Oil company submits second application to drill at Leith Hill green-belt site

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OIL giant Europa has submitted another drilling application to Surrey County Council as it seeks to carry out exploratory work at a popular Dorking beauty spot

By Dorking Advertiser  |  Posted: January 12, 2015

By Alexander Robertson alexander.robertson@essnmedia.co.uk

Members of Leith Hill Action Group, which opposes Europa's plans for drilling at Bury Hill Wood

Members of Leith Hill Action Group, which opposes Europa’s plans for drilling at Bury Hill Wood

 

The company hopes to drill on a green-belt site on Leith Hill but has faced stiff resistance from campaigners the Leith Hill Action Group (LHAG) for six years, with a second public enquiry scheduled for April.

Europa’s original application would only permit drilling downwards on the current exploration site, Bury Hill Wood, one mile from the prospect located under Coldharbour village.

However, the company has now submitted a second application to drill laterally, which campaigners believe would be just as harmful to the sensitive area as the original submission.

In a newsletter issued to LHAG members this week, group chairman Patrick Nolan said: “Although it is closely tied to the same thing we have been fighting for the past six years, this new application is technically a brand new application for drilling.

“However, all sides agree that the two applications are inherently related. Therefore the same objections that apply to the vertical drilling should also apply to the horizontal drilling.”

An initial public inquiry held in 2012 found in favour of Surrey County Council’s decision to refuse the application to drill on the site three years earlier.

However, the Planning Inspectorate’s decision was overturned on appeal in 2013, a decision which was upheld in June 2014, meaning the fight will again be played out at a second public inquiry.

Among issues relating to the latest application, Mr Nolan said the drilling will take place in an area containing important aquifers and thus risked polluting the water supply.

LHAG members believe there would be several environmental ramifications to drilling, including air-quality deterioration, light pollution and land contamination.

They also have concerns over the estimated 1,000-plus truck movements that would be required to complete the development, and harm to numerous rare wildlife species in the area.

Mr Nolan told the Advertiser: “We are not against drilling in principal but they have chosen the most inappropriate of sites.”

Europa’s second application will be considered at a meeting of Surrey County Council’s planning and regulatory committee in March or April.

For more information, visit www.surreycommunity.info/lhag