More about oil and gas exploration in Waverley.

The WW received the following comment concerning a recent post. We believe this to be of such importance to our borough we have now included the information provided to us. 

Here’s our post.

What does this decision by Surrey County Council say about proposed oil & gas exploration in Dunsfold?



If folk truly want to help they should listen to Cllr Ernest Mallett on the webcast around 1 hour 23 minutes and to the subsequent clarifications from lawyers on what this committee is empowered to do – which is very little.

Cllr Mallett is very clear that NOW is the time to examine the whole project and Surrey planning officers have been disingenuous in suggesting that we need not worry as the implications for production can be considered when there is a subsequent application.

Residents can still raise their objections here

Here is the Webcast

He states
“the fact is that the exploration and appraisal stages which we have approved predicate production if in fact that production is possible, if it is not possible it does not happen … to a large extent in my opinion the production phase doesn’t necessarily — is not looking to planning as being a natural area for refusal.
He goes on to assume there is no carbon cost of exploration while transport costs automatically are assumed to cost more emissions.

Mallett opines that we must stick by rules and conventions even if unpopular.
95% of the reasons for refusal on production are the same as for exploration and so have already been dealt with then – not small and temporary then? exploration predicates production permission at the discretion of the explorer.

In this case  we should be expecting Cllr Mallett to move that the officers were wrong to waiver a full Environmental Impact assessment before the “small and temporary” decision on Dunsfold.  The application MUST be deferred so that the genuine planning matters that will be involved in the production of hydrocarbons from the site can be investigated in full including all options on pipelines for both gas and oil, local powerstations and so on.

As he so eloquently says, giving permission to explore “predicates” that permission to produce will be granted if commercial production is found to be possible.

Surrey Planning Lawyers state that the only real power that they have is to determine if the development is an acceptable use of the land and they must assume that all the other regulatory agencies will  do their job.

So far from it being a trivial decision on a “small and temporary” application this is the first and only opportunity for Surrey MPA to review whether this site is an appropriate use of land for the next 25 years.  There will not be another opportunity to examine this and…

Mallett goes on to say that our duty is to produce local hydrocarbons because of the carbon emissions arising from importing by sea.  In this he ignores the fact that you need about 10 exploration wells to get one producing well – each exploration well causes significant emissions and pollution so every exploration well as a minimum should be required to buy carbon credits to the value of 10 times the carbon emitted during drilling one exploration well which can be traded back when production starts at the rate per barrel of the carbon emissions associated with transporting that barrel by sea.

In fact a more certain and much easier way to reduce the emissions in the round might not be to explore for oil locally but to invest in reducing the emissions of supertankers that are bringing oil from already developed production resources – we already know where all the oil is that we can possibly burn before we must meet our Net Zero obligations.

4 thoughts on “More about oil and gas exploration in Waverley.”

  1. The recent approval to extract oil at Horse Hill by Surrey CC will involve 14 x 38 tonne HGV fuel trucks PER DAY going from the site to an oil refinery. Each refinery is specialised so there is only likely to be one in the UK that can process this oil. Most of the refineries are a considerable distance from Surrey. This will be an additional carbon impact and congestion/damage to local roads.

    I challenged Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Surrey County Councillor for Bagshot, Windlesham & Chobham who supported this application and asked if this had been considered in the application. His response was “The location to which extracted hydrocarbons are sent for processing is a matter for the site operator and given the quantities involved, this will be by road.”

    How is it possible that the transport of hydrocarbons and the impact on roads was not considered in the application!!!

  2. Simples. Surrey County Council highways is a laughing stock.
    On most planning applications it ignores the concerns of local residents, local councils and even its own cabinet and local county councillors.

    The highway department is recognised by most as being compliant with anything and everything, which is why our roads are being damaged every day by the huge number of HGV’s, and are consistently damaged by its inability to look at any new road junctions to new and existing, developments on the ground, only on their desktops.

