Meetings, petitions, and a national climate march

It’s going to be a big month for the climate!

Next week, Governments are coming together in Paris to sign a new global agreement to tackle climate change.

This is probably the most important international summit ever. It will determine what kind of future we are shaping for our children and our planet. It’s a chance for political leaders to agree to end carbon pollution from fossil fuels by the middle of the century. This is critical if we are to keep global temperature rises below 2°C.

You can support the campaign for a strong climate agreement, and for climate-friendly policies locally. There are two great meetings taking place this week – unfortunately they clash so you will have to choose just one of them – and a national march and rally on Sunday.  And please sign the petitions on this page and forward the details to your friends.


Public meeting no 1: Talking Climate Sense: Dorking, Wednesday 25 November

A public meeting hosted by Mole Valley Green Party to discuss the Paris climate talks, divestment campaigns and community renewable energy. Speakers will include Amelia Womack, Green Party Deputy Leader, and Peter Sims of Guildford Greens, who was part of the successful campaign to persuade Surrey University to sell its fossil fuel investments. Anne Brewer of Dorking Quakers will talk about divestment by religious institutions and there will be updates from local campaigners.

Dorking Christian Centre, Church Street, RH4 1DW starting at 7.30pm. All welcome.

Find out more at


Public meeting no 2: Leith Hill oil drilling plans: Coldharbour, Wednesday 25 November

Leith Hill Action Group is holding a meeting to discuss the protection of public water supplies and the environment at Leith Hill, where oil drilling was recently after a long legal battle. Guest speaker will be Jan Hookey, the Environment Agency’s Senior Technical Specialist, Groundwater & Contaminated Land for South East England Region. All local residents and Sutton and East Surrey Water customers are welcome.

John Venus Hall, Broomehall Road, Coldharbour, RH5 6HF, 7:30pm–9:30pm. All local residents and Sutton and East Surrey Water customers are welcome.


March for Climate, Justice and Jobs: London, Sunday 29 November

On the eve of the Paris climate talks, mass marches will take place around the world to make sure politicians set off with demands for climate action ringing in their ears.

The London march will assemble from 12.00 noon at Park Lane and set off at 1pm for a rally at Millbank, near the Houses of Parliament, from 2.45-3.45pm.

Find out all you need to know about the march at


Divest Surrey!

Campaigners met with the Surrey Pension Fund Committee and asked them to start the process of removing their money from fossil fuel investments. This request was politely turned down.

The Surrey Pension Fund invests £99 million directly in fossil fuel businesses. Of that, more than £3 million in a company called Suncor. Suncor’s core business is Canadian Oil Sands (Tar Sands) – a particularly polluting energy source producing four times more greenhouse gas emissions than even conventional oil extraction.

Please sign and share the petition:


Make Surrey Frack-Free

A local campaigner has started a petition to Surrey County Council, asking them to policies to ban fracking in Surrey, in recognition of the enormous risks associated with this type of mineral extraction.

Please sign and share the petition:   

Note that when you sign this petition, you will receive a verification email with a link you need to click to add your signature. If you don’t receive it within a few minutes, look in your spam folder.



Holmwood (Leith Hill) oil site: update and meeting

Anti-drilling campaigners at the Holmwood site

Anti-drilling campaigners at the Holmwood site

There will be a public meeting this Wednesday to discuss the protection of public water supplies and the environment at Leith Hill.

Exploratory oil drilling is planned to begin next year at Bury Hill Wood, Holmwood, a beauty spot near Leith Hill which is within both the Green Belt and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Leith Hill Action Group is holding the meeting at the John Venus Hall, Broomehall Road, Coldharbour, RH5 6HF, this Wednesday 25 November from 7:30pm – 9:30pm.

Guest speaker from the Environment Agency will be Jan Hookey, Senior Technical Specialist, Groundwater & Contaminated Land for South East England Region.

All local residents and Sutton and East Surrey Water consumers are welcome.

The application has been the subject of a long legal battle with many twists and turns. Surrey County Council refused the application from Europa Oil and Gas in 2011, a decision which was upheld by a planning inspector in 2012.

Since then we’ve seen an Appeal and two Public Inquiries; the second of these found in favour of Europa Oil and Gas, who now have planning permission for a 1,400 metre conventional oil well.

A 35 metre drilling tower with aircraft warning lights and gas flares will be installed on the site and hundreds of HGV movements will travel along Coldharbour Lane, an ancient (and narrow) sunken lane.

And this week, a senior director from Sutton and East Surrey Water warned that the drilling could potentially contaminate the water supply to up to 180,000 consumers.

And last week, we learned that UKOG has bought a 20% interest in the licence (PEDL143) that contains the Holmwood site.

UKOG had issued a press statement back in September regarding their intention and this has now been formalised by the Oil and Gas Authority.

Both the press statement and the new article refer to “tight oil” – extracting this requires acid stimulation, which is likely to mean unconventional technology.

UKOG also has interests in the adjacent Brockham and Horse Hill oil fields and has been extending its portfolio across the Weald – this map shows the extent of their assets.

Mole Valley Green Party, which has been opposing the drilling said, “If the developer finds the oil they are looking for, this could lead to a major commercial operation, causing untold damage to the environment, at a time when we should be urgently cutting back on fossil fuels and replacing them with clean, renewable energies.”


Health risks of fracking: new study

A comprehensive health study published in October summarises research showing how fracking for gas and oil harms human health.

The report, written by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, highlights health risks ranging from air and water pollution to a newly emerging problem:  leakage of methane and toxic gases from natural gas compressors, pipelines and other infrastructure.

