Court date in challenge to approval of Horse Hill oil production

191026 HH Sarah Finch DoD

Sarah Finch at Horse Hill protest rally. 26 October 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A Surrey resident is going to the High Court for the right to challenge the approval of 20 years of oil production at the Horse Hill site near Gatwick Airport.

Sarah Finch is seeking a judicial review of the planning permission granted by Surrey County Council for the site near Gatwick Airport in September 2019.

A hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London later this month will examine whether her legal challenge should go ahead.

Ms Finch’s initial request, made on paper, was turned down by Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing.

But a different judge will now hear arguments in court about whether the case should go ahead.

Ms Finch, from Redhill, has campaigned since 2013 against drilling for oil at the site in the green belt.

She has argued that the council’s approval of planning consent was unlawful.

As well as long-term oil production, the permission also allowed four more oil production wells, a water reinjection well, four gas-to-power generators, seven new oil tanks, each with a capacity of 1,300 barrels, and a tanker loading area.

Represented by the law firm Leigh Day and supported by Weald Action Group, Ms Finch will say the council failed to assess the:

  • Indirect climate change impact of the plans
  • Greenhouse gas impact from oil the site would produce
  • Impact of the development on earth tremors
  • Detrimental impact of the development on green belt land

She has previously said:

“It is astonishing that while the planet is in the grip of a climate crisis, permission is being granted for the production of fossil fuels, which we should be trying to eradicate, not encourage.”

A spokesperson for the county council has said:

“The planning and regulatory committee approved the Horse Hill application as it was in accordance with the development plan and policies laid down by government.”

The case will be heard on Thursday 13 February 2020 at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand in central London. The time and court will be confirmed the day before the hearing. Opponents of operations at Horse Hill are expected to gather outside the court.


4 replies »

  1. “Opponents are expected to gather”-having travelled to London to do so!

    Meanwhile, HH will continue to progress to produce the electricity and oil to enable them to do so!

    Seems fair. LOL.

  2. I look forward to Horley’s next earthquake. The last one almost shook me out of bed. Pure coincidence that they continue to drill at Horse Hill. Surrey Council, not fit for purpose?

  3. Don’t move to County Durham, CP. They have them up there as well!

    “Almost shook me out of bed.” Might have been a little more believable without the embellishment.

    Mind you, the numbers gathering in London will do well to beat the 90k expected in Glasgow later this year. Wonder where all the ‘planes will be parked?

    Meanwhile, good old expanding Gatwick Airport will continue to use aviation fuel in increasing quantities piped in from Fawley Refinery, with some (maybe) coming out of the ground at HH prior to processing. Bit like buying your veg. from the local farm shop rather than airfreighting of French Beans from Kenya or courgettes trucked up from Spain. Local farmer makes some income and pays some tax in UK, rather than Spain or Kenya. UKOG do the same, rather than providing some tax to Saudi or USA.

    Surrey Council, not fit for purpose? I suggest that is a much bigger question than how you wish to apply it, but as regards PP there are clearly defined regulations that need to be adhered to. If they don’t, they will end up as all Councils paying costs upon Appeal, out of tax payers pockets.

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