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. If fossil fuels are killing us, why are there more elderly people who have retired, with retirement dates pushed into even older age, out there stating that is the case?

    Perhaps look at life expectancy where fossil fuel is readily available and what it was before so? Or, just keep lying in the road stopping ambulances.

    • No-one is denying the benefits that fossil fuels have brought. However, science is clear that the burning of fossil fuels is driving climate disruption and that is killing people now in the global South (those who have reaped the least of its benefits) and poses an existential threat to life for our children and future generations. Profits from oil and gas are fuelling war and air pollution is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally. Faith Birol of the International Energy Agency stated: “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year [2021].”

    • Facile comments Martin. Of course fossil fuels have created a short term prosperity in parts of the world,and in those parts life expectancy has improved. But in the localities where fossil fuels are extracted and processed, lives are often cut short or blighted. Consider Texas, Nigeria, Equador for a start. And of course, as the banner suggests, climate change caused by fossil fuel use is already causing loss of life and livelihood in more vulnerable parts of the world than here in the UK. It is starting to be a noticeable factor in causing migration and social unrest. You can surely offer more thoughtful and informed comment than this, Martin?

  2. Oh, yes I can Neil.

    I can recall yesterday as I pulled over to let an ambulance pass with sirens blaring. Off to save a life. Guess what fuel that ambulance was using?

    If you think that is facile, and it is better to stop ambulances than allow them to save lives, sorry, but I am with the ambulance. If you think it is facile to allow media to print stuff you disagree with, then sorry I am with the free press.

    Why do I need to consider Texas? Great place. Masses of disposable income. $60k/year available for youngsters, who dropped out of school, washing dishes in Texas. Unfortunately, many take that disposable income and spend it on things they would be better without. Many do not. Mr. Musk who recently moved to Texas seems quite happy with life there. He then spends his money and his investors lose their money, but such is life.

    However, if you are concerned with production of oil and gas over the horizon, then perhaps UK can do their bit by producing as much as they can in UK? (Perhaps that is where facile comments really lead, Neil.)

    And perhaps Neil you should look at vulnerable parts of the world that have suffered natural disasters over centuries and compare the life expectancy now with the past. You might find that fossil fuel is allowing rescue and rebuild there that was never possible before and is not achievable without. It wasn’t even achievable in the N.East of UK recently when the storms did what storms do, and will continue to do, come what man may do. Perhaps you should let those in the N.East know that it is facile for them to expect rescue because it is inconvenient for your dogmatic approach? Good luck with that.

    As for Jakki, well goodness.

    Why did you not quote the CCC, who stated in February that “UK production, particularly of gas, had a smaller carbon footprint than the international average” ????

    Mind you, they also stated “there was a huge danger of global oversupply of oil and gas” which presumably means they are totally ignorant of the cost of energy. So be careful of quoting. Everyone seems to want to make a quote, a lot of them are absolute drivel far removed from reality.

    I simply repeat. Life expectancy is rising across the world and is CURRENTLY being very extensively supported by fossil fuel, including feeding the increasing populations. Remove the use of fossil fuel too early and then you will find life expectancy drops. Why does the UK need to generate more taxation? Oh yes, largely to fund the NHS which requires far more resourcing-because life expectancy is increasing, with the associated complex medical issues. Then the BMA can whinge about fossil fuel, which just happens to be keeping some of their patients free from pneumonia, and delivering other patients to their hospitals which all have back up generators (fossil fuel) in case of need, and are heated to high temperatures constantly as poorly people need extra warmth. Not to mention all the items that are used in those hospitals derived from fossil fuel to maintain the increased life expectancy. Perhaps better to whinge about the extra work dealing with the E-scooter accidents? Or, even better, to do some voluntary work overseas. Maybe in the DRC dealing with the consequences of kids handling cobalt, a known carcinogen, to enable those enjoying increased life expectancy in the wealthier nations to pontificate about life for our children?

    So, Brockham can progress. Some people can stand around whinging about it, and ignore China announcing it will INCREASE coal production by 300m tons this year, a 7% increase on last year, which was a 5.7% increase over 2020. Why? Energy security according to their officials who strangely disagree with CCC. UK announces a £150B addition to fuel bills to fund new nuclear to back up those “cheap” renewables. Energy security again. Yet, only a short while ago there was quote after quote about secure energy supplies. Hmm, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. No thank you.

  3. So, Martin, to sum up: you want the U.K. to go all out for fossil fuel development because FFs are still doing what we have to give them credit for – improving the living standards of a considerable proportion of humanity. This can only continue.
    The IPCC has got it wrong. Any discernible climate change, and you have discerned some, would have happened anyway, and any adverse deterioration of human health is due to ageing, one of the beneficent effects of FF use. Have I got it right? Is that your position? Any qualification of that position necessary?
    Just so that we know.

  4. No, you have not got it correct, 1720.

    That is a fact. (I thought you had moved on to now understanding what facts were?) Others, even amongst the “we’s,” can read what I posted and maybe have a little more ability to understand what they read rather than an inclination to attempt to distort it for their own purpose. They may not like the facts I posted but I would expect few will try your easy and lazy route.

