June 2023 update from Surrey’s fossil fuel sites
Dunsfold challenge goes to the High Court on 8 June
Protect Dunsfold, supported by the Good Law Project and Waverley Borough Council, are back in the Royal Courts of Justice, London on 8 June to challenge Michael Gove’s decision to overrule Surrey County Council, who twice refused UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG) plans to drill for gas at their site in Loxley, near Dunsfold.
Their solicitors will hopefully convince the judges that Michael Gove’s decision to deny the application for gas testing in Ellesmere Port over carbon emissions should be applied to the gas site at Dunsfold, AND that he failed to give enough consideration to harm from the gas drilling on the landscape of the nearby Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
If you want to show support at the Court, please gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice, on the Strand, London WC2A 2LL, by 9am on 8 June.
You can contribute to their legal costs here.
Horse Hill case to be heard at the Supreme Court on 21 and 22 June
The long-running legal case brought by campaigner Sarah Finch, on behalf of the Weald Action Group, will be heard by the Supreme Court on 21–22 June 2023.
The case concerns the 2019 grant of planning permission to Horse Hill Developments Ltd to drill four new oil wells and produce oil for 20 years. Sarah’s lawyers will argue that this was unlawful because the Environmental Impact Assessment failed to include assessment of the “downstream” emissions from the oil wells.
As well as the original parties to the case (Sarah vs Surrey County Council), and the three that attached themselves early on (UKOG and the Government on the Council’s side and Friends of the Earth on Sarah’s), three new parties have got permission to formally intervene in the Supreme Court hearing. They are the Office for Environmental Protection, Greenpeace, and West Cumbria Mining Ltd – the firm who want to dig the first deep coalmine in the UK in a generation. The fact that these organisations all want to have their say in a case about a small onshore oil development in Surrey shows the national importance of this case.
Join us on June 21 outside the Supreme Court to show your support for Sarah and Weald Action Group, and make clear that we don’t want new oil drilling here, or anywhere.
“It is extremely difficult to overstate the significance of this case”
Sky News produced a great article about the court case. They quote Sam Fowles, a barrister who specialises in planning and environment law at Cornerstone Barristers, who said:
“It is extremely difficult to overstate the significance of this case.”
“If the court decides that you have to take into account the downstream impact, then every fossil fuel development will be assessed as having a massively negative impact on the environment.
“This case could be the beginning of the end of new fossil fuel extraction in the UK.”
Read the article on Sky News: Horse Hill court battle could set precedent that triggers ‘beginning of the end’ of new fossil fuel projects in UK
Shale Trail 2
On 18 June at 2pm, join local campaigners for a 6.5 mile (10km)countryside walk between the Horse Hill and Brockham oil production sites.
On the longest day of the year, we will enjoy the beauty of the countryside, continue to raise awareness of the these oil sites, connect with the local communities, and commit to protect our area and the global climate.
To find out more and register your interest. visit the Eventbrite page: eventbrite.co.uk/e/shale-trail-walk-and-talk-tickets-634010521537
Other news from Horse Hill
Last month Horse Hill was downgraded in value for the third time by UK Oil & Gas (UKOG). They have cut nearly £3m off the value of the HH-1 well, valuing it at £800,000.
They have finally come round to arranging the 3D seismic studies that campaigners pressured The Environment Agency for last March. UKOG’s current seismic studies are out of date and of very poor quality. We have always trusted Professor David Smythe’s analysis of his seismic studies and the fact UKOG more than likely drilled a fault zone producing those early “Gatwick Gusher” results. We are amused to see that UKOG have had to ‘farm-out’ this service to another company in return for a percentage of revenue from the HH-3 well and we can only assume it is due to financial constraints.
Despite this they are still progressing their plans for fluid injection at Horse Hill with installing three extra boreholes. Fluid injection has been associated with increased earthquakes in the US so concerns remain that when they commence this operation, it may induce more earth tremors around the Hookwood area.
Investor confidence is low and the so-called ‘Gatwick Gusher’ has been renamed by most to the ‘Gatwick Dribbler’.