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Latest 21 July 2022

Fighting for the climate and our green spaces

We’re already seeing the devastating impact of the climate crisis in the UK. Scenes of people losing their homes, as wildfires ripped through their community, have brought our collective future into sharp focus.  

There has never been a more important time to do everything we can to protect the environment and preserve our precious green spaces.  

That’s why we are taking action now, and we want you to join us. 

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Good Law Project is supporting a new legal action, brought by local community group, Protect Dunsfold. Our aim is to protect an important green space on the edge of Surrey Hills, an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, from an ill-conceived carbon-heavy drilling project. We are challenging the Government’s decision to grant UK Oil and Gas permission to start exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons near Dunsfold village. 

This could cause severe damage to Surrey Hills, and could open the door to future projects that will add to the UK’s carbon footprint. 

Our challenge centres on a decision by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, under the leadership of Michael Gove, to overturn Surrey County Council’s initial refusal of planning permission. This is despite admitting it would cause “a significant level of landscape and visual impact.” 

We believe there are a number of weaknesses in this decision. The Government did not properly consider the climate impact of unmitigated emissions from natural gas exploration and did not give sufficient weight to the need to conserve an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

The Government’s decision has also been condemned by Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey (which includes Dunsfold). In a letter to Michael Gove, he wrote: “I am writing to protest in the strongest of terms against your decision to grant the appeal that will allow drilling and exploration of fossil fuels in Dunsfold… it will create enormous disruption and environmental damage for little if any economic benefit.”

Sarah Godwin from Protect Dunsfold: “Neither local nor national interest is served by imposing a project harmful to one of the nation’s most sensitive landscapes by inflicting such industrial activity whilst brushing the environmental consequences of continued fossil fuel exploration under the rug.”

Jo Maugham, Director at Good Law Project: “Why, in the aftermath of the hottest day ever, are we wanting to dig up more fossil fuels? Why are we doing it next to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? And why is the Government afraid to let the people of Surrey make their own decisions about what works for their community? We are proud to stand side-by-side with Protect Dunsfold.”

We have committed to funding this case and to paying all of Protect Dunsfold’s legal costs. If you are able to, please consider donating to the crowdfunder to support this case here

You can read the claim as filed against the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities here.