Regulation

Officials again back UKOG plans to drill at Dunsfold

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.

High Loxley Road with proposed site entrance on left.

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.”

80% opposition

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.

Conditions

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

DrillOrDrop reports

Officer’s original recommendation to committee

Refusal of planning permission by June 2020 committee

8 replies »

  1. Bullying and underhand tactics from big business against local people and our beautiful, precious planet. We will not give up and we will prevail. People and planet above profit.

    • George Wilson

      I find much irony in you term of bullying!

      Local residents are local residents. If you have bought or rent your property, buisness or a piece of ground there your rights of ownership are clearly described in it’s title deeds.

      The reality is that being local gives you no rights over what happens within the boundaries of someone else’s deeds.

      The government has clearly set out & sold oil & gas licences & issued work schedules to the licence purchasers & operators, UKOG in this instance to be completed.

      A site has been selected & advice has been issued that the application meets the national planning requirements.

      I accept & understand that you & others may not be happy about the situation.

      As with many things in life if we can not accept the outcome you have the opportunity to move as a free individual & no one can or will stop you.

      Good luck with your decisions. Sometimes they can be painful, but sometimes a new beginning brings unexpected benefits.

  2. “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.”

    So nobody important / statutory consultee has objected?

    Will be approved by the Planning Committee or at appeal….

      • john Powney

        This is the appraisal of a discovery application for up to 3 years not a production licence application & is the whole point of the application.

        Should it not be successful the site will be plugged & abandoned after returning it to a improved environment from it’s current neglected state.

        It would not be the first site that UKOG has restored & improved for the community & environment & may not be the last.

        While I am a little sad that you are not happy about this application, the well-being of our nation & its peoples is of paramount importance especially at such a difficult time.

        Sometimes in life others need to come first!

  3. Why, jP??

    If you followed that route very few start up companies would be allowed to start up!

    Including Tesla!

    Oil and gas exploration is a high risk venture for those businesses involved. Other companies that were always advocated as the secure risk, change over time eg. M&S, so there may be Councillors and there may be antis who are ignorant of such things, but if that ignorance is incorporated into any decision it will fail-and cost. It has done before, so no reason it should not in this case. £400k penalty at Wressle-this one could be bigger.

    Looking at Paula’s comment about 2030, then the need has now been further enforced. So, that’s one gone!

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