Tribute to campaigner Max Rosenberg

We pay tribute to Max Rosenberg, whose funeral was held today at the Clandon Wood natural burial site in Surrey. This is a message from the Weald Action Group, A Voice for Leith Hill, Brockham Oil Watch and the Horse Hill campaign.

Max was a stalwart of the campaign to stop fossil fuel expansion across Surrey. He has our ever lasting gratitude.  He was resolute in fighting proposals to drill for oil in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on Leith Hill – a battle that lasted nearly 10 years. In the end the campaigners won and thanks to Max for the huge part he played in the campaign and with the Leith Hill Action Group, the area remains unspoiled, beautiful and tranquil.

After that Max resolved that the drilling wouldn’t go ahead anywhere else in the licence area – which in the end led to the licence being surrendered. He went on to help Brockham Oil Watch stop the expansion of drilling in the village.

Max’s skilful, caring, respectful and empathetic approach drew together people in common cause who might not otherwise naturally work together.

Max knew a wide range of people and organisations to alert to the impacts of fossil fuels and regularly spoke at many awareness raising events.  He was quiet, assured and very polite but don’t let that fool you.   He was dogged and determined and often managed to obtain information others of us failed to do.  And he didn’t overlook those who had helped him.  He was a gentle man and he’ll be sorely missed.

We owe Max our gratitude not just for the practical work he did but for the inspiration he provided to so many others. He left a real legacy in the contribution he made to saving our beautiful countryside from harm and to recognising that we need to do everything we can to stop climate change. Thank you Max.


UKOG ‘Persons Unknown’ injunction in its final days

Faith at the Gate, Horse Hill

The temporary injunction against protests granted to UK Oil & Gas Plc (UKOG) could be finalised in June – and ‘Persons Unknown’,  should be removed .

Five defendants supported by the Weald Action Group have been fighting the far-reaching and draconian injunction for more than 3 years.

In a court hearing today, Master Marsh ordered a trial to go ahead in June, although UKOG can apply for a default judgment, avoiding the need for a trial. This would finalise the Order and, thanks to other case law, means that ‘Persons Unknown’ would be removed. “We’re happy to ensure our participation in the hearing is as limited as possible”, said Stephanie Harrison QC who represents the five women.

But she expressed concern that a proposed time limit on the final order of 2023 would be too long. “These are important rights that are being regulated and this case has gone on for too long”, said Ms Harrison.

Since the Weald Action Group involvement in the case, the injunction has been significantly watered down in both geographical area and in the scope of what it bans. At one time it proposed dozens of defendants as well as targetting ‘Persons Unknown’, but it has ended up with just a handful of named defendants and is limited to protests at Horse Hill and its gateway.

More detail can be found in Drill or Drop:

Scaled-back UKOG protest injunction heads to trial after more than three years


Acid stimulation: Fracking by stealth continues despite moratorium – report from Brockham Oil Watch

The international journal Energy Policy has published an article titled Acid stimulation: Fracking by stealth continues despite the moratorium in England, co-authored by Adriana Zalucka of Weald Action Group member Brockham Oil Watch, David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at the University of Glasgow, and Alice Goodenough of Harrison Grant Solicitors.  

Continue reading “Acid stimulation: Fracking by stealth continues despite moratorium – report from Brockham Oil Watch”

Climate campaigner to take Horse Hill challenge to Court of Appeal

Surrey Campaigner Sarah Finch

A climate campaigner’s fight to prevent the development of oil wells in Surrey – which is supported by the Weald Action Group – will go to the Court of Appeal.

Sarah Finch, of Redhill, Surrey, has been given permission to take her battle against Surrey County Council’s decision to grant Horse Hill Developments Ltd planning permission for the drilling and production of oil at a site in the Surrey Hills to the Court of Appeal.

Continue reading “Climate campaigner to take Horse Hill challenge to Court of Appeal”

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”

Campaigners celebrate as oil companies cave in on injunction against ‘persons unknown’ at sites in Surrey and Sussex

Campaigners celebrate as UKOG backs down on its draconian injunction

The five Weald Action Group campaigners who planned to continue their challenge to get a draconian injunction quashed in the High Court at a hearing starting next week are celebrating as the UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) group of companies concede that they have to radically scale back the Injunction and agree a much reduced draft Order which they have now made public.

Continue reading “Campaigners celebrate as oil companies cave in on injunction against ‘persons unknown’ at sites in Surrey and Sussex”

Oil licence to continue to blight Leith Hill, regulator confirms to campaigners

Press release from A Voice for Leith Hill

Leith Hill. Image courtesy Ackroyd & Harvey/ Surrey Hills Arts / Photo From The Air

The licence to drill for oil and gas in the area covering Leith Hill in Surrey will still be offered to exploration companies, even though successive companies have failed to drill there.

Leith Hill, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, was the site of controversial plans to drill for oil by successive companies over a 12 year period. Europa Oil and Gas pulled out of the site in 2018 after a lengthy legal battle to get planning permission to drill at the site.

Continue reading “Oil licence to continue to blight Leith Hill, regulator confirms to campaigners”