Leith Hill Action Group – Newsletter 20 (25th September 2013)

Stop the Leith Hill oil drilling!

Hello and welcome to LHAG’s latest campaign newsletter.  This newsletter contains important news about LHAG’s continued fight to prevent drilling in the Leith Hill Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Since our last newsletter, the LHAG team have been busy behind the scenes considering our options and deciding how best to take the fight back to Europa.  It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in six weeks!  We’ve been desperate to send you a newsletter to keep you up to date, but it has been crucial for us not to make public announcements prematurely, so please accept our apologies for the delay.  As such, this newsletter will be a little longer than usual, but I hope you’ll find it interesting.

We intuitively felt from the beginning that having been granted the right to an appeal by the actual High Court judge that made the decision against us, our best course of action would be to take up that right.  Our first big problem, however, was – and is – one of funding.  We estimate that our own costs will be about £15,000.  We are aware, however, of the potential for a liability to Europa’s costs in the event we lose.

Funding an Appeal

Our first job, therefore, was to identify how to limit our liability – clearly, a small group of individuals cannot open themselves up to an unknown level of legal costs!  To this end, we sought a commitment from Europa to a limit of legal liability. Europa agreed to limit their claim against us if our appeal fails to £10,000 (a fraction of their likely costs) if, in return, we agreed to limit our claim against them to £15,000 if we win (about 100% of our expected costs).  This means that our total fundraising target is £25,000.

Having limited our liability, the second part of our funding challenge was to work out whether or not £25,000 was a realistic amount of money to raise in time for the new year, which is when an appeal is likely to take place.  To manage this, we have once again been gearing up our fundraising activities: seeking institutional funds, personal commitments and planning fundraising events.  As of now, we have already managed to raise £10,000.  We believe that this is a good enough start for us to take up the challenge of raising the remaining £15,000.

Wisdom of Pursuing the Appeal

Once we were confident that raising the necessary funds was an achievable possibility, the next step was to analyse our likely appeal case, going through the arguments with a fine-tooth comb to assess our chances of success.  We have trawled through a series of governmental policy frameworks and stepped through the High Court Judge’s decision word by word and paragraph by paragraph.  You’ll understand that we are not in a position to give you the fine detail of our case, but please believe us that we are convinced that we have an excellent chance of success.  This belief has been backed up both by our barrister and also independently by a leading planning solicitor, as well as a highly respected planning official.

If we did not take up the right to appeal, we would have been vulnerable to the possibility of the Secretary of State taking a decision against us or having to face another future public inquiry.

Not only do we believe that we should win the appeal, but we also believe that success at this stage should end this planning application once and for all. 

Making the Appeal

With these decisions having been made, our appeal was finally submitted last Thursday (19th September), just a day before the deadline.  We hand-delivered the materials to the Royal Courts of Justice and received the all-important official seals.  So the next stage in our mission to protect this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has started.

Raising the Funds

Earlier on, I noted that our biggest challenge is to raise £25,000 by the end of the year.  We have made an excellent start on this, but once again we must look to our supporters to back us.  We are planning more fundraising events, which I will talk more about in future newsletters.  For now, however, I am simply asking you to respond as you have so brilliantly in the past, with donations.

By the nature of this legal process, if we win the appeal, it is likely that we will have surplus funds to return.  I’d like therefore to take this opportunity to remind you that by the terms of our constitution, all surplus funds will be returned to donors in proportion to the size of their donations (subject to a minimum level).

Full details of how to donate can be found on the “How to Donate” page of our website, www.lhag.org.uk, or just click this link.

LHAG and the Tour of Britain

LHAG were out in force in the recent Tour of Britain stage through Coldharbour.  We had a great crowd of people with placards and special T-shirts at the King of the Mountain stage finish, and operated two tearooms in the village itself.  The day was a tremendous success, with a lot of all-important awareness raised for our cause and a brilliant £600 of profit from the teas and cakes.  A large thank you from LHAG to the fundraising committee for organising it, to all helpers for all your hard work, and to the supporters who made our presence felt.

That’s all for now!

Thank you for your generous responses to our fundraising appeals to date, and I hope you feel able to continue to support us in any way you can.  I also hope that you are as energised by these recent developments as we are, and will keep following us as we enter this latest phase of the fight.

Patrick Nolan

The Leith Hill Action Group

Donating by Direct Transfer

You can make a direct transfer to the LHAG account (name “Leith Hill Action Group”) using sort code 09-01-27 and account 3767 8874.  

Donating by Cheque

Make cheques payable to “Leith Hill Action Group” and send to:

Patrick Nolan, LHAG, Oak Lodge, Anstie Lane, Surrey, RH5 6HA. 

Donating by Credit Card, Debit Card or PayPal

You can donate by the card of your choice or even directly from your PayPal account by clicking the button below.  (Some email packages may not allow you to see/use this button without further intervention.  If this is the case, please visit the donation page of our website, where you will also be able to donate using this facility.)

However you donate, please do provide us with your name, address and email in case we have the chance to return surplus funds.  You can do this by sending us a letter to the Oak Lodge address above or by email to LHAG@hotmail.co.uk.