The Weald Action Group has objected to Angus Energy’s planning application to produce oil at Brockham until 2036.
Angus is applying to retain one of the three wells on the site, BRX4, and reperforate it to allow for appraisal and production of hydrocarbons for a ‘temporary period’ of 15 years. The other two wells have been plugged and abandoned. Read the application documents here: https://planning.surreycc.gov.uk/planappdisp.aspx?AppNo=SCC%20Ref%202021/0165
Our objection focuses on the potential climate impacts, the contradiction with local and national climate policies, and the lack of need for the development.
No need for the development
We point out that current government energy policy does not support a view that there is a strategic need for further exploitation of conventional onshore fossil fuel reserves. Previous government support for onshore fossil fuel exploitation was based on the potential for fracking, which is now banned by the 2019 moratorium.
Meanwhile, recent reports by the International Energy Agency, Oil Change International and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have all underlined the need to end investment in new fossil fuel supply.
Both Mole Valley District Council and Surrey County Council have policies which do not support continued extraction of fossil fuels.
If this application were granted, it would lock in greenhouse gas emissions both from the site and from the use of the extracted oil up to 2036.
The application acknowledges that: “The operation of the established wellsite could be reasonably expected to give rise to emissions of greenhouse gases, associated with the use of on-site plant and equipment, the use of vehicles and from fugitive emissions from the wells.” Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas that is known to leak from wells and other infrastructure, with higher emissions from onshore than offshore operations. In October 2021, researchers from the Clean Air Task Force discovered significant emissions of methane at onshore oil sites across England. Brockham was not one of the sites they visited, however at nearby Horse Hill, five sources of methane and other gases were found, from three separator tanks, a connection hose and the unlit flare.
The application does not consider the emissions that will be released when the oil is burned (the ‘scope 3’ emissions).
Decision should be made in public
The scheme is currently listed to be decided by Surrey County Council’s planning officers under delegated powers. This means it would not go before the council’s development control committee.
As the Brockham site has been unproductive for years, this is effectively an application for new production and will be of high public interest. We have therefore asked that this decision should be made by the Council’s Planning Committee. This would allow for members of the public to address the Committee, and for decision making to be public and transparent.