An Extinction Rebellion activist charged with aggravated trespass after occupying a Surrey oil rig in October last year has been acquitted after the judge questioned the reliability of the prosecution witness.
Lindsay Parkin, 56, a management consultant from Brighton, appeared at Staines Magistrates Court this week (22 April) charged with aggravated trespass.
He was arrested after he and Alistair Sandell, 52, a horticulturalist from Uckfield, entered the UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) Horse Hill oil extraction site near Horley, in the early hours of 10 October 2020.
The two men climbed an oil rig on site to a platform 15 metres above the ground, where they hung a banner saying “No More Oil” and remained there for 12 hours, in protest against UKOG’s plans to extract oil and gas from the site.
UK Oil and Gas Plc is applying for an environmental permit for the new oil wells and 20 years of production at Horse Hill which received planning permission in 2019. The work can’t proceed without this Environment Agency permit.
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.
Leith Hill. Image courtesy Ackroyd & Harvey/ Surrey Hills Arts / Photo From The Air
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.
The long-awaited Judicial Review of Surrey County Council’s decision-making over the planning permission for 20 years oil production at Horse Hill took place on 17 and 18 November.
Over two days, in a virtual court hearing hosted online, claimant Sarah Finch’s Counsel Marc Willers QCset out her case, that the Environmental Impact Assessment should have included an assessment of the carbon emissions that would be released when the oil from Horse Hill is burned. And the lawyers for Surrey County Council, Horse Hill Developments Ltd and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government argued that this was not necessary.
The judge said: “It’s a very interesting case, a very important case”. He is now deliberating and we expect his judgment within the next few weeks.
Case could have wide-ranging implications for future carbon-intense proposals
Press release from Friends of the Earth
A legal challenge to Surrey County Council’s decision to allow 20 years of oil drilling and production to take place near Gatwick airport begins in the High Court today.
The judicial review is brought by Redhill resident Sarah Finch, supported by the Weald Action Group, an umbrella for local groups campaigning against the extraction of oil and gas in the South of England.
Frack Free Surrey – along with the Weald Action Group and Back Off Horse Hill – has produced a short film about our campaign against the oil developments at Horse Hill.
The video exposes oil company UK Oil & Gas Plc’s plans for massive expansion of oil production across South East England – including footage of CEO Stephen Sanderson talking of the potential for “several thousand” wells in the region.
Last year, UKOG got planning permission for 20 years of commercial oil production at Horse Hill – a decision which is being challenged in the courts this week. They also have applications pending for developments at Dunsfold (to be decided by Surrey County Council on 27 November) and the Isle of Wight.
The film also shows the strength of community opposition to this destructive industry. Please watch and share!
Sarah Finch speaks to XR activists at Horse Hill in September 2020
The environmental organisation Friends of the Earth and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government have been granted permission to participate in a local campaigners’ legal challenge over oil production at Horse Hill, near Gatwick in Surrey.
Campaigner Sarah Finch is bringing a Judicial Review of Surrey County Council’s decision to grant an onshore oil company planning permission for four new oil wells and 20 years of oil production. Friends of the Earth had applied to make a legal intervention to support the challenge; the Secretary of State applied to be joined in order to oppose the challenge.