This fully referenced, 150-page report brings together findings from scientific and medical journals, government and industry reports, and journalistic investigation.

Download Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction), Third Edition, October 14, 2015, or read it online:

Oxted meeting pledges to keep Surrey frack-free

OXTED meeting Neil

More than 70 people turned out on a rainy Saturday in Oxted for a great community meeting on fracking.

As well as a couple of short films, we were treated to a series of informative and inspiring short talks.

Brenda Pollack, the South East Regional Campaigner from Friends of the Earth, who supports many local anti-fracking groups across the region, gave a brief introduction to what fracking is and why many people oppose it due to  the risks of air and water pollution. She pointed out that research shows that unconventional wells are four times more likely to fail than conventional ones and that research coming in from countries where fracking has been happening is showing that there can be health impacts.  Read the rest of this entry >>

Lingfield under consideration for oil exploration licence

DECC Habitats Regulations Assessments of 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round

Map of block TQ34d taken fromDECC Habitats Regulations Assessments of 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round

This summer, the government held a consultation about how new oil and gas licences may affect the UK’s most important wildlife sites.

The new licence blocks were announced under the 14th round in August. The government was required to assess what impact oil or gas operations would have on wildlife sites protected under European law.

One of the new licence blocks  is in Surrey: it covers Lingfield, Horne and Blindley Heath. Read more about block TQ34d here

Block TQ34d is close to the Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area. EU member states have a duty to protect the habitats of migratory birds and certain particularly threatened birds in SPAs.

It also overlaps with a wildlife site managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust at Blindley HeathRead the rest of this entry >>

Horse Hill: What’s happening?

BBC Insight South East ran a piece on the Horse Hill oil well near Gatwick this week.

It’s interesting viewing – and  debunks the ‘100 billion barrels of oil under the Weald’ figure we heard back in April. You can watch the programme here: (It’s available for 27 days at the time of writing)

One of the interviewees, Professor Al Fraser, a petroleum geologist working at Imperial College, London, gave a useful explanation of the characteristics of the Weald oil basin.

And he estimated that far from the bonanza the media had speculated about, the Horse Hill well might in fact make a profit of about $150 a day.

Meanwhile, nothing is happening on (or under) the ground at Horse Hill.

Back in May, Horse Hill Developments Limited, the site operators, applied to the Environment Agency for a Mineral Waste Variation Permit, which would allow them to test the well they drilled last summer (subject to getting various other permits too).

As far as we know, the Environment Agency has still not issued this permit.

If the Mineral Waste Variation Permit is issued, the operators will still need a Radioactive Substances Permit – which is also subject to a public consultation.  So it’s not likely that testing will take place any time soon.

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Keep fossil fuels in the ground!

A group from two local Green Party branches visited the Horse Hill site on Sunday.  You can read a report on the Reigate & Banstead Green Party website

Keep fossil fuels in the ground!

Keep fossil fuels in the ground!

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Horse Hill: new estimate of unconventional oil potential

Industry consultants Schlumberger have evaluated the unconventional oil potential of the Horse Hill-1 well – and increased the estimate of unconventional oil available.

The following is an excerpt from a press release from UK Oil & Gas Investments plc (UKOG):

“Schlumberger has estimated a gross overall oil in place (“OIP”) for the Jurassic section of the well to be approximately 271 million barrels of oil (“mmbbls”) per square mile.

“A total of 255 mmbbls gross OIP lies within the tight limestone and mudstone plays of the Kimmeridge, Oxford Clay and Lias. The balance is in the Upper Portland Sandstone discovery previously announced. This figure of 255 mmbbls per square mile can be compared with the OIP estimated by Nutech Ltd and previously reported in April 2015 as gross 158 mmbbls per square mile.

“Oil in place hydrocarbon volume estimates should not be construed as recoverable resources or reserves.”

Neil Ritson, [Chairman of Solo Oil plc which owns a 10% interest in Horse Hill Developments Ltd], commented;

“We are pleased to note that Schlumberger… has confirmed the order of magnitude of the earlier work conducted by Nutech.  Taken together these independent estimates continue to suggest a significant oil potential in the unconventional Jurassic sequence in the Horse Hill area and may have wider significance in the Weald Basin generally.”

Frack Free Surrey says:

“It is important to remember that these figures are estimates and not confirmed reserves.  But regardless of the size of the oil field, there’s no justification in digging it up.

“We oppose the expansion of both conventional and unconventional oil exploitation in East Surrey and across the Weald.

“To prevent climate change we need to leave between two thirds and four fifths of our fossil fuels in the ground. We need urgently to rethink energy policy, reduce energy consumption, and speed up the transition to a clean, green economy based on renewable energy.

“Let’s follow the example of Balcombe, the village which said no to fracking and is now demonstrating that they can meet all their electricity needs with solar energy – and still have some to spare.”


Next steps

The permit application for flow testing is now with the Environment Agency and if permitted, flow testing is expected this Autumn.


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Horse Hill applies for permit change to allow well testing

The operators of the Horse Hill exploratory oil site near Gatwick have applied to vary their environmental waste permit to allow them to test the well.

The application, by Horse Hill Developments Limited (HHDL), was published by the Environment Agency yesterday. A public consultation runs until 25th June 2015.

Read the full story on the Drill or Drop website


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Call for human rights assessments of fracking

An article* published in the International Journal of Human Rights calls for human rights impact assessments of fracking proposals.

The article, written by a team from the Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study, University of London, is titled Extreme energy, ‘fracking’ and human rights: a new field for human rights impact assessments. Read the rest of this entry >>