    All out? What is all out? Certainly not Brockham. But, every little helps and is a little less for Ecuador or Nigeria to produce and that should please Neil-unless Neil was just making facile comments. Texas will produce more, as Biden will continue to pressure for increased production. What was he saying a short while ago to get elected, and compare that to now? Energy security seems to be even more than a trump (oops!) card today. Good job Trump kept the US industry in shape to expand even further, although I suspect there will be no plaudits for that.

    Meanwhile, UK has requested remaining coal fired stations in UK stay open, with Government confirming that they are exploring “a wide range of options to further bolster our energy security and domestic supply.” What was I saying about those previous recent quotes concerning energy security? Wonder where all this coal will come from and will the supply be secure? Hmm. “We” have plenty! Wonder how Starmer would sit that one out? Gain some Green vote, lose the Welsh vote by deciding made in Britain has mining exclusions?

    Cheer up, but quietly, 1720. The legislation has been signed off by the Queen now. It is past, and it is now fact.

  5. I think we know what “all out” means in this context. And you certainly seem to me to be saying that we in the U.K. should be exploiting FFs as far as possible.
    Do tell in what respects I have got your position wrong. I, possibly even we, wait with baited breath for clarification of your position.
    Just cut the verbiage and answer the question, can’t you, for the benefit of myself and any others who may be struggling.

  6. Why should I tell you the meaning of your own words, 1720??? Most of them are beyond my comprehension, unless I apply the irrational exuberance test to them, as implied by your 1720 tag.

    You plonked the words out there, and tried to state they were mine. They were not.

    Now, you wish to take your declaration further. Well, off you go-but quietly please.

    If you would like a repeat of my position, in my words, then: net zero is a transition, and to reach that in UK it will require use of fossil fuel well beyond 2050-and now probably much longer due to energy security suddenly being compromised, although the reality is that it was many years ago. The most efficient way, in respect of the environment and taxation income, is to utilise local sources where they are available, just as encouraged for other resources-see farm shops and lithium. Brockham Oil Watch could play their part, in watching that local oil production could be achieved with optimum standards-if that is not too far away from their motivation. Seems that would be what Neil would be able to buy into, although I do wonder when he added Texas into the mix. At least Brockham have something to watch, now.

    To overcome those simple facts, some, like yourself, have to resort to trashing the OED and also the simple laws of primary school arithmetic, where even the ones struggling with the subject may understand the concept of transfer from other interests. Well, that is your choice, not mine. Maybe you have an interest somewhere within import supply chains, maybe it is a need to belong to the “we’s, maybe you are an anarchist, but they are not my position.

    If you would like my speculation on the transition process, then I would just suggest that decarbonizing fossil fuel may play a much bigger part than some would currently like. Tough on their wish to find a cause to attach their bile to, but I suspect that may be the case. (There is always yoga.) It was certainly suggested by pretty qualified individuals from both Oxford and Cambridge Universities some while ago as feasible and attractive. Appears the Lib Dems have not embraced that possibility, with comments about stranded assets, but that probably just supports it is very likely! Goodness, their own geologist was unaware of the price of oil.

  7. Thank you, Martin. I’ll ignore the ad hominem rubbish.
    It’s good to have something a little more coherent to fasten on to although it remains puzzling that you part company with what appears to be a very large majority of scientists who argue that the planet is likely to sustain irreparable damage within the next few years if the development and exploitation of FFs continue, certainly well within “much (later) than 2050” as you surmise. Your reasons for espousing such rejection would be interesting to read.

    • 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!

      But, I am not alone. You rejected the scientific comment about arithmetic and physics even though it came from the Chief Scientific Officer for the UK. Now, following current events, he has been shown to be correct, yet you still argue as if he was not.

  8. Spoiler, this posting is of no interest other than to one Martin Frederick Collyer, aka…..
    I said I wouldn’t comment on the ad hominem bit but on second thoughts I’ve changed my mind.
    For there to be any implication such as you suggest is inherent in my 1720 tag, as you put it, your explanation of the tag would have to be correct rather than 100% erroneous. Your elevation of your own explanation into the status of fact to which you constantly refer as though it were indeed fact is akin to a possible identification of your own Martin Frederick Collyer tag with Donald J Trump. I take it that you would prefer me not to elevate this identification to the status of fact. I willingly refrain from doing so.
    I wonder if you get it!
    Please do not assume your own interpretations are factual because it was you who dreamt them up. As a statement of fact, before your pseudo-explanation, I do not think that the South Sea Bubble had entered my consciousness since A Level History days in the last century.

  9. You can be who you like on DoD, 1720.Jack has stated that for you.

    Why anyone should want to be a number is beyond me, or maybe it is to imply there are another 1719! 1720 does have a place in history which is only explained by irrational exuberance. Maybe it is my previous marketing life where subliminal messaging was all part of the intention. Maybe it is you that is following the US lead, although the1720th seems a bit excessive. I prefer to be the 1 and only.

    However, it is a useful reference to me when trying to understand the rational pathway that perhaps there isn’t one.

    (I find with Jack, if I insert a V it is like one of those extra lenses at the opticians, suddenly it all becomes clear.)

    You do still seem to have difficulty coming to a decision and sticking to it, though. I shall add that into the grey cells- “easily swayed”. Bit of a surprise, but life is better with a few of them. (Just read the Daily Mail in the hairdressers. Now, that content was a surprise?? Nope. Just a bit earlier than anticipated. I think I shall have to open a cake shop.)

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