A council which opposed drilling for gas near a Surrey village has taken the first step to fight ministerial approval of the scheme.
Senior members of Waverley Borough Council voted today to seek a judicial review of last month’s decision to grant planning permission for an exploration site at Loxley, near Dunsfold.
The council’s executive also approved funding to cover initial costs at the High Court.
Cllr Paul Follows, chair of the Waverley executive, hinted that costs could be shared with local organisations and other councils.
“It is absolutely my hope, without breaking any confidences with other parties, that we will not be alone in this endeavour going forward.”
The unanimous vote came hours before the deadline for appeals against the decision by the then housing minister, Stuart Andrew.
Waverley Borough Council had objected to the scheme by UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) because of its impacts on climate, landscape and local businesses.
The executive heard there were grounds for a legal challenge but the details were discussed behind closed doors.
In the public section of the meeting, Cllr Follows described Mr Andrew’s decision as “perverse and disappointing, but not surprising”. He said:
[the decision] “will have significant and intolerable impacts on our local environment, upon our local businesses and is clearly against the wishes of those residents most local to Dunsfold and I believe a clear majority of the residents in Waverley at large.”
Cllr Steve Williams, the portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, said:
“It is ironic that we are meeting in extreme weather conditions, symptomatic of our climate crisis, to discuss a challenge to the decision of the Secretary of State to allow UKOG to continue its quest for more fossil fuels when we need to be moving towards a world of sustainable energy and one of reducing energy consumption, rather than expanding it.t
“I see it as my public duty to reflect the widespread public disquiet over these proposals and support Waverley taking the first step on the road to the proposed judicial review.”
The executive heard that the initial challenge could cost about £13,500. If the High Court refuses Waverley’s request for a judicial review, the council may have to pay a similar level of costs incurred by the communities’ secretary.
- DrillOrDrop asked UKOG for its reaction to today’s vote. This article will be updated with any response.