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Date posted: 26 September 2022

Councillors call on ministers to withdraw Dunsfold drilling permission

Following the Government’s announcement that the moratorium on fracking has been lifted, Waverley Borough Council’s Executive has written to senior ministers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, calling for the controversial planning permission for an exploratory well at Dunsfold to be withdrawn.

The councillors argue that fracking is fraught with severe environmental risks and has little likelihood of alleviating any of the country’s current energy concerns. However, the letter welcomed a commitment from ministers, that fracking would only be allowed where there is local support, claiming that the proposed well at Dunsfold ‘does not meet a reasonable interpretation of having local support’.

The Executive has therefore requested that the consent granted by the previous Secretary of State be rescinded, or alternatively, that the Government ceases its efforts to defend a Judicial Review on the subject.

Councillor Paul Follows, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “In June 2019 at Waverley Borough Council’s first ever Listening Panel, 21 residents and community groups set out a huge range of reasons why a well on the border of Surrey Hills AONB would have disastrous consequences for our communities and environment.

“Local people believe there will be damaging impacts on the landscape, wildlife, local businesses and residents. On top of this, onshore extraction of fossil fuels is totally incompatible with the Climate Emergency declared by Waverley, Surrey County Council, and the Government.”

Councillor Steve Williams, Waverley Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, said: “At every stage in the long and tortured history of this planning application, local people have demonstrated their overwhelming opposition to any drilling for hydrocarbons at Dunsfold.

“If the Government’s position is that this sort of unconventional extraction of fossil fuels should only be allowed with the support of local people, then the Loxley well clearly fails that test and planning permission should never have been granted.

“We need the Government to back our local communities by prioritising their interests over those of the fossil fuel industry.”

The full text of the letter can be viewed on our website.

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