Community group and local council challenge Dunsfold drill decision

Waverley Borough Council and community group, Protect Dunsfold are both seeking judicial review of the Government’s decision to allow exploratory drilling for fossil fuel at Dunsfold, on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Surrey Hills.

Surrey County Council had twice refused this application by UKOG (234) Ltd, a subsidiary of UK Oil & Gas (UKOG).

UKOG appealed and a Planning Inquiry was held in July 2021. The appeal was referred to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and in June 2022, Housing Minister Stuart Andrew overruled the refusals and granted planning permission.

Protect Dunsfold has now applied to the High Court for a judicial review of this decision. The group is supported by the Good Law Project.

Sarah Godwin said: “Protect Dunsfold has fought consistently for the past three years to represent the concerns of those most impacted by UKOG’s application for exploratory drilling.

“Neither local nor national interest is served by imposing a project harmful to one of the nation’s most sensitive landscapes by inflicting such industrial activity whilst brushing the environmental consequences of continued fossil fuel exploration under the rug.”

Jo Maugham, Director of Good Law Project, said: “We have some questions. Why, in the aftermath of the hottest day ever, are we wanting to dig up more fossil fuels? Why are we doing it next to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? And why is Government afraid to let the people of Surrey make their own decisions about what works for their community?

“We are proud to stand side by side with Protect Dunsfold.”

The Good Law Project is launching a crowdfunding page to support the funding of this case. Please go here to support: https://glplive.org/surrey-hills

The Waverley Borough Council executive also voted unanimously to seek a judicial review of the decision. Cllr Paul Follows, chair of the Waverley executive, said, “[the decision] “will have significant and intolerable impacts on our local environment, upon our local businesses and is clearly against the wishes of those residents most local to Dunsfold and I believe a clear majority of the residents in Waverley at large.”

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