Mole Valley Greens have pledged to fight on against oil drilling on Leith Hill, despite a court order* evicting the Protection Camp there.
Green campaigner Jacquetta Fewster said: “The local community – especially the Leith Hill Action Group – has been battling this unacceptable plan since 2009 and we will all continue to do so. Europa Oil and Gas still has to get all its permits in place before it can start drilling so this is not the end of the story”.
This week Europa put in a new application to Surrey County Council to amend its plans for a controversial security fence so that it would be in place for a year, instead of a few months. The new plan will be open to public consultation shortly.
Local people or visitors who want to walk, or ride bikes or horses through the woods could be deterred from doing that as the court order covers public access land which has been enjoyed freely for decades.
Hundreds of people have joined in walks and events to publicise the drilling plans.
The protection camp was set up last October to publicise plans by the oil company Europa to explore for oil at the site, which is within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Green Belt. The proposed temporary operation would involve over 1,000 HGV movements down a historic sunken lane which is part of national cycle event routes.
“The environmental impacts of this development have yet to be thoroughly explored. We are particularly concerned about the damage to trees in the lane and on the site, and to our drinking water and wildlife, as well as the big issue of putting more carbon into the air, adding to runaway climate change”, said Jacquetta Fewster.
The new fencing plan is expected to be considered by Surrey County Council later this spring. If all the permits associated with the original planning consent are granted, drilling could start this autumn.
*The court hearing took place on 23 January 2017. The camp is still there at the time of writing.