Plans by UK Oil & Gas to drill at the village of Dunsfold in Surrey are due to be decided in the morning (Monday 29 June 2020).
The county council’s planning committee will discuss the scheme to explore for oil and gas at High Loxley Road.
The meeting, which begins at 10.30am, will be held virtually and will be webcast.
Five local people will have three minutes each to make the case against UKOG’s plans. The company is also expected to speak in favour of its proposals for vertical and horizontal wells at the site.
Council planners have recommended approval of the planning application, even though 78% of comments to a public consultation opposed it.
There have been objections from Surrey Wildlife Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Waverley Friends of the Earth, Waverley Borough Council and parish councils representing Dunsfold, Bramley, Alford, Witley and Cranleigh.
The nearby Dunsfold Aerodrome said the application had not properly considered the existing and proposed uses at Dunsfold Park, including the current operational airfield.
The proposed site is just outside the Green Belt and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is next to an ancient woodland and is in an Area of Great Landscape Value.
The Surrey Hills AONB said the proposal would “would be a seriously incongruous feature in the Area of Great Landscape Value and compensation should be provided if mitigation is insufficient”.
Other reasons given by opponents of the scheme include:
- Proposal is against government policy
- Errors and incomplete information in the application
- Lack of economic benefits
- Unacceptable impact on local amenity and businesses
- Noise, air quality, lighting
- Risk to highway safety at Pratts Corner junction and High Loxley/Dunsfold road junction
- Impact on ecology, archaeology, heritage and rights of way
- Clear felling on nearby woodland would expose the well
A report by planners, that will be presented to councillors, acknowledged that the site was in a sensitive landscape and that the scheme would bring a “more industrialised feel” to the area. There would also be an adverse effect on local businesses.
But officials concluded said the impacts on the environment and local people would not be significant and would be outweighed by the need for oil and gas.
Just over one fifth of comments to the public consultation supported the application. The main reasons given were economic benefits, reduce carbon footprint of domestically-produced oil and gas, need and low visual presence, noise and access.
An online petition against oil and gas exploration at Dunsfold, launched two days has collected more than 700 signatures.
- DrillOrDrop will be reporting on the planning committee meeting.