Dunsfold Inquiry – WAG statement on no need for more onshore gas

The Dunsfold Planning Inquiry opened today with UK Oil & Gas appealing against refusal by Surrey County Council for a new fossil fuel site.

Although the grounds for refusal focused on landscape and highways impacts, UKOG raised the issue of the need for more onshore fossil fuels and the policies it says support more exploration.

Kirsty Clough presented a statement to the Inquiry, on behalf on the Weald Action Group, challenging these claims. She told the Inquiry:

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Dunsfold Planning Inquiry – please object

UK Oil & Gas Plc (UKOG) is appealing against Surrey County Council’s decision from November last year to refuse their application for the exploration and appraisal of fossil fuels  at Loxley in Dunsfold.

The appeal is now open for representations to the Planning Inspectorate – even if you’ve already objected to the proposal. The deadline is April 6th.

Dunsfold briefing for objectors – please use your own words and send in your objection before the deadline.

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”

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.

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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.

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