Campaigners against oil drilling on Leith Hill have slammed the grant of an exploratory drill permit by the Environment Agency.
Over 103,000 people had signed a petition to the Environment Agency about concerns over drinking water pollution and two separate independent experts submitted detailed evidence about the risks.
But the Environment Agency has now approved the permit – subject to all other permissions being granted. Planning consent for the site in Coldharbour Lane runs out on August 7th and Europa Oil and Gas is in the process of applying for an extension. The Traffic Management Plan involving hundreds of HGV movements in the narrow and historic tree lined lane has been the main sticking point.Julian Everett of community group, A Voice for Leith Hill: said: “It’s sadly symbolic that just before this year's Earth Overshoot Day - when humanity will have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year – this permit has been granted by the government agency responsible for protecting our environment. The EA has decided to permit activities that will exacerbate climate change and jeopardise our drinking water supply in an area that is currently experiencing unprecedented levels of seismic activity.
“The EA claims activities will be closely monitored, yet despite several site visits they were unaware of an entire side-track being illegally drilled at Brockham - drilling that was conducted by the same company that now has the farm-out deal at Leith Hill. Instead, once again it is going to fall to the citizens of Surrey to do the job these publicly funded professionals should be doing: of protecting our environment and communal resources, and of upholding the will of local democracy”.
Europa Oil and Gas has spent ten years trying to get its permits for the exploratory 18 week drill but bitter opposition by the local community and local councils has meant that no drilling has started.
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