D-Day for drilling in Dunsfold.

As the locals gear up for yet another fight – we bring you the latest mutter in the gutter about Dunsfold village’s new drilling site. Whilst villagers get themselves into fight mode, the oil exploration company UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) has revealed more details of its proposed new drilling site in what it describes as Dunsfold’s…

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The site chosen is next to woodland north of Dunsfold Aerodrome and the test track of Top Gear.

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UKOG described the well site location as “a discreet field” in “tranquil landscape”. It is off High Loxley Road, a “narrow, winding rural lane, lined with hedgerows and mature trees”.

The company said in the leaflet it had agreed to a land lease and would shortly submit a full planning application to Surrey County Council. If successful, it hoped to begin work late this year or early in 2020.

Which should coincide quite nicely with the start of development of 1,800 homes now consented and planned at the nearby aerodrome?

UKOG said the proposed well site and site access would be screened by woodland,   a small linear area of ancient woodland lies to the north of the site. It was the proximity of proposed oil drilling to ancient woodland which prompted the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to decide not to renew a lease on Forestry Commission land last year for an exploration site near Leith Hill, also in Surrey.

There are 13 listed buildings within 1km of the site. Land immediately to the north of the site is designated as an Area of High Archaeological Potential. There is also evidence of a buried Roman settlement 500m south of the site, UKOG says.

Dunsfold Google Maps large


UKOG has said it did not need to frack the well because the rock was naturally fractured. It said it may use an acid wash to clean the fractures after drilling. This would use acetic acid, the acid contained in vinegar.

Single well and/or sidetrack

 UKOG said it was seeking initial permission just to drill and flow test one well, “on a limited size well pad”.

But details of working hours and lorry movements referred to drilling an additional side-track, or horizontal well. The purpose of the drilling was to “to find much-needed oil and gas for the UK’s energy security,” and if the operation were successful, the local community could benefit by up to £1m a year in benefits paid by the company in business rates and royalties.

 UKOG has given no more details on the depth of the proposed well but has confirmed that three wells were drilled locally in the 1980s and it aimed to assess their commercial viability. Those wells were drilled on the other side of the aerodrome off Loxwood Rd, Alfold.

A drilling rig said to be up to 37m, would be on site for no more than 60 days. The rest of the equipment was described as low rise and low visual.

The village of Dunsfold has no street lighting. But UKOG said the well site would be lit. It said:

“We will continual monitor the lighting arrangements to ensure we avoid any unacceptable light pollution”

New road junction

The company would need to build a new junction in High Loxley Road and what it described as minor highway improvements at the junction of Dunsfold Road and High Loxley Road.

Two trees would need to be removed where the access track met the public highway to make space for the junction. The scheme would include a 1km compacted stone access track from the road to the well site.

The site itself would be built from compacted stone, surrounded by containment ditches and security fencing with entrance gates, the company said.

Air quality

The company concedes that it would use diesel-fuelled plant and machinery and that gas from the well may be flared. 

Objectors claim: “These operations will result in the release of pollutants to atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions with a consequential air quality impact.”

The planning application would include an air quality assessment with modelling to show the impact on people and wildlife nearby.

Subsidiary company

The operation would be carried out through a UKOG subsidiary, UKOG (234) Ltd. This is named after PEDL234, the exploration licence area in which the site is based. The PEDL also includes UKOG’s Broadford Bridge well site. Accounts for the year ending December 2017 reported a loss of £2.76m, compared with a loss of £76,000 for the year before.

 Proposed operations, timings and lorry movements

 UKOG proposes the following work at Dunsfold if granted planning permission:

Phase 1

Access and well site construction: 14 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Phase 2

Drilling mobilisation: 3 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Drilling: 12 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Drilling demobilisation: 3 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10  HGV’s.

Well testing: 26 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 5 HGV’s. 

Sidetrack drilling: 12 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 HGV’s. 

Maintenance workover: 4 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 HGV’s.

Phase 3

Plugging and abandonment: 3 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 HGV’s.

Removal of surface equipment: 2 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 5 HGV’s. 

Phase 4

Site restoration: 5 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10 HGV’s. 

Or Site retention: 26 weeks, no working hours are given, no lorry movements given, to allow for further application for additional work or production.

Lorry movements, though not stated, are presumed to be two-way.

Public reaction

Online video footage showed that some people seeking to attend the information meeting were not allowed in. Some people complained that the writing in the information leaflet was too small to read easily.

There was also disappointment that the leaflet was no available online or in digital format for people who had been unable to attend the meeting. The leaflet is now available here

UKOG has distributed a questionnaire and DrillOrDrop will ask the company for the analysis of the results.


Surrey County Council ruled on 28 February 2019 that the UKOG proposals for Dunsfold do not need an environmental impact assessment.

Details of the application for a screening request (SO/2019/0002) are on the Waverley Borough Council planning website (search by the request reference)


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