Opponents of controversial gas drilling plans near the Surrey village of Dunsfold say they will put their toes on the line to show that large lorries will be forced to break the law when visiting the proposed site.
Residents, climate activists and political leaders plan to stand on common land on the verge of the planned vehicle route to the UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) exploration site.
The company has argued that heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) delivering to the site off Loxley Road would not need to encroach on the common land.
But organisers of the Dunsfold Toe 2 Toe event next month (January 2022) said the vehicle chassis and bodywork of HGVs must pass over the common land to navigate the junction at Pratts Corner, even if the wheels did not touch the verge.
A spokesperson for the campaign group, Protect Dunsfold, said today:
“It is clearly evident from UKOG’s own documentation that their vehicles must impinge over their own definition of the common land boundary at several points, when entering and leaving the site.
“They cannot do this legally without permission from the owner. The owner is Waverley Borough Council (WBC) and WBC will not be giving permission.”
The Dunsfold scheme has attracted hundreds of objections from residents, campaigners and local councils. Many argued that it contradicted the climate emergency declared by Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council, as well as national climate change targets.
The proposal was examined at a 10-day public inquiry in July and August 2021 and the inspector’s decision on planning permission is still awaited.
The Toe 2 Toe event is expected to be attended by local politicians, including the MP, Jeremy Hunt, Waverley Borough Council leader, Paul Follows, and the council’s environment and sustainability portfolio holder, Steve Williams.
Protect Dunsfold’s spokesperson said participants in the event would not obstruct the public highway at any time:
“Users of the highway will be able to pass freely at all times. Only oversize vehicles, which are unable to negotiate the complex and dangerous junction on the route to the proposed wellsite, will require specific permission from Waverley Borough Council (WBC).
“That permission will not be forthcoming for vehicles whose purpose runs counter to the climate emergency declared by WBC.”
The organisers said the event would not lead to people committing any of the new offences in the Policing Bill currently going through parliament because there would be no obstruction of the highway.
They also called on the government to revise planning policy in line with climate change priorities:
“Many who have become embroiled in the process are frustrated by the inertia built into planning policies which make it very difficult and expensive to change course when public policy clearly runs counter to the national interest.”
Referring to UKOG’s current share price of 0.10p, they said:
“It is to be hoped that the Government will quickly move to align all relevant policies and regulatory agency priorities so that these literally ‘ten shares to a penny’ speculative companies can no longer bolster their lifestyle aspirations at the expense of the general public.”
Date: Saturday 8 January 2022
Location: Pratts Corner, Dunsfold, Surrey