Campaigners celebrate as oil companies walk away from Leith Hill

Leith Hill heart
Local people show their love for Leith Hill

Campaigners are celebrating as a cohort of onshore oil firms have been forced to walk away from the controversial proposed oil drilling site at Leith Hill in Surrey.

The consortium of UK Oil & Gas Plc (UKOG), Angus Energy and Egdon Resources Ltd has decided to relinquish the licence after concluding that “the required long-reach/shallow target-depth wells are neither technically viable or economically feasible”.  

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New briefing: Why we don’t need more onshore oil in the UK

UK Government energy policy and local planning rules on onshore oil developments need to change, say campaigners.

The Weald Action Group has published a briefing Why we don’t need more onshore oil in the UK, which refutes claims made by the onshore oil industry that their developments are needed to maintain energy security, that UK oil has a lower carbon footprint than imported oil, that they provide local jobs and that they are needed for plastic production. 

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‘Art for the Earth’: Online sale to raise funds for Horse Hill legal challenge

Works by established artists go on sale today to raise funds for an important legal challenge supported by the Weald Action Group.

Contributing artists including Ackroyd and Harvey, Merlyn Chesterman RE and Surrey-based Kiri Jones and Ali Tomlin are taking part in the sale, organised by Ann Stewart, which is found at artatwag.artweb.com

Work on sale includes paintings, woodcuts, photographic prints, ceramics and glassware, at prices ranging from £25 to £1,000. Artists will donate 33% of the sale price – and in some cases 100% – to the cause.

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Green light for legal challenge to Surrey County Council’s support for 20 years’ oil production at Horse Hill

 

Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing on this case in February 2020

Sarah Finch, a campaigner from Redhill, has been granted permission by the Appeal Court for a Judicial Review of Surrey County Council’s decision to allow the drilling of four new oil wells and 20 years of oil production at Horse Hill, near Gatwick in Surrey.

Sarah Finch and many others had objected to the proposed development by UK Oil and Gas for a range of reasons, including climate change. When Surrey County Council approved the plans in September 2019, Sarah issued a legal challenge, with support from the Weald Action Group. She claimed that the Council had failed to consider the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of the project, and the government’s Net Zero target for carbon emissions.

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UKOG’s application to drill at Dunsfold refused

Lane to Dunsfold
The drill site is beautiful countryside, accessed by narrow lanes

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. 

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Oil company injunction watered down further as campaigners celebrate – press release

Faith at the Gate, Horse Hill
Faith at the Gate gathering outside the gates of the Horse Hill site in Surrey before the lockdown

Campaigners are celebrating a significant weakening of an injunction, which set out to target peaceful protest at unconventional oil sites in Surrey and Sussex.

The High Court has agreed a variation of the Order by UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) against ‘Persons Unknown’, removing clauses relating to their supply chain, combining together to protest and ‘gathering and loitering’ at the sites.

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Angus Energy pulls Balcombe three-year well test plan – but will submit further application

Residents of Balcombe in West Sussex have welcomed the withdrawal of oil company Angus Energy’s planning application for a three-year well test on the edge of the village.

However, they warn that the fight goes on, as a company statement to shareholders announcing the withdrawal on 1 May also said that Angus intends to submit an updated application for a shorter test within six weeks.

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