Plans for an alternative access to UKOG’s proposed oil and gas site at Dunsfold in Surrey have been withdrawn.
The application, published in July 2019, was a response to concerns about the original access route, UKOG said at the time.
But despite a separate public consultation and submission of more than 30 planning documents, the alternative route has been dropped.
Surrey County Council, which will decide the application, has marked it “withdawn” on its online register.
The main application, published in June 2019, for a site with two oil and gas wells, is still listed.
Residents in Dunsfold had criticised both the access in the original application, off Pratts Corner and High Loxley Road, and the alternative, off Dunsfold Road.
The revised route had been estimated by UKOG to take four weeks to build, involving 10 two-way lorry movements a day. According to the application, nine trees and an 11m section of hedgerow would have to be removed.
The access is understood to have crossed common land, a designated county site of archaeological importance and an area used by skylark, lapwing, common lizard and grass snake.
UKOG told DrillOrDrop in July 2019:
“We had lots of feedback from our public event at Dunsfold Village Hall and a key one concerned our original access route.
“We were asked to pursue an alternative access off Dunsfold Road and this is the subject of the fresh application.”
There were rumours last month that the second access had been shelved. At the time, UKOG told DrillOrDrop the alternative “may not be needed” but that nothing had been decided.
The company did not respond to our questions about the withdrawal of the application.
The local community group, Protect Dunsfold, called in July 2019 for both the full application and the revised access plan to be withdrawn. It described the plans as “confused and muddled” and an “mpossible challenge” for decision-makers.
Today, a spokesperson for the group said:
“It is quite ridiculous that UKOG have been allowed to obfuscate their plans with this multiple access business causing people lots of wasted time and money.
“They originally wanted to use the Dunsfold Road access, as is quite clear from their initial planning documents, then they changed their mind and applied for the impossible and well-named “Pratts Corner” access. Then they switched back to the direct access claiming that they generously were responding to local requests at, presumably, huge inconvenience to themselves.
“Now they have withdrawn that application, presumably, because they knew there was no chance of getting permission to “conduct works” on common land so are now switching back to Pratts Corner – having admitted that Pratts Corner was problematical.
“The naked truth is that this well site is not at all an appropriate site for lots of reasons to do with the impact on local receptors and businesses and the transport, traffic and road implications are also impossible.”
The main application is now due to be discussed by councillors on 16 April 2020 after the most recent in a series of postponements.
Updated 13/3/2020: Committee updated from 25 March 2020 to 16 April 2020