3 June 2017
Stop the Leith Hill oil drilling!
Hello to all our supporters.
There’s certainly a lot going on right now, with Europa sending a sudden rush of crucial applications through at once. The big news is the release of their Traffic Management Scheme, and we know you will all have a lot to say about that. Look out for a newsletter about that very soon. In the meantime, however, there is another important thing we are asking you to do.
Urgent Action Required!
Those who have been following the story will remember that last year, Europa attempted to get some additional fencing waved through the planning process. We identified, however, that this represented a substantial extension to both the size of the site and duration of the drilling. LHAG achieved a major win against the attempt to bypass due process by forcing Surrey County Council to require a new Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) in light of this extension.
Europa have now issued their new EIA and Surrey are seeking public consultation about it. Once again, LHAG are being forced to object to the way the consultation has been approached – the consultation period is not long enough and it is obvious that the EIA is wholly insufficient. We will be strongly putting forward our case about this.
However, in case we cannot gain the needed extension in consultation, we need you to act now. The consultation period ends on Tuesday 6 June 2017. Surrey County Council will probably carry on accepting public comment right up until the fencing application is considered by the planning committee, but it really is best to respond in time if you can. This is what the cards that many of you will have received in the post are about.
This fencing application really is outrageous. There are actually two versions of the application – one that extends the time period of the drilling by three weeks and one that extends it all the way to an entire year. Either is totally against the spirit of what was granted by the Inspector, and both also add significant industrialisation to the drill site. Why should this be allowed, when we had two Public Inquiries just to answer the original application as it was?
Please write immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to include your full name and postal address. You will need to include the two Surrey County Council references, which are SCC Ref 2016/0170 and SCC Ref 2016/0232.
The key points are:
1. The applicant seeks to justify the fencing on the basis of a worsened “security environment” for onshore oil developments since the original application was submitted in 2008. However, the EIA for the original application was entirely rewritten in the winter of 2014/15 for the 2015 Public Inquiry. The “security environment” of environmental protest against onshore drilling was already obvious at the 2015 Pubic Inquiry – for example, we had already seen the same thing happen at Balcombe
2. The footprint of the development increases from 0.79 hectares to 1.01 hectares. This is a 28% increase in the size of the development. The Inspector wrote that a key reason for it not being “major development” was that the site is less than 1 hectare. This is no longer the case. The Inspector may well have refused an application of 1.01 hectares.
3. The fencing application extends the duration of the development from 18 weeks to either 21 or 55 weeks. The Inspector was very specific in his approval that the original application was only granted because it was 18 weeks in length. This is no longer the case. The Inspector may well have refused an application lasting 21 or 55 weeks.
4. The original application was at pains to point out that nothing would be visible from Coldharbour Lane. The Inspector relied on this in granting permission. However, this is no longer the case. In fact, the fencing will in itself represent significant industrialisation of the AONB. The Inspector may well have refused an application visible from Coldharbour Lane.
5. The extension of the site now includes (in its southerly section) a steep down-slope facing across the valley to Coldharbour Village. More trees will now have to be felled for this. The Inspector relied on an EIA that specified a particular amount of tree felling. This is no longer the case. The Inspector may well have refused an application with the level of tree felling now proposed.
6. Changes to the lighting plan are required. There is bound to be light present at the site entrance and at the southern extension. The Inspector specifically stated in conditions that there should be no lights on outside of 9am to 5pm. This is no longer the case. The Inspector may well have refused an application requiring such extensive lighting in an otherwise unlit area.
With all these significant changes from the original application – which are only requested for a reason that was entirely foreseeable at the time of the original application – the permission for the additional fencing should be refused.
If you would like more information, you can find them in our previous newsletters: