Update 3 August 2020: The decision to refuse planning permission for oil and gas exploration at Dunsfold has now been ruled invalid following technical problems during the committee meeting, which was conducted online. There will now be further training for councillors and the decision will be taken again.
Local campaign group Protect Dunsfold said: “We have every reason to expect that the Committee reaches the same decision for the same planning policy reasons when it is referred back to Committee and we see no reason why it shouldn’t do so.”
The Surrey County Council Planning Committee today refused planning permission for an application by UKOG 234 Ltd to drill for oil and gas at Loxley, near Dunsfold in Surrey.
The application was for two exploratory oil and gas wells, just outside the village of Dunsfold in a rural, wooded corner of south west Surrey. The work would last for three years and involve 20 HGV movements a day and a 38-metre rig on the greenfield site for over a year.
It received overwhelming opposition from local residents, local councils and groups including Waverley Borough Council, the Surrey Hills AONB, Surrey Wildlife Trust and CPRE. 84% of people who took part in a public consultation objected.
The campaign group Protect Dunsfold said: “The Planning Officers report had recommended the proposal should be accepted. But throughout the virtual meeting there was much discussion and many questions to the officers.
“Several councillors seemed to come to the conclusion that ‘sometimes you just have to do the right thing’; they were ready to break with the standard responses that everything objected to was either taken care of or would be mitigated – be it highways safety, loss of local business incomes, destruction of the rural environment.
“One councillor remarked that ‘every democratic organisation that’s been asked to comment has been opposed’. It was also pointed out the concern that the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities living nearby had not been properly consulted.
“We applaud the councillors who showed they had listened to the valid concerns put before them and were prepared to take a stand.”