UKOG submits appeal on Dunsfold refusal

UK Oil & Gas announced this morning that it had lodged an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for its proposed Loxley gas exploration site near the village of Dunsfold in Surrey.

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

Surrey County Council’s planning committee rejected the company’s application for the second time on 27 November 2020. A first refusal on 29 June 2020 was rescinded after technical problems during the online meeting. Both decisions were against the advice of planning officers, who had recommended approval.

In November, councillors voted by six votes to five to refuse because of the impact on the road network and landscape.

The appeal will be considered by a government-appointed planning inspector, probably at a public inquiry. UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) said it expected a decision by the end of this year.

In today’s statement to investors, UKOG said its lawyers had advised there were “strong grounds to expect a positive appeal outcome”.

UKOG’s statement of case to the planning inspectorate said the Loxley site would not compromise highway safety or have a significant adverse impact on the appearance, quality and character of the landscape.

The company has argued that methane gas from the Loxley site could be converted into hydrogen, helping the UK achieve net zero carbon emissions.

UKOG’s chief executive, Stephen Sanderson, said today:

“We take comfort that the future of Loxley as a low-impact hydrogen feedstock project will now be decided by a professional planning inspector, who must consider hard facts, not fiction, and arrive at a decision that is wholly consistent with the objective evidence presented. Our planning case is strong and we remain confident of a positive result.”

Opponents of UKOG’s operations in southern England have argued that the use of hydrogen to meet UK carbon targets does not justify an expansion of the domestic onshore oil and gas industry.

A briefing paper by the Weald Action Group, published in November last year, said there was no need to make hydrogen from fossil fuels.

Statement of case by UKOG to the planning inspectorate

18 replies »

  1. So, “opponents”, just import to produce hydrogen??

    Hmm. Maybe, if you are someone who wants to export to UK. Otherwise, no sense to that and a loss of UK tax revenue to assist the development of such technology. Yes, it is known that hydrogen can be produced from other sources BUT it is also known why that has not accelerated.

  2. Looks like Sanderson is trying to fire up potential investors – the inspector will be ”professional”, facts will be “hard” , the decision not just consistent with the facts, but “wholly” consistent with the “objective” facts and ignoring “fiction”. Of course he has to proclaim his “comfort”, his “confidence” and the strength of his case. Sadly his hoped-for “positive” result is likely to be a negative result for the planet. Let’s hope potential investors will be alert to these Trumpian methods of influencing them, and keen to invest in the future and not in the past. If direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuel concerns were stopped immediately, money might well become available for investment in, amongst other things, less deleterious methods of hydrogen production.

  3. “a low-impact hydrogen feedstock project…” This is highly misleading. It’s not a proposal to generate hydrogen, it is a proposal to explore for gas. UKOG would have no control over how the gas gets used once it is produced.

    The Committee on Climate Change’s 6th carbon budget report sees lower use of fossil fuels, particularly for power and hydrogen production, compared to their 2019 scenarios. This sees gas demand fall by around 75%, largely replaced by increased offshore wind which is used to produce electricity and electrolytic hydrogen. See page 44

    • So, Sarah, what controls are there on the use of power from wind turbines, once produced?? Could be used for anything. Maybe powering a factory farm, a sweat shop or illicit production of drugs! Maybe that’s why there are protests against Aquind? LOL.

      Sorry, but that is a lot of nonsense.

      But, so is the comment from 1720, who seems to have missed the FACTS that SS was referring to the FACT that the Appeal will be heard by an official who will be tasked with looking into the FACTS, like the Planning Officer and the Legal Officer. And, another FACT is that SS hardly needs investors to cough up for an Appeal. Based upon the experience at Wressle, very likely to be the locals who pick up the cost-who might then hope UKOG are successful and can plonk some funds back into the local coffers.
      Subsidies for fossil fuel? Twaddle. £28 BILLION in the UK every year in fuel duty (TAX-not subsidy), for starters. How did the wind turbines get established? Massive subsidies, still being paid by the consumer within their energy bills.

      (Still waiting for anyone to suggest where that £28 BILLION PER YEAR replacement would come from, so without that £28 BILLION, LESS to become available for anything.)

      Once again, the old, tired policy of trying to hammer pieces into the “jigsaw” that anyone with eyes can see do not fit.

    • Sarah, the exploration well is being constructed hydrogen ready. If it goes in to production only the hydrogen comes out of the ground… the carbon is left behind.

