Gove approves gas drilling alongside Surrey Hills

Surrey Hills is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and yet this Government, in the person of Michael Gove, has just given planning permission for oil and gas drilling adjacent to it.

The report by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities states that “there are significant harms to the character and appearance of the landscape from the proposal,” and that it would “degrade the quality of the setting of the AONB.” But it dismisses these concerns and claims they are outweighed by the benefits of gas exploration.

Where to begin? Are we or are we not in the middle of a climate emergency? Oil and gas drilling should not be permitted even in the ugliest of industrial landscapes, but to allow it here, in a precious and unique landscape, is simply vandalism.

Ed also said:

The best way to improve energy security is to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, by investing in renewables and insulating people’s homes. Instead this Conservative government is trashing our environment by allowing oil drilling in green fields for years to come.

He is joined in condemnation by our two Parliamentary candidates in the area:

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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19 Comments

  • The dilemma is that the energy crisis is in part due to a failure of energy policy (and the energy crisis directly exacerbates the cost of living crisis). Renewable energy is prioritised, though its main limitation is lack of continuity of production or storage technology, haven’t been addressed (or acknowledged). The grid therefore requires baseline continuous production. Coal is phased out. Nuclear power is resisted. Leaving gas, the dependence on which had led to the peril we are now seeing. New nuclear production requires a generation to get off the ground from conception to production. Viable tidal energy (the silver bullet) is even further off. So gas it will be for the short and medium term, and better we produce and consume our own than importing it from goodness knows where.

    The cost of living and energy crisis are direct products of policies that the Liberal Democrats (and all other sizeable parties) have advocated, endorsed and implemented, namely zealous green renewable energy policy without recognition of its current limitations. And Covid lockdowns and their associated financial interventions. As part of complaining about these crises, acknowledging disastrous policies that caused them is a good and honest start.

  • Brad Barrows 8th Jun '22 - 5:49pm

    For as long as we require gas, is it better to buy imported gas from Russia/elsewhere or gas extracted from near the Surrey Hills?

  • nigel hunter 8th Jun '22 - 6:10pm

    Yes,a problem. As it been done to ‘wind up’ the people of the area?.I know the fuel will be needed but is there not other sites away from protected areas that can be used? Equally Tidal power development should be treated as a priority along with storage of renewable energy..

  • Dunsfold – in the South West Surrey constituency of Jeremy Hunt, I believe ?

    Announced by Johnson’s chum, Govey ? They don’t waste time or mess about when it comes to getting their revenge do they, these Tories ?

  • David Evans 9th Jun '22 - 9:26am

    As usual, our friend David Raw cuts through the debate and gets to the heart of the matter.

  • Nick Collins 9th Jun '22 - 9:51am

    @ David Raw. Quite so. It is also adjacent to the Guildford Constituency which was held for the LibDems by Sue Doughty from 2001 to 2005 and where the Tory majority over Zoe Franklin was just over 3,000 in 2019.

  • @ David Evans “As usual, our friend David Raw cuts through the debate and gets to the heart of the matter”.

    Well, thank you, David. Always nice to hear from a successor in Liberal/Lib Dem politics in Westmorland (where I was the first Lib elected on S. Lakeland Council back in 1974). Delighted at your success on the new authority and that Tim is still your MP.

  • @Brad Barrows – “For as long as we require gas, is it better to buy imported gas from Russia/elsewhere”
    Yes it is!
    The amount of gas and oil under the UK is minuscule compared to the UK’s annual consumption.
    This is as pointed out by David Raw about Conservative party in fighting, not what is good for the UK.

  • Mick Taylor 9th Jun '22 - 7:17pm

    Really? Buying gas but not from Russia. Actually what we should be doing is weaning people off gas by encouraging people to move to airforce and ground source heating plus solar by making bigger grants available over a longer period.

  • Mick Taylor 9th Jun '22 - 7:18pm

    Bloody predictive text Airsource of course.

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Jun '22 - 8:29pm

    @Mick Taylor
    “Actually what we should be doing is weaning people off gas by encouraging people to move to air source and ground source heating”

    Actually what we should be doing is getting the housing stock insulated properly.

  • Mick Taylor 10th Jun '22 - 6:19am

    Nonconformistradical. The two ideas are not incompatible. Reduce the need for heat on the one hand and provide it in an environmentally safe way on the other.

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Jun '22 - 7:25am

    @Mick Taylor
    Indeed the 2 ideas are not incompatible. I’m not suggesting they are.

    But what is the point of changing one’s means of heating one’s house if much of the heat is going out through the roof and walls?

    I see little point in moving to greener energy for heating without first ensuring the insulation is good enough not to waste heat.

    I would put a higher priority on insulation.

  • There is no point in insulating if you have no heating inside. It merely stops the heat coming in from outside when it’s warmer in the day. Make a law people have to have if practicable photovoltaic roofs, large windows to let the sun in with double glazing, borrowed lights and double glazed roof windows.

  • Peter Davies 10th Jun '22 - 12:00pm

    Even if there is no dedicated heater, heat will be released by electrical appliances and inhabitants. Windows also produce a greenhouse effect. Outside on a winter’s day will very seldom be warmer than an unheated but well insulated house.

  • Jenny Barnes 10th Jun '22 - 1:55pm

    The approval is for test drilling and wells. It’s quite likely that the recoverable gas & oil available will not make for a profitable investment. And production will be several years off even if it does.
    As to heat pump heating tech – it’s a great idea once you produce all your electricity from non-CO2 emitting sources – nuclear is obviously needed to cover times when solar & wind aren’t producing.

    While the marginal unit of electricity is being produced by gas, heat pumps don’t do much good. It takes approx 2kw of gas to generate 1 kw of electricity (Carnot efficiency) and you can then use the 1kw of electricity to generate on average 2 kw of heat from your heat pump. Quicker and easier to just burn the gas where you need the heat.

  • They are forcing a nuclear power plant onto Ynys Mon in Wales.

    Ynys Mon is on the West Wales coast where is nearly always strong winds from the Celtic Sea.
    Therefore would wind farms be a much better options for generating electricity here in Wales ?
    Wind & solar farms are quicker to set up and are cheaper to run.
    Nuclear is un-economic and produces a radioactive waste problem.

    Westminster’s centralised control has gone to their head.

    Wales produces more electricity than it uses and nuclear is too expensive, both financially and environmentally.

  • Jenny Barnes 11th Jun '22 - 8:40am

    It’s mid January, and Western Europe is in the 4th day of an anticyclonic gloom. Temperature is 5 deg C below zero. No wind, no sun. And you built 3GW of wind turbines rather than a 3 GW nuke.

    Central heating and heat pumps have been useless for several days. The only heated buildings in Wales are those with wood burners, and their owners have invited the neighbours in to get warm. There’s food in the shops but it can’t be sold because the scanners and tills won’t work. Electric cars have run out of charge. Hospitals can’t operate, bread can’t be baked. And so on

    You get what you pay for – I think it’s worth paying to keep the lights on.

  • Peter Hirst 13th Jun '22 - 5:17pm

    I suppose it is inevitable that this government will take advantage of current events to push its far right agenda. Whether it’s migrants or the economy they will seize any opportunity to pander to this grouping. The only solution is to push them into the graveyard of national politics.

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