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Fear and confusion over oil drilling in Surrey greenbelt

oil drilling

7:01am 26th March 2017
(Updated 10:57pm 26th March 2017)

There's fear and confusion in Mole Valley as an oil firm starts drilling in greenbelt land, apparently without permission.

Surrey County Council has told Eagle that Angus Energy drilled a well in Brockham, contrary to advice and guidance.

In a statement, the council said: "We were extremely disappointed to find out that Angus Energy has acted without planning permission and contrary to our advice and guidance so we are currently in discussions with them as a matter of urgency to resolve this."

However, Angus Energy has hit back saying no breach has occurred and that no new well was drilled.

An FAQ page on the oil and gas development company's website covers 'stories in the media about Brockham'.

In response to the council's statement, it said: "As the Council said, “we are in discussions”, they have not stated any planning harm has actually occurred."

The page goes on to say: "We stand by our statement no breach has occurred.

"We immediately met with the SCC as we value our working relationship and continue to work with the Council on all relevant matters.

"We firmly believe we have acted in a professional and correct manner and followed all permissions and guidelines from the OGA, EA, HSE and the SCC. Naturally we will continue to do so.

"No new well was drilled."

There has been uproar in the local community though, and in nearby village Coldharbour in Leith Hill where oil drilling could start in the future.

Ada is from the Brockham Oil Watch group and tells Eagle: "I find it very disturbing.

"The local people have alerted the council to some of the signs that we've noticed.

"The council did send a visitor to the site and they didn't pick up on anything, I think there are questions about the level of enforcement and capabilities of the council to enforce the conditions of the planning permissions.

"My fear is that it's not conventional, that there is going to be a lot of drilling, a lot of horizontal wells and stimulation being used which is not properly regulated in the UK."

Oil drilling has not yet started at Coldharbour in Leith Hill, however local residents are concerned about this too.

Some people have set up a camp at the potential site in the area, with a number of anti-oil drilling signs and banners.

Site

Max Rosenburg lives in Coldharbour and is part of the Leith Hill Action Group Committee.

He tells Eagle: "There is much concern around here regarding this particular exploration at Leith Hill.

"But more importantly perhaps, Surrey is currently a major target for the hydrocarbon industry regarding exploration and extraction.

"Most of the sites are areas of outstanding natural beauty which must be given the highest level of protection and also greenbelt.

"In my experience over the past eight years, Surrey County Council must exercise a far more critical and in depth scrutiny of all the applications and conditions they receive from the developers, otherwise we're going to have more and more mistake as we've had in the last four or five years.

"We are very concerned about the damage that can be done to the protected species up here including badgers, door mice and six different species of birds."

Site

Mary also lives in Coldharbour and says she has big worries: "I'm seriously concerned and petrified about what's going on, the pollution of our air, water and land, mass industrialisation of the whole of the weald, there are faults all the way through Leith Hill, we need to save this.

"Please please, get writing to your MPs, the law needs to change.

"We've seen what's happened in Brockham, we need the law changed so that they're not monitoring their own water and their own hazardous chemicals."

 

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