      There is no green or grey hydrogen, it’s all green. You can add up to 15% hydrogen to existing piped gas to make existing existing gas supplies even cleaner, or you could fuel hydrogen engines in cars, lorries or power stations. It can fuel full time power stations or surge power stations

      It is an exciting green development you should be embracing

  4. Notwithstanding the Trumpian capitals (which never convince (!)), in 2015 the IMF estimates that the fossil fuel industry received more than $5.3 trillion in indirect and direct subsidies, 6.5% approximately of global GDP. Just by way of comparison, the US wind industry has received an estimated $12.3 billion in direct subsidies since 2000. I doubt that the UK figure is much more than that, but Martin, possessed of the facts – capitalised or not – will of course know. Strangely enough, I managed to work out what SS – (you choose your acronyms well!) – was referring to.
    Not a policy, Martin, no jigsaws, just a slight worry about what you consider to be facts when the only fact that matters is that we are destroying the planet at a rate which can only increase because of deniers.

    • Iaith1720 – perhaps there is more to this subsidy issue than you think?

      “In the U.S. alone in 2016, $18.4 billion was spent on energy subsidies; $11 billion of that went to renewable energy and $3 billion to energy efficiency.”

      “A study by the University of Texas projected that U.S. energy subsidies per megawatt hour in 2019 would be $0.5 for coal, $1- $2 for oil and natural gas, $15- $57 for wind and $43- $320 for solar. Many of the renewable energy subsidies come in the form of a Production Tax Credit (PTC) of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Wholesale prices for electricity in 2017 were between approximately 2.9 cents to 5.6 cents per kilowatt hour. Therefore the wind production tax credit covers 30% to 60% of wholesale electricity prices.”

      I think you will find that subsidy per unit energy output is significantly greater for renewables than fossil fuels.

      The linked data is just for the US but it is a direct comparison.

      • I hope you’re right, Paul, and that renewables are receiving more in the way of subsidies in the US. Thanks for this. I was just responding to Martin’s “Subsidies for fossil fuel? Twaddle.”

          • I know, Paul, and I accept there is a gap here, but I believe that gap will be bridged rapidly once the subsidies are diverted in this direction, leading investment. In the meantime, to the extent that we need to import from existing sources, i believe we should do so rather than mine new sources which will have to close down rapidly.

            • Your premise is incorrect, 1720.

              Please explain what is controlling those we import from from mining-no, drilling-new sources? You do not need to do too much research to see that there are a number of countries already planning to do just that.

              What happens when an exporting country has a well that dries after exporting for a period? Oh yes, they drill a new one. So, there is no keeping it in the ground. All the data indicates UK will continue to utilise oil and gas for many decades to come, so it will come out of the ground from somewhere. Maybe Nigeria? Have a look at the announcement only today regarding Shell and Nigeria. I think I prefer Surrey or Sussex!

              This nonsense circular argument about there being a global climate issue and then the inability to look over the horizon is completely flawed. It may be the only way that the argument can work, but it is incorrect. And, you have still not answered how the extra subsidies you want will be paid when £28BILLION/year is removed from the Chancellor-and that is only the tip of the fossil fuel iceberg of revenue. Come on. Don’t be shy. Raising tax elsewhere is the only answer. Afraid to let people know that?

              I a sorry but your dogma will only slow any transition. People need to see how they can transition bit by bit and make a difference that doesn’t bankrupt them. The last election result in Australia should have taught a lesson, but it seems not. Repeat the same mistake and the lesson will be the same.

    • So, 1720, you avoided to explain (wonder why) how £28 BILLION PER YEAR FUEL TAX in the UK is really a subsidy! Maybe you have some data to show that MORE than £28 BILLION PER YEAR is dished out to the fossil fuel industry in the UK? If you don’t, there is NO net subsidy, but net tax. Compare UK fuel prices with US and elsewhere, and you will see that UK raise a lot more tax from fossil fuel.

      Red diesel is indeed a “subsidy”, as reduced tax is gathered. BUT, is it a subsidy to fossil fuel or a food subsidy?

      Land owners in UK “convinced” to install wind turbines with a net profit of £150k/year per turbine whether the electricity was needed, or not. Yes, that is a real subsidy. But, of course, they did it for the planet! LOL.

      And wrong again. Not a denier. Just do not agree with the nonsense about something needs to be done (wonder who stated that), and the somethings that are suggested are just individuals fantasies. The something that is perfectly simple, and quick to do, is source materials locally (if possible), (as recommended by many an environmental report) but you object to that so it is yourself trying to deny that simple positive contribution to the environment, due to a dogma that trumps (oops) reality. I will grow my French Beans and not airfreight them in from Kenya. That is clearly better for the environment, and clearly doing something, so why is it different for oil and gas?

      Not as simple as hanging labels, is it?

