Council to vote on legal challenge to UKOG gas drilling

Council leaders are due to decide next week whether to take court action against gas drilling near a village in Surrey.

Lorry route to UKOG Loxley well site on left. Photo: Surrey County Council

Last month, the housing minister, Stuart Andrew, overturned Surrey County Council’s refusal of planning permission for exploration by UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG) at Loxley, near Dunsfold.

Now, an opponent of the scheme, Waverley Borough Council, is considering whether to bring a challenge at the High Court against Mr Andrew’s ruling.

The borough’s executive of senior councillors is holding a special meeting on Monday (18 July 2022), just a day before the deadline for a challenge.

A report for the meeting described the potential consequences of the government ruling as “significant”.

It said gas exploration could have impacts on climate change, the environment, landscape, road safety and local businesses.

The report also said:

“Waverley Borough Council has received legal advice that outlines that there are grounds for legal challenge and the potential for success”.

This advice has not been published. The press and public are likely to be excluded when it is discussed.

If the meeting backs a legal challenge, councillors will also vote on spending £13,500 needed to register the case at the High Court.

The court may refuse permission to bring a challenge. If this happens, the borough risks paying legal costs for the government and UKOG.

Waverley Borough Council was a Rule 6 party at the public inquiry into the Loxley scheme in July and August 2021. This allowed the borough to call and cross-examine witnesses. UKOG was also opposed at the inquiry by Surrey County Council and local residents.

The borough’s executive comprises 10 councillors. They include the leader of the council, Paul Follows, and the deputy, Peter Clark. The council is controlled by a partnership of Farnham Residents and Liberal Democrats.

In approving the Loxley proposal, Mr Andrew said there would be a “significant level of landscape and visual impact” but the effects would be short term. The impact on local businesses would be “moderate, Mr Andrew said. There would not be any “significant adverse impacts” on road safety, he said.  

Meeting details

Monday 18 July 2022, 1pm, council chamber, Waverley Borough Council offices, The Burys, Godalming, Surrey. Link to agenda

11 replies »

  1. I would also point at the Sarah finch case.
    The high court pointed out that finch had made two representations to the SCC planning application and her points were duly considered

    Waverley council had its opportunity to address SCC and the planning inspectorate and it was duly considered too

    The SOS appeal considered the planning inspectors response in making its decision

    Did Waverley make a climate change aspect as part of its appeal , no. Climate change was not challenged although UKOG had a climate change expert on standby , I recall??

  2. Tony S

    Gas is to become a green fuel in the UK and in Europe.

    This project should be welcomed as part of the transition to net zero 2050, while helping secure energy security and revenue for the changes ahead.

  3. He anybody who has commented in support of UKOGs plans for Dunsfold ever travelled that road, run any of the local businesses, measured the impact this will have on the environment and climate impact. Have you been there?

    • Paula C that road would have been serviced by horse and cart many moons ago, for commute, business and industry, it now carries many cars / bikes / vans / lorries and tractors which is todays mode of transport, the road has not changed since then, I’m sure, apart from being resurfaced to tarmac and ofcourse an increase on the usage, the environmental impact and climate impact was less when horse and cart were used, do you agree it would be better to revert to back to horse and cart to suit the point you are trying to raise?!??

    • Yes I have been to the site on a few occasions. The “traffic “ generated by the site is minimal. If you look at Horse hill , there is less traffic from that. Site than the stables next door, with its heated swimming pool for horses.

      Loxley will generate far less traffic and road miles than the wedding venue. ( upto 500 guests) and lower decibel levels than they are permitted too …

      Bio digesters generate more traffic , and look up crouchlands farm West Sussex.
      I live next to a Taylor Wimpey site and have had 5 years of tipper lorries, pile driving. Cement trucks.
      Nail guns, excavator buckets smashing. Visiting Horse hill is a peaceful refuge for me

      My first comment is the fact of what the high court said, and deals with. The high court will not tolerate the waffle presented to the planning inspector by Waverley.

      Brighton booster looks like an oil well? Really ?

  4. Eli-Goth

    That is exactly what many would like.

    They have no credible alternatives for the interim between now and 2050 but want to collapse the lives of the majority in the mean time.

    Let’s see the public mood after what could be another winter of discontent.

  5. I have yet to hear about the disruption/increase of traffic regarding house building!

    In that case very significant during building, considerable after. Loxley seems to be pretty insignificant in comparison. Houses get built because people want houses. Perhaps gas is explored for because people want gas? Not sure it takes £thousands of tax payers money to determine that.

      • MH, just suggesting that common sense is used. Mind you, wasn’t it this Council who were pontificating about the site being OIL exploration? Maybe common sense is just not that common when it comes to spending other people’s money..

        • Martin Frederick Collyer

          By the end of the 2022/23 winter they will all of spent a lot more heating and lighting there homes.

          The question is what it will take to get the message through. Knock, Knock.

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