Plans for new drilling and long-term oil production at the Horse Hill oil site in Surrey cleared another hurdle today.
A traffic management plan, required as a condition of planning permission, was signed off by the county council.
Council planners said “sufficient detail” had been provided in the traffic management plan to meet the condition of the planning permission. They approved the plan under delegated powers.
DrillOrDrop reported in January 2020 on the submission of the plan by the site operator, Horse Hill Developments Limited (HHDL).
A key ruling was that large heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) would be told not to cross the central white line of the road when they pulled into the site.
The plan was also required to show that care would be taken about vulnerable road users on Horse Hill and that there would be improved arrangements to manage the arrival of HGVs.
Other key information included details of peak HGV movements, deliveries and hours of operation, vehicle routing, measures to prevent material dropped on the road and arrangements for highway condition surveys, with a commitment to pay for any damage.
If protests delayed HGVs reaching the site, the plan should include contingency measures to prevent vehicles queuing down Horse Hill on to the nearby A217.
A report to the county council said there had been no objections to the traffic management plan from Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, Mole Valley District Council, the county highway authority and Salfords and Sidlow Parish Council.
Charlwood Parish Council, Weald Action Group and Norwood Hill Residents Association did object to the plan. Their concerns included that the plan:
- Did not meet the requirements of the condition
- Sought to change times HGVs could access the site
- Failed to demonstrate that HGVs would not cross the centre of the road
- Had insufficient gate management arrangements to prevent queues on Horse Hill.
They were also concerned about the safety of other road users on Horse Hill and the junction of the A217. They said any proposed holding area for HGVs should be named and complained that the operator had a history of poor compliance with conditions.
A further 44 letters objected to the transport plan. Comments included that swept path analysis, used by consultants working for HHDL, was not appropriate to deal with large HGVs and abnormal loads.
There were also concerns that there was insufficient room for HGVs to enter the site safely, not enough staff to manage site access and that lorries turning into the site caused congestion.
Objectors also said site gates should be set back from the road, traffic lights should be installed at the junction with the A217 and cooperation from the police should be secured.
- The Horse Hill planning permission is being challenged at the Court of Appeal at a remote hearing on 17-18 November 2020. Local campaigner, Sarah Finch, has been given permission for a judicial review of Surrey County Council’s decision. She will claim that the council should have considered carbon emissions that would result from the use of Horse Hill oil and gas.