100,000-signature petition against Leith Hill oil drilling to be handed to Environment Agency

180225 Guildford Cathedral AVFLH3

Anti-drilling message projected on Guildford Cathedral, 25 February 2018. Photo: A Voice for Leith Hill

Updated 28/2/2018: The Environment Agency has cancelled the Dorking event because of bad weather 

Opponents of drilling for oil near Leith Hill in Surrey are to hand in a petition on Thursday with what could be more than 100,000 signatures.

The online petition calls on the Environment Agency to refuse environmental permits for oil exploration at Bury Hill Wood in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The hand-in comes just days after the campaign group, A Voice for Leith Hill, projected anti-drilling messages on the face of Guildford Cathedral (see photo above and below).

180225 Guildford Cathedral AVFLH1

Anti-drilling message projected on Guildford Cathedral, 25 February 2018. Photo: A Voice for Leith Hill

The petition, which at the time of writing had passed 99,100 signatures, is to be presented to the Environment Agency (EA) at a drop-in information event in Dorking at 6.30pm on Thursday 1 March.

The signatories say the risks of water contamination from the proposed operations by Europa Oil and Gas are unacceptable. The company has said it will pump dilute hydrochloric acid into the well and surrounding rocks.

The EA is minded to approve a mining waste permit. It is also considering whether to grant a radioactive substances permit.

Earlier this month, the EA said the draft permit, currently out for consultation, would “ensure that a high level of protection is provided for the environment and health.”

A report on the draft decision said the proposed site surfacing and containment were “sufficient to mitigate risks to surface and groundwater receptors”. (See DrillOrDrop report)

180227 petition to EA on Leith Hill drilling

38 Degrees petition to the Environment Agency. Link

But the local resident who started the petition said:

“We are encouraged that so many people agree the water pollution risks from oil drilling using acid and other chemicals are unacceptable. We call on the Environment Agency to act on our concerns by rejecting this application.

“Short term oil extraction is increasingly being prioritised by our Government over the protection of our water resource. Water will ultimately be much more valuable and important to our Nation than oil. It’s short term thinking at its worst.

“Water is both a vital natural resource and a heritage, which must be protected, defended and treated as such. We would like to invite any local people who have concerns over the safety of our water due to the proposed acidisation drilling process, to join us in handing in this petition. We hope it makes a difference to the EA’s decision.”

Europa Oil and Gas was granted three years of planning permission for oil exploration at Bury Hill Wood in August 2015 following a planning inquiry.

Sutton and East Surrey Water, which supplies water mainly from underground aquifers, has raised concerns about Europa’s plans.

In November 2015, director Lester Sonden, said:

“Our objection to drilling in this location is that it will increase the risk of polluting the aquifer of the local watercourse that is used for public water supply.

“Besides the risk of contaminating our borehole sources at Dorking, there is also a risk that contamination could lead to pollution of the River Mole, which in turn could affect our sources at Leatherhead.

“This is because our water sources are connected, albeit sometimes indirectly.

“We are concerned that in the event of a leak or a spill, the proposed mitigation measures will not guarantee the protection of our aquifers.

“As a water company responsible for the public water supply, it is incumbent upon us to bring this increased risk to people’s attention.” (Source: Get Surrey)

Updated 28/2/2018: The Environment Agency has cancelled the Dorking event because of bad weather 

Cathedral projections

180225 Guildford Cathedral AVFLH2

Anti-drilling message projected on Guildford Cathedral, 25 February 2018. Photo: A Voice for Leith Hill

The campaign group, A Voice for Leith Hill, projected anti-drilling messages on the tower of Guildford Cathedral at 11.45pm on Sunday 25 February. Earlier that evening, they projected the same messages on Leith Hill Tower, near the Bury Hill Wood oil site.

More so-called “guerrilla projections” are planned elsewhere as part of their campaign to oppose exploratory drilling in the area, the group said.

In a statement the group said:

“We want to promote awareness within the local community and attract support in the campaign against these environmentally damaging and disruptive plans, which are being forced through against the wishes of communities.

“These plans set a dangerous precedent for unconventional oil exploration within the Surrey Hills AONB [Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty] and Weald with further plans to drill beneath the South Downs National Park.”

Consultation on draft environmental permit

Details about the Environment Agency drop-in event

  • Europa is still waiting for a decision on its traffic management plan for the Bury Hill Wood site. The plan could be discussed by Surrey County Council’s planning committee at its next meeting on Wednesday 21 March 2018 in Kingston. The date is likely to be confirmed about a week before the meeting. Details

14 replies »

  1. Probably the same moans people had when a coal mine was about to be sunk and look how that turned out.The start of the industrial revolution and the greatest empire ever known.Bet all the peasants were complaining”not in my back yard”giant slag heaps and mini earthquakes.

    • Has the Aberfan disaster in 1966, where 116 children and 28 adults died, slipped your mind?

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  2. Strange how the local water supplies have not been polluted via an almost identical technology. Conventional oil, conventional water-when you have to start on fabrication it is surrender.

    • Well well, the usual flurry of rabid rubbish from the anti antis is to be expected, nothing strange about that?

      However the local people will protect their countryside regardless of such hate mail.

      Hate away! It just gets you the same result as alienating everyone you meet?

      Keep it up, you are doing our job for us!

      Ha! Ha! I love the “guerrilla projections” strategy! Well done “A Voice for Leith Hill”, very creative and clever! Arrest that! Brilliant!

      • Ha! Ha! Are there any adults out there?
        If you guys jeep shooting yourselves in the foot like that, we can just stand back and watch you all tear each other apart?

        Such fun!

  3. Dear oh dear this country is starting to resemble a banana republic ran by the militant guerrillas. Looking fwd to squishing the tiny uprising of lost souls, super wealthy individuals and affluent moany retirees.

    • Ha! Ha! Funny guy! Banana republic…guerillas…..geddit!

      I thought you lot had to have a sense of humourectomy to be a member of the fracking fraternity?

      Better get to a hospital quick, you are in spontaneous remission? That would never do?

  4. Signing petitions means absolutely zilch. You have to ask yourself why these people could not just complete the official EA request for public opinion. The answer is-a publicity stunt, not required and meaningless.
    The decision will still be taken against (hopefully) correct technical processes. Nicola may be just about to find out why that is important.

    Meanwhile Shiela, gas prices now up by ONE THIRD because of the Beast from the East and UK usage at a 6 year high. Good luck with persuading the population you are turning off the tap.

    • On the contrary martin, i am sure you will attempt to rubbish petitions that deny and expose the lies of the industry, but the simple fact is that petitions work all the time, because unlike social media, petitions cannot be ignored, and if they are attempted to be swept under the carpet by some ngo puppet like the EA and the OGA, there is all hell to pay and more hell to come.

  5. Actually if it was a Cobalt/Nickel mine for creating clean energy instead of an oilspud, Surrey Hills Area wouldnt exist any longer at all and the water left highly poisenous.

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