Regulation

Breaking: Brockham oil production plans approved

Plans to revive oil production at a small site in the Surrey greenbelt were approved this morning.

Opponents of Angus Energy’s oil production plans at Brockham,
Surrey County Council offices in Reigate, 27 April 2022. Photo: DrillOrDrop

County Councillors voted by 8 to 2 in favour of the Angus Energy scheme for its site at Brockham near Dorking.

The company was granted planning permission to produce oil from the site’s BRX4 well until 2036. It was also allowed to reperforate the section of the well in the Portland sandstone formation.

But the company will have to apply for further consents to carry out the work.

Council planners had recommended approval of Angus Energy’s application, saying there was a “demonstratable need” for the scheme to address the “ongoing demand for oil”. Angus Energy had argued that oil from Brockham would reduce UK imports.

The site, which has five other wells, has produced no oil for more than three years. Since production began at Brockham in 2002, no oil was extracted in 78 months. A sidetrack well was drilled in  January 2017 without planning permission, though this was later granted retrospectively.

The planners said the latest application was “appropriate development” in the greenbelt.

They said it would not harm residential amenity, heritage assets, flooding or groundwater. They also said it would not “conflict with the government’s climate change agenda”. Production from the BRX4 well would avoid the need to drill a new well, the planners said.

Location of Brockham oil site, with Dorking to the west. Photo: Surrey County Council

Opponents of the scheme included Mole Valley District Council, Brockham Parish Council, Weal Action Group, Brockham Oil Watch and more than 100 members of the public.

Weald Action Group said it was “misleading” and “a deliberate red herring” to suggest that oil extraction at Brockham would reduce the need for imports. There was no current government energy policy in favour of a strategic need for further exploitation of UK onshore oil, the group said.

Brockham Oil Watch said the application went “against the policy direction to reduce climate change impacts”.

Brockham Parish Council opposed production from the Portland formation because of “associated environmental risks”. It was also concerned about lorry traffic in the village.

Resident Jerry Hamilton told today’s meeting

“Angus has exposed gaps between regulators and pushed the boundaries to see what they can et away with. This does not give the local communities the peace of mind it deserves.”

He called for the site to be restored. But he said if the application were approved there should be monitoring boreholes to identify any contamination of groundwater.

George Lucan, Angus Energy’s managing director, said the company was a very different from the one referred to by Mr Hamilton.

Speaking by video link, Mr Lucan said since he took over Angus had been fully compliant with regulations and residents had been invited to visit the site. He said oil production would be done safely.

Too swift a transition to low-carbon energy would damage household finances, Mr Lucan said.

Cllr Helen Clack, the local county councillor, said local residents had lost trust in Angus Energy. She said she had not been invited to visit the site.

She questioned whether 15 years of oil production could be considered temporary. She asked whether Angus Energy would cease activity if there was any seismic activity until after professional investigation had proved no connection with production.

Cllr Clack asked whether Angus would establish a community liaison group. She said residents had previously experienced bad smells from the site during production. She also said lorry traffic could have a big impact on narrow local lanes.

Angus Energy’s oil site at Brockham. Photo: Surrey County Council

Conflict of regulations

Cllr Catherine Powell, a member of the committee, said there was a conflict between environmental permits for the Brockham site and the planning application.

Last month, Angus Energy was granted a permit to reinject waste water at Brockham from the site itself.

This would help to improve the flow of oil from the Portland formation, Angus has said.

But residents are concerned that Brockham could become a waste water disposal site.

The meeting heard that Angus would need to make a separate planning application to inject waste water from other sites. Cllr Powell said there should be a condition in the current application specifically preventing the import of waste from other sites.

The Environment Agency has said Angus would need to apply for a radioactive substances permit to import waste water from other sites It must also apply to change the permit to perforate and extract oil from the Portland formation through BRX4.

Need for production

Cllr Jeffrey Gray described Angus Energy’s case for the need for production at Brockham as “flimsy”.

He said there was a very small chance that the well would contibute in a very small way to national energy supplies. He asked “Where is the bar in terms of needs? Is it a very low bar?”

Cllr David Lewis said the national demand for hydrocarbons had changed in recent weeks, because of the war in Ukraine. Whatever Surrey could do as a county should be considered in a positive way, he said.

Stephen Jenkins, planning development manager, said government policy had identified a national need for hydrocarbons.

Cllr Penny Rivers asked for a condition to prevent the export of any oil produced at Brockham. Mr Jenkins said this was not possible because it was beyond the company’s control.

“Then how can you argue national need?”, Cllr Rivers asked.

Mr Jenkins said the UK imports a lot and exports a lot of oil. He said it was a very low threshold. It adds to mix of energy supplies that the government requires, he said.

Conditions

Planning permission was granted on condition that a legal agreement prevented lorries reaching the site through Brockham village.

There were also nearly 20 other conditions covering issues including working and delivery hours, noise levels, surface water management, flooding and decommissioning.

Councillors also asked for a condition of a more sustainable alternative to diesel generators and for the formation of a community liaison group.