    They won’t give a damn how many HGV’s end up trashing the roads in the eastern villages. Ask the residents of Bramley and Shalford. Let us all hope they use Markwick Lane to leave the Loxhill site – then our MP the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt will start throwing his toys out of the pram?

  3. One matter that has come to light about the Surrey MPA performance is the fact that many of the councillors on the committee were pleading for the committee to require a restoration bond to be demanded because of the extremely flaky finances of UK Oil and Gas PLC who are almost entirely funded by carpet slipper “Private Investors” who have their shareholdings routinely diluted by the issuing of more and more shares authorised by a board of directors who vote themselves “options” to buy shares but do not actually own very many – the chief exec has not invested a single penny of his £500k plus package in shares in the company he runs.

    Officers advising the Planning Committe on Horse Hill, advised councillors who were pleading for a restoration bond to be required. Pooh Poohed the Councillors saying that that the local Minerals Planning Authority(MPA) aka them, had no responsibility for the financial status of the Company, saying this is the sole responsibility of the OGA – so the MPA was not allowed to demand an up front bond to secure restoration.

    This is quite wrong as can be seen in this Parliamentary written answer to a question on this exact issue.

    see here


    This makes it quite clear that it IS Surrey Planning Authority’s responsibility to require a bond “If they consider it necessary” this is also quite clear from The National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 205 (e) says MPAs should “provide for restoration and aftercare at the earliest opportunity, to be carried out to high environmental standards, through the application of appropriate conditions”. It is clear that the NPPF requires an MPA to take financial security “if they consider it necessary.”

    The consequenses of NOT doing so can be clearly seen from this petition

    Third Energy used to be an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of BARCLAYS BANK who have dodged a £60 million potential restoration liability by handing over Thrid Energy to a £10 company owned out of the Virgin isles by a dubious US “Oil enterprise”. The OGA have not been willing or able to do a thing about this financial manoeuvre – which might be seen as a company with the resources to fund its obligations perhaps dodging them downstream.

    Surrey Planning Officers should be called to account for their misleading the Planning Committee into believing they had no powers to secure the position of Surrey Ratepayers.

    It is clear from the accounting system used by UKOG called IFRS6 that the cost of restoration of exploration wells are treated as assets held on the balance sheet ready to be expensesd against production revenues. UKOG as a PLC has over £20 million of these “assets” on its consolidated balance sheet right now.

    The company applying for permission to drill at Dunsfold admits in its application that it has no commercial production capability and needs to use experimental methods, technology and chemicals in the hope of developing sustainable production methods for the whole of the Weald (including Horse Hill).

    And Surrey Planning Officers seem to think that it is “not necessary” to demand that the “carpet slipper brigade” put up the cash to fund the restoration of the countryside before they desecrate it in their so far fruitless attempt to find commercially producible oil which will repay their costs of drilling and restoration from supposed profits.

    When the “exploration” at Dunsfold fails to find commercially producible oil, as have all the other wells drilled by this company (accordimg to their own planning application) you will not see the “carpet slipper brigade” “investing” in new shares to fund the restoration of these sites.

    Barclays Bank are very adept at dodging these obligations and have shown UKOG exactly how to do it!!

  4. 1:26:30 of the planning hearing:
    The argument that we will be more efficient by producing our own hydrocarbons is extremely short-sighted.

    In a nutshell:

    How can we lessen the hydrocarbons inflicted on the planet by injecting more ?

    It seems reasonable that all hydrocarbons mines and sold will be burnt, regardless of how or why. So while the notion of using it more effectively has merit, the act of digging more out just (literally) pours more fuel on the fire.

    The assertion in the hearing that producing our own hydrocarbons is more efficient appears to rely on the assumed locality of pollution.

    It’s not local: The planet as a whole suffers, and we all get the consequences.

    We (more accurately: they) have to start thinking globally, not just about our little bit.

    Furthermore, the notion that a granting of planning for exploration predicates permission for production means that at the exploration licence stage, the planning authorities MUST NOT consider the application temporary.

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