As the row over unauthorised oil drilling in Brockham continues, local residents from the Dorking area and other anti-fossil-fuel protestors are appearing at Redhill Magistrates court on Monday 20 March. They were arrested in January for “slow walking” in front of lorries at the Brockham drilling site. They are charged with obstructing the highway and are expected to plead not guilty.
The arrest of one of them, Jacqui Hamlin – who was led away in handcuffs despite protesting peacefully – has been watched thousands of times on Facebook and YouTube.
Another arrestee, Amanda Wheatland, said, “The police were being taxpayer-funded security for the oil company Angus who were flagrantly flouting planning consents and permits at an oil well in Brockham.
“Myself and others were in constant communication with Surrey County Council over the numerous breaches of planning permissions and were constantly lied to and fobbed off by both Angus and SCC. Last week it was revealed that Angus had drilled a 1,350 metre side track without permission and in direct opposition to what Surrey County Council had told them they were allowed to do within existing permits.”
Oil firm told it needed planning permission
The arrestees – and members of the Protection Camp which was set up to monitor the activities of Angus Energy over the winter – were concerned that unpermitted drilling was being carried out at the site. They watched as a drilling rig was brought in, as well as lorries carrying toxic materials.
It has now been confirmed that Angus Energy did not have planning permission for the horizontal sidetrack that was drilled. Angus Energy claims it did not need planning permission, despite being told it did by the Council.
Local Green campaigner, Jacquetta Fewster, said: “Whilst Angus Energy was drilling, without the necessary planning permission, it was ordinary people – peacefully bearing witness – who were subjected to arrest. It is the directors of Angus Energy who should be held to account.”
Keith Taylor, MEP for South East England, said, “The drilling, without permission, of a new well is an outrageous breach of an already deeply strained trust. It is little wonder why residents and campaigners simply don’t trust the oil and gas drilling industry or the Government ‘regulations’ utterly failing to protect our environment and our local communities.” Read more from Keith Taylor MEP
Surrey County Council has confirmed that Angus Energy needs to submit an application for retrospective planning permission and will oppose any further unauthorised work at the site.
Those who support the protesters are invited to come and show support the strength of public opinion on this issue, at the Redhill Magistrate’s Court, at Hatchlands Road, Redhill, RH1 6DH, at 9.15am on Monday 20 March.