Agenda item

RE16/02556/CON - Horse Hill 1 Well Site, Horse Hill, Hookwood, Horley, Surrey RH6 0RB

The retention of the existing exploratory well site and vehicular access onto Horse Hill; the appraisal and further flow testing of the existing borehole (Horse Hill-1) for hydrocarbons, including the drilling of a (deviated) sidetrack well and flow testing for hydrocarbons; installation of a second well cellar and drilling a second (deviated) borehole (Horse Hill-2) and flow testing for hydrocarbons; erection of security fencing on an extended site area; modifications to the internal access track; installation of plant, cabins and equipment, all on some 2.08ha, for a temporary period of three years, with restoration to agriculture and woodland.





An update sheet was tabled, and this is attached at Annex C



Duncan Evans, Senior Planning Officer

Caroline Smith, Planning Development Manager

Nancy El-Shatoury, Principal Solicitor



Melissa More, local resident, made the following points:

1.    During the acid using flow-test last year, horses had respiratory problems, residents fainted, had nausea and nosebleeds.  It was unknown what the long term affects would be.

2.    The CEO of UKOG stated the exploration was a complex technological issue and that the flow has come from a rock unit that has never been tested before.  Local residents are not willing to be an experiment.

3.    Over 80% of studies state there are numerous health risks linked with living in close proximity to an active well site.

4.    Drilling techniques are known to cause earthquakes.  Dorking and Reigate are built on sand caves.


Lisa Scott, local resident, made the following points:

1.    An increase of people working from home, cycling and a proposed plastic bottle deposit scheme all reduce the need for oil.

2.    During the flow test last year, whilst running, I inhaled a noxious substance and felt at risk of losing consciousness.  A GP confirmed inflammation to back of the throat.  During the flow testing period, my daughter had a nosebleed and family experienced headaches, all known symptoms linked to well activity. 

3.    Public footpath is now impassable, causing a loss of trade to local pubs and businesses and increasing the risk of drink-driving as a result.

4.    There is some inconsistency on the numeric details regarding oil quantities in the application documents.

5.    The revised Horse Hill traffic management scheme does not adequately answer questions.


David Bruml, local resident, made the following points:

1.    Water is being put at risk by these new invasive techniques.

2.    UKOG reported problems with the cement seal at Billingshurst last week.

3.    The geology through the weald is cracked so could lead to contamination.  The site is in the catchment of the River Mole.  There have been a number of fish deaths in the River Mole due to contamination in the last week. 

4.    With proximity to lots of water, it is not an acceptable risk in an area with aquifers and springs.

5.    Called for a halt to all deep oil drilling in the weald until a public inquiry is carried out to assess the water risks posed by these new techniques.


Jane Sheppard, local resident, made the following points:

1.    The CEO of UKOG stated that to be commercially viable, wells would need to be drilled back to back across the weald basin.  This contradicts Reigate and Banstead’s Mineral Waste policy not to industrialise rural nature of the county. It also goes against the Paris Climate Change Agreement to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

2.    The site is on a major fault line, with high risk of tremors, earthquakes and building subsidence if acid, water and sand are injected at high pressure into unstable rock.

3.    Major international airport in the vicinity.  Questioned whether the Council had requested a geological survey of the whole area.

4.    The aquifers at Horse Hill are within the Lower Thames drinking water safeguarding zone.


Gareth Wilson, the Applicant’s agent made the following points:

1.    The Government policy and National Planning Policy Framework make it clear that minerals, including hydrocarbons are essential to sustain economic growth and quality of life.  As such, government expects local Planning Authorities to give great weight to the economic benefit when considering applications for hydrocarbon extraction.

2.    This application is for conventional hydrocarbon production only.

3.    A rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment has been undertaken.

4.    Site has been carefully selected to minimise adverse impact to the environment, surrounded by woodland in a sparsely populated area in a low flood risk zone and outside of the groundwater protection zone.


Matt Cartwright, Chief Operating Officer/ applicant, UKOG.

1.    Drilling in 2014 was carried out with full regulatory compliance.  This recorded a record level oil flow rate and it is considered to be of National importance.

2.    Will resume community liaison groups as previously. Viewing platform will be installed for residents who wish to see the process.

3.    Noise and light impact will be mitigated by tree cover and noise will be monitored.

4.    Traffic onto and off site will be reduced to a minimum.   

5.    Environment Agency has approved the permits for full Horse Hill work plan.


Stephen Sanderson, Executive Chairman/ applicant, UKOG.

1.    UKOG has adopted industry leading safe and sound practices with oil regulators and will adhere to the same policies and ethos whilst operating at Horse Hill.

2.    We have agreed to use non-toxic biodegradable drilling fluids to ensure safe standards of drinking water are maintained.

3.    No statutory consultees have objected to the application.

4.    The appraisal of Horse Hill is of national economic importance and government expects Local Planning Authorities to give great weight to the benefit of such developments. 


Key points made during the discussion:

1.    The officer introduced the report and update sheet.

2.    650 letters received on the application, including approximately 300 in support.

3.    The Highway Authority require a traffic management plan and have recommended that contingency measures around protest activity having an impact on traffic should also be included within the traffic management plan.

4.    The Chairman moved the recommendation to permit.  There were eight votes for, with two abstentions.  Therefore the recommendation was carried.



That application RE16/02556/CON – HORSE HILL 1 WELL SITE, HORSE HILL, HOOKWOOD, SURREY, RH6 0RB be PERMITTED subject to the planning conditions and informatives set out in the report.




Supporting documents: