Campaigners begin legal challenge to council decision on Leith Hill oil site


Route to Europa’s Bury Hill Wood site. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Opponents of plans to drill for oil near the Leith Hill beauty spot in Surrey have begun legal action against the county council.

Leith Hill Action Group has initiated a judicial review to challenge the permission granted by the council’s planning committee for fencing, buildings and equipment at Europa’s oil exploration site.

The committee followed the advice of planning officers and approved the application for Bury Hill Wood at a meeting in October (DrillOrDrop report).

Opponents, including the local county councillor, said the scheme would increase the footprint of the site by 25%. They said the structures were incompatible with the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and were inappropriate development of the green belt.

Leith Hill Action Group (LHAG) has argued that the proposal was a “significant alteration” of the original planning permission granted by an inspector after a public inquiry in 2015.

LHAG said the fencing scheme should not have been dealt with as a standalone application. Instead, the original planning permission should have been amended or a fresh application submitted for the entire drilling project, LHAG said.

‘The group said today:

“We believe our case is about as strong as a legal challenge can be.”

The group is seeking to raise £25,000 for the costs of taking the case to the High Court.

Double challenge

This is the second challenge facing the council on the Bury Hill Wood site.

Earlier this week, Europa said it would take action over delays to the final approval of its traffic management plan. Surrey’s planning committee has twice deferred a decision on the plan, most recently because it wanted more information.

The company said it was appealing to the planning inspectorate against the non-determination of the plan. DrillOrDrop report

Today, LHAG described Europa’s appeal as a “breath-taking piece of irony” and the company’s traffic management plan as “horribly flawed”. It said:

“The irony could not be stronger, given that all delays are entirely of Europa’s own making.”

The group added:

“We think that this appeal presents a golden opportunity for LHAG.

“By forcing the issue, Europa have potentially given us a chance to lay all the evidence out directly to the Planning Inspectorate.

“We think the Inspectorate will come to the same conclusion as us; namely, that the Traffic Management Plan as it is currently written is badly flawed.

“Once the Inspectorate lays this out in writing, Europa will be forced to alter any future attempts at a Traffic Management Plan to avoid such flaws.  And as we have maintained for the last eight years, we don’t think this is even possible.”

8 replies »

  1. Astonishing! Clearly Europy have become contaminated by JR’s TPD/TPG virus?

    More overbearing egotism? This has become a common trend amongst these incompetent operators?

    Isn’t this what we have seen all across the world? What they can’t get by not following the regulations, they attempt to bluster it all with threats of intimidation and litigation?

    What a sad sorry bunch they all are, it’s time to end this corporate frantic failed fracking fossil fueled foiled fistula farce and upend the lot of them into the waste bin of broken promises, false claims and fraudulent fakery.

  2. oops more toys out of the pram! Are they concerned that their fossil fuel dream is sliding out of reach? Investors have lots of other, more lucrative investment opportunities.

    • In Junk Sham

      The hatred of lives
      For husbands, children and wives
      Endangers us now
      In Junk Sham is how
      Our freedom of speech
      Curtailed by their reach
      Without our permission
      This gross imposition
      To stifle our voice
      Without our choice
      This industrial invasion
      Into land that was hard won
      By many before us
      Whose ghosts are now furious
      At our governments connivance
      Invite this gas hate contrivance
      Into our land
      Our freedom to stand
      They expect us to submit
      To Dictators bully fit
      To their grip round our throat
      While sycophants gloat
      Their coffers to fill
      To crow and to shill
      On To Drop Or To Drill
      But we see that is spam
      This disgusting In Junk Sham
      We voice our disgust
      At their greed and their lust
      Impresses us nil
      To fight them we will
      To push these invaders
      They cannot evade us
      We will pursuit
      From this land they pollute
      Their strategies not won
      Our freedom’s begun
      It’s “Freedom!” Cry now
      And this will be how
      Their hatred will cease
      And we will have peace
      And clean up their mess
      Even if centuries pass
      Our children will have
      A clean planet to love
      Their planet in beauty
      That they will see
      Our duty then now
      To deliver that vow
      Stand up and be counted
      This In Junk Sham will be shunted
      Into histories waste bin
      Their hatred will not win

      Phil C

      [Typo edited at poster’s request]

  3. Why are all these tree Hugging Protesters Harassing the companies that bought Oil & Gas Exploration Licences from the government?. Surely their Argument is with the government for selling these Licences in the first place. & not the companies who are simply looking to recoup their investments

    • Because oil and plastic toxins are destroying the wildlife in our oceans and poisoning the land.
      Who do you think lobbied the government through the back door in the first place to get this industry into our countryside before we knew what a poisonous process it is? And who do you think are now denying free speech and rights of protest because we don’t want it here or anywhere else?
      Thank god there are still trees to hug, the ocean pollution is a far far bigger problem that will take centuries to clean up.
      That is the problem that we want no more of.
      Time to get real and wake up.

      • I think we all owe plastic a great debt. We are all massive consumers of materials derived from crude oil and it is our responsibility as end users to ensure that these materials are properly recycled at the end of their respective lives.

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