Legal

Europa seeks another year for protest injunction at Leith Hill oil site

Leith HIll eviction 170622 Rob Harbinson1

Eviction of Leith Hill Protection Camp, 22 June 2017. Photo: Rod Harbinson

The oil company, Europa has applied to extend the protest injunction at its exploration site near Leith Hill in Surrey.

A hearing at the High Court in London is scheduled for next week (4 September 2018) to hear the application for another year.

180829 Europa injunction application Leith Hill

Extract of injunction application

This is the second time the company has sought to extend the injunction, which was first issued in January 2017.

No work, apart from water monitoring boreholes, has been carried out at the site at Bury Hill Wood, near Dorking.

The original three-year planning consent expired on 6 August 2018 and earlier this month, the company applied for another three years to drill an exploration well. The exploration term of the licence, granted by the Oil and Gas Authority, was due to expire on 1 October 2018. It has now been extended for the sixth time (DrillOrDrop report).

The current injunction is due to expire in a fortnight, on 12 September 2018. This is the same day as the expiry of the lease with Forest Enterprise.

180829 Europa social media post on Leith HillEuropa posted the latest draft injunction order on social media yesterday (29/8/2018).

The order applies to “persons unknown” who:

  • Entered or remained on the site at Bury Hill Woods
  • Intended to enter or remain on the site to protest against its use for oil extraction
  • Obstructed or entered or remained on the access to the site and a section of Coldharbour Lane
  • Intended to obstruct, enter or remain on the site access to protest

A witness statement from solicitor, Samuel Lear, said the first injunction was granted by Chief Master Marsh on 23 January 2017, along with a possession order. This followed the occupation of the site on about 29 October 2016 by opponents of oil operations.

The camp was evicted on 22-23 June 2017 and campaigners established another protection camp on the opposite site of the road, on land not covered by the Europa lease.

On 8 January 2018, Chief Master Marsh extended the injunction until midnight on 12 September 2018.

Europa has now applied for another extension to 12 September 2019 – or “any other date the court considers appropriate”.

The hearing is on Tuesday 4 September 2018 at 12 noon in Hearing Room 4 at the Rolls Building, Fetter Lane London EC4A 1NL.

Europa has posted documents about the injunction application on a file storage website. Link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2um6kcxxojx64na/AADma6difAvZ4NnJ7RVmxit9a?dl=0

They include correspondence with a contractor, the ruling in Cuadrilla’s injunction application earlier this year and photographs from protests last week at Leith Hill and at another Surrey oil site, Horse Hill.

Lease details

The documents also include copies of Europa’s leases for Bury Hill Wood with Forest Enterprise.

They confirm that Europa is now on its second three-year lease, which started in November 2015. This expires on 12 September 2018. The principal rent is listed as £25,000 a year.

Additional land was leased on 20 June 2017 for £5,000. This lease also expires on 12 September 2018. It covers the access to the site and an additional area around the perimeter, where Europa wants to install security and deer fencing, welfare facilities and security cabins.

Injunction ruling

The ruling is expected on Monday 3 September 2018 in the injunction application by UK Oil and Gas plc for protests at oil exploration sites at Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge. A hearing at the High Court is scheduled for 10.30am. The ruling was challenged by six women from Sussex and Surrey. (Details)

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