LHAG wins Heart of the Community Award
LHAG has been awarded £2,500 as a result of coming top in the Environment category of Surrey Mirror's Heart of the Community Awards. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us - we are thrilled to have won!
And there's more good news. Thanks to our fundraising team working so extremely hard and the generosity of our supporters attending our events and sending in donations, we are delighted to report that the fundraising total to date has passed the target!
Legal battles are costly affairs however, and so we would like to have a contingency in the account in case of overrun on the fees. We won’t therefore be stopping our fundraising efforts even though we have hit our target.
LHAG appeals the High Court decision
LHAG submitted its appeal on the 19th of September 2013. The appeal is against the High Court decision in July 2013 to quash the planning inspector's decision made after the public inquiry in July 2012. The planning inspector's decision dismissed the appeal by Europa against Surrey County Council's refusal in May 2011 to grant planning permission to exploratory drill for oil and gas at Bury Hill Wood, off Coldharbour Lane.
Peter Tindall from LHAG commented:"At the High Court, Mr Justice Ouseley granted LHAG leave to appeal his decision. Following detailed discussions with our barrister and other planning experts, we are convinced we have an excellent chance of success. We also believe that a successful appeal should end this planning application once and for all. We understand that our appeal is likely to be heard at the Court of Appeal either on 30 April 2014 or 1 May 2014, so our fundraising efforts have been renewed yet again. Details of our new fundraising event programme are detailed on our Fundraising Events page."
The fight is far from over - Europa do not yet have planning permission.
The Leith Hill Action Group (LHAG) came together in early 2009 to oppose a planning application to explore for oil or gas in the Surrey Hills AONB. In May 2011, Surrey County Council refused the application and in December 2011 an appeal was lodged by the applicant against the decision.
LHAG was granted Rule-6 status to be a full party alongside the appellant and SCC in the public inquiry, which took place in Dorking Halls from 10 - 19 July 2012. A decision from that inquiry was received at the end of September 2012 and confirmed that Europa's appeal was unsuccessful. The application to drill for oil was not therefore approved.
However, in November 2012, Europa launched a challenge to that decision in the High Court. LHAG were included as third defendants at that hearing and produced a number of witness statements to that end. Our barrister represented us in the High Court at the hearing, which took place on 23rd and 24th July 2013.
Sadly, Europa won that appeal and the Planning Inspector's decision made at the Public Inquiry has been quashed. However, LHAG has been granted leave to appeal that decision and after taking legal advice from our barrister, as well as having been provided with legal advice from one of the country's top planning solicitors and other planning advisors, we have submitted our appeal. This website will be updated with more news as and when we have it. You can also stay abreast of developments by signing up to our newsletters (see newsletters to sign up and to see copies of previous newsletters. Alternatively, click on the button below to sign up to the newsletters).
Our mission is to preserve this fragile area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and protect it from this inappropriate type of development. We believe that the same potential deposits can be explored from a less sensitive site.
To persuade government and legal decision makers to dismiss the appeal on the same grounds that Surrey County Council refused the original application (see Documents).
We believe that less sensitive sites exist served by more robust infrastructure to cope with the associated HGV movements. It is not our intention to 'sterilise any potential deposit' by preventing exploration as we appreciate the national need to secure domestic energy supply. The applicant should undertake any temporary exploration activity in a responsible way, avoiding any long term damage to the local environment, even if it involves extra cost.
Whilst the application is for temporary operation, there is no doubt that there will be permanent environmental damage, especially to Coldharbour Lane, and significant disruption to residents and visitors of this popular beauty spot and Knoll Road in Dorking.
To Stay Informed
We produced a regular newsletter during the campaign to keep people informed. People were able to subscribe by clicking the button below.
We needed to have raised £50,000 by the 10th July 2012 to pay for legal fees and expert witnesses at the public inquiry and WE DID IT! We actually raised over £55,000.
We needed to raise a further £4,500 by the end of September 2013 to pay for the High Court challenge. WE DID THIS TOO!
Now we need to raise £25,000 by the end of Q1 2014 to pay for the appeal. WE MANAGED IT!
In the event of LHAG being dissolved, surplus funds will be returned pro rata to our donors in the manner described in our constitition.