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Surrey residents protest about impacts of 20-year oil production plans


People living around the Horse Hill oil site near Gatwick Airport have protested about long-term drilling and production plans.

Wearing air pollution masks, they urged Surrey County Council to refuse a planning application by Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL) for 20 years of oil production and another four wells at the site.

If approved, the scheme could bring the number of wells on the site to seven and make Horse Hill the UK’s second largest onshore production oil field.

DrillorDrop reported in December 2018 on the proposals. As part of the application, HHDL said:

“The impact assessments and environmental reports submitted in association with the planning application find the effects of the proposed development in this location will not be significant demonstrating that the Site can acceptably accommodate further hydrocarbon development.”

But opponents are concerned that the impacts of the development would include:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions including methane over an extended period
  • The use of acid for commercial extraction which could affect groundwater
  • Water re-injection with a risk of earth tremors
  • Loss of Green Belt
  • Harm to ancient woodland

Local residents said the environmental impact assessment with the application has failed to address air pollution properly, particularly:

  • Gas flaring
  • Sulphur dioxide and small particles, PM2.5, which are particularly harmful to health
  • Dust from operations
  • Emissions from benzene, P10 particulates, Nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide
  • More than 8,300 extra heavy vehicles a year over the life of the project on already busy roads.

HHDL said it could produce more than 500 tonnes of oil a day, over a period of 20 years. Local resident Lisa Scott responded:

“It’s a drop in the ocean of what the UK use – so it’s trashing our countryside for just a few days of oil supply.

“I’m concerned about the use of acid to get at the oil, and the fact they haven’t told us what chemicals will be released particularly when they’re used together potentially turning into a toxic cocktail of pollutants.”

Hal Brown, a Green Party councillor on Reigate and Banstead Council, said:

“We don’t need this oil – we should be investing in renewables. And there’s no reason for this industrial drilling site in our beautiful countryside.

“Reigate and Banstead Council just approved a motion which recognises the urgency of addressing climate change and there’s a groundswell of activity now behind cutting our dependence on fossil fuels.

“Local residents have strong views and I encourage them all to send them to Surrey County Council, who will decide on these plans.”

The Green Party MEP for southern England, Keith Taylor, has already objected to the application. He said:

The climate breakdown is unavoidably the biggest issue facing Britain and the world today. There can be no more fossil fuel extraction; scientists have already made it clear that even using the reserves we’ve already tapped would send global temperature rises above the 1.5-degree limit necessary to prevent the very worst effects of climate change.

Turning our precious Surrey Green Belt into an industrial oil production site is only the right answer if the question is ‘how can we ensure Britain will fail to fulfil its international climate commitments under the Paris Agreement?'”

“HHDL’s plans are a form of environment-destructive climate denial and an affront to the local communities set to be blighted by the industrialisation of their countryside. From plans for unconventional extraction to completely ignored earthquake risks, these proposals must be met with short shrift from Surrey County Council.”

A public consultation on the plans runs until Monday 18 February 2019. Link to application



Published: 11-02-2019
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