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Case update 03 August 2023

Stop fossil fuel drilling in Surrey – we aren’t backing down

SOPA Images / Alamy

We’re supporting Protect Dunsfold as they appeal a High Court judgment which upheld the Government’s decision to allow drilling for gas in the Surrey Hills.

The climate emergency is causing devastation across our planet. Wildfires have swept across southern Europe, floods have engulfed China and July was the world’s hottest month on record.

The Government’s response is nothing short of perverse. Ministers are rowing back on green policies and unleashing a tidal wave of new licenses to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea. Rishi Sunak and his Cabinet are wilfully ignoring the stark advice from experts that if our planet is to survive, fossil fuels must stay in the ground.

Last year, the former Minister of State for Housing, Stuart Andrew MP, overruled Surrey County Council to give the green light to a scheme from UK Oil and Gas. This plan would see drilling rigs roll through the village of Dunsfold to look for gas in fields on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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We believe this decision is not only scandalous, but unlawful. If the drilling goes ahead, it would do irreversible damage to local wildlife and businesses and be yet another dent in our efforts to reach net zero.

That’s why we have been supporting local campaigners Protect Dunsfold to fight this plan.

The High Court ruled against the challenge last month, and the judge did not grant permission to appeal against her decision, but we’re not giving up. Protect Dunsfold is now applying to the Court of Appeal to overturn this ruling.

On the same day in July 2022 that the Minister of State approved the scheme in Surrey, he rejected a similar project in Ellesmere Port, because of its greenhouse gas emissions and the Climate Change Committee’s finding that every tonne of carbon contributes to the climate crisis. But if drilling goes ahead in Surrey, it would produce greater emissions than the rejected plan at Ellesmere Port.

Protect Dunsfold argue that the Minister of State’s decision to approve the plan in Surrey disagrees with a critical aspect of the decision at Ellesmere Port, making them inconsistent. They also argue that the High Court gave too much weight to the fact that emissions were not considered in Surrey County Council’s original planning decisions and gave no reasons why the Minister of State could ignore emissions when considering the scheme in Surrey.

Success in this appeal could have positive impacts far beyond the village of Dunsfold. With our Government failing to address the climate emergency, this appeal could make it much harder for fossil fuel schemes to go ahead.

But we need your help. Any support you can give this appeal, no matter how big or how small, would be greatly appreciated.

You can make a donation here.