Protest at High Court by opponents of Surrey gas drilling

Protesters from across south-east England gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London this morning to voice their anger at the government overturning Surrey County Council’s refusal of planning permission for gas exploration near the village of Dunsfold.

The council twice blocked plans by UK Oil & Gas for the site, called Loxley. But the government reversed the decisions in June 2022.

Protest at the Royal Courts of Justice against Surrey gas drilling , 2 March 2023. Photo: XR Photographers

Waverley Borough Council and the local community group, Protect Dunsfold, are seeking a statutory review of the government’s move. They are backed by the Good Law Project.

Their supporters outside the court this morning included parish, town and county councillors, local community groups and members of Extinction Rebellion Surrey .

The case is expected to focus on potential harm from the drilling site to local landscape, roads and businesses, versus any economic benefits.

Protest at the Royal Courts of Justice against Surrey gas drilling , 2 March 2023. Photo: XR Photographers
Protest at the Royal Courts of Justice against Surrey gas drilling , 2 March 2023. Photo: XR Photographers

Sarah Godwin, from Protect Dunsfold, said:

“This application has been refused twice by Surrey County Council. The nation is demanding rapid action on the climate emergency, and it’s more urgent because of global instability and war.

“We’re glad that the Good Law Project exists to challenge these important government decisions on environmental issues, funded by popular subscription”.

Kirsty Clough, of The Weald Action Group, a campaign network which opposes oil and gas developments in southern England, said:

“Exploring for more gas is not the answer to the fossil fuel price crisis. It will do nothing to alleviate the high energy bills being faced by consumers now and it’ll make the climate crisis worse.”

Waverley Borough Council said in a statement:

“The government’s decision … is bad news for the people of Waverley, bad news for the natural environment and bad news for the planet.”

A Godalming town councillor and Extinction Rebellion activist, Chris Neill, said:

“The resistance to this destructive project has been running since 2019 and it won’t stop after today whatever the court’s verdict.

“The determined cooperation between different campaign groups, elected councillors and ordinary citizens is great to be a part of. This is how we’ll win the battle against the fossil fuel industry and against climate breakdown.”

Last year, UK Oil & Gas welcomed the government’s award of planning permission. The company’s chief executive, Stephen Sanderson, said:

“We welcome this decision and its backing for Loxley’s gas as a secure, sustainable energy source with a far lower pre-combustion carbon footprint than imports. Backing UK domestic gas makes strategic, economic and environmental good sense. We look forward to moving the Loxley project forwards and to working constructively with the local community.”

Announcing the decision in June 2022, the government acknowledged that the UKOG proposals conflicted with some local planning policies and that they would degrade the qualities of the setting of the nearby Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But he gave great weight in his decision to the benefits of gas exploration and appraisal.

6 replies »

  1. Tories will lose seats over this?? The products will be straight away sold on the open market so what is the gain??

  2. Hmmm. Strange, I was just logged into my energy supplier and there it was-UK oil and gas reducing my energy bill. If I had done so in USA I could have noted the same, but via other means where again “strangely” they pay less for oil and gas-and most that follows- because they have more. In Norway, same thing, but more focus upon most that follows.

    Yesterday, I listened to someone from the HoC waffling on about an energy company that has little involvement in UK oil and gas, and moaning they were not contributing enough to reduce my UK energy bill! (Bless.) Yet, he wanted them to be stopped from doing more. Catching, this new virus, isn’t it?

    Well, I think I must have seen a solution that “wise” persons seem to have missed, or just want to mask with fabrication. UKOG wish to add to that solution, up to the wafflers how they re-direct, if it comes to that.

      • Oh thank you so much Jono for showing how unable you are to actually deal with reality. Someone else paying for your energy?

        Reading what I had posted I note over 75% was not about me. Yet to arrive in HoC, not in USA or Norway at the moment.

        “Masking with fabrication”……confirmed. The inconvenient truth remains inconvenient, the fabrication just focuses attention upon it.

        “What is to gain” question was interesting. A very little bit of research might answer that question eg. what is to gain if one grows courgettes in a garden just outside of a kitchen compared to growing them in Spain and trucking them across Europe to a British Supermarket that then delivers them to same kitchen. The environmental credentials are pretty weak in some quarters, aren’t they!?

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