Surrey planners are recommending approval of plans by UK Oil & Gas to explore for gas near Dunsfold when the proposal is considered a second time next week.
County councillors narrowly refused planning permission, against the advice of officials, when the application was first discussed in June 2020. The development contravened local planning policies and its need had not been proved, the councillors said.
But the refusal was declared invalid because of technical problems during the online planning meeting.
A second hearing, set for Friday 27 November, will now reconsider the application for vertical and sidetrack gas exploration wells at the site, known as Loxley.
In an updated report to the committee, planners concluded that none of the issues raised since the first hearing changed their original recommendation. They said:
“Officers conclude that on balance, with proposed mitigation measures in place and the imposition of a number of planning conditions, the proposed development would not give rise to any significant adverse environmental or amenity impacts and meets the relevant development plan policy requirements. For these reasons, the planning application may therefore be permitted.”
Nearly 80% of the responses to a public consultation on the application were objections.
Waverley Borough Council and Dunsfold, Bramley, Alford, Witley and Cranleigh parish councils all objected, some of them strongly. Local groups, including Campaign to Protect Rural England, Waverley Friends of the Earth and Surrey Wildlife Trust, have also objected.
Since the first meeting, there have been a further 34 objections and three representations in support. There has also been a petition on the application.
The main reasons given for supporting the application included a need to produce gas in the UK, positive benefits to the local economy and businesses, energy security and a potential source of hydrogen.
Opposition to the scheme included impacts on climate change, questionable need for the proposal, adverse effects on local businesses, industrialisation of the countryside, highway concerns, damage to biodiversity, noise, air quality, residential amenity, health impacts and lack of consultation with a nearby gypsy, Romany and traveller community.
Dunsfold Parish Council has restated its objection to the application, particularly on climate change grounds.
Planners have recommended 34 conditions on the permission. They include controls on the duration of the permission, working hours, access to the site, transport planning, noise and lighting.
Since the first hearing, UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) has proposed eight new or amended conditions.
Planners have not accepted the company’s proposals on local procurement and economic growth, air quality monitoring, highways, traffic and access.
They have accepted a new condition prohibiting all heavy goods vehicle movements outside the hours of 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-1pm on Friday and Saturday.
- DrillOrDrop will report from next week’s committee meeting, which starts at 10.30am. The meeting will be conducted by online video conference and will be webcast. Agenda