Leith Hill Action Group Newsletter 55 
24 November 2017
Stop the Leith Hill oil drilling!
 
Dear supporters
 
This is an incredibly important newsletter.  So please do take the time to read through it and respond.
 
As you may remember, there are currently two key issues that we are contending.  One is the “fencing application” – an additional planning application recently approved by Surrey County Council for various additional buildings and a new fence to surround the whole drill site.  The other is the traffic management plan.  Both these items have reached a critical phase with legal battle lines beginning to be drawn.
 
In short, we at LHAG have initiated a judicial review process in one case and Europa have announced their intention to put in an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in the other.  This means we are once again going to court and once again will need to pay expensive (although very reasonable!) legal bills.  It means that we are once again calling on our generous supporters to put your hands in your pockets so that we can keep up the fight.
 
First, the fencing application.  We have always maintained that this constitutes a significant alteration of the planning permission granted by the Inspector, and that it should be dealt with accordingly.  This would mean either going through the formal channels necessary to amend planning permission or putting in a fresh application.  However, this was not the approach taken by Europa, who instead have treated it as a standalone planning application in its own right, to be granted or not on its own merits.
 
Surrey County Council Planning Committee heard the case for the fencing application in their 18 October meeting.  They decided in favour of it.  We believe that, having been presented with the application as a standalone planning application, the Committee’s reasons for approval were wrong in law.  Because of this, we have initiated a legal challenge (a “judicial review”), which will be heard in the law courts.
 
We believe our case in this regard is about as strong as a legal challenge can be.  We need to raise about £25,000 as quickly as possible to quash Surrey County Council’s decision.  If we win – as we fully expect to – almost all this money will end up coming back to us. This will then either continue to be used as a fighting fund (in the case of donations) or, in the case of people wishing to underwrite the legal challenge via promises of £1,000 or more, the money will be returned (more on this below). Any remaining money will be returned to donors in accordance with our constitution if and when this affair is finally over and LHAG dissolves.
 
And we will need that fighting fund, because Europa have also now put in their own appeal.  In a breathtaking piece of irony, they are appealing against Surrey County Council not deciding quickly enough in favour of their horribly flawed Traffic Management Plan.   The irony could not be stronger, given that all delays are entirely of Europa’s own making as they repeatedly have been shown to be flat-out lying in their claims within the Traffic Management Plan.  How they expect Surrey County Council to approve a plan that contains complete untruths, let alone all the other flaws, is a mystery.  But then again, explaining Europa’s actions is a job for a better man than I am!
 
Europa’s appeal is not to the law courts, but to the Planning Inspectorate.  In effect, they will seek to prove to the Planning Inspectorate that their error-laden and implausible Traffic Management Plan is actually fit for purpose.
 
We actually think that this appeal presents a golden opportunity for LHAG.  By forcing the issue, Europa have potentially given us a chance to lay all the evidence out directly to the Planning Inspectorate.  We think the Inspectorate will come to the same conclusion as us; namely, that the Traffic Management Plan as it is currently written is badly flawed.  Once the Inspectorate lays this out in writing, Europa will be forced to alter any future attempts at a Traffic Management Plan to avoid such flaws.  And as we have maintained for the last eight years, we don’t think this is even possible.
 
So the plan is:
 
  1. Raise £25,000 to fight the judicial review against the fencing application.
  2. Win this judicial review.
  3. Use any of the £25,000 we will still have available to prove that the Traffic Management Plan as currently envisaged can’t work.
 
If we can fulfil this, it is hard to see how Europa can sensibly move forwards with drilling on Leith Hill.
 
So now it’s over to all you.  We need you to donate funds!  If everybody on this email list donated £20, we would be covered.  Realistically, we won’t get a 100% participation rate though!  So if you can afford more – for example, £50 or £100 – that would be fantastic.  But if this is too much then anything you can give would be very gratefully accepted.  Believe me, we are individually touched every time somebody is willing to trust in us and we’re hugely thankful to everybody who has been with us on this journey so far.
 
Alternatively, you may be interested in underwriting our legal challenge by sums of £1000 or more, on the grounds that any such large funds you have handed over will be returned in the event that we win.  If this is something you are willing to do, please do get in touch. 
 
Alternatively, you may be interested in underwriting our legal challenge by sums of £1000 or more, on the grounds that any such large funds you have handed over will be returned in the event that we win.  If this is something you are willing to do, please do get in touch. 
 
To donate, you can use PayPal (even if you don’t have a PayPal account) by clicking on this button:
 
 
Alternatively, you can send us a cheque made payable to ‘Leith Hill Action Group’ via:
 
LHAG
c/o Patrick Nolan
Oak Lodge
Anstie Lane
Coldharbour
RH5 6HA
 
Patrick Nolan
For LHAG
www.lhag.org.uk