Published Tuesday, 30 June 2020
Waverley Borough Councillors have expressed delight that Surrey County Council’s planning committee members have refused a planning application to explore for oil and gas at Loxley Well in Dunsfold.
The application was the subject of extensive discussion at the 29 June Planning and Regulatory Committee Meeting, before members voted to overturn the officers recommendation for approval by six votes to five on a motion moved by Godalming councillor, Cllr Penny Rivers. Concerns over highways access and the impact on the environment were given as the primary reasons for refusal.
From the outset, there has been significant opposition to the application from local residents, community organisations and pressure groups. Waverley Borough Council held its first ever Listening Panel on the issue, in order to capture the views of local people and reflect them along with its formal submission to Surrey’s consultation on the application.
The 21 local residents and community groups that spoke at the Listening Panel were unanimous in their opposition to the scheme. They highlighted numerous areas of concern, from landscape and environmental damage to the impact of noise, light and air pollution on current residents, and those expected to move into 1800 new homes in the nearby Garden Village under development at Dunsfold Park.
Councillor Steve Williams, Waverley Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, said: “We really are exceptionally pleased Surrey’s Planning and Regulatory Committee members have come to this decision. We were absolutely clear that allowing drilling to take place at this site would have disastrous consequences for the environment, for local communities and for businesses.
“When we held the Listening Panel last June, we wanted to give a voice to local people. I’m so pleased that on this occasion that voice has been heard.
“Outdated government guidance actually prioritises on-shore oil and gas exploration and, up to now, Surrey County Council has not challenged this. I am delighted that members of Surrey’s planning committee rose to the challenge on this occasion and took a principled stand to protect local people against this kind of predatory exploitation of our countryside.”