Investigation into virtual council meeting on UKOG drilling plans

200629 Dunsfold meeting

Members of Surrey County Council’s first virtual planning meeting refuse plans to drill at Dunsfold, 29 June 2020. Photo: Surrey County Council webcast

An investigation is underway following complaints about a council meeting that refused consent for drilling in Surrey.

UK Oil & Gas plc had applied for planning permission to explore for gas near the village of Dunsfold.

But a month ago, members of Surrey County Council’s planning committee voted by six to five to refuse the application, against the advice of officers.

The meeting, on 29 June 2020, was the council’s first “virtual” planning committee. Members took part by video link and the meeting was, as usual, webcast.

There were several pauses in the webcast, leading to some criticism at the time that the meeting was “not fully public”.

Some participants had to repeat their statements about the application.

Surrey County Council has not disclosed the nature of the formal complaints but DrillOrDrop understands it has referred them to legal counsel.

At the time of writing, the Dunsfold decision has not been recorded in the online planning application details.

200728 Loxley planning decision

Screen shot from decision section of website for UKOG’s drilling application, 28 July 2020.

A Surrey County Council spokesperson said today:

“I can confirm the Monitoring Officer is investigating the complaints. I believe they are also hoping to finalise responding to the people that have contacted the council soon.”

24 replies »

  1. This investigation has already been going for some while. Started not long after the “decision”.

    Needs to be legally certain, and that may be very difficult, otherwise it could make Wressle look like a peanuts penalty, IMO. No wonder it is taking some time.

    • Apart from the farcical meeting,it remains obvious that we need everything possible in this country to get going, create jobs and financially help the UK through these very testing times. Their is very little downside in allowing this to go ahead but possible upside for jobs and wealth for the country is paramount in my opinion , and think the council have been very shortsighted and selfish. More urgency around planning is needed and not so much red tape. The reasons for refusal were minimal. Think it is time for new blood on council committees. The Chairman needed to take charge and stop all the waffling that went on.

  2. Perhaps you are just indicating the lack of consciousness that may have produced this situation, Jono?

    In which case, you could be on the button.

  3. No, wrong Sarah. I am a strong supporter of UK oil for UK consumption, where possible-and the same with gas. Not too concerned whether that is UKOG or BP. Would prefer on shore, as that is less risk to the environment. Others can type on their plastic and not worry about where that comes from. We are supposed to be extremely worried about where plastic goes to (I am interested, and take the required action), I just take another step forward, and am interested where it comes from. If I fly from Gatwick (no more) then I was interested where the fuel came from that enabled me to do so.(Fawley Refinery.) If I speak with a Pilot who sees ships in and out of the Solent I am interested to find out where they come from providing the raw material to manufacture that aviation fuel.

    I have paid a lot of tax over many years, and still do. I have this strange notion that I would rather UK industry pays more tax via more industry, so I have to pay no more, or even less. Then, I might try another hybrid or go one step further.

    I take an interest in things I see and come across. 2010 could be a vintage year, or not, but interesting!

    We will see from this investigation what is found. I suspect it will not be the last of the investigations unless it results in a reversal and I did post that some weeks ago. There is a reason for this first investigation and that reason can be ignored by some, but not by SCC. It is not about winning v losing, but something quite different.

    I have posted on DoD for some while and commented upon planning meetings coming to a “decision” and having to find a reason AFTER that meeting. This is a recipe for disaster and will ultimately result in such decisions being made elsewhere. Maybe this time, maybe later, but if it continues, it will happen. I quite like local democracy, but not UDI.

  4. I might have been interested if your comments added something to this article Martin but sadly it did not. Obviously your opinion matters but was it really worth sharing in this instance? We were all aware that this decision has been going for some time and that it is important but to dare to predict the outcome is just ridiculous. [Edited by moderator].

  5. Except, Jono, I have not predicted an outcome.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but it was you who blew it.

    Pleased though that you find my comments so interesting. Maybe you would get even more from them if you actually read them fully?

    And, no, “we” are not “all” aware. I posted to help the real “we”. I believe that added something. I am not sure a yawn did.

    • Jono… You question if Martins comments added anything to the article? I presume you think your “Yawn”… added something? Time to get a new jacket and boots matey as soon you could be attempting to slow walk and winters coming.

