Horse Hill: Oil drilling to expand in Surrey countryside

Protests at SCC
Image caption Objections were raised by local residents, parish councils and environmental campaigners

A plan to expand oil drilling in the Surrey countryside with four new bore wells has sparked protests.

UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) said it aimed to operate a total of six oil wells at the Horse Hill site, which is about two miles from Gatwick Airport.

Surrey County Council has approved a 25-year drilling plan from the firm.

But opponents said councillors failed to consider the impact on climate change this will have and the potential to cause earthquakes.

James Knapp, of Weald Action Group, said the council did not "address the risks of drilling in an active earthquake zone".

He said the group would "seek legal advice on how to challenge this decision".

Image copyright UKOG
Image caption The Horse Hill site covers about 2 hectares of former farmland near Horley

Residents have raised concerns a series of more than 30 earthquakes, which began in April 2018 and is known as the "Surrey swarm", were triggered by oil exploration at Horse Hill.

However, scientists from Imperial College, the University of Bristol and the British Geological Survey (BGS) concluded the tremors were natural and their "closeness to oil extraction sites is probably a coincidence"".

The council ordered UKOG to continue to monitor seismic activity at the site.

The company was also granted permission for a "water re-injection well", which it said would "help to maximise oil recovery".

UKOG chief executive Stephen Sanderson, said the decision was a "landmark milestone" that "paves the way for the company to realise the full value of future long-term production".

The company had previously claimed to be able to meet 30% of the UK's oil demands from the site.

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