A campaigner against onshore drilling for oil and gas is to go to the Court of Appeal to challenge a decision by Surrey County Council.
Sarah Finch, from Redhill, will argue that the council acted unlawfully in September 2019 when it approved plans by UK Oil & Gas for four new wells and 20 years of production at the Horse Hill site near Gatwick airport.
Her case is that the council failed to consider all the greenhouse gas emissions of the project or the government’s net zero target for carbon emissions.
In February 2020, a judge at the High Court dismissed Ms Finch’s request for a judicial review of Surrey’s decision. (DrillOrDrop report)
But Lord Justice Lewison has now granted her permission to take her case to the Court of Appeal.
He agreed that her grounds for a judicial review were arguable and justified a public hearing. He also said there was a challenge to national planning policy because it was not “in conformity with EU law.”
Lord Justice Lewison said:
“That is a point of some importance which ought to be considered at a full hearing.”
Ms Finch said:
“I’m delighted that I am able to bring this Judicial Review and challenge the Council’s decision to allow 20 years of oil production in a time of climate emergency. This legal challenge is happening because of the determination and generosity of so many individuals and local organisations.”
Ms Finch is represented by the law firm, Leigh Day. One of its solicitors, Rowan Smith, said:
“Our client maintains that Surrey Council has failed in its obligations to assess the indirect greenhouse gas impact of the use of oil produced from this development, as well as to properly consider the environmental objectives of the government’s Net Zero target before granting planning consent. Sarah Finch is rightly delighted that she has been given permission to appeal.”
A full hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London could be heard later this year. Ms Finch has raised more than £22,000 towards her legal fees through crowdfunding.