Regulation

UKOG to appeal against refusal of Loxley gas exploration plans

As expected, UK Oil & Gas plc has announced it is to appeal against the refusal of planning permission for gas exploration at its proposed Loxley well site near Dunsfold in Surrey.

View of High Billinghurst Farm, whose boundary lies less than 100m from the proposed site. Photo: High Billinghurst Farm

The county council issued a decision notice on 15 December 2020 following the refusal at a planning committee meeting on 27 November.

The grounds for refusal were concerns about highway safety and the impact on landscape amenity.

This was the second time Surrey County Council turned down the proposal to drill vertical and sidetrack wells at the Loxley site. The first decision, by the same margin of six votes to five, was rescinded because of technical problems with the online meeting in June 2020.

Both decisions had gone against the advice of planning officers, who had recommended approval. Local councils and 84% of responses to a public consultation objected to the application. 

In a statement today, UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) said it would submit an appeal early in 2021. It expected a public inquiry would be held within six-nine months.

UKOG predicted it would win the appeal, based on legal advice from a planning barrister. The company said it had argued, at both planning meetings, that a successful project at Loxley would have a role to play in the government’s low carbon hydrogen policy. Gas from the site could be turned into hydrogen, with an estimated saving of 85% in carbon emissions, UKOG said.

This assumes that UKOG would produce blue hydrogen, where the carbon released by conversion was captured and stored.

Earlier this month, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said 85% was the top end of emissions savings from blue hydrogen and savings could be 60%.

The CCC said if blue hydrogen were “deployed in very large quantities, the emissions savings may be insufficient to meet stretching long-term emissions targets”. It also said zero-carbon options, such as electrification, were “strategically preferable to use of hydrogen”.

In today’s statement, UKOG also said domestically-produced gas had about a quarter of the carbon emissions of imported liquefied natural gas. It quoted from this week’s Energy White Paper which said the UK’s domestic oil and gas industry “had a critical role in maintaining the country’s energy security and is a major contributor to the economy”.

Weald Action Group, which opposes UKOG’s activities in southern England, rebutted this argument. It quoted the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, which said earlier this year that natural gas from the UK continental shelf created less than half as much greenhouse gas as imported liquified natural gas. But this was offshore gas from coastal waters, not onshore gas. Importing gas by pipeline, particularly from Norway, had a lower carbon footprint than gas from the UK continental shelf, the regulator said.

The Energy White Paper also said UK success rested on “a decisive shift away from fossil fuels to using clean energy for heat and industrial processes, as much as for electricity generation”.

Updated: A notice of strike-off against UKOG (234) Ltd, the company behind the Dunsfold development, was discontinued on 18 December 2020.

24 replies »

  1. Fascinating, Martin. So, just to clarify – the ‘antis’ you refer to in the majority of your postings are 1. those who would prefer to import goods rather than use home grown or home manufactured goods and 2.those who oppose HS2. Is that it? Why on earth are you posting on Drill or Drop if your mission in life is to denigrate these two groups? Fortunately, as you say, there are are not too many of these antis. (Not too sure, by the way. You’re probably right about the first group, but perhaps not about the second….but you’ll have both sets of figures, of course.)
    If you have explained who the antis were before, please excuse me, I must have missed it. Now I know. Enjoy your game, by the way.
    I’m not sure why I’m wasting my time over this, but it’s always nice to know what people are waxing hot and cold about – ie in your case, those who favour imports rather than what is produced locally, and/or those opposed to HS2.Count me in in the second group.

  2. Well, I already did that, 1720, as it was you who introduced the subject. Would have been unkind of me not to engage in what you thought was a relevant point-even though your introduction of it showed a somewhat strange grasp of maths., which is, maybe, why I thought the point was relevant to your other posts, and took note of it!

    I don’t think I have ever denigrated either group, 1720, just some of the methods of some individuals. What I have done, when appropriate, is correct false statements made or put the other side of the coin. I believe both are positive within a debate. Of course, if certain individuals want to limit the discussion to their own narrow view and/or want to embellish that with false statements that is part of any discussion-unfortunately. It would not be a discussion, though, would it, if left unchallenged? Just a series of monologues to create a comfort blanket or raise excitement levels.

    Must move on. More subjects to research for the Christmas quiz, with TV looking to continue to be a lot of padding between a lot of nothing.

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