Regulation

Borough council calls for refusal of UKOG drilling plans at Dunsfold

Waverley Borough Council has called for the refusal of planning permission for oil and gas drilling at the Loxley wellsite in Dunsfold, Surrey.

Hydrogeological model for UKOG 234’s Loxley wellsite near Dunsfold, Surrey. Source: UKOG 234 environmental permit application

An application, from a subsidiary of UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG), comes before Surrey County Council’s planning committee on Friday 27 November 2020.

The committee refused permission at a meeting in June 2020. But the decision was later ruled invalid because of technical problems during the online hearing.

Surrey planning officers have twice recommended approval of the application (DrillOrDrop reports here and here).

Nearly 80% of comments on the application have been objections.

Waverley Borough Council is a statutory consultee on the proposal. It held its first listening panel to give local people an opportunity to comment. The three-hour session in July 2019 heard from more than 20 people, all of whom opposed the scheme.

Waverley’s own submission raised concerns about:

  • Lack of risk assessments on hydrogen sulphide gas
  • Loss of ancient woodland
  • Impacts on protected species and other local wildlife
  • Detrimental impact on landscape and the neighbouring Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Councillor Steve Williams, Waverley Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, said:

“We’ve highlighted numerous planning grounds for rejecting this application and we are hoping members of the Planning and Regulatory Committee will reaffirm the decision they made in June to refuse the application.

“UKOG’s plans would cause unacceptable harm to local communities, businesses and the local environment with no identifiable local benefits. This is not what the community wants and their views should absolutely be taken into account.

“In addition to this, the applicant intends to drill directly beneath the new Garden Village being built at Dunsfold Park. This could seriously impact the delivery and viability of the proposed residential development, which in turn could have a serious adverse impact on our strategic housing delivery strategy.”

The council also said UKOG did not appear to have the funds to pay for reinstatement of the site. A press statement from the council said:

“This means that if oil is not found in commercially viable quantities at the site, the company could simply walk away, transferring liability for clean-up costs to the local community.”

In a statement last month, UKOG’s chief executive, Stephen Sanderson, said:

“Despite the further delay to the PCM [planning committee meeting] rerun, UKOG welcomes the opportunity to restate why its low footprint Loxley gas project is of material local and national economic importance, representing an opportunity to power around 200,000 Surrey homes from Net Zero compliant UK gas.

“The submitted development presents minimal visual, local business and highway impacts and already has a full environmental permit from the Environment Agency.”

DrillOrDrop report on the debate over whether onshore gas exploration at Dunsfold would help to tackle climate change

2 replies »

  1. The press statement from the Council showed they were not even aware the drilling is for GAS!!

    Not sure such “knowledge” will be that welcome, especially together with UKOG re-instating another site, as required, quite recently.

    Good job the officers have to stick to the reality.

  2. I wander if the council & local residents are prepared to have cuts to there other services from the council’s budget to pay compensation for the appeal to the planning inspectorate?

    The alternative is probably local council tax rises.

    Maybe Drill or drop would like to contribute a little more to local tax payments.

    Would Drill or drop like to comment on if it is prepared to pay more taxes?

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