Voice for Leith Hill Family Day

Leith Hill dayIf you’re free on Saturday 13 August, come along to Leith Hill Place where local artists are holding a special event to raise awareness against the planned oil drilling.

Enjoy live music, ecology talks and children’s activities while exploring the childhood home of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Teas, coffees, cakes and scones will be available for a donation inside the house – or bring your own picnic to enjoy in the beautiful surroundings.

Leith Hill Place now belongs to the National Trust, which opposes the drilling and supports the picnic and ongoing art exhibition at Leith Hill Place.

The National Trust entry fee for non-members is £5 per adult and £2.50 per child – cash only.

It’s 400m walk from Leith Hill Rhododendron Wood car park RH5 6LU. For accessibility advice please see website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leith-hill-place

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Extended well tests planned for Horse Hill

Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL) held a public information event today to tell local residents about their plans for further oil flow testing at Horse Hill.

Exhibition panels gave an overview of the plans, and staff from UKOG (which has a 42% stake in HHDL) and consultants specialising in planning, transport, ecology and health and safety were on hand to answer questions (or, in some cases, refuse to).

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Public information event on Horse Hill, 21 July

Horse Hill Developments Ltd, the consortium of companies who operate the Horse Hill drill site near Horley, is holding a public information event.

Where:  Charlwood Parish Hall, Horley, Surrey, RH6 0DS

When: Thursday 21 July, 12 noon to 7.30pm

This is your chance to find out more about their plans for further test drilling at Horse Hill. You can to ask about their short- and long-terms plans for the site and the potential impacts on your property, your health, your environment and your community.

The event runs from 12 noon to 7.30pm. Drop in at any time to talk to HHDL representatives and consultants working for them.

Download the official invitation here

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Application to extract gas in AONB at July planning committee

IGas’s plans to produce gas at Albury in the Surrey Hills and remove it by tanker for 15 years will come before the Surrey County Council Planning Committee on 13 July.

Officers have recommended councillors APPROVE the plans, even though the site is in the Green Belt, the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, an Area of Great Landscape Value, a Site of Nature Conservation Importance and is ancient woodland to boot. Please write to the Planning Committee members (contact details on the Surrey County Council website) before 13 July.

Read more about it on the Drill or Drop website.

Local people and others are writing to the planning committee to ask them to refuse permission. If you’d like to write, you can see a template letter here – please adapt it to give your own views. And don’t be slow – the committee meeting is this Wednesday, 13 July.

If you want to write to the planning committee members, you will find their contact details here.

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Horse Hill trial verdict – not guilty of Obstruction of the Highway!

Anti-fracking campaigners found not guilty in Horse Hill trial

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Nine anti-fracking campaigners have been found not guilty of wilful obstruction of the highway following protests outside the Horse Hill exploration site near Horley in the trial at Redhill Magistrates Court which lasted all last week.

 

The nine had all been arrested for ‘slow walking’ – making their peaceful protest by walking in front of lorries delivering to the site and leaving – during February and March 2016, while flow tests were being conducted.

 

The prosecution said that this was an obstruction of the highway. However, having studied the evidence, including footage of the arrests, Judge William Ashworth concluded that the defendants were all walking at a “reasonable” speed, and that their method of protest was not unreasonable or disproportionate.

 

District Judge Ashworth said, “By and large the protest at Horse Hill can be characterised as a dignified and peaceful protest”. He said he was concerned about the deteriorating relationship between police and protesters and said, “It is a shame they [the police] did not reach an accommodation to allow the protests to proceed in a manner that did not require arrests.”

 

This verdict follows not guilty verdicts for slow-walking anti-fracking campaigns in Balcombe, Barton Moss, Crawberry Hill and West Newton. [1]

 

One of the campaigners, Paddy Horne, said: “I am very happy. The fight goes on. It is very important to nip any infringements [of human rights] in the bud. The defence barristers and Judge Ashworth summarised that this case centred on freedom of speech and it was said we were “speaking truth to power”.”

 

Sarah Finch from Frack Free Surrey said, “The ‘not guilty’ verdicts are a huge relief for the people involved, and a vindication of the right to peaceful protest. Across the UK, people power is keeping the threat of unconventional oil and gas drilling at bay. We will continue to use our right to peaceful protest to oppose further drilling at Horse Hill.”

 

UK Oil & Gas Investments, one of the companies with interests in the Horse Hill well, has announced it plans to return for further testing this year. UKOG makes no bones about the fact it plans to use unconventional techniques, including multi-well pads, horizontal drilling and acid stimulation, nor that it sees Horse Hill as a gateway to further drilling right across the Weald basin. The company recently acquired a further 300 km sq licence in West Sussex which includes the site at Broadford Bridge.

 

Read more about the trial and the verdict at https://drillordrop.com/2016/06/17/nine-horse-hill-anti-fracking-protesters-cleared-trial-judge-regrets-arrests/

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[1] Frack Free Surrey understands that of more than a hundred arrests for obstruction of the highway for slow walking vehicles, every person who has defended the charge has been declared ‘not guilty’.

