SCC Oil Appeal

Can you support a legal challenge against new oil production in a climate emergency?

Surrey resident Sarah Finch is finally taking her legal challenge over Horse Hill oil to the Court of Appeal. To do this, she needs to raise an extra £25,000 for legal fees and court costs – and the Weald Action Group is supporting her all the way.

How you can help

Campaigners from across the south-east are helping with a series of fundraising initiatives.

First up, two campaigners, Simon and Sam, are cycling 1,000 miles from Kingston to Barcelona to help with raising funds and awareness for the campaign ahead.  You can Sponsor Simon and Sam here.

We will be unveiling another fundraising scheme in the near future.

And you can donate direct to our bank account*. Please quote the reference: ‘SCC Legal’ to make sure your donation is assigned to the Horse Hill legal case.

ACCOUNT: Weald Action Group
ACCOUNT NO: 21160260
SORT CODE: 16 58 10

*The Weald Action Group banks with Triodos.  If you get a message saying something like “please ask for their account name as it may not be the same as their trading name”  check that you have entered the account details as above and continue with the payment (Triodos say it’s new banking regulations). The above information is correct.

Thank you!


What’s at stake?

This case is about Surrey County Council’s decision to allow four new oil wells and 20 years of oil production at Horse Hill, near Gatwick Airport.

The oil produced here could give rise to more than 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases when it is burned – but these ‘indirect’ emissions were not assessed during the planning process. Sarah argues that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should have included an assessment of the full climate impacts of the project.

Last year, a judge dismissed her challenge, but a judge in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Lewison said that Sarah’s argument “has far reaching ramifications” and “the emission of GHG is a matter of considerable public concern”. He added that “in view of the importance of the question, I regard this as a compelling reason for the appeal to be heard”.

“far reaching ramifications” 

If Sarah’s case succeeds in the Court of Appeal, it could potentially have enormous significance. In future, for any planning applications that are likely to have a major effect on the environment, the developer could have to assess the full climate impacts, including emissions that are outside their control.

This would be a huge step forward in closing the current gap between our climate treaty obligations and planning practice in the UK.

The hearing takes place in the Appeal Court in November 2021. Sarah’s lawyers are working hard preparing her case and will be up against lawyers representing Surrey County Council plus Horse Hill Developments Ltd and the the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Friends of the Earth has joined the case on Sarah’s side.

Sarah is represented by Leigh Day solicitors, Marc Willers QC (Garden Court Chambers) and Estelle Dehon (Cornerstone Chambers). Friends of the Earth is represented by Paul Brown QC and Nina Pindham (No 5 Chambers).

The costs of the legal action so far have been raised by crowdfunding and fundraising initiatives including a 100-mile sponsored walk by a 71-year-old grandmother and an online art sale.

Please contact us if you have any other ideas for fundraising to help us reach our goal.