Support Surrey Oil Legal Challenge

By Sarah Finch

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Update: September 2020

Fantastic news! I'm very pleased to say that I have been granted permission for a Judicial Review of Surrey County Council’s decision to allow the drilling 20 years of oil production at Horse Hill.

This is such good news, and shows that persistence pays. Thank you so much for your support.

My request was initially turned down (twice) so I appealed and the Appeal Judge, Lord Justice Lewison, agreed that our climate grounds are arguable and deserve a hearing. He also pointed out an additional ground for the challenge which had only been an ancillary part of our case – which he said was important and deserves a full hearing too.

So there will now be a two-day hearing, on 17 & 18 November.

The new ground suggested by the Judge means that the legal team now to do more work , and the hearing will be longer, the costs have gone up. So I now need to raise another £10,000 if I possibly can.

How did you feel when you heard Surrey County Council had given the go-ahead to massive expansion of oil drilling at Horse Hill, near Horley in Surrey, in a time of climate emergency? I was shocked, disappointed and angry.

I’m Sarah Finch and I’m asking for your help to challenge their devastating decision.

I’ve lived in this part of Surrey most of my life – and I’ve been campaigning against oil drilling at Horse Hill since 2013.

Like many other people, I wrote objections to the plans for four more oil wells and 20 years of production at Horse Hill.  So I was dismayed when the planning committee ignored our well-researched objections.

The decision to allow 20 years of oil production was wrong.

It was wrong because of the climate emergency. 20 years takes us way past the time when we need to have stopped using fossil fuels like oil.

It was wrong because of the earthquake risks in this vulnerable area – and Surrey County Council refused to look at the evidence on this, saying it wasn’t their responsibility.

And it was wrong because Green Belt countryside is no place for industrial development.

That’s why I am seeking a Judicial Review of the decision now. And I’m not doing it alone – I have support from many local campaigners across the south east.

We have secured a fantastic legal team, including barristers Marc Willers QC from Garden Court Chambers,  Estelle Dehon, from Cornerstone Chambers, and solicitors from Leigh Day, who have a wealth of experience of fighting and winning cases on behalf of the environment.

They are working for a fraction of their usual fees but even so, fighting through the courts is not cheap and we need to raise £25,000. Every penny donated will go directly to our lawyers.

Together we can get this very bad decision overturned, and with your support make sure Surrey and other planning authorities look at all the implications of oil and gas drilling in future.

Only with your help can we make this happen. Please donate now. It doesn’t matter how small, whatever you can afford to give, it will make a real difference.

Thank you so much

If this expansion goes ahead, Horse Hill will be the second biggest onshore oil production site in the country. And it could open the door to more drilling across South East England. UK Oil and Gas Plc (UKOG) also has its eyes on Dunsfold, the controversial Leith Hill area, Arreton on the Isle of Wight, and Broadford Bridge in Sussex.


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Team Members

Sarah Finch

Lorraine Inglis

Vicki Elcoate