Petition against risk to water supply nears 100,000 signatures
A petition aimed at demonstrating serious fears about the risk to local water supplies from oil drilling on Leith Hill is close to hundred thousand signatures. The petition, hosted by 38 Degrees, which is addressed to the Environment Agency (EA) titled ‘Don't risk water pollution from oil drilling on Leith Hill’ has been signed by over ninety-one thousand people, with more being added by the minute.
The organisers of the petition will be officially handing it in on Thursday 1 March at 6:30pm during a public consultation at the Dorking Halls, where residents have been invited to talk to EA representatives about how they will regulate the proposed oil and gas activities on Leith Hill in Surrey. The site is within an officially designated area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
The local resident who started the petition said, “We are encouraged that so many people agree the water pollution risks from oil drilling using acid and other chemicals are unacceptable. We call on the Environment Agency to act on our concerns by rejecting this application. Short term oil extraction is increasingly being prioritised by our Government over the protection of our water resource. Water will ultimately be much more valuable and important to our Nation than oil. It's short term thinking at it's worst.
“Water is both a vital natural resource and a heritage, which must be protected, defended and treated as such. We would like to invite any local people who have concerns over the safety of our water due to the proposed acidisation drilling process, to join us in handing in this petition. We hope it makes a difference to the EA’s decision”
Concerns were initially sparked when Sutton and East Surrey Water (SESW) spoke out during the planning appeal process against Europa’s plans, stating that an accidental spill or leak could contaminate the aquifer used for public water supply. Lester Sonden, then director of SESW, said he was concerned about the potential for long-term contamination of water sources. He said “Our objection to drilling in this location is that it will increase the risk of polluting the aquifer that is used for public water supply. Besides the risk of contaminating our borehole sources at Dorking, there is also a risk that contamination could lead to pollution of the River Mole, which in turn could affect our sources at Leatherhead.
“The EA has required additional protection against the risk in the short term, but longer term the risks are not so well understood. However well-designed, there is a risk of failure at some time in the future.”
Public confidence is also dropping in two of the companies responsible for the drilling to foot the bill should a clean up of this scale be necessary. With over £50m wiped off UKOG’s share price recently due to possible formation damage from acid at Broadford Bridge oil well in Sussex and Europa’s share price going steadily down by over 66% in 5yrs, from over 12p in April 2013 to 3.85p on Wed 21st Feb, campaigners against the drilling fear this could end up costing the tax payer a lot more than they bargained for.
For further information, comment or to arrange a photo call, please contact Serena Billinghurst on 07727 123 874 or email email@example.com
To sign the petition please visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-leith-hill-in-surrey-from-the-risk-of-water-contamination-from-planned-oil-drilling-1
The draft environmental permit and supporting documents can be viewed here.
The EA's invitation to the 1st March public meeting at Dorking is here.