20 replies »

  1. So, Martin.
    To (?) clarify, you do/don’t think we should go all out in exploiting domestic fossil fuels.
    You do/don’t accept the IPCC scientists’ conclusions that we don’t have another 28+ years before we have to abandon fossil fuels.
    No, Martin, I’m not plonking the words out there, and trying to state they were yours, I’m still seeking, as you will see, that ever-elusive clarification.
    I’m beginning to think that in so far as you have a position, it’s on very shaky ground, no sooner asserted than denied.

  2. I have already clarified, 1720, although it was not really needed.

    Now, “we” have Sir Jim offering £2.5b-yes BILLION-to help the victims of the war in Ukraine. So, is that greenwashing or is it not? Are you willing to match it? If a bit of UK fossil fuel helps him to generate £2.5b to spend in that way, then good for him. It is not the first time he has spent a lot of money supporting good causes, yet he gets no thanks for it from certain quarters.

    “We” would not have to abandon fossil fuels at all, if they were decarbonized. And you wonder why I find some quotes just nonsense.

  3. Diversion to the irrelevant 1720, to your theories on an identity characterised by a number you don’t understand, to Jack, to the Daily Mail, to the hairdressers and to a cake shop.

    Meanwhile, Martin, or whoever “you like to be” today, you still maintain we will be using FFs until well beyond 2050, and that it makes sense that these should be home-grown.
    So you think we should develop and produce FFs in the U.K.
    Secondly, because scientists have made mistakes, you have chosen to reject their 3-year warning of irreversible damage if FFs are still exploited.
    This you deny.
    You said:

    “I reject some scientific nonsense, 1720. Usually, it is either obvious nonsense or subsequently proven to be so. For example, which scientists should I follow on using cereals to produce vehicle fuel? Some said it was an efficient way to reduce carbon footprints, others now say, oh no it isn’t. None said how much it would increase the price of food as US farmers jumped in, planted more cereal and less soya, that increased animal feed prices and thus animal protein in the shopping baskets around the world.
    There were also scientists a while ago stating that the irreparable damage had already been achieved! Then, there were those who stated “we” should all buy diesels, others who said they should be nice clean German diesels!”

    QED

    The consequence of such ‘clarification’, to wit – No, you’re wrong to say I believe we should exploit FFs/But that is indeed what I believe, and , No, you’re wrong to say that I reject relevant IPCC warnings/But I do reject such science – as you have provided is that those of us, desirous of the entertainment you furnish, are still having to wend our weary way between denials and affirmations of what you have just denied.

    However, it’s all good clean fun provided we know what to expect.

  4. Well, 1720, what a lot of confusion you attempt to create around something so simple. Not for the first time, but I will not be so mean as to revisit.

    Sorry, you have yet to show the Emperor is wearing some clothes. You can copy my words, but the next step is to try and understand them. It really is not that difficult, unless you are just more interested in attempting to show something which is just not intelligible. Where you quoted “you said” and then repeated my words-where were they not correct? Just read them as is. Where are they not correct? Maybe inconvenient, but they are correct. You can do a bit of research, for once, and you will still find them correct. You can look at your previous posts and remind others of how you disagreed with the UK Chief Scientific Officer. That is also a correct statement. Now it would appear your disagreement is looking around £150billion incorrect, so I suspect you will remind no one about that.

    However, you have clarified my need to maintain the link with 1720, so thanks for that. I was expecting an attempt to separate from that irrational exuberance linkage but doubling down on it is your choice. There were other options.

    Not to worry. You have seen the light regarding what is a fact now, and you appear easily swayed to change your decisions, so who knows what will come next. Although why I should be educating the “teacher” is not apparent to me. I merely supply my own opinions, supported by facts, not a “we” in sight, and if someone disagrees they can easily attempt to show where I am incorrect. You could try it one day, just for a change. I learn from people who disagree where they can do so rationally. Not sure whether anyone learned a great deal from 1720 except that irrational exuberance can cost a lot of money, although not £150billion. Some back then thought they were more intelligent as well! As was the proposition within the HCA cautionary tale. It is often the proposition, infrequently the reality.

    However, 1720, you should save a lot of money for the NHS if you follow the “experts” are always right, route, and ignore the evidence that they often are not. No second opinions, much cheaper, but perhaps missing out.

    Now, much as you would would like this to be our chat page, I would suggest that one to one tuition is not the purpose of this section, so will wish you a good long weekend, whilst I continue to cultivate my local production, transferring it from over the horizon and reducing those darned transport emissions. Cucumbers and strawberries this weekend.

  5. I’ll try and make it simple – you deny that my summary of your position is correct, and then you affirm that my summary is indeed your position.Hence the Collyer-engendered confusion. Twice.
    Simple enough? I really cannot, even for you, state the obvious more simply.

  6. You have no need to summarize my position, 1720. I have stated it quite clearly, several times. You are unable to show what I have stated is not correct.

    Why not try something of your own, as you are unable to show my comment is incorrect? Inconvenient and incorrect are not the same-just check the OED again.

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