There is a school of thought that deciding to give UK Oil & Gas (UCOG) permission for fossil-fuel exploration was politically motivated.
Belligerent Boris – remember him- and his allies couldn’t be so devious as to attempt to wrong-foot our Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt a while back? Surely not! When the lowly backbencher had high office firmly fixed into his mind’s eye.
How to embarrass and wrong-foot our Jeremy was a high priority to put paid to his rival’s ambitious plan to lead the Tories.
It is claimed that the PM’s office told Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, to allow UCOG’s appeal to drill on a site adjacent to Dunsfold airfield near Cranleigh. Although MG excused himself from putting his name to it, as he presides over an adjoining constituency, it wouldn’t look good to stuff your neighbour. Would it?
A decision shocked Surrey County Council, which had lodged the appeal supported by Waverley Council and Godalming & Dunsfold protest groups.
Meanwhile, on the same day, other decisions relating to onshore fossil fuels were refused. It struck many, including national commentators at the time, as inconsistent politically.
A very miffed Jeremy was outspoken at the time, probably because he knew he was being stitched up.
But things have changed a bit since then…haven’t they… and we haven’t heard much on this from JH since he became Chancellor. Not particularly surprising, given official government policy is generally to support the sort of onshore drilling proposed at Dunsfold. In a Commons vote during the Truss administration- he forgot all his earlier protestations and voted FOR fossil fuel exploration.
What a difference a house move and a Ministerial Car make!
UK Oil & Gas was “delighted” with the decision – though it is none too happy with the most recent decision to allow a Judicial Review, which protestors will hope could overrule the Secretary of State!
There are 44 billion cubic feet of gas, possibly 70 billion, making Dunsfold the second-largest gas accumulation in the UK’s on-shore history.
According to Protestor group Drill or Drop-In each case elsewhere, ministers recovered the appeals and made the final decision, rather than the inspector at the inquiry.
But Michael Gove had ‘recused’ himself from the controversial decision on the Dunsfold Loxley scheme, which is near his constituency and in the constituency of SW Surrey’s wannabe Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt.