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Case update 28 March 2023

We have a court date for our fight against fossil fuel drilling in the Surrey Hills

Good Law Project

We are supporting the campaign group, Protect Dunsfold, to challenge the Government’s decision to allow a fossil fuel exploration scheme on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Earlier this month, we were delighted that the High Court overturned a previous decision and gave permission for Protect Dunsfold’s legal challenge to go ahead. Our court hearing will be on 8 June.  

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is stark about our chances to stop the world from warming by more than 1.5C. If our planet is to survive, there’s no future for coal, oil and gas.

So there it is in black and white: exploiting our natural landscape for gas should be a thing of the past. 

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This is at the heart of why we are supporting legal action which challenges the scandalous decision of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to run roughshod over Surrey County Council’s previous refusals and gave permission for exploratory drilling in Dunsfold.

Protect Dunsfold’s challenge takes forward two legal arguments. The first relates to the inconsistency in decision-making by the Secretary of State, who gave the Dunsfold drilling site the go-ahead on the same day that he refused permission for a comparable site in Ellesmere Port. 

Despite greenhouse gas emissions being the most significant factor against granting permission in Ellesmere Port- with the Secretary of State stating that “every tonne of carbon contributes to climate change”- when it came to Dunsfold, a different decision was reached.

The second argument relates to the drilling site being on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). National policy requires planning decisions to give great weight to “conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty” in AONBs. The reasons for departing from this requirement were never fully explained. 

It is now full speed ahead to the hearing in June. But we need your help. 

If you would like to support the legal challenge against fossil fuel drilling in the Surrey Hills, you can do so here.