Having kicked into touch the bid by UK OIL & Gas to drill in Dunsfold – near Hascombe Hills in Waverley – the battle by exploration companies could continue elsewhere.
County planners refused the scheme to drill at High Loxley Road near Dunsfold aerodrome. twice. Once in June 2020 – a decision ruled invalid due to technical problems during the online meeting. It was refused again in November last year.
Link to the first decision: UK Oil & Gas application in Dunsfold – Refused…for now?
Local campaign group Protect Dunsfold said: “Protect Dunsfold and all involved in fighting that application from UKOG was extremely relieved that the application has been refused on certain planning grounds.
“We feel this is a very fair and realistic judgement in today’s world of climate change.”
Image courtesy Ackroyd & Harvey/ Surrey Hills Arts / Photo From The Air
However, The licence to drill for oil and gas, not so very far away from Dunsfold, in the area pictured above covering Leith Hill in Surrey, will still be offered to exploration companies, even though successive companies have failed to drill there.
Leith Hill, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, was the site of controversial plans to drill for oil by successive companies over a 12 year period. Europa Oil and Gas pulled out of the site in 2018 after a lengthy legal battle to get planning permission to drill at the site.
UK Oil & Gas Plc (UKOG), Angus Energy and Egdon Resources Ltd took over the licence from Europa and said they were considering plans for a horizontal drill under Leith Hill from the A24. They gave it up after concluding:
“the required long-reach/shallow target-depth wells are neither technically viable or economically feasible”.
James Knapp, on behalf of A Voice For Leith Hill, contacted the Oil and Gas Authority to request an update on the licence now no oil company seems likely to be able to use it. They replied: “We can confirm that PEDL143 was relinquished on 26th September 2020. The OGA cannot speculate on future out-of-round licence applications that may encompass this area or the outcome of any future licence rounds”.
James Knapp said.
“The licensing system is broken. The Oil and Gas Authority should remove unworkable areas from the licensing rounds.”
“The rules say that companies have to drill, or the licences must be relinquished. This licence area has proved unviable and the blight on the local community and the environment should be lifted by drawing a line under PEDL 143. The Oil and Gas Authority should review its broken licensing system and free wide swathes of the country from the threat of oil and gas drilling.
“In the year of COP26, when we are supposed to be working towards net-zero, it should be routine to withdraw unlicensed areas because there is no requirement for an operator to be compensated. Other countries have stopped fossil fuel exploration altogether. Where is the ambition of this Government?”