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.
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.
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.
The interim injunction by UK Oil and Gas against Persons Unknown and named people is the subject of a court hearing in early February 2021. Five defendants, under the Weald Action Group umbrella, are asking that the injunction be struck out.
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.
A judge has found that Surrey County Council was not required to consider greenhouse gas emissions arising from the combustion of the oil to be produced at a site at Horse Hill, Surrey, when considering a planning application for massive expansion of oil drilling at the site over the next 25 years.
In a written ruling issued today, the Hon Mr Justice Holgate dismissed a legal challenge brought by Redhill resident Sarah Finch, who was supported by the Weald Action Group.
The world’s governments must wind down fossil fuel production by 6% per year to limit catastrophic warming. This means reducing the supply of fossil fuels as well as demand for them.
These are key findings from the 2020 Production Gap, a new report from the United Nations. The report also finds that the UK is in a strong position to transition from fossil fuels, and to assist other countries in doing so.
Just a day later the UK Government announced a new target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 68% on 1990 levels. But the target doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.
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.