Say no to fast-track fracking

The government has two consultations running until October 25, 2018, which aim to fast-track fracking across England.

They want to treat shale gas exploration as ‘permitted development’, which means there is no need to apply for planning application to do it.

Although we do not have fracking for shale gas in Surrey, there is a high likelihood that this weakening of regulation of shale gas proposals will be extended to cover shale oil, which we do have, and acid stimulation, which is the technique used to extract it.

There is strong opposition to the government’s attempt to undermine local democracy and cut local residents out of decision-making on shale gas proposals.

At least 20 Conservative MPs are planning to rebel.

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for South East England, has produced a briefing to help individuals respond to the consultations.


Horse Hill: flow testing, eviction, dispute over extent of site

UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) has been flow testing at Horse Hill since July, testing oil flow from the Portland rock formation. They say the results have ‘significantly exceeded’ their expectations, and claim that the Portland “could achieve a forecast sustainable initial 24/7 pumped rate of around 362 barrels of oil per day when full scale long-term production commences”. (see press release)

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Campaigners celebrate as Europa Oil and Gas gives up bid to drill on Leith Hill

The long running and high profile campaign against oil drilling at Leith Hill in Surrey is celebrating success after Europa Oil and Gas announced it was pulling out of the site.

The announcement followed a decision by the Forestry Commission not to renew the lease, which expires on 12 September. Campaigners including the Green MEP Keith Taylor had been keeping up the pressure on the Forestry organisation not to renew in line with its environmental commitments.

“This is fantastic news,” said Lucy Barford on behalf of A Voice for Leith Hill.  Read the rest of this entry >>

Partial victory for oil campaigners fighting UKOG injunction – appeal being prepared

Press release from the Weald Action Group

Six women from Surrey and Sussex fighting against an interim injunction application by UK Oil and Gas have vowed to fight on after a High Court judge approved it in part.

But they welcomed the Judge rejecting a number of the oil company’s restrictions.  The Judge rejected UKOG’s inclusion of their offices in Guildford as part of the injunction.  He accepted Friends of the Earth’s case and disallowed a blanket ban on publicising and promoting protest activities.  The Judge also removed some of the most restrictive clauses – like the attempt to stop monitoring what goes on at the sites. Read the rest of this entry >>

Leading oil geologists call for halt on drilling in Surrey following earthquake swarm

Four leading seismologists and geologists have signed a letter to The Times today calling for a moratorium on hydrocarbon exploration in the area hit by 12 earthquakes. They have also written to the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark MP and the heads of the oil industry regulators in the same terms.

The four, who all have expertise in the hydrocarbon industry, are:

  • Stuart Gilfillan FGS, Senior Lecturer in Geochemistry at School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
  • Stuart Haszeldine OBE FRSE C.Geol. Professor of Geology at School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
  • Bill McGuire, Emeritus Professor in Geophysical & Climate Hazards, Dept. of Earth Sciences, UCL
  • Richard Selley CGeol, Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, London

The letter reads.

“A moratorium is urgently needed on hydrocarbon exploration in the area of Surrey recently affected by 12 earthquakes. We believe that public health and the environment are not being adequately protected given the unstable geology, which had not been identified before permits were issued for the currently active drill sites.

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Surrey drill sites: July 2018 update

Brockham: public meeting this Wednesday

Brockham Oil Watch is hosting a public meeting, this Wednesday, 25 July, at 7.30pm, at the Brockham Village Hall Bar.

Come along to find out about:

  • the connection between earthquakes and local extraction?
  • the health and environmental risks of the latest proposals by Angus Energy?
  • plans for fracking/acidisation in the local area?

The public meeting takes place ahead of the decision on whether to approve Angus Energy’s part-retrospective application for the retention of the BRX4 well, the regularisation of the BRX4Z sidetrack, and the appraisal of BRX4Z, accessing the Kimmeridge Clay Formation. Surrey County Council Planning Committee is due to decide on 8 August.

Documents on emissions from a large gas engine and flaring were published on the Surrey County Council planning website only in mid-June. See a very informative submission on this on the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association website.

Horse Hill: flow testing under way

Flow tests are underway at Horse Hill, testing oil flow first from the Portland rock formation. UKOG say the results are “extremely positive”. They will now move onto testing the Kimmeridge limestone formation.

Local people and campaigners are monitoring activities. If you could help with this, to monitor the site, simply watching what is going in and out, times and other activity, please contact Ivan Tucker.

Leith Hill: permissions running out

The planning permission for Leith Hill runs out on 7 August; we expect an application for an extension soon afterwards, including a cunning plan to make the controversial traffic management plan more palatable. Everyone will need to object again so please watch this space.

The lease granted by Forest Enterprise to Europa Oil and Gas for the drill site runs out in September. A Voice for Leith Hill and Keith Taylor Green MEP asked to meet the Chief Executive, Simon Hodgson, to discuss transferring the lease to a less damaging cause (like us!). He declined to attend. The meeting went ahead anyway with Mr Hodgson represented by an empty chair.

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Forestry body declines to meet Green MEP over oil drill lease

Press Release from A Voice for Leith Hill

Green MEP Keith Taylor joined local campaigners at the Leith Hill proposed oil drill site to call for Forest Enterprise to start discussions about giving up leasing the land to an oil company.

Keith Taylor had invited Simon Hodgson,  chief executive of Forest Enterprise and the Forestry Commission (1), to discuss offering the lease to A Voice for Leith Hill (2), rather than Europa Oil and Gas. The lease runs out in September.

Mr Hodgson declined, saying: “I see no benefit in having a meeting on site or indeed elsewhere.”

He was represented at the meeting by an empty chair.

Keith Taylor said: “People have the right to question why a public body with explicit environmental and climate change commitments continues to engage in a commercial partnership to allow climate-destructive drilling in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We will make sure he gets the message loud and clear: the Forestry Commission getting into bed with the oil and gas industry is a dereliction of the organisation’s public duty.”

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Public meeting at Brockham on Wednesday 25 July

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Welcome for earthquake monitors installed near oil sites

Local campaigners A Voice for Leith Hill and Brockham Oil Watch have welcomed prompt action by the British Geological Survey to install new seismographs near oil drill sites in Surrey.

Two of the earthquake monitors were set up today (Thursday 12 July). They will be used to track earth movements following an unprecedented cluster of eight recent earthquakes near Newdigate.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said: “We hope to gain a better understanding of this scientific phenomena through the installation of additional stations.” BGS also said: “We are unable to say categorically if these earthquakes are related to hydrocarbon exploration or production, mainly because of the uncertainties in our estimates of the earthquake epicentres and particularly depths. Our calculated epicentres for the earthquakes are approximately 4.5km from the Horse Hill well, which is within our calculated uncertainty.” Read the rest of this entry >>

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Surrey earthquakes: full investigation needed

Following the 3.1 magnitude earthquake on Thursday today, the seventh and biggest of a series in recent months, many people have contacted us asking us whether the oil drilling activities at Horse Hill or Brockham could be a cause or contributing factor.

It is impossible to be certain about this. Earthquakes of this size in Surrey are a new phenomenon, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS), so there aren’t monitoring stations nearby. The closest is more than 50 km away. Consequently BGS is not able to locate the epicentres precisely, however they calculate it is approximately 4.5km from the very deep Horse Hill well. We were pleased to read that temporary monitors are to be installed next week, which should allow the experts to get more accurate locations should there be any more earthquakes.

We believe this needs a proper investigation and are calling for all drilling and flow testing to be halted now to allow proper monitoring to take place. (Of course there are a lot of other good reasons why we think it should stop quite apart from earthquakes!)

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