Leith Hill Action Group – Newsletter 1 (2nd February 2012)

Stop the Leith Hill oil drilling!

Hello and welcome to the first of a series of newsletters that we will be writing between now and the Public Inquiry.

The outcome of the Inquiry is critical to Leith Hill, residents in Dorking and Coldharbour and all of us who enjoy this beautiful and nationally protected area.

You are receiving this newsletter because you registered on the Action Group’s website.  But that might have been some time ago, so here’s a brief recap.

 Background

 Europa Oil & Gas Ltd wants to explore for oil within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  You can find more details on www.lhag.info.

 There is plenty to be concerned about.  For example, why this particular site should never have been chosen (there are plenty of other less sensitive and more appropriate sites); how over 1,000 HGV movements will cause irreparable damage to Coldharbour Lane, a rare and fragile sunken lane; how the activity will destroy irrecoverable habitats for endangered wildlife; how HGVs parked in residential roads in Dorking and travelling up and down the incredibly narrow and winding Coldharbour Lane will endanger lives; and how it will spoil our opportunity to enjoy this special countryside.  Whilst we are not against the exploration of oil, it must be done in a responsible manner from sites that can cope with the associated activity. The choice of site must not be made purely for financial gain.

The fight so far

In May last year, Surrey County Council held the planning hearing. Your Leith Hill Action Group team put in many, many hours of work, culminating in delivering a number of rational and passionate representations which contributed to the council refusing planning permission. 

In December, Europa lodged an appeal.  There will now be a public inquiry, probably this July, with an independent Planning Inspector empowered to either rubber stamp Surrey County Council’s decision or uphold Europa’s appeal and overturn the council’s refusal to grant permission. 

The only way to stop Europa from winning is to vigorously defend Surrey County Council’s decision. We know this appeal can be overturned; we know we can win.  We have a very strong argument for the Planning Inspector to consider.  But we need to raise money to pay professional fees, including a barrister and other expert witnesses. Public inquiries are an expensive business and we need to raise £50,000 in five months.

So we’re going to be fundraising between now and the public inquiry. We’ll be doing this by holding events that we hope will be fun.  We will also need individual donations.

These newsletters will keep you in touch with what’s happening and keep you up to date with fundraising activity. We hope you can support the fundraising events and pass on details to others. We'd also love to hear YOUR ideas on how we can raise enough funds to ensure we get the right decision.

Thanks for reading.

Patrick Nolan

Fundraising Committee

The Leith Hill Action Group

To feed back, ask questions or provide help, contact Patrick Nolan at pnoley@gmail.com

If you would like to make a donation, please either make a direct transfer to the LHAG account (sort code 09-01-27, account 37678874) or make cheques payable to “Leith Hill Action Group” and send to Patrick Nolan, Head of LHAG Fundraising, Oak Lodge, Anstie Lane, Surrey, RH5 6HA.  Please include your name and address in case we have the chance to return surplus funds.

One normal sized HGV fills the whole of Coldharbour Lane.  The drilling HGVs are larger than this.