Dunsfold Court decision – A triumph for local democracy and accountability.


 That’s how protestors described the High Court’s decision to allow a Judicial Review of the Government’s agreement to allow UKOG (UK Oil & Gas) to explore for gas in Dunsfold. 

Protestors from ‘Your Waverley,’ Surrey and across the South East travelled to the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday. They went in droves to voice their anger at a  Government ruling overturning Surrey County Council’s decision to deny UKOG consent for gas exploration. The site is close to the home of Top Gear Track  near Dunsfold airfield.

 Waverley Borough Council leader Paul Follows, who said he was “pleased   and frankly staggered” by the court decision, is surrounded by his council colleagues and the Dunsfold campaigners. 

WW can’t help wondering what SW Surrey MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt will make of this decision. He has backed protestors – but did a volte-face and voted with the Liz Truss Government to lift the ban on exploration of oil and gas countrywide. The site is near his country pile at Mares Pond, near Dunsfold. So which side of the fence will he drop onto this time?

The local  Protect Dunsfold Group will be joined in the Court Action by Waverley Borough Council.  The Good Law Project has raised shedloads of cash from sympathisers, around £33,776.

 Protestors, including parish, town and county councillors, supporters of local campaign and community groups and members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Surrey, were outside the Court with colourful flags, banners and samba drums. XR’s “Red Rebels flanked speakers.”  

The County Council has twice refused UKOG permission, but the government reversed this decision in 2022. Waverley Borough Council and Protect Dunsfold, a local community group, went to Court, supported by the Good Law Project, to seek a judicial review of the government’s decision.

 Protestors, including parish, town and county councillors, supporters of local campaign and community groups and members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Surrey,  protested outside the Court with colourful flags, banners and samba drums. Speakers flanked by XR’s “Red Rebels” included Waverley Borough Council leaders, Dunsfold campaigners and XR members.

Sarah Godwin from Protect Dunsfold said:

“This application has been refused twice by Surrey County Council. The nation is demanding rapid action on the climate emergency, and it’s more urgent because of global instability and war. We’re glad that the Good Law Project exists to challenge these important government decisions on environmental issues, funded by popular subscription”.

Retired engineer and Farnham resident Clive Teague, who also joined the protest, said:

“The science is telling us that if we want to stop climate breakdown, we must stop drilling for new fossil fuels [3] now. Even if the claim that potentially £100 million worth of gas is buried beneath Dunsfold is true, this will only create profits for the rich whilst destroying the countryside. It won’t bring our fuel bills down. Making our homes warmer and more energy efficient and investing in sustainable energy production is the only thing which makes sense [4] for Waverley and the planet.”

Kirsty Clough, who represents The Weald Action Group, said:

“It’s outrageous. Exploring more gas is not the answer to the fossil fuel price crisis. It will  do nothing to alleviate consumers’ high energy bills and worsen the climate crisis.”

Jill Anderson, a Godalming garden designer and writer, said

“I want a future for my grandchildren where they can enjoy our beautiful countryside, food security and live on a planet without pollution. And that has to start on our doorstep.”

Local MP Jeremy Hunt has also opposed this application. In January 2022, at a local protest, he said:

“It is extraordinary after COP26 in Glasgow that we are even thinking about drilling for oil and gas… We have to get off the habit of using oil and gas… and this is taking us in the wrong direction.”

In a  statement, Waverley Borough Council says,

“The government’s decision… was bad news for the people of Waverley, bad news for the natural environment and the planet.”

Godalming Town Councillor and activist with XR, Chris Neill, said:

“The resistance to this destructive project has been running since 2019, and it won’t stop after today, whatever the court’s verdict. The determined cooperation between different campaign groups, elected councillors and ordinary citizens is great to be a part of. This is how we’ll win the battle against the fossil fuel industry and climate breakdown”.

A significant public demonstration will call for action on the climate crisis [7] at Westminster on April 21-24.


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