Brockham: letters reveal oil firm warned at least twice it didn’t have planning permission

A row over unauthorised oil drilling in Brockham, Surrey continues as newly obtained documents confirm the oil and gas company Angus Energy was warned by Surrey County Council as far back as September 2016 that it would need planning permission to drill a new well on site.

Angus Energy has openly admitted that it drilled a new side-track well earlier this year but claims the work was covered by existing planning permission. However, a Freedom of Information request to Surrey County Council, seen by Green MEP for the South East Keith Taylor, reveals planners made clear this was not the case in two separate letters sent in September and December 2016.

Commenting on the revelations, Mr Taylor said:

“The drilling, without permission, of a new well is an outrageous breach of an already deeply strained trust. It is little wonder why residents and campaigners simply don’t trust the oil and gas drilling industry or the Government ‘regulations’ utterly failing to protect our environment and our local communities. Regulations that are being openly flaunted by the industry.”

“The documents show Angus Energy was warned on at least two occasions that it did not have the required planning permission to drill a new side-track well. Angus has either deliberately misled its investors and the public or misunderstood clear advice from Surrey County Council. The situation suggests the regime for regulating and monitoring oil drilling isn’t fit for purpose. Had there not been a small, but dedicated group of campaigners resident at the protection camp on the site then this breach would not have even come to light.”

“I am calling on Surrey County Council to send a strong message to oil and gas companies who might be tempted to play fast and loose across the region; action and sanction against planning breaches must swift and effective. Letting Angus Energy off the hook would set an extremely concerning precedent.”