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Plans for gas drilling in Surrey Hills to face judicial review

Plans for gas drilling in Surrey Hills to face judicial review

Local campaigners succeed in bringing legal challenge after government overruled council’s rejection of project
Plans to drill for gas in the Surrey Hills will be put under judicial review and could be stopped, after local campaigners took the government to the high court.

Ministers previously gave the green light to three years of exploratory drilling at a site near Dunsfold on the edge of the Surrey Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.

The plan had been rejected by Surrey county council, but a subsequent public inquiry recommended it should go ahead, a decision that was then assessed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which approved it.

Ian Browne, the legal manager of the Good Law Project, which supported the campaign, said: “It’s scandalous that the government overruled Surrey council and the local community to give the green light to a fossil fuel exploration project, which would do irreparable harm to the landscape, woodlands and natural habitats on the edge of the Surrey Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.”

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, said: “This is a victory for local people who stood up to both the government and powerful oil barons. I am proud of Liberal Democrat-run Waverley council, who … secured a landmark decision for their community.

“It is shameful that Conservative ministers and even Conservative MPs in Surrey have backed this ghastly new oilfield. It is disgraceful that Michael Gove has dragged this to the high court instead of listening to the concerns of local people across Surrey.

“Surrey’s green hills must be protected at all costs. We cannot lose a treasured part of the country to polluting and profiteering firms who have no regard for the environment. The Conservative government must now listen.”

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