      So, another question for you, asked previously that you could not answer. How does your rejection of HS2 help the planet? HS2, or more motorways? You can of course object to HS2, but if you feel that gives you the right to stick a label upon someone else with a different understanding of how to improve the environment, you really do need to look more at the maths. and the physics, and visit France and look at the TGV, where the maths. and physics were examined and they came up with a solution to benefit the environment, and it did, and it still does.

      • A masterpiece of irrelevance.
        Subsidies and tax serve different purposes. We may both be right – the subsidies still do their job in encouraging, directly and indirectly, the fossil fuel concerns to keep going even if at the end of the day they pay for it in tax.
        If landowners are profiting from subsidies for renewables, then so be it. They do not by virtue of their decision to install wind turbines deserve to have their integrity impugned en masse. Wind is less polluting than fossil fuels!
        As I think I’ve said before, I agree totally that local sourcing where possible is in general to be preferred. So please don’t produce your alternative facts with respect to me. Your domestic production of French Beans is commendable, not so the domestic production of oil and gas. Think about it.
        I really don’t want to get involved in HS2 discussion with you. Life is too short. Suffice it to say that the cost of HS2 could have done wonders for our national rail services. Perhaps you know a lot about how the large SNCF network benefits from the TGV and how the TGV benefits the environment. You will also know that the distance between the main cities in France is considerably more than in the UK. However….

        • Yes, your definition of your masterpiece was correct,1720! But, I did still continue and tried to make sense of it.

          So, which “subsidy” for fossil fuel would you remove? Would it be the tax discounted red diesel? If so, how much would then be added to cost of food?
          I have noted this argument about fossil fuel subsidy is unable to be demonstrated when challenged.

          Of course there are certain subsidies to encourage local production of oil and gas-and when that is achieved, it is taxed to the hilt, in the case of UK. But, it is you who quote ” keep it in the ground” all the time, so yes you do try and counter local sourcing. Whilst UK is a net importer someone is NOT keeping it in the ground, which makes your mantra irrelevant. So, yes, I have thought about, it and I prefer my oil and gas to be produced locally (if possible) under the most stringent environmental standards across the world. Just as I do my French Beans, or my chickens, my pork, lamb, spuds, beef, my roses etc etc. I certainly don’t regard those who consume those items and then tell me I shouldn’t, as individuals I should follow, so I don’t. And, like the majority in the UK, I have gas heating and it has been blasting away during January and now into February and I will get a large bill. If some more of that large bill was kept within the UK ,ie. more UK tax, I would quite like that, as I might not get such a large bill then to help fund the NHS. Sorry, Norway, but I just believe you have already had enough to build a Sovereign Wealth Fund of over $1 trillion which would indicate you have done pretty well out of exporting to UK, and unlike your salmon, I see no product difference between Norwegian and UK gas, so I prefer UK gas as I no longer travel to Norway and take advantage of what you are investing my money into. And, if Nord Stream 2 is cancelled, you can easily find another market.

          There are maps available for you to check the distances envisaged for HS2 and to compare with the TGV. You will find some longer, some shorter. My most recent trip on the TGV was a trip about the same distance as London to B’ham. And the UK national rail services are not going to be starved of money due to HS2, indeed record sums are being invested in other rail services. Perhaps you could clarify the pay back of HS2 over the century following construction? Without that, the cost is just one side of the equation-the sort of maths. much loved by the antis (although you claim not to be one, but admit to being anti HS2)! I think you will find the TGV has been quite expensive to build also, so your point is incoherent.

  5. SS playing the green card at the last minute. No mention of methane gas conversion to hydrogen in any of the planning documents that I could find. Only time it has been mentioned by SS is at the SCC planning meetings.

    • Green card?

      Seems hydrogen production is not green unless it satisfies the anti fossil fuel brigade totally.

      However, hydrogen production is being considered for vehicles/trains and housing, so it should be no surprise to anyone, apart from a few Councillors.

      Of course, SS could also be attacked if he played the Life card for any oil drilling proposals, with Fawley Chemicals plant increasing output of synthetic rubber to help deal with Covid-19. But, as hydrogen and synthetic rubber are realities of fossil fuel, not a game but everyday fact.

  6. As I thought-no answers! As usual. Loads of whinging but no answers.

    Whilst working up an excuse, try looking at the report from Carbon Tracker that suggests $13TRILLION will be LOST from Government revenues by 2040 if oil and gas revenues are lost, and for some countries a loss of 40% of total revenue.

    Now, some may react that is okay, but the majority will think what that means, and where that money is currently invested and what will replace it. Well, folks, I can supply the answer. It will not be, or if it is it will be from higher taxes.

    Enjoy that prospect.

    (And, yes, I have highlighted the key words to assist those who otherwise have a habit of missing the key words.)

    However, the price of oil still continues to rise. The markets tend to get these things more right than reports and polls, so take your pick.

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