Key Facts

The 2 Minute Summary

Risk to water supply

The geological layers where oil might be located are beneath the aquifer which supplies drinking water to the local area. The oil speculator proposes to drill straight through the aquifer. Sutton and East Surrey Water have expressed ongoing concern about the "risk to the water supply" (BBC News).

35 metre high massive oil rig

Nearly twice the height of Leith Hill Tower, it is so tall it needs aircraft warning lights.

Risk of serious air pollution

Gas flaring will be used as part of the operations, and the bore hole will also require frequent venting during certain phases of the drill.

Traffic chaos and road safety

Over 1,100 HGV movements are planned from Dorking up Coldharbour Lane, including a massive self-propelled oil rig and 60 tonne crane.

Irreparable damage to the ancient sunken lane

Coldharbour Lane is hundreds of years old, near unique and only 3.8 metres wide in places. A recent survey shows landmark trees at risk.

Wired-off compound on public land

A 3 metre high security fence will be installed around one hectare of natural forest woodland supporting threatened species of flora and fauna. The area will be clear felled.

Desecrating your AONB and Green Belt

The proposed drill site is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a place of great landscape heritage in the Green Belt, and within contamination distance of an SSSI. The impacts of the development could not be wholly reversed. It’s estimated it would take 25 years to replicate just the appearance of the site.

Red List species on site

Birds that frequent the site are on the RSPB Red List as globally threatened with severe decline (up to 50%) in UK breeding population and loss of range in last 25 years.

Local democracy overruled

A sustained community campaign won a public inquiry in 2012 but was overthrown in 2014 by a High Court ruling in favour of drilling “in the national interest”.

Exploratory drilling or full scale production?

Planning permission to date is for exploratory drilling but the oil company refuse to rule out full scale production. Conventional drilling may give way to novel extraction methods through ‘acidisation’ – toxic chemicals pumped deep into the earth to loosen the so-called ‘tight’ oil.

Mass industrialization of the Weald

Referring to ‘tight oil’, Stephen Sanderson, CEO of UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) says “This type of oil deposit very much depends on being able to drill your wells almost back to back so it becomes very much like an industrialised process.” Other sites in planning, preparation or production include Brockham, Horsehill, Albury, Broadford Bridge, Palmer’s Wood (Godstone), King’s Farm (South Godstone), and others.

“There is no compelling need for oil site in Surrey Hills” public inquiry told.

Paul White, a planner with the consultancy Atkins, said any oil found would represent a very small percentage of UK onshore hydrocarbons and would make only a small contribution to the UK economy. “There is no compelling need to exploit the Holmwood prospect”, he said. When asked what weight should be given to the need to drill for oil in the area, Mr White said “negligible”.

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