Balcombe – extension plans unanimously refused

Plans to extend the highly controversial oil site at Balcombe have been turned down in a hugely significant decision by West Sussex Councillors.

Angus Energy had applied for a one year extension to carry out flow testing. But time and again Councillors mentioned the climate crisis, the need to move away from fossil fuels, and the existence of alternative sources of energy such as the Rampion wind farm.

Cllr Andrew Baldwin summed it up: “As a country and as a world we need to get away from fossil fuels”.

Local residents spoke about the other impacts of going ahead with the development – including HGV movements past Balcome Primary School, threats to air quality, flaring and a lack of information from the applicants. Cllr Louise Goldsmith said it was “highly contentious and an important decision for the public and residents in the local area”.

The site will now have to be restored. The Planning Officer said it might go back to forestry but the details of the restoration scheme have to be agreed and Councillors were concerned about how to remediate the work already carried out.

Balcombe has a long and troubled history, with fracking being earlier proposed at the site. It has been the subject of fierce opposition and protests including the arrest of Brighton MP Caroline Lucas. Read our Balcombe site page.

Campaigner urges Minister to plug the carbon gap in planning law and policy

Surrey Campaigner Sarah Finch

Government policy needs to change urgently to enable decisions on fossil fuel applications to be properly assessed in light of the climate crisis. A campaigner from the Weald Action Group, who are on the frontline of a flurry of applications to expand onshore oil and gas in the South of England, has written today (22 February 2021) to the Planning Minister, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.

A recent Judicial Review brought by Surrey resident Sarah Finch failed because local councils do not appear to have the right tools to assess and then refuse planning applications which, by taking fossil fuels out of the ground, inevitably release millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned. Continue reading “Campaigner urges Minister to plug the carbon gap in planning law and policy”

Campaigners celebrate as oil companies cave in on injunction against ‘persons unknown’ at sites in Surrey and Sussex

Campaigners celebrate as UKOG backs down on its draconian injunction

The five Weald Action Group campaigners who planned to continue their challenge to get a draconian injunction quashed in the High Court at a hearing starting next week are celebrating as the UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) group of companies concede that they have to radically scale back the Injunction and agree a much reduced draft Order which they have now made public.

Continue reading “Campaigners celebrate as oil companies cave in on injunction against ‘persons unknown’ at sites in Surrey and Sussex”

Oil licence to continue to blight Leith Hill, regulator confirms to campaigners

Press release from A Voice for Leith Hill

Leith Hill. Image courtesy Ackroyd & Harvey/ Surrey Hills Arts / Photo From The Air

The licence to drill for oil and gas in the area covering Leith Hill in Surrey will still be offered to exploration companies, even though successive companies have failed to drill there.

Leith Hill, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, was the site of controversial plans to drill for oil by successive companies over a 12 year period. Europa Oil and Gas pulled out of the site in 2018 after a lengthy legal battle to get planning permission to drill at the site.

Continue reading “Oil licence to continue to blight Leith Hill, regulator confirms to campaigners”

Isle of Wight oil plans – new consultation

Plans to drill for oil on the Isle of Wight are open for another round of consultations with a deadline of February 12th. Please read the material and get in your objection before the deadline.

The consultation covers traffic and site issues, plus ecology, health and water issues. Don’t Drill the Wight has detailed briefings you can use and then personalise your objection.

Continue reading “Isle of Wight oil plans – new consultation”

Judge finds against Horse Hill legal challenge

A judge has found that Surrey County Council was not required to consider greenhouse gas emissions arising from the combustion of the oil to be produced at a site at Horse Hill, Surrey, when considering a planning application for massive expansion of oil drilling at the site over the next 25 years.

In a written ruling issued today, the Hon Mr Justice Holgate dismissed a legal challenge brought by Redhill resident Sarah Finch, who was supported by the Weald Action Group.

Continue reading “Judge finds against Horse Hill legal challenge”

Carbon cuts: latest UN warning and Government’s new target

The world’s governments must wind down fossil fuel production by 6% per year to limit catastrophic warming. This means reducing the supply of fossil fuels as well as demand for them.

These are key findings from the 2020 Production Gap, a new report from the United Nations. The report also finds that the UK is in a strong position to transition from fossil fuels, and to assist other countries in doing so.

Just a day later the UK Government announced a new target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 68% on 1990 levels. But the target doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.

Continue reading “Carbon cuts: latest UN warning and Government’s new target”

Dunsfold application refused for second time

Surrey Councillors have refused – for a second time – an application by UK Oil and Gas to drill at Dunsfold, near Godalming. The councillors recognised the huge impact the application for an exploratory drill would have had on the local community, local businesses, traffic, the environment and nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They also discussed the unsupported claims of UKOG that their operations would make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy security.

Continue reading “Dunsfold application refused for second time”