Surrey villagers continue fight against gas site

The community group, Protect Dunsfold, has said it is not giving up its challenge to UKOG’s Loxley gas site in Surrey.

The High Court turned down the group’s paper request for a judicial review of the planning permission granted by the levelling up secretary in June 2022.

But the group said today the issues were too important to drop the case and it would ask the court to review the decision at a hearing.

The challenge to gas exploration on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is supported by the Good Law Project.

Sarah Godwin, of Protect Dunsfold, said:

“We have been campaigning since 2019 to stop this application by UK Oil and Gas Plc to drill for hydrocarbons.

“It is hard to understand why the government sees fit to overrule Surrey County, Waverley Borough and local Parish Councils when there is a declared climate emergency and strong local resistance to this application.

“The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a vital green area providing safe habitat to many and varied wildlife, flora and fauna plus providing a popular rural environment for visitors and residents to enjoy.

“We intend it should stay this way and we are grateful for the support from both the local councils, Good Law Project and the community. We will not back down.”

The Good Law Project said today the Loxley well site could cause “severe damage” to the Surrey Hills and could open the door to future projects that would add to the UK’s carbon footprint.

Jo Maugham,  of the Good Law Project, said:

“We share the local community’s determination to keep going.

“After a summer of unbearable heat and wildfires, the impacts of climate change on life in the UK have never been clearer. 

“It baffles us that Liz Truss and her government think digging up more fossil fuels is a good idea and without any public mandate whatsoever are threatening to go back on their word on fracking.

“We will continue to stand side-by-side with the local people of Dunsfold in their campaign to protect the environment.”

Project Dunsfold and the Good Law Project have instructed Leigh Day Solicitors, Estelle Dehon QC (Cornerstone Barristers) and Alex Shattock (Landmark Chambers).

We understand that Waverley Borough Council, which was also turned down for a judicial review, will also seek a hearing on the decision.

DrillOrDrop invited UKOG to comment. The company did not respond. But it made a formal statement to investors on 14 October 2022. This welcomed the refusal of permission to Protect Dunsfold’s paper request for a judicial review. It said:

“It is the Company’s and its legal counsel’s view that, whilst further challenges by either claimant are to be expected, the emphatic rulings of both the SoS and Justice Lang make the likelihood of their success highly doubtful. In any case, the Company will continue to rigorously defend its position in any subsequent action as and when it may occur.”

Updated 14/10/22 to include UKOG formal statement

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