There have been at least a thousand objections to plans by UK Oil & Gas for 20 years of oil production at its site at Horse Hill, Surrey County Council has confirmed.
More objections to the scheme, which also includes four new wells at the site near Horley, are still being submitted, the council said.
The large number of responses to the public consultation has delayed a decision on the application, which had been scheduled first for March and then April.
The next available meeting of the council’s planning committee is in May but it is not certain whether the application will be ready in time.
The chair of the planning committee, Cllr Tim Hall, said:
“Due to a mixture of factors, including a thousand objections for the Horse Hill oil site – and they are still coming – there will not be a meeting on the 17 April. Our next meeting will be the 22nd of May, which will definitely be happening. “
A council spokesperson said:
“The application is still under consideration – there’s not a firm date yet for it to go to committee but it could be May’s meeting.”
The delay will take the application beyond the statutory time for a planning decision. Major developments must be decided within 13 weeks and those requiring an environmental impact assessment within 16 weeks. A decision for the Horse Hill on 22 May 2019 would be 22 weeks after the application was validated.
The Horse Hill application, which comprised 95 separate documents, was submitted in December 2018.
As well as the production and oil drilling plans, it seeks to:
- store more than 9,000 barrels of oil in seven tanks
- drill a water reinjection well
- install six surface mounted pumps
- construct a process and storage area and tanker loading facility
- install produced water tanks, enclosed ground flare, oil heater with an exhaust stack, four gas to power electricity generators, oil separators and water monitoring boreholes
This is the third major application for the site. The first exploration well, called HH-1, was granted permission in 2012 and drilled in 2014. A second application, granted in 2017, allowed for another appraisal well, HH-2, and a sidetrack, HH-1z. These wells have not yet been drilled.
The site operator, Horse Hill Developments Ltd, is now a subsidiary company of UK Oil & Gas.