 

 

 

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News from UKOG, and from the law court

UKOG have acquired a further 300 km sq licence at the centre of the Weald

Yesterday, the case against one of the protester arrested during demonstrations outside the Horse Hill exploratory oil site near Gatwick Airport was dropped.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was offering no evidence against Kieran Dunne, one of ten people currently on trial for peaceful protests earlier this year. The trial of the other nine continues today.

Journalist Ruth Hayhurst is following the trial, look for updates on drillordrop.com

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Campaigners on trial for peaceful protests at Horse Hill this week – but who is guilty?

Photo opportunity: 9am prompt Tuesday 14 June, Redhill Magistrates Court, Hatchlands Road, Redhill, RH1 6DH

 Twelve of the 19 people arrested for peacefully protesting against oil drilling at Horse Hill, near Horley, in February and March, are on trial this week. [1]

The twelve were arrested for ‘slow walking’ lorries delivering supplies to the drill site during February and March 2016, while flow tests were being conducted. Slow walking is a legal form of protest. [2]

The trial will begin on Monday 13 June at Guildford Magistrates’ Court (1pm) and will continue from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 June at South East Surrey Magistrates’ Court, Redhill.  It is anticipated that the trial will attract a lot of support due to the contentious nature of the criminal charges.

 Meanwhile UK Oil & Gas Investments, one of the companies with interests in the Horse Hill well, has announced it plans to return for further testing this year. UKOG makes no bones about the fact they plan to use unconventional techniques, including multi-well pads, horizontal drilling and acid stimulation; techniques also known as Hydraulic Fracturing.   UKOG and Horse Hill Developments also speculate on further drilling in the area making the Horse Hill operation a ‘gateway’ to further drilling across the Weald basin. [3]

Dave Doktor, one of the defendants, says, “I protested peacefully at Horse Hill because the extraction of oil risks damaging the local ecology, the health of local residents and the global climate. There are larger plans for drilling in the Surrey area and across The Weald, so it’s crucial that communities come together and resist it.”

“By arresting us, the police tried to criminalise peaceful protest. But who is really guilty here? Ordinary people who risk arrest and personal liberty to draw attention to the devastation caused by unconventional oil drilling, or an industry that damages the health of local communities and causes catastrophic climate change?”

Rob Basto, from Reigate, says, “Local residents are grateful to the brave and principled people who came to Horse Hill this year to protest against the oil drilling that threatens to industrialise our area and wreck the local environment and the climate. If the government won’t protect the climate and the environment, ordinary, responsible people have to take a stand.”

 

Notes for Editors

[1] The 12 defendants have all pleaded not guilty, and believe their actions were justified in the face of the environmental and public health threat posed by the drilling plans.

[2] In January 2016, a test case against two anti-fracking ‘slow walk’ protectors arrested at Barton Moss, Greater Manchester, resulted in a not guilty verdict. In acquitting the pair, District Judge Nicholas Sanders said: “They were entitled to demonstrate, were entitled to walk along Barton Moss Road”.

[3] For UKOG’s interests in the Weald basin, see https://drillordrop.com/2016/05/27/uk-oil-gas-raises-4m-for-weald-operations/

*As well as risking criminalisation for peacefully protesting, the defendants have also had to suffer threats and harassment from UKOG investors. For this reason we would be grateful if names of defendants can be kept from the public arena if this is possible. This matter is currently under investigation by Surrey Police.*

 

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Horse Hill protectors in court

 

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE TO TRIAL LOCATION ON MONDAY 13 JUNE

12 of the 19 people who were arrested for ‘slow walking’ lorries to the drill site at Horse Hill will be on trial between 13 and 17 June.

The trials will begin on Monday 13 June at Guildford Magistrate’s Court at 1.30pm. They will continue from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 June at South East Surrey Magistrates Court, Hatchlands Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6DH

If you can, please come along to show your support for the protectors outside the court – either at Guildford on Monday afternoon or at Redhill on Tuesday morning from 9am.

Sign up at the Facebook event page

And if you’d like to help with their travel costs, you can donate here

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UKOG plans – and Horse Hill update

UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG), one of the companies with interests in the Horse Hill exploratory oil well near Horley, has announced it is to invest an extra £4m in the Weald basin in southern England.

They have also said they plan to return to Horse Hill for further testing “in the winter of this year”. UKOG chief executive, Stephen Sanderson, said, “If that’s successful, we’ll immediately go in and drill a horizontal production well in one of the Kimmeridge limestones. We’ll be shooting 3D seismic so that we’re able to plan to drill more and locate more horizontal wells.”

Read more on the Drill or Drop website.

Former UK climate envoy denounces the Government over unconventional oil and gas

‘We are entitled to a government that is on our side, in return for the taxes we pay. In the matter of unconventional oil and gas, we do not have a government that is on our side. We have a government that is the enemy of the people.’

John Ashton, a career diplomat who served as the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change from 2006-2012, had prepared a speech for a meeting in Sussex on the health effects of fracking, but was unable to attend because of family illness. His speech was read by a resident of Balcombe, the village renowned for its protests against fracking. You can read the full text below.

Other speakers at the meeting included an advisor on health and energy for medical charity Medact; the Executive Director of CHEM Trust; and a GP from Ryedale in Yorkshire, an area on the front line of fracking. Read a report of the meeting in the Mid Sussex Times

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