Leith Hill Action Group – Newsletter 32 (7th April 2015) 

Stop the Leith Hill oil drilling!

Dear Supporters

Welcome to the latest LHAG newsletter.  In this issue, we will be:

Public Inquiry II

The second Public Inquiry is almost upon us, getting underway on 22nd April.  The scheduled dates are Wednesday 22nd April to Friday 24th April and then Tuesday 28th April to Friday 1st May.  However, it may run more quickly than expected and finish earlier than this.

Just as last time, this Public Inquiry will take place at Dorking Halls. 

We need you to attend!  In the first Public Inquiry, you filled the public stands every day.  This show of strength and commitment played a big part in underlining how seriously the public take this case.  Please attend for as many days as you can and help us win again. 

If nothing else, it’s worth coming just to see our democratic processes in action.  It’s fascinating to watch the cross-examination of witnesses (which will include me).  It’s also interesting to see the story of the Inquiry gradually unfold.  Where else can you get drama like this?!

In the last few weeks, we have submitted our written Proof of Evidence.  (In the Inquiry, I will be cross-examined on this Proof).  We have also submitted a Proof of Evidence for our hydrology witness, who has kindly volunteered his considerable experience and expertise for no charge.  We believe that our case is even stronger this time than it was three years ago in the original Inquiry.

We have also received the Proofs of Evidence from Surrey County Council and Europa Oil & Gas.  We are now reading and re-reading these Proofs and helping to prepare our barrister for his cross-examination of the Europa witnesses.

Surrey County Council’s Latest Communication

On 27th March, Surrey County Council sent letters to everybody that objected to the secondary “panhandle” application.  These letters said that this application has been amended.  A number of you have subsequently written to ask what you should do about this.

The amendments are as a consequence of objections raised by the Environment Agency to the panhandle application.  Europa were asked to revise their application to allow for a material number of concerns raised by the Environment Agency. 

The Environment Agency’s damning 20-page objection letter has been removed from all public websites, despite it being a public document relevant to the application.  The current situation is an outrage.  Please write to object to Surrey County Council.  As part of a statutory consultation period, you are being asked to opine on an amendment that is in response to a letter from the Environment Agency that is not available for you to read

If you were to pay the £50 necessary to get Europa’s amendments in hard copy format (or if you were to go to Pippbrook to view them) you would see that they not address our serious concerns about the aquifers.  They have also failed to include any details about the impact of the revised plans on the length of the project, the volume or nature of the traffic or any other practicalities.  Europa have also not responded to any of our direct and straightforward questions about these important topics! 

With the Inquiry for the primary application in just a few weeks, it is preposterous that we don’t currently know the full details of Europa’s proposals.

Fundamentally, however, you should be given the full information, which includes easy access to both the Environment Agency’s objection (which is not currently available at all) and Europa’s amendments (which are not currently available on any public website).  These documents should be available to you directly and free of charge.  Please write to Surrey County Council and let them know your feelings about this.  The secondary application should not be heard until there has been a satisfactory consultation period, which should include allowing the public proper access to all relevant details.

When writing to object, please quote the reference:

MO/2014/1006/SCC

And remember to include your name and address, especially when e-mailing.

You can send a letter or email to register your objection.  You must do so by 22nd April 2015.  The details are:

In writing
Mandy Calden
Planning Development Technical Support Team Leader
Planning & Development Group
Surrey County Council
County Hall
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey
KT1 2DY

By email
MWCD@surreycc.gov.uk

Please forward your emails to the Planning Inspectorate

We believe that Surrey County Council will not necessarily make it clear to the Inspectorate the volume of objections that were raised to either the original application or the secondary “panhandle” application.  As such, we are asking you to forward your original objection (if you still have it) and also your recent panhandle objections to the Planning Inspectorate.

You can either send a letter or an email.  If you are writing rather than emailing, please send 3 copies of your letter to Leanne Palmer, The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/26 Hawk Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN. 

If you are emailing, please email Leanne.Palmer@pins.gsi.gov.uk .

Please always include your name and address in all correspondence, as evidence to the Inspectorate that you are genuine.  Please also use the reference APP/B3600/A/11/2166561

LHAG’s Finances

In the last newsletter, we asked you to donate towards our legal costs.  We had a fantastic response; thank you.  If you intended to contribute but never got round to it, it isn’t too late; we still have funds we need to raise.  You can donate using PayPal or find the address to send a cheque to by visiting our fundraising page.

We must say a giant thank you to Nick and Sue Jefferies who put on a wonderful snooker and darts night at their house.  Many Coldharbour villagers attended, playing the sports and taking advantage of the “Jefferies Arms” bar.  In total, they raised a fantastic £1500 for the LHAG coffers.  Thank you Nick and Sue!

We hope to see as many of you as possible at the Public Inquiry.  Please come up and say hello!

Patrick Nolan

The Leith Hill Action Group