Category Archive: Uncategorized

Home Counties residents launch crowdfunding appeal to challenge ‘unjust’ High Court injunction by oil company as it holds its AGM in London

Press release from the Weald Action Group

The Weald Action group – an umbrella organisation for those opposing unconventional oil and gas exploration across South East England – is today (24th April) launching a Crowd Justice fundraising appeal to challenge a proposed legal injunction which aims to stop protests against UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) company’s exploration sites. (1)

The appeal was launched this morning as UKOG, a company listed on the “Alternative Investment Market”, held its Annual General Meeting in London.

Six Surrey and Sussex residents have put their names forward as defendants in the potential injunction which has been condemned as ‘draconian’ and a ‘threat to human rights.’

The Weald Action Group has secured top-class legal representation (2) to challenge the injunction which was sent back to the drawing board by a High Court judge on March 19th for being too ‘far-ranging’ and the Crowd Justice appeal will aim to pay for this representation.

UKOG have revised their initial draft injunction but many elements that would severely restrict the right to legitimate protest and attempt to control activities on public highways remain. For example, the new draft still proposes that campaigners would not be allowed to ‘watch’ the activities of the company and its suppliers. Another company, INEOS has similarly sought to restrict protests against its operations in the North of England.

WAG spokesperson Lorraine Inglis said: “The mood of the investors at the AGM seemed quite negative, with questions about poor performance at Broadford Bridge and enforcement at Markwells Wood. The answers seemed unsatisfactory.”

Lorraine added: “The injunction is another costly distraction for this troubled company. ”

Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East campaigner said: “We strongly support the stance taken by local people opposing UKOG’s attempt to use the law to stifle valid means of showing concerns about oil exploration. This proposed injunction is a serious attack on the rights of local people to protest and campaign against dirty fossil fuel operations.”

The Crowd Justice appeal is at www.crowdjustice.com/case/oppressive-oil-injunction/

The High Court hearing is expected to take place over three days this June.

Notes:
(1) UKOG has sites in Surrey (Horse Hill) and Sussex (Broadford Bridge and Markwells Wood) plus a 40% interest in the Leith Hill (Surrey) Europa site and on the Isle of Wight. Part of the draft injunction deals with trespass or rights of way on sites (a similar ban is in place at Leith Hill).

(2) The case will be contested by: Stephanie Harrison QC leading Timothy Baldwin, and Stephen Simblet leading Anna Morris of the Garden Court Chambers Civil Liberties Team, instructed by Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

Local residents seek support to fight oppressive injuction

Six local residents from oil exploration sites across Surrey and Sussex have launched a crowdfunder appeal to pay for the legal costs of fighting an injunction being pursed by UK Oil and Gas Ltd.

UK Oil and Gas Ltd (UKOG, and its family of companies) has applied to the High Court for an injunction that could severely curtail local people’s ability to campaign against their plans to drill for oil and gas near their homes. UKOG has a site at Horse Hill in Surrey as well as an interest in Leith Hill site.

The six residents say, “This injunction could stop the right to peaceful protest and prevent us from raising awareness of the new risky methods of unconventional oil and gas drilling and the industrialisation of our beautiful countryside.

“We need your support to raise funds for our legal costs.”

Support the Crowdfunder appeal

 

 

Have your say on retrospective application at Brockham

Angus Energy have submitted their long-awaited planning application for the next stage of work at the Brockham Oilfield at Felton’s Farm, Old School Lane. The application is in three parts, and relates to well BRX4 where an unauthorised sidetrack was drilled last January.

Part 1 is for the retention of the BRX4 well. The well was drilled in 2007 under a planning permission that expired in 2008. The well should have been sealed up and the land returned to its former condition, but this has not happened, and Angus are now applying for permission to keep it for a further three years.

Part 2 is a retrospective application for permission to drill the sidetrack to well BRX4, BRX4Z (which they already did last year despite having been told by their own planning consultant that they would need planning permission to do so).

Part 3 is an application for appraisal of the production potential of the sidetrack using the production plant and equipment within the existing site plus some additional plant and equipment. Angus want to undertake this work over the next three years, and o produce oil from the well for up to 18 months, during which time they will monitor the pressures and the flow to inform a further planning application for production, should the appraisal show that there is oil in commercially recoverable quantities.

Surrey County Council will decide on this application – and they are now consulting residents and others for their views. The consultation closes on 18 April.

You can read the application documents on Surrey County Council’s website here, or on Mole Valley District Council’s website here.

You can make representations on the Council’s website, or by email to mwcd@surreycc.gov.uk, remember to include your name and address and quote the reference MO/2018/0444.

Read more on the Brockham Oilwatch website

 

Injunction Injustice – campaigners’ court challenge to oil company UKOG

Press release from the Weald Action Group

MEDIA PHOTOCALL: 9.30am on Monday 19 March outside the Rolls Building, 7 Fetter Lane, EC4 A 1NL

Weald residents: Join us outside the High Courts, from 9.15 am. Bring a slice of rural life into London – Banners, placards and wellies, waxed jackets, and a mug of tea welcome. 

Campaigners from across the South East of England will be attending the High Court in London on Monday 19 March to challenge attempts to introduce an injunction that seeks to severely curtail fundamental human rights.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Brockham update

Angus Energy’s planning application for its illegally sidetracked well was registered on 8th March with the Surrey County Council and the documents are available on the Surrey County Council website.

