Leith Hill Action Group – Newsletter 14 (12th November 2012) 

Stop the Leith Hill oil drilling!

Hello and welcome to the newsletter we never wanted to write.  As has now been widely reported in the press, we can confirm that Europa have submitted a High Court application against the Inspector’s rejection of Europa’s original appeal.

What Does This Mean?

Europa cannot now appeal against the weighting of planning considerations.  As such, the appeal, as it has to be at this stage, is strictly on points of law. 

The objection has four grounds, each of which relate to a technical interpretation of a different part of the planning law used to refuse the appeal.  A full explanation would take more space than this newsletter has room for, but we intend to put Europa’s High Court challenge on our website so that you can read it in full.

The interaction of laws is always a fruitful area for lawyers to interpret according to the needs of their clients.  Europa’s objection requires a particular interpretation – an interpretation with which we disagree and with which the Inspector clearly also disagreed.  We must now wait and see whether a High Court Judge agrees with Europa or with us and with the Inspector.

What Happens Now?

The appeal is against the Secretary of State, with Surrey County Council named as co-defendant.  As such, the emphasis now shifts to central government itself to defend their decision.  As they have also been named, we hope that Surrey County Council will also support the defence robustly.

LHAG currently have no formal status in the appeal proceedings.  We are taking legal advice as to what we can do, and what we should do.

Timeframe

It will be many months before the appeal is heard (assuming a judge does not summarily dismiss it, which can also still happen).  The appeal itself, which is only about the legal interpretation of four points, will likely take no more than a few days.  A decision will be reached by the High Court some weeks or months later.

What Happens After That?

If we win, we believe that should be it.  There are other avenues technically available to Europa, but they are much more difficult to pursue.

If Europa win, we understand that the process is likely to revert back to a pre-Inquiry status.

We will, of course, be keeping you all updated with information as and when we know it.  In the mean time, we encourage you to, like us, stay positive!

Patrick Nolan

The Leith Hill Action Group