UK Oil & Gas application in Dunsfold – Refused…for now?

What an amateur outfit Surrey County Council’s virtual remote planning meeting turned out to be yesterday – Monday – when councillors narrowly refused UK Oil & Gas PLC’s bid to appraise a well site on High Loxley Road near Dunsfold aerodrome.

The proposed site sits almost on the doorstep of Waverley’s highly acclaimed Government backed garden village – soon to boast circa 3,000 new homes. In fact it appeared that if approved the garden villagers – could literally have oil/gas wells in/under their back gardens.

Whilst we have provided the link at the bottom of the post to enable you to listen to the meeting – this comes with a health warning!

DON’T unless you have a strong stomach for a buffering, during an often incoherent webcast – and a decision-making process of a never-to-be-forgotten variety, which was at best amateur and at worst unconstitutional. Councillors at one point sought to dump the reasons for refusal onto the rapidly slumping shoulders of the very same planning officers who had recommended approval of the scheme.

 Cranleigh  and Ewhurst county councillor Andrew Povey put up a strong show giving over-riding reasons why UKOG should be sent packing; He had the backing of almost every town and parish council in the area – including ‘Your Waverley’ tucked under his belt.

  • SCC highways had erected signs in the road – ‘Unsuitable for HGV’s.’ So while its own professional highway engineers had deemed the road unsuitable, others proposed giving the green light to more HGV’s!

The road – by nature of he chevrons around its 90 degree bends was – according to county engineers – very dangerous.

  • The area was in an Area of Great Landscape Value – which by Surrey’s own definition was to be treated as AONB – An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 

(The site nestles against a backcloth of the Hascombe Hills.)

  • County council officers had described the proposed works as posing a ‘seriously incongruous feature’ in the countryside.
  • Development would have a serious impact on the rural economy.

How, he asked, could a nearby wedding venue with a multi-million turnover running public  events which used flares operate at the same time as the proposed search for gas? The idea is ‘quite preposterous’ to site such an operation, strongly opposed by everyone locally including Waverley Council and the developers of the new Dunsfold Garden Village.

Although backed many of his colleagues, -Cllr Ernest Mallett the member for Molesey argued the council would be shirking its responsibilities if it refused officers’ advice – which included approval of highway engineers.

“If we make a decision here today that does not have some very solid reasons then we could be in for £200,000 worth of costs. We will be very vulnerable at appeal and in my 15 years of serving on this committee I have always considered it a golden rule that you cannot base a refusal on highway grounds that goes against highways’ advice.”

*SCC’s highways supported the application.

Cllr Mallett said: ‘It seems to be the view in this part of Surrey that you can use oil and gas, but not be subjected to any inconvenience! Weddings and events can take place here with upwards of 80 cars and lorries ferrying equipment to and from the venue – for which the council has given permission, without controls. But 10/20 lorry movements are a danger, despite traffic controls and enforceable conditions. Should this go to appeal the county council will be decimated.”

He warned his colleagues by refusing  what he described as “an insignificant operation” the committee would be in danger of dealing with it on a ‘special basis’ – or in a way that no other oil or gas application had been dealt with by the authority. It was not near other buildings, was 300 metres away from the Gipsy sites and the wedding events buildings. To believe that the wedding venue would disappear  was fanciful – when two huge areas had permission for ‘clear fell’ using large tree-moving vehicles on the same road?

‘How are you going to defend that when you go before an Inspector?” he asked? “We could be slaughtered at appeal.”

Stephen Cooksey (Dorking South & Holmwoods) said the threat of an appeal would not convince him to support refusal – which was in line with all the parish and local district councils. Why? he asked weren’t the gipsies consulted – when the impact on them and the new garden village would be critical.

It was then – after the application was refused by six votes to five – a muddled and confusing counting procedure followed – that the streaming of the meeting was halted – to give time for the actual grounds for refusal to be agreed upon.

This statement from UK Oil & Gas PLC (London AIM: UKOG) followed:

“We note that Surrey County Council (“SCC”) has today refused consent for the Company’s Loxley-1 appraisal project. The company is carefully considering its position but has concerns over the validity of the decision given the meeting’s conduct, the lack of specific reasons for refusal and reasons why the planning officer’s recommendation was overturned. It is likely that UKOG will appeal the decision via the planning inspectorate.

Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s Chief Executive, commented:

” We are obviously disappointed by Surrey County Council’s refusal of planning consent for our Loxley-1 appraisal project. The refusal was by a narrow 6-5 decision and against the Planning Officer’s recommendation. Unfortunately, the precise reason or reasons for refusal and why the Planning Officer’s recommendation was overturned, remain unclear, which is less than ideal. The meeting’s general structure and conduct also opens up further questions on the validity of the decision. We also note that the Environment Agency granted the scheme a full environmental permit on 26 June covering all environmental aspects of the proposed scheme.

Furthermore, we note that the meeting’s main discussion centred around a possible highways issue regarding the suitability of the Dunsfold road adjoining the site to accommodate the envisaged traffic flows. However, the County Highways and Planning Officers supported this aspect of the application, stating that the traffic mitigation plan would permit safe use of the road during operations.

 

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https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=68181

Here’s what Alfold villagers think. Strange though – the Hon Angela opposes and the Hon Jeremy stays schtum! 

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View the webcast.

Top marks to our Waverley MP’s for their utter hypocrisy.

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On Friday 331 Conservative MPs opposed a motion that would have led to weekly testing of NHS workers and care staff and guess who was among them… yep, you guessed – our MP’s Jeremy Hunt and Angela – ‘how high would you like me to jump Boris – Richardson.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, alongside Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Jon Ashworth and Liz Kendall had brought a motion to Parliament calling for greater protective measures to be rolled out in the health system.

