Europa’s proposals on the published agenda of last week’s development control committee.

The traffic plan and the security fence were added to the agenda at 5.30pm when the meeting started at 7pm, even though paperwork for both had been available.

This meant members of the public were unaware of the discussion and did not attend to hear the debate, A Voice for Leith Hill said.


On Monday, DrillOrDrop asked Surrey County Council and Mole Valley District Council to respond to the complaints but neither responded. This post will be updated with any comment.

  • DrillOrDrop will be reporting live from the committee discussion on the Leith Hill site and an application for more drilling and testing at Horse Hill near Horley.

6 replies »

  1. What is the point of these people “having a voice” when they so easily show from the film they haven’t a clue what this site application is about?

    Perhaps if they wanted to discuss the ISSUES rather than take part in SCAREMONGERING their voices may get a better hearing??

    This fracking nonsense has been utilised across most of the site applications around the Weald and seems to be the only way to draw attention. Trouble is, when the attention is drawn those observing (apart from Dave) quickly see the attempts to misinform.

  2. From your article above, I would not even think that the people who needed a voice were the people who don’t have a clue. They are people who are concerned about how these fracking companies (and it is the bullying, grasping politics of the fracking companies and their allies who want to make money despite what damage it will cause for those who live in the country)- the fracking COMPANIES who are determined to stop democratic opposition. I have been to many council meetings and I always thought that you couldn’t add something on to the agenda of the meeting that hadnt been sent out and approved.
    If local people don’t know that traffic issues, for example, are being considered then they are not having a voice. This part of the meeting definitely should not have gone ahead
    I would be interested to hear how the council justified this
    If we don’t feel that democratically elected politicians are listening to the people who put them into power then I despair.

    • But which bit of ‘Europa have no plans to frack’ dont the opposition get? It hardly gives credibility to the opposition if they are so misinformed.

  3. I did wonder if my comments would bring out someone supporting the “fracking” nonsense.

    Interesting. My late mother told me when I was a lad if you did not know about a subject best to keep quiet until you did. Of course, that was before social media! Progress?

  4. Perhaps you should have listened to your mother Mr Collyer.

    This is in fact a test drilling site. Analysis form this test will determine the extraction process needed but the geology points to the oil being in the rock so fracking or, worse still, acidisation (AKA “acid fracking”) are the more likely outcomes here if oil is found. The word fracking is better understood and probably used to cover both these eventualities on a campaign poster but many people campaigning against this are against any industrialisation of this AONB which has National Park status and the only access to the site is via a fragile Iron Age sunken lane which is too narrow for HGV use. The strength of local opposition has been consistently underestimated by Europa and it’s shareholders who might be better off investing in the renewables needed to power all the electric cars the government plans for our roads.

  5. Dorkinian, the companies have explained again and again there is no need to do any fracking. The target formation is limestone and it is naturally fractured and not particularly tight.
    Acidisation is a totally standard procedure and has a 100+year history with no issues. The acid is patio cleaner which reacts with the formation is seconds. Its used cos it IS reactive! I have been involved with HCl for years, firstly cos most of the wells I worked on would have an acid treatment and secondly, as a school science teacher.
    I was the spent acid straight from my patio to the lawn. It has no effect. Why do you spread scare stories? I suppose its cos you do not understand how low risk this all is.

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