The decision on the Dunsfold/Loxley gas exploration site in Surrey is to be made by the communities’ secretary, Michael Gove, it was announced this afternoon.
The proposal, by UK Oil & Gas plc, was refused twice by Surrey County Council in June and November 2020. After an appeal, the proposal was considered at an online public inquiry in July and August 2021.
Key issues at the inquiry were the impact of the site on the nearby Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and on local roads and businesses and climate change.
Dunsfold villagers had expected a decision imminently. They have planned a demonstration for Saturday 8 January 2022 to show that large vehicles would not be able to visit the site without breaking the law.
In a statement today, UKOG, said it had been informed by the Planning Inspectorate that the appeal decision had been recovered by the secretary of state. It expected ministerial involvement would lengthen the time taken to reach a decision.
The company had applied permission for gas exploration, not production.
But it said in the statement that it hoped the secretary of state would “carefully consider how Loxley gas, as a secure domestic source”, could help address questions about UK gas supply and “record high prices”.
The company said:
“The lack of weight given to future UK domestic gas supply and the resultant increasing import dependency exposes the UK economy and consumers to upwards gas price volatility and decreasing security of supply. New domestic gas, such as Loxley, could help mitigate this situation.
“The UK’s recent increased dependence upon imported Liquified Natural Gas, with 4-5 times the pre-combustion footprint of domestic gas, could negatively impact the UK’s net zero ambitions. Domestic gas, such as Loxley, offers a significant net zero advantage in this respect.”
UKOG has previously said that if it found gas at Dunsfold it would seek permission to use it as a feedstock for hydrogen.