Does our council have enough spare cash to take on a David & Goliath-type fight with the Government to stop UK Oil & Gas from drilling for gas in Dunsfold?
In the heat of the day yesterday, ‘Your Waverley’s EXECUTIVE held an URGENT meeting to decide whether to challenge a decision by the Secretary of State (Michael Gove didn’t make the decision, some other Gov Bod did because Gove is MP for an adjoining constituency. He probably didn’t want to upset Jeremy Hunt and Angie just in case either/or became Prime Minister?)
Waverley councillors, of every political persuasion, have been in seething mode since the Government gave UCOG the go-head to start drilling an exploratory well in the Loxley Fields on land owned by Alfold’s Ashley Ward. A man, who locally is only slightly less popular than leprosy. Jeremy Hunt isn’t too happy either at having nodding donkeys or the equivalent in his Mares Pond back garden in nearby Hascombe.
So, our council has decided it is not taking the decision lying down.
It says it has a duty to the public and its climate change initiatives.
By not challenging the decision and leaving so many unanswered questions the council would not be doing what the residents elected it to do.
It has agreed to spend £13,500 plus VAT and another £4,000 if it ends up being dismissed, to apply to the High Court for permission to challenge the Secretary of State’s June permission.
However, Waverley hopes it will not end up going it alone – and believes others, including Surrey, may join in the fight.
By the way, who is the Secretary of State for Levelling Up & Communities? Maybe it will be Jeremy or even Guildford MP Angie – because they’re backing Rishi? Then of course as government ministers, they could throw the little diggers out of their back yards themselves?
Why the urgency? Waverley has received outside independent legal advice claiming that there are grounds for legal challenge and the potential for success. The WW couldn’t find any legal advice from the new boy on the block Borough Solicitor Mr Stephen Rix. other than to confirm Cllr Hyman’s fears that the council could end up paying the S of S and UCOG’s costs. So, could it be, as Cllr Jerry Hyman claimed, end up closer to £30,000 and if a successful challenge a great deal more? Did Mr Rix, recently appointed as Borough Solicitor, support the confidential QC’s legal advice? He said he would only comment in private during the following exempt session of the meeting.
However, Mr Rix said the defence of the claim would incur costs for UCOG and the S of S.
Wow! funny that, Waverley was only an oil rag during the appeal – why isn’t the engine driver – Surrey County Council who determined the application and lodged the appeal in the driving seat stumping up the cash to challenge?
Maybe SCC couldn’t give a damn about those living in the boondocks of Dunsfold, whereas ‘Your Waverley’ does.
Of course, the QC’s advice was only heard by members behind closed doors, so the voting fodder won’t know how robust that advice is/was and when it was received. Obviously, not enough time to let the council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee deliberate, and cogitate about shelling out taxpayers’ money?
Here’s the statement Leader Paul Follows made:
You can read the `Monitoring Officers Report here:
You can listen to the Executive meeting here: