Survey to test oil and gas company consultations with residents

Keith Taylor 170720 Jono Houston

Keith Taylor MEP outside UKOG’s Broadford Bridge site in West Sussex. Photo: Jon O’Houston

New research aims to test how good oil and gas companies have been in consulting with local people in south east England.

An online survey, hosted by the Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, asks people to comment on 13 specific sites in Surrey, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight.

The list includes Leith Hill, near Dorking, where residents have complained about a lack of information from the operator, Europa Oil & Gas (DrillOrDrop report).

The survey also asks about Broadford Bridge, operated by the UK Oil and Gas subsidiary, Kimmeridge Oil and Gas. KOGL said it was “proud of the level of openness and transparency” it had shown since drilling began in May 2017. But some residents have criticised the company for failing to answer questions about operations at the site or take part in public meetings. (DrillOrDrop report)


The survey asks participants to say whether the oil or gas operator has consulted with them directly or through community engagement events before and after applying for planning permission.

The questions also include:

“If the firm has undertaken any form of engagement, do you feel you have had the opportunity to fully express your views?”.

“If you have been consulted do you feel like your views made a difference to the plans as they developed?”

The final question asks participants to rank their views on the industry’s approach to public engagement on a scale from 0 (very unhappy) to 10 (very happy).

Mr Taylor said:

“We would like to establish what is the current practice and how it could be improved.”

The oil and gas industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, has said it is “committed to having an open dialogue with the public”.

Since 2013, it has operated a community engagement charter for unconventional reservoirs.

This commits the industry to

“engage with local communities, residents and other stakeholders at each of the three stages of operations – exploration, appraisal or production, beginning in advance of any operations and in advance of any application for planning permission”. Link

At least one operator in southern England have said the UKOOG charter doesn’t apply because it said its plans were conventional.

  • DrillOrDrop will report on the findings of the survey.

4 replies »

  1. To be a real test, Keith should consult with the oil companies first on the guestions asked. Just to avoid bias in the questioning.

    So. Companies consulted ( Y/N )? Maybe yes, but odds on no.

    One question should be …. do you support oil extraction…. 1 to 10

    Then present the data in that light.

    If you are against it but think the consultation is OK, or for it and think the consultation is poor, that would say more about it than all those against do not like it and all In favour do.

  2. In terms of market research this is a minefield, it is a known minefield, and the intention is to show the results of driving people into said minefield.

    Consultation with/from the exploration companies is always going to be constrained by commercially sensitive aspects of their exploration which limits the amount of openness that can be showed. Thus, it will always appear they are limiting the openness and that will be suggested as not providing openness for other reasons. You only need to look at other “sites” for the way some pour over every snippet of information/non information to see whether it points in any direction, and that will show why the exploration companies go to great lengths to protect from giving out certain information-indeed, they could be in big trouble if they did not. (Numbers of milk bottles being counted, for example. DYOR)

    Without consultation with the companies concerned there will be no background regarding this key component and results will be skewed. Just to supply one for instance-how can an exploration company supply the local community with any real indication of the financial benefits that could ultimately accrue to the local community? That would be financial speculation that would be damaging and would be open to litigation. Vital for the local community, but not information that will be available at this stage, but will be seen as lack of engagement, and easy to demonstrate as such.

    This is wanting to show a certain picture and working back from that to produce a means to do so. Too much time working in Brussels, me thinks.

  3. Three step approach needed:

    1. Survey companies to understand specific objectives of consultations, particularly in respect of timing, coverage (locations, expected no of homes).
    2. Survey companies’ target audiences, with regard to what was and wasn’t covered vs expectations.
    3. Compare & contrast!

    In my experience of 1 company & 2 locations, it failed at first hurdle in that it failed to achieve anything like the coverage of potentially affected folk that it set out to.

  4. This could have some merit if it was not for the photographic evidence in Ruth’s article of 19th Dec. showing Mr. Taylor holding an anti fracking poster outside Horse Hill!
    If he wants to survey how good the communication has been with the local communities, perhaps he should include a section for fake communication by the antis?

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