A council in Surrey is to shape its response to local oil and gas proposals on public comments to a listening panel.
The technique is a first for Waverley Borough Council. It could also be the first time it has been used for a UK onshore oil and gas application.
Waverley Council, based at Godalming, is not the mineral planning authority that will make the decision on proposals by UKOG to explore for oil and gas at Dunsfold. But it is a statutory consultee whose views must be considered.
The council has invited individuals and organisations to make their representations on the scheme in person, before a panel of four councillors at a special evening session.
Speakers will be allowed four minutes each to make a statement and listening panel members may ask questions to clarify any of the issues raised. The listening panel will be held in public and will be webcast live.
A council spokesperson said:
“Such a listening panel has not happened before [at Waverley], so this is very much a trial to see how it works and its value will be assessed after the event.”
He said Waverley’s political leadership had changed after the local elections in May. It was now a collaboration executive including members of the Farnham Residents, Liberal Democrats and one councillor from both Labour and the Greens.
The spokesperson said:
“The new executive has made a commitment to openness, transparency and engaging with and listening to local people, to place them at the centre of everything that we do.”
The listening panel would comprise portfolio holders for planning and environment plus councillors representing the ward where drilling had been proposed.
The number and content of responses would determine how they were assessed he said.
“Respondents are welcome to submit written representations, whether or not they wish to attend the Listening Panel session, but the aim of the panel is to hear directly from residents.”
People who want to make representations should email firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 15 July 2019, stating their name, address, relevant background information, whether they would be speaking as an individual or for an organisation and a summary of key points.
- The listening panel is on Tuesday 23 July 2019 at Waverley Borough Council offices at The Burys, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1HR between 6pm-9pm.