The Government has been criticised for granting permission for oil drilling to go ahead on a site in Surrey against the county council’s wishes.
Housing minister Stuart Andrew has announced that UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) will be allowed to carry out exploratory drilling on a site for three years.
Surrey CC’s planning and regulatory committee refused planning permission for UKOG’s proposal in December 2019 but the Planning Inspectorate recommended that the appeal be allowed.
Housing minister Stuart Andrew, acting on behalf of local government secretary Michael Gove, who recused himself due to a conflict of interest, upheld the inspector’s recommendation.
Waverley BC's portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, Steve Williams, said: ‘This is the worst possible outcome for the people of Waverley and we are bitterly disappointed at the decision.
'Without doubt, allowing this planning application will lead to irreversible harm to our environment and to local people.
‘The success of this appeal is deeply troubling for the people of Waverley. UKOG can effectively ruin part of the environment, decide that drilling won’t make them any money and then dump the problem of clearing the mess up on the people of Waverley.'
Director of campaigns and policy at the countryside charity CPRE, Tom Fyans, added: ‘Approving the drilling of a gas well in the Surrey countryside is an absurd decision that’s guaranteed to provoke fury and despair.
'It’s extraordinary, given the urgent need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, that the Government sees fit to greenlight a gas field and damage the setting of an area of outstanding natural beauty.’