The Dunsfold drilling decision that was to have been held in October has now been delayed until November.
Delays have been the order of the day for the UK Oil & Gas’s controversial scheme to drill on the Loxley Well site near Dunsfold. Postponements began in 2019 and have continued ever since.
The decision on plans to drill two oil and gas wells near the Surrey village of Dunsfold has been delayed so many times now it is hard to remember exactly how many? UKOG put in the application in April 2019. The proposals were originally expected to be decided by Surrey County Council in June, then August 2019, but a decision was postponed until September – October – and then November of that year. ‘Your Waverley’ objected to the scheme on numerous grounds – including the fact that it has declared a climate emergency. The gloves were on for Your Waverley’s new Rainbow administration as it Declares A Climate Emergency.
“render any notice of refusal unlawful”.
So here we go again…
The second hearing on the application by the county council’s planning committee had been expected on 22 October 2020. Now the council says that a committee report by planning officers couldn’t be completed in time for the meeting to go ahead.
The next scheduled planning committee is on Friday 27 November 2020. Link to the meeting.
The officers’ recommendation will be published a week before the meeting. We understand November meeting will also be held virtually. However, the county wallah’s aren’t going to risk another debacle like the last. The chairman and key council officials are not expected to take part remotely but will be in the same room at county hall. Phew! that’s a relief!
The company behind the scheme, UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG), submitted a planning application in April 2019. It sought consent to drill wells into the Portland sandstone Godley Bridge gas discovery and into the deeper oil in the Kimmeridge limestones.
Within days of its online publication, local people were calling for the application to be suspended because of inconsistencies in the information. DrillOrDrop report
Maps accompanying the application showed two different routes for the access track. The waste management plan appeared to include information from UKOG’s Horse Hill site. The original application also referred three times to a paragraph in the National Planning Policy Framework which had been struck out earlier in the year by the High Court.
In June 2019, UKOG confirmed it would submit a second application for the scheme. This proposed an alternative access track and added 32 documents to the 88 in the first application.
When this second application went online in July 2019, Dunsfold residents described the proposals as “confused and muddled”. They called for all the proposals to be withdrawn because they represented an “impossible challenge” for decision-makers. DrillOrDrop report
The revised 400m access track would take lorries off Dunsfold Road, instead of the original proposal off High Loxley Road.
The new application acknowledged that nine trees and 11m of hedgerow would have to be removed to make the revised access. The route would also cross an area of high archaeological potential, a county site of archaeological importance and land used by skylark, lapwing, bats, common lizard and grass snake. SCC has also declared a climate emergency.