Infrared cameras show methane and toxic gases escaping from five sources at Horse Hill

Researchers from Clean Air Task Force (CATF), an international climate advocacy NGO, have discovered significant methane emissions from oil and gas facilities in the UK – including Horse Hill.

Researchers equipped with special infrared cameras visited 17 onshore oil wells and found significant emissions of methane and other toxic gases from 13 of them.  Two of these sites are potentially super-emitters and are some of the largest events CATF has witnessed in Europe after visiting more than 250 sites in 12 countries.

At Horse Hill, which is the newest site visited, they found emissions of methane and other toxic gases coming from five sources: the three separator tanks, a connection hose, and the unlit flare.


About methane

Methane is an invisible greenhouse gas that is at least 86 times more dangerous to our climate than carbon dioxide in the short-term.  It is the main component of fossil gas but also leaks, or is intentionally vented, from oil sites and other coal, oil and gas infrastructure.

Reducing methane is critical to slowing climate change.

Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency said there must be rapid cuts to methane emissions at oil and gas sites to meet climate targets.

This week the European Parliament approved a strategy to reduce methane emissions and called for improved leak detection at oil and gas sites.

Lorraine Inglis of the Weald Action Group, who assisted the researcher in the Weald, said “Horse Hill is already subject to a legal challenge because of the huge potential indirect emissions from the more 3 million tonnes of oil it is permitted to extract over 20 years. Now we have evidence of unauthorised and unregulated direct emissions from the drill site as well.  This evidence of methane pollution from Horse Hill and other sites should shame policymakers into taking action sooner rather than later.”

Jonathan Banks, international director, super pollutants, at Clean Air Task Force, said: “The UK has an opportunity to become a world leader in cutting methane pollution. They have helped spearhead the Global Methane Pledge at COP26 and are making the right noises on tackling the biggest low-hanging fruit in climate policy. But these images show that promises must be turned into action as soon as possible. True climate leadership is achieved by actions, not words.”


  • Footage of leaking methane at Horse Hill was captured by James Turitto, a certified ITC Level 1 Infrared Thermographer. James was using a FLIR GF320 camera, the industry standard in identifying emissions, leaks, and events that occur during routine oil and gas operations, or because of faulty equipment, accidents, and intentional releases by operators.
  • Sarah Finch, supported by the Weald Action Group, has challenged Surrey County Council’s decision to give planning permission for five new wells (four for oil production and one for water reinjection) and for 20 years of commercial oil production at Horse Hill. The case will be heard in the Appeal Court on 16/17 November 2021.
  • There will be rally at Horse Hill on 6 November, as part of the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, timed to coincide with the COP26 UN Climate Conference taking place in Glasgow.

One Reply to “Infrared cameras show methane and toxic gases escaping from five sources at Horse Hill”

  1. It is the responsibility of the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive to detect illegal leaks of gases and take the necessary action to prevent it happening
    It would seem that many of the Operators have a hidden agenda to leak as much gas into the atmosphere as possible because it is not detectable to the human eye. Not only is this damaging to the environment, it presents a serious danger to human health. Methane is a highly explosive gas.
    Has the site been checked for radioactivity?

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