UKOG loses costs bid in Dunsfold drilling appeal

The government has refused costs to UK Oil & Gas plc in its successful appeal over gas exploration near Dunsfold in Surrey.

UKOG document submitted to the public inquiry, which opponents said showed that lorries would have to encroach on common land to navigate the junction. Source: public inquiry documents

The company had sought undisclosed costs against Surrey County Council, which refused planning permission for the Loxley gas site, against the advice of officials.

UKOG won the appeal after a public inquiry and was granted planning permission earlier this month (June 2022).

But the company’s bid for costs has been turned down by the housing minister, Stuart Andrew, on the recommendation of the inquiry inspector.

UKOG had argued that Surrey County Council acted unreasonably in its case that operation of the Loxley risked highway safety. This meant UKOG incurred unnecessary or wasted expense, the company said. It also accused the council of using weak and flawed evidence to support its case.

The council countered that the refusal was supported by expert evidence that the proposed highway arrangements gave “proper cause for concern”. The views expressed at the public inquiry were both “reasonable and substantiated”, the council said.

In a formal decision, Mr Andrew decided:

“a partial award of costs against Surrey County Council, on grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’, is not justified in the particular circumstances. The application is therefore refused.”

The inspector, Mike Robins, had stated:

“A challenge that a Council has found against the advice of their officers is no basis for an award of costs; what has to be shown is that the Council have not then justified and substantiated their continued defence of that reason.”

Mr Robins said he did not consider it unreasonable that councillors, with their local knowledge, had concerns about the proposed traffic management issues at the site.

He also said he did not consider the council’s approach to highway safety was unreasonable. He said:

“As a result there would have been no wasted expense on dealing with this matter”.

UKOG has six weeks to challenge the costs decision.

  • Mr Andrew was acting in behalf of the communities secretary, Michael Gove, who recused himself from the decision because the site is near his Surrey Heath constituency.

7 replies »

  1. What you need to consider is that the company incurred some costs in overturning the decision and will expect to recoup them from the development. The council on the other hand will have incurred substantial costs failing to defend their decision which they will have to recoup from the council tax payers.

  2. What do I think?
    Very much along the lines of Mike. The tax payers have paid, they could have paid more as per Wressle. You must be very “proud” Jono, having added to the cost of living for the tax payers. Nothing compared to the £160B (it will be more, it always is with nuclear) they will have to fork out for new nuclear to prop up that renewable sector that now is not as advertised ie. “cheap”, or the extra costs accrued from E10 petrol, or perhaps up to £2B to patch up Rough, or green levies on energy bills, or the £6k for heat pumps that will suddenly morph to around £20k for most households.
    I could go on with the list, there is more but it is already pretty long. I suspect you will get the gist of what I think. Basically, as against the anti mantra of the polluter pays, how about the protestor pays? Otherwise, it does look to my agricultural eyes a rather parasitic lifestyle.

  3. Well said Martyn, the protesters and XR activists have forced a situation of energy insecurity leading to the inevitable increases in energy costs which are now spiralling out of control ( inflation 9% up ) and major strikes beginning again as a consequence, more turmoil for the country.
    Greta’s young followers (as on the news the other night) are now asking what lies ahead for their financial futures due to the present situation.
    What they don’t grasp is that the management of a country is a finely balanced economic strategy that can (and now is ) be adversely affected by other world events as is happening now.
    But as always the UK will survive as we always have but unfortunately we will have to endure personal financial pain to redress the balance.
    Unfortunately the spoilt society may have to start cooking their own food and being more alert to what they spend their cash on, like we older ones have had to do all our lives, perhaps post war history should be brought to the fore for people to realise it has all happened before, and we survived to make the UK strong again and give them a much better life than their forefathers.

  4. Oh please, behave yourselves , there isn’t any oil or gas onshore that will solve the current energy crisis apart from Wytch farm , about 85% of UK daily usage (14000 bopd ) these minnow lifestyle companies don’t produce enough for one fuel station to be open for half a day . Please tell me which protest has stopped anything? Nothing would come from Loxley for years yet even if they find any . You need to change your record as it’s too boring to listen to anymore.
    The state of the economy is down to corrupt government and the dodgy mates fraud , HS2 and Trident , rubbish PPE , Tories deals not a few flag waving activists locking on outside a site that produces 60 bopd if they are lucky .

  5. Oh, so what you are saying Jono is that the activities of the antis have been such a waste of time! Yet, you have affirmed on this site you saw fit to help fund them. So, money down the drain then, yet you refer to those who invest their money to try and assist energy security as mug punters.

    By the way, the latest site that such activities cost the local community £400k, is reported to be producing at around 1000 barrels per day whilst it is restricted. So, please make your record accurate.

    I agree that individual sites are likely to produce relatively small amounts- so the disruption will be small. Sorry, Jono, you may get further controls from your buddies for admitting that. And the people around Loxley may not be too happy with you undermining their position.

    And, an individual wind turbine, even when working, produces little in the grand scheme of things. So, your argument falls down, again.

    I can understand you getting excited but do still try and keep things factual. Little of the total for HS2 has been spent, little of the investment to replace the existing Trident delivery has been spent, and the percentage of rubbish PPE was a pretty small percentage that was quite reasonable when all countries were desperately trying to source whatever they could. The state of the UK economy is the same state as most economies around the world, Jono, so you are back to trying to hammer in jigsaw pieces that obviously do not fit. The big exceptions to that world situation? Oh yes, those countries exporting oil and gas!! Oops, reality can be distorted but it soon shows the real situation and those who so obviously just want to distort..

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