Two cyclists have begun a 1,000 mile ride to Spain in a campaign to stop oil extraction at Horse Hill in Surrey.
Simon Sinclair, from West Byfleet, and Sam Swain, from Folkestone, (both 31) aim to raise £6,000 towards the costs of a legal challenge due in November.
Their month-long journey to Barcelona began in Kingston and included a stop at Horse Hill. There, they met activists, including Sarah Finch, who is bringing a case against planning permission granted by Surrey County Council.
Simon Sinclair, a member of Kingston XR, says:
“A lot of people are worried about climate change but don’t know there is currently oil drilling happening in the pristine countryside of Surrey. When I found out about it, I was horrified. Surrey County Council has to take some of the blame as it recently gave UK Oil and Gas permission to produce oil for the next 20 years.
“UKOG are planning to build and develop more sites like this, in Dunsfold and down to the Isle of Wight, as well as in Turkey.
“This will increase our carbon emissions and destroy natural habitats when we’re in a climate emergency – and just as the International Energy Association has called for a ban on all new oil, coal and gas development. We think more people should know about what is happening here.”
Sam Swain said:
“Simon and I feel cycling is one of the best ways for society to move away from fossil fuels, while also benefiting mental and physical health. We met six years ago and since then, no matter where I’ve been or what I’ve done, Simon has always been there for me. I could not think of anyone better to share this trip with.”
Sarah Finch, who needs to raise £25,000 for court and legal fees, thanked the pair.
Her case centres on whether Surrey County Council should have taken account of the greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil produced at Horse Hill. Ms Finch argues this should have been considered when the council made its decision to grant planning permission. The council argues that it needed to consider only the emissions resulting from the process of production.
Ms Finch said
“With the world facing up to catastrophic climate change, the full impacts of fossil fuel developments need to be taken into account in the planning process. I believe that Surrey County Council’s failure to consider the climate impact of burning the oil produced at Horse Hill was unlawful.”
The case is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal on 16 and 17 November 2021.
At the time of writing, the cycle ride has raised £2,016. It can be supported here
It is also supporting the Full Cycle project in Kingston, Surrey, which repairs bikes that would otherwise would be scrapped, and offers them at low cost or free to less advantaged people.