But it was voted down by more than 300 MPs, including Jeremy Hunt who had called for a weekly testing himself on the same day.

So Jeremy and Angie its OK to join us all clapping for carers – but when it comes to voting – your careers are more important?

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At the start of the pandemic, we were told MPs were to receive a huge boost to their expenses allowance when IPSA raised their monthly credit card limit to £10,000; allowed items to be claimed for without proof of purchase, and increased office budgets by £10,000. Since then, IPSA has also changed rules to allow MPs to claim for taxisWe can’t expect our representatives to catch the plague-ridden public transport like the rest of us voting fodder – can we?

Yesterday, a further boost was announced, in the form of a £312 annual homeworking bonus for MPs’ staff, to cover their home telephone usage, internet, electricity and gas – all tax-free. If every parliamentary staffer – none of whose incomes have been hit by Coronavirus – claimed the allowance, it would cost the taxpayer £1.1 million…

MPs will also be able to request up £18,270 extra for their staffing budget to deal with “a rise in workload for their offices as a result of coronavirus” – up from the £10,000 allowance rise announced at the start of the lockdown.

Responding to the neverending parliamentary pandemic pocket-lining, The Taxpayers’ Alliance Duncan Simpson told the Waverley Web:

“MPs and their staff should not be getting budget top-ups for working from home when everyone else is being expected to just get on with it.

“Millions have been stuck in the house, looking after kids and cracking on with their day jobs – where’s their £312 annual homeworking bonus? 

Parliamentary authorities need to get a grip and stop pampering our politicos.”  

We wonder, is this is the last excuse for picking the pockets of the public we’ll see from IPSA before the pandemic is out…

“MPs and their staff should not be getting budget top-ups for working from home when everyone else is being expected to just get on with it. Millions have been stuck in the house, looking after kids and cracking on with their day jobs – where’s their £312 annual homeworking bonus? Parliamentary authorities need to get a grip and stop pampering our politicians.” 

Before long Jeremy & Angie – you may need those hard hats. Because the public are getting angry – very angry!tinhats

Its official – Fly tipping across Surrey has reduced.

Tell the Truth

According to a Surrey County Council spokesman, the incidents of fly-tipping in the county have reduced.  So, perhaps everyone should go out with their cameras and phones and prove them wrong?

The Waverley Web has already found in one small area of the borough: One dismantled children’s pink playhouse; two single-bed mattresses; a burned-out caravan, a couple of crashed cars, and numerous other detritus bagged up and scattered around the borough of Waverley. But if Surrey County Council says fly-tipping has reduced then it must be right! 

 

 

Will The Cranleigh Society persuade the county council to go back to the blackboard and re-think its school strategy?

The Society which speaks up for the people of Cranleigh has been campaigning for months to persuade Surrey County Council to drop its plans for two new schools on a new site near Glebelands School.

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The proposed new school is predicted to be too small to take the proposed intake. It cannot hold a full school assembly and lunches will have to be held in three sittings. Perhaps even more now the Coronavirus restrictions are in place?
The Parsonage Road green field site, adjacent to The Cranleigh Bowling Club and Cranleigh Sports & Social Club is a highly unpopular choice with local people and letters have poured into County Hall urging its as decision-makers to think again.
Cranleigh Parish Council was one of the first to oppose the school development, and several of its Waverley borough councillors also opposed the density of a proposed housing development on the two former school sites as ‘overdevelopment.’
Residents of the eastern villages led by the Cranleigh Society are urging education officials to go back to the drawing board, and consider refurbishing the existing schools on two sites – one in Church Lane and the other in nearby Parsonage Road. The Society has been campaigning for many months for a volte face by the county council, believing its combined bid to build new schools and housing in the same area will cause traffic chaos and a danger to children.
In addition to the huge increase in traffic expected in the area of the new development, in Parsonage Road the council is dependent on Waverley Planners agreeing to an application to build 91 homes on the vacated former school sites. Parking bays would be removed – causing further parking problems in an already highly congested area in the centre of Cranleigh.
Plans to ensure children walk to school has been rubbished by the residents of rural villages of Alfold, Dunsfold and beyond, where parents are forced to ferry children to Cranleigh as their primary schools were closed by Surrey. The rural villages in the east of the borough have little or no public transport. 
SCC recently held an on-line meeting with Cranleigh Society representatives, after responding to hundreds of comments, letters and emails objecting to its  plans for building the new Primary School.
The Society hopes that the strength of local opposition will ensure the scheme is fully reviewed in light of the county council’s recent Declaration of a Climate Emergency.
However, Waverley Planners could hold the key to the school’s development as the 91 new homes are required in part to pay for the multi-million pound school development.
Although the county council can give itself planning consent to build the schools, the housing development requires borough consent.
With water shortages experienced all over the Cranleigh area during the lock-down, residents are also wondering how much longer the water supply can stand up to the demands being put on it by even more housing.

Farnham’s Amy suffers shell shock.

Missing Tortoise prompts the WW to break its rule of never advertising missing pets.

Sad souls that we are here at the Waverley Web we gave in to the impassioned pleading of one of our team to advertise that Amy Thopson’s tortoise has gone AWOL.

He says Amy’s appeal to anyone who may have seen her pet in the Lower Bourne area of Farnham pulled at his heartstrings – because 30 years ago his hard-hearted  tortoise did a runner and was never seen again! He tells us deep down in his oversized boots he believes his own pet is still running around in the Godalming area – near Priorsfield School? We didn’t mention we saw a tortoise-shell broach that looked just like the picture he showed us!  However, he should never have called his treasured pet  ‘Nifty!’

But spare a thought for Louise – and ring her on the number below if you see a tortoise haring around in Lower Bourne.  Perhaps someone can tell us why tortoises appear to run faster than we all think?

 

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