On Monday morning, 10 October, concerned Surrey residents gathered at County Hall, Kingston, to attend a petition hearing, calling for a stop of all unconventional and invasive drilling in Surrey.
Mr John Nolan, founder of the campaigning group ‘SURREY AGAINST FRACKING’ submitted the petition which had been handed in along with substantive additional material about the proven dangers of unconventional drilling to the environment and people’s health in the UK. In total over 60 pages of evidence had been submitted individually to councillors and all MPs in Surrey.
The petition was signed by over 500 Surrey residents, among them locals from Horse Hill, who have been complaining about spills, noise, lights, discharges into a ditch and damage to local roads from the current Horse Hill test site. Also, volunteers and staff at a local equestrian centre, next to the site, have experienced nosebleeds and headaches. Horses have been kept inside because of concerns about their health.
The petitioners, who included members of ‘North Surrey Green Party’, ‘Bromley Green Party’ and various local anti- fracking groups, were surprised that a response to the petition had been prepared and printed before the start of the meeting. Mr Goodman (Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning) allowed Mr Nolan to speak and then a lively debate followed with other attendees highlighting further dangers to the public and environment.
Mr Nolan said: “Surrey County Council has a ‘duty of care’ to Surrey residents. We can’t afford to take risks with our health and the health of our children. Nor do we want beautiful Surrey spoiled by dozens of small oil wells, unsightly infrastructure and the streams of heavy haulage vehicles on our roads that would be needed to transport the oil away.”
The planning advisor said: “…in the UK we have one of the most rigorous environmental and public health protection regimes in the world.” But Mr Goodman said that he himself was concerned about the environment. He requested that his advisor look again at the safety reports they had used in light of Mr Nolan’s claims that they were out of date, and that their recommendations have since been called into question by scientific experts.
Jonathan Essex (Green Surrey Councillor from Redhill East) commented: “There is no justification for drilling for more oil and gas in Surrey or anywhere else. We know that the only way we have of avoiding catastrophic climate change is by leaving fossil fuels in the ground. When you’re in a hole, stop digging. It’s time to switch resources from oil and gas into energy conservation and renewable energy.”