Environmental watchdog intervenes in appeal against new oil wells in Surrey

The OEP has been allowed to intervene in a Supreme Court appeal, emphasising the significance of clarity in environmental law

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has made an announcement today regarding its intervention in an ongoing appeal against new oil wells in Surrey.

The appeal centres around Surrey County Council’s (SCC) decision to exclude downstream emissions from the wells’ Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), a move that has been challenged on the grounds of non-compliance with environmental law.

The Supreme Court will examine if SCC acted lawfully by not requiring an EIA to evaluate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from future oil combustion, leading to OEP’s intervention.

OEP General Counsel, Peter Ashford, said: “Environmental impact assessment is so important for integrating the environment into planning decision-making.

“We are interested in this case because of the opportunity to clarify the law here to ensure proper decision-making that enhances environmental protection.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity, and will develop principles for determining the proper approach to the assessment of indirect effects under the EIA legislation.”

An SCC spokesperson told ELN: “The County Council is required to determine planning applications in accordance with the Development Plan, the National Planning Policy Framework, national policy and other material considerations, as set out in legislation and case law.

“The County Council will present its case to the Supreme Court, which will issue a decision in due course.”

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