Leith Hill exploratory drilling appeal dismissed

Coldharbour Lane Campaigners say protected species including cuckoos and nightjars would be affected by any exploration

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An appeal against a decision to allow exploratory drilling for oil and gas in Surrey has been dismissed.

Europa Oil and Gas wants to drill in Bury Hill Wood at Holmwood near Dorking, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

In July a High Court judge overturned a refusal by Surrey County Council to allow the drilling.

Appeal court judges earlier dismissed an appeal by Leith Hill Action Group (LHAG) against the High Court ruling.

The campaigners say protected species including cuckoos and nightjars would be affected by any exploration.

A Europa spokesman said the firm's appeal against Surrey County Council's refusal to grant planning permission would now be remitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

"This may involve a further planning inquiry," he said.

The company first applied for permission in 2009 to search for oil and gas deposits beneath Bury Hill Wood, in the Surrey Hills.

The county council refused the application in May 2011, and in December of that year an appeal was lodged by the energy company against the decision.

The decision was upheld by an independent planning inspector at an inquiry in July 2012, prompting Europa to launch its High Court case.

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