At about 4.30 this morning, campaigners said they occupied the so-called “Gatwick Gusher” oil site at Horse Hill in Surrey.
They said they wanted to raise awareness about climate change, air and water pollution and the industrialisation of the countryside.
The site, near Gatwick Airport, made national news in 2015 when one of the main investors, UK Oil and Gas, described the oil find as a “world class resource” that was as “good as the North Sea”
But during flow testing, there were daily protests and some residents reported health problems and traffic disruption.
The site, operated by Horse Hill Developments Ltd, received planning permission last month for a further two wells and testing. DrillOrDrop
Campaigner Tina Williamson said in a statement why she had occupied the site:
“The majority of known fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“Starting a new oil rush in these circumstances is completely reckless, particularly when it uses unconventional techniques linked to air and water pollution.
“We call on the Government to ban new unconventional oil and gas exploration and invest urgently in renewables and energy efficiency”.
The site is among several in the South East, exploring for ‘tight oil’ in low permeability rocks, using techniques such as acidisation.
Opponents of drilling fear it could be the first of many. UKOG Chairman Stephen Sanderson has spoken about the possibility of what are called ‘incremental step outs’ across the South East, and the need to drill ‘back to back’ wells as production declines steeply for this type of deposit.
“Good morning from the Horse Hill protection camp where we’ve set up home”
Campaigners say police are now at the site.
The activists have pitched a tent at the site and posted pictures online of the drill site.
Campaigners say they have been threatened with eviction
Reports say security guards had begun to evict campaigners at the drill site.
Video shows people on two tripods and at least two campaigners on a scaffolding tower. A vans is parked across the site gate.
Green Party MEP Keith Taylor offers support
“I want to offer my solidarity and sincerest thanks to the Horse Hill Protectors who are currently occupying the Gatwick Gusher drill site in Surrey. The dedicated campaigners have put their lives on hold to fight against climate-destructive and dangerous unconventional drilling. And they are not only fighting to protect against the industrialisation of the Surrey Hills Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty – they are fighting against the climate breakdown.”
“Whether the protesters’ action lasts five hours, five days, or five weeks, they are making a stand against the exploitation of our resources and for the protection of both people and planet for years to come. They deserve our admiration and gratitude.”
“Ministers’ commitment to an unconventional oil and gas rush across the UK is entirely ideologically driven. It’s a commitment that will ensure the UK fails to meet its legally-binding climate change targets under the Climate Change Act and Paris Agreement.”
The Surrey Mirror reports that bailiffs pulled three people off the tower and out of the site. Three people remain on the tower.
The Surrey Mirror reports that bailiffs expect to be at the site overnight and will wait for protesters to come down off the platform tower. The paper says three people remain on the tower, two are on tripods and other are sitting on the site fencing. Another group is next to the road, outside the site.
We’ll update this report as we get more details