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Borough council to challenge Secretary of State go-ahead for oil and gas drilling

The Executive at Waverley Borough Council has agreed to seek permission to challenge a planning appeal decision which allowed exploratory oil and gas drilling at Loxley, a site just north of Dunsfold.

In May this year, the then Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities overturned Surrey County Council's refusal of planning consent for an exploratory well and side-track at the site.

A Special Executive meeting was held this week (18 July) to give councillors the opportunity to discuss and agree their response to the decision. 

A report for the meeting said that if the Executive were to resolve to bring a legal challenge, officers should be authorised to make the necessary virement to meet costs of up to £13,500. If the council seeks a renewal hearing, in the event its application is dismissed on the papers, the estimated cost is a further £4,000.

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The council said it had “consistently expressed its opposition to any oil and gas exploration at the site, which lies in the Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) immediately adjacent to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)”.

It added that local residents and community groups had expressed a range of concerns about the potential impact of the drilling.

Cllr Paul Follows, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “Drilling for gas at Dunsfold will lead to irreversible harm to our environment, to local businesses and to local people. We are absolutely opposed to it in any form and will consider all legal means to stop it. 

“It is completely at odds with our declared Climate Emergency and similar declarations made by the County Council and the government. In this country, we should be massively increasing our investment in renewables where we have genuine competitive advantage, such as offshore wind, rather than onshore oil and gas in the middle of the Surrey Hills.”

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