We will continue to stand side-by-side with the local people of Dunsfold in their campaign to protect the environment from a drilling project that could open the door to future projects that will add to the UK’s carbon footprint.
First published: Oct 2022.
We have just heard that local community group Protect Dunsfold¹ has been refused permission to proceed with their legal challenge to Michael Gove’s decision to overrule Surrey Council and force through a new drilling site on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty². But we and Protect Dunsfold refuse to give up. The issues at stake are simply too important.
The threat of destructive drilling for onshore oil and gas was never lifted from the Weald of England by the moratorium on fracking. Now, the threat of fracking looms large once more over our countryside, communities and climate. Liz Truss and Jacob-Rees Mogg are tearing up the 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge³ to end this harmful practice, without any public mandate whatsoever.
iGas Drilling Site & UKOG Drilling Site. | Google Maps-Waverley Against Drilling
That’s why local community group Protect Dunsfold, supported by Good Law Project, is asking for the Loxley exploratory drilling permission decision to be reviewed at an oral hearing.
This action is about protecting an important green space from a drilling project that could not only cause severe damage to Surrey Hills but open the door to future projects that will add to the UK’s carbon footprint.
We won’t just stand by.
Sarah Godwin, Protect Dunsfold:
“We have been campaigning since 2019 to stop this application by UK Oil and Gas Plc to drill for hydrocarbons, supported by local residents and the wider community. It is hard to understand why the Government sees fit to overrule Surrey County, Waverley Borough and local Parish Councils when there is a declared climate emergency and strong local resistance to this application.
“The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a vital green area providing safe habitat to many and varied wildlife, flora and fauna plus providing a popular rural environment for visitors and residents to enjoy.
“We intend it should stay this way and we are grateful for the support from both the local councils, Good Law Project and the community. We will not back down.”
Jo Maugham, Good Law Project:
“We share the local community’s determination to keep going. After a summer of unbearable heat and wildfires, the impacts of climate change on life in the UK have never been clearer. It baffles us that Liz Truss and her government think digging up more fossil fuels is a good idea and without any public mandate whatsoever are threatening to go back on their word on fracking.
“We will continue to stand side-by-side with the local people of Dunsfold in their campaign to protect the environment.”
If you are in a position to do so, you can donate to the community group’s legal challenge here.
We believe that prospects for the permission renewal are good because the Judge did not raise any additional points and seems to have just adopted the Secretary of State’s reasoning. You can read the permission decision here.
Leigh Day Solicitors, Estelle Dehon QC (Cornerstone Barristers) and Alex Shattock (Landmark Chambers) have been instructed in this case.
— AUTHORS —
▫ Good Law Project, a not-for-profit campaign organisation that uses the law to protect the interests of the public.
GoodLawProjectonly exists thanks to donations from people across the UK. If you’re ina position to support their work, you can do so here.
- Text: This piece was originally published in GoodLawProject and re-published in PMP Magazine on 15 October 2022, with the authors’ consent. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Wikimedia-Geograph.org.uk/High Loxley by Colin Smith. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)