      • And who was it jP who stated there was plenty of cheap gas sloshing around the world, a few days before the Beast from the East??

        And to think people actually believed in that nonsense and should invest their time reading more.

        There are many sources of info. jP. You are obviously pretty selective and subjective, but not alone in that. Doesn’t mean others are. May take me, Paul and a few others to show that, and then show the same again and again, but not a problem.

  6. Some Climate deniers believe the Earth is flat and Covid is a hoax . Which bits or all of Science do you not believe Martin and Maurice?

    • Cree Tilbury

      Are you one of those deniers who believe that indigenous oil will not be more beneficial for the environment & the UK economy than transporting oil half way around the world creating more pollution.

      Fortunately or unfortunately we are where we are & it has been clearly stated by the government that we are in a transition period to net zero carbon emmisions by 2050.

      That does not mean no carbon emissions.

      Producing indigenous oil will have a net minus carbon emission by reducing the carbon emissions that are currently created in the import of that oil.

      It does not mean any more or less oil will be used as there are currently still so many requirements for that oil & despite all the current UK production it is not enough to meet demand.

    • Cree – just look at the Facebook pages of many of the antifrackers -many don’t believe that fossil fuel usage impacts climate, many are anti 5G and anti-vaccines. It’s the pro-frackers who tend to be strong in science not antis

    • Well, Cree, have you EVER seen me deny climate change?? No, you have not, so stop arguing with your own fabricated nonsense. Stick to reality.

      I will tell the bit of science I DO believe:

      From the late Professor Sir David McKay, chief scientific adviser:

      “There is this appalling delusion that people have that we can take this thing (renewables) and just scale it up and if there is a slight issue of it not adding up, then we can just do energy efficiency. Humanity really does need to pay attention to arithmetic and the laws of physics.”

      So, based upon SCIENCE I am not a climate change denier, but you are deluded! Perhaps you think you know more than Sir David, but somehow I think I will go with his assessment, as I have yet to see an anti who can provide anything that demonstrates a real alternative, other than the revert to yurts brigade. Leave me out of that option.

      (You could also take the UN SCIENTIFIC report that advised governments they should maximize use of LOCAL resources to do their best to combat climate change. There are many who won’t. Perhaps direct your anxiety to them. UK could do more, including IOW.)

      My property is ALREADY fully insulated, double glazed and enjoys an air sourced heat pump. So, what could help me improve my carbon footprint further?? Oh yes, the fossil fuel I still use could come from a local source, just like using the local farm shop instead of flying in French Beans from Kenya. Science plus common sense. Try it. You might find that the increase in artificial rubber production at Fawley to meet the Covid-19 demand for medical equipment helps to scientifically keep people alive. Oh, and all my plastic is incinerated to produce electricity or recycled.

      I have investigated hybrids and tried two (thanks to profit from UKOG past investment.) They were rubbish, so I have rejected. I have looked at solar panels but they are way down my bucket list unless the UK “enjoys” some more climate change. My local solar farm has covered quite a large area of agricultural land for 99 years, was built by a gang who came over from Poland to do so, and most of the equipment travelled from China, who are now supplying same to Afghanistan to increase the output of illicit narcotics, now doubled, Oh, and my local solar farm has changed agriculture land into land for development so the housing estates are under construction on the neighboring fields.

      But, if you want some more SCIENCE try looking into the cancer risk of cobalt, and the reality of the court cases following children dying from being forced to grub it from the ground.

      There is a lot of science out there Cree.

        • Island W

          My understanding is that the site has been chosen very well in a industrial part of the island which is compatible with the other industrial uses of its neighbours & keep energy & waste in one area of the island so as not to cause a interference.

          Should you have taken the time to read & understand the diligence & care that has gone into this application to achieve it’s objectives while meeting the many regulations & requirements for this to be a successful application you would have a better understanding than you do.

          Your frustrations do not represent the law of the land & should you have taken the time to see & understand the responses of the statutory consultees maybe you would have a clearer understanding even if you still disagree as they may wish to do but they have a job to do & obligations to uphold!

        • Except they are not. They are looking for oil in an area that is NOT prime agricultural land, hoping to find some oil that can be processed LOCALLY to such products as red diesel to enable those with prime agricultural land LOCALLY to be productive.

          Just about meets all the UN suggestions around local usage to mitigate against climate change. Green oil.

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