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.
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 A first refusal on 29 June 2020 was rescinded after technical problems during the online meeting.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.