Regulation

Oil company seeks consent for road junction on common land

Dunsfold Road Google Maps Google Earth

Common land at Dunsfold Road. Photo: Google Maps/Google Earth

The company behind plans to drill for oil and gas near the Surrey village of Dunsfold has applied for permission to build a road junction on common land.

190807 Dunsfold common land application

Notice of application for work on Dunsfold Common

A notice in Dunsfold confirmed that a subsidiary of UK Oil & Gas plc had submitted an application to the Environment Secretary.

The application, under the Commons Act 2006, will be decided by a planning inspector.

It seeks permission for work on the verges on the southern side of Dunsfold Road:

  • Construction and use of the junction of the site access track and Dunsfold Road
  • Creation of sight visibility splays on both sides of the junction
  • Installation of removable bollards on an area covering 403 square metres

People are invited to comment on the application until 23 August 2019 (see Commenting on the application below)

The junction is part of an alternative planning application submitted by UKOG last month. The original application took the proposed access track off High Loxley Road.

190719 Dunsfold access route

Map of new proposed access route to UKOG’s oil and gas site. Source: planning application

The issue of ownership of the verges on Dunsfold Road was raised by residents during a meeting organised by Waverley Borough Council last month.

So far this year (2019), there have been 36 decisions about work on common land in England.

Of these, 33 (92%) were granted and 3 (8%) refused.

Among the applications that were refused was one for an area of tarmac next to an existing McDonalds restaurant on Petridgewood Common, also in Surrey.

The planning inspector in this case said:

“the works proposed are in the interests of a private business. I have not identified any benefit to the public interest arising from the works which outweighs the harm to the interests of users of the common.”

The other refusals were to enclose common land. In both cases, the inspectors said the benefits of the fencing did not outweigh the effects on the rights of public access.

Commenting on the application

The UKOG application and documents are available to view until 23 August 2019 at:

  • Cranleigh Library, High Street, Cranleigh, Surrey GU6 8AE
  • Waverley Borough Council, The Burys, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1HR

Copies can also be obtained from UKOG’s consultants, The Zetland Group Limited, The Innovation Centre, Vienna Court, Kirkleatham Business Park, Redcar TS10 5SH

Representations should be sent to the Planning Inspectorate Commons Team, 3F Temple Quay House, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN by 23 August 2019

11 replies »

    • I see UKOG want to build a road junction on common land. What is common land and who owns it?
      Time to do some investigation of the rights and ownership to this common land isnt it.
      See below from GOV.UK

      Common land and village greens
      There are rules on how you can use common land and town and village greens.

      Common land
      Common land is owned, for example by a local council, privately or by the National Trust.

      You usually have the right to roam on it. This means you can use it for certain activities like walking and climbing.

      Some common land has different rights, so you may be able to use it for other activities, for example horse-riding.

      You cannot:

      camp on common land without the owner’s permission
      light a fire or have a barbecue
      hold a festival or other event without permission
      drive across it without permission unless you have the right to access your property
      Town and village greens
      You can use town and village greens for sports and recreation, for example playing football or walking your dog. Some also have ‘rights of common’ over them – like grazing livestock.

      The right to roam does not apply.

      Many greens are owned and maintained by local parish or community councils. Some are privately owned.

      Common land and village greens near you
      Find out where your local common land or village green is by contacting your local council. It keeps the ‘Register of Common Land and Village Greens’ for your area.

      Each entry in the register includes:

      a description of the land
      who has rights to use it, and what those rights are
      who owns it, or who owned it when it was first registered
      Have your say on changes to common land
      Planned changes to common land will be advertised in local newspapers and put on signs around the land. If you want to comment on the application, write to:

      The Commons Team
      The Planning Inspectorate
      Room 3A Eagle Wing
      Temple Quay House
      2 The Square
      Temple Quay
      Bristol
      BS1 6PN
      commonlandcasework@planninginspectorate.gov.uk
      Telephone: 0303 444 5408
      Find out about call charges

      If you own common land
      The management of common land must take into account the interests of both the owner and the ‘commoners’ (people who have rights over the land but do not own it). This can be done:

      by the landowner
      informally, by landowners and those with rights on the land working together, for example to keep the land maintained and not over- or under-grazed
      formally, by setting up a statutory commons council – the stakeholders sit on the council and make decisions by voting; the decisions of the council are legally binding
      Natural England has guidance on managing common land.
      Cross compliance and common land
      As a landowner, if you claim agricultural payments under the Single Payment Scheme, you must comply with cross compliance rules across all of your agricultural land – not just the land that you claim payments for.

      The responsibility for cross compliance with common land is shared with the other stakeholders. If the other stakeholders are actively using the land, setting up a commons council can help with meeting cross compliance rules.

      For all those who wish to establish the rights and exclusions for this common land you can contact the links provided.

  1. Perhaps the local Ramblers can help on this one – they could check on footpaths in the area and may also be actively attempting to reinstate a footpath under the Lost Paths Project.

  2. I think the main issues here are damage to the flora and fauna as well as safety. If the entrance to the site is gated at this junction, those gates are locked, so have have to wait on that road to get in, which makes it then hazardous to the other road users. Plus the surface of the road will be damaged over a very short period of time, verges will be damaged. Some of the loads are hazardous, so if there are accidents then they need extra emergency services. Also the road continues in both directions leading to dangerous bends for hgvs. UKOG have a history of choosing sites that have caused problems. At Broadford Bridge damage to a railway crossing and at Leith Hill they never did resolve their traffic management plan during the application stage

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