UK Oil and Gas, which took over the licence covering the controversial Leith Hill oil site (1), has gained a two year extension until 2022 – despite no work having been carried out since 2004.
Local campaign group A Voice for Leith Hill has slated the Oil and Gas Authority, which manages the licensing, for breaching its own rules time and again. A licence for exploratory drilling is supposed to last for six years, then fall away if no well is drilled.
“This licence extension shows how ridiculous the licensing system is for onshore oil and gas”, said Lucy Barford from A Voice for Leith Hill. “Oil companies seem to be able to continue to blight local communities by threatening to drill for oil and gas even when they’ve failed over a long period to get public support for their schemes”.
UKOG claim they will be able to drill from outside the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, into the underlying geology. A plan to drill near Coldharbour village failed two years ago when the then Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP, said it was a threat to ancient woodland (2).
“If UKOG proceed with their plans it’s likely to involve unconventional, horizontal or slanted drilling, meaning environmental impacts that are very worrying. Over 100,000 people were concerned enough about the original plans to sign a petition about the threat to drinking water”, said Dorking resident Lucy Barford. “This licence should be put on the scrap heap so that this beautiful area and the clean air and water on which we depend are no longer put at risk by money grabbing oil prospectors”.
Notes to editors
1. The original planning application and licence holder was Europa Oil and Gas, which has now withdrawn from the site
2. Europa Oil and Gas was waiting for permission for its traffic management scheme for the Leith Hill site when Michael Gove refused to extend the Forestry Commission lease for the site in September 2017.
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