The application is for the retention of the BRX4 well, the regularisation of the BRX4Z sidetrack, and the appraisal of BRX4Z using production plant and equipment within the existing site, for a temporary period of three years (part retrospective).

The application has SCC Reference 2017/0215. The application is expected to go to the 23 May Planning and Regulatory Committee. Please make your objections before then.

There is already activity on site and Surrey County Council has said: “We were expecting Angus to undertake some further works in connection with BRX2 – when our Enforcement Officer visited the site earlier in the month he was told that a further crane would be needed. We are seeking currently clarification from Angus’ representative. As you know, however, Angus do have planning permission to undertake works associated with BRX2.”

Read more about Angus’s plans for Brockham on the Drill or Drop website

Brockham Oil Watch

Leith Hill update

Environmental permit consultation drop-in event, 15 March 

The Environment Agency has re-scheduled the public ‘drop-in’ event it’s holding as part of its consultation on a permit application for Leith Hill.

The public information event (originally scheduled for 2nd March but postponed because of the snow) will take place between 2pm and 7.30pm, Thursday 15 March 2018 at Dorking Halls (Martineau Hall), Reigate Road, Dorking  RH4 1SG.

Visitors will be able to discuss the application and the process being followed to determine it, and talk to Environment Agency representatives about how they regulate oil and gas activities.

Due to this event being rescheduled the consultation period has also been extended by 2 weeks with a new closing date of 29 March 2018 .

The consultation is on the application by Europa Oil & Gas Limited for a bespoke environmental permit, which is currently being considered by the Environment Agency. Please make your objections before 29 March at
https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/psc/rh6-6hn-europa-oil-and-gas-limited/

petition asking the Environment Agency to reject the application now has more than 102,000 signatures. Please add your name if you haven’t already. It will be handed in at the consultation at 6.30pm.

Lecture and Q&A, 15 March

Come and listen to Professor David Smythe, who spent 15 years working at the British Geological Survey, explaining why he would never have advised his clients to drill on Leith Hill, even without considering the danger to our water supply.

The lecture is on Thursday 15 March from 7:45 to 9:45 at the Friends Meeting House, Butter Hill, Dorking, RH4 2LE. Tickets here. Bring come and bring your friends .

Help fund a technical submission to the Environment Agency

Local campaigners A Voice for Leith Hill are crowdfunding to cover the baseline costs for Professor Smythe to make a technical submission to the Environment Agency consultation, to compliment the hydrogeology work currently in progress. Please donate if you can.

UKOG tries to serve injunction against lawful activities

UK Oil and Gas (and its family of companies) has applied to the High Court for an injunction which effectively stops any campaigning that affects its ECONOMIC interests.

However the draft injunction goes on to aim to prevent lawful “combining together” “where the predominant intention is to injure the claimant’s economic interests”.

Read the rest of this entry >>

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‘Fracking under the radar?’ new leaflet about acidisation

Fracking under the radar? is a new leaflet about acidising from The Weald Action Group (WAG). WAG is an umbrella group supporting the many community groups across the South East who oppose the growing presence of the oil and gas industry in the region. They all share concerns about the techniques this industry proposes to use in as yet untapped, unyielding sections of the geology under our feet.

The leaflet explains the oil or gas extraction method known as ‘acidisation’ or ‘acidising’, which, like fracking, is a ‘stimulation technique’ designed to release oil or gas tightly trapped inside the pores of rocks. While fracking is used to crack open shale, acidising is used to dissolve passageways through limestone or sandstone.

Acidising uses far higher concentrations of chemicals than fracking, and brings similar risks for local people, animals and the environment.

This short leaflet, intended mainly for local people and councillors, explains in simple terms how acidising works at different strengths and pressures, and why this kind of oil exploration will give rise to a very large number of wells across the South East.

For more information on this advanced well stimulation technique please see our page About Acidisation

To order copies of ‘Fracking Under the Radar‘ leaflets, please contact info[at]wealdactiongroup.org.uk.

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Come and join a tour of oil drill sites in Surrey and Sussex

When: Sunday 25th March

Where: Meet outside Dorking Station (if coming by train) or at Leith Hill Protection Camp (if coming by car)

What time: At Dorking station between 10.30 and 11am. Or Leith Hill Protection Camp at 11am

What: South-East Unconventional Drill Site ‘Tour’ of Balcombe, Broadford Bridge, Brockham, Horse Hill, and Leith Hill

Who: You! Please bring food & flask. Wear warm waterproof clothing with stout footwear (its muddy!).

Following some successful gatherings to garner support at individual drill sites, this is the first combined tour aimed at helping activists and residents near local sites to see how best we can support local communities.

Do come to get an idea of what the oil industry is preparing to do on your doorstep. First stop is Leith Hill Protection Camp, where there is a meet and greet, and then on to the other sites.

RSVP

The event is free but please register to aid planning.

 

Have your say on new Traffic Management Plan for Leith Hill

Europa Oil and Gas is keen to get started on the exploratory drill at Leith Hill as their planning permission expires in August.

So they need Surrey County Council to approve their traffic management plan for the site (which involves hundreds of HGV movements in a narrow and historic sunken lane with protected trees on each side).

The latest (12th!) version of the plan is now open for public consultation. Please read it and send in your comments by 7 February.

As this is a new application (because Europa are taking the previous one to appeal), you need to write in again, even if you have done so before.

Local campaign groups Leith Hill Action Group and A Voice for Leith Hill have both published advice on how to respond – read them here: