Operator: UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG)
Planning permission refused – but decision ruled invalid and will be taken again.
On 29 June 2020, the Surrey County Council planning commitee REFUSED an application by UKOG (234) Ltd, a subsidiary of UKOG, for oil and gas drilling near the village of Dunsfold in south west Surrey.
But in August, the decision was 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. This is currently expected to happen on 27 November 2020.
Local campaign group Protect Dunsfold said: “We have every reason to expect that the Committee reaches the same decision for the same planning policy reasons when it is referred back to Committee and we see no reason why it shouldn’t do so.”
About the application
UKOG had submitted a planning application for two exploratory oil and gas wells, just outside the village of Dunsfold in a wooded and beautiful corner of south west Surrey. The work would last for 3 years and involves 20 HGV movements a day and a 38 metre rig on the green field site for over a year. Despite overwhelming opposition from local residents, local councils and groups include the Surrey Hills AONB, Surrey Wildlife Trust and CPRE it is recommended for approval.
The site is to be accessed via High Loxley Road, a narrow, winding rural lane, lined with hedgerows and mature trees, some of which will be removed to make way for lorries.
UKOG (234) Ltd has never made a profit. It posted losses of over £2M for the 2017 financial and for 2018, the latest year for which figures are available, the losses have now risen to a to just under £7M. We believe this means UKOG 234 is technically insolvent but is being propped up financially by UKOG which is currently underwriting its debts from year to year.
Waverley Borough Council held its first-ever listening panel, to hear the views of residents and organisations. The three-hour session heard from 22 people, who all objected to the scheme. They included representatives of parish councils, local businesses, community groups and residents. There were no presentations in support of the scheme; UKOG was invited but did not attend.