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Leith Hill 10K plus Surrey Hills Oil Drilling

posted 23 Apr 2012, 02:52 by Cranleigh Runners
I set out details of the run below, together with background on the Leith Hill Action Group (“LHAG”).


Leith Hill 10k


We are putting on a 10k run on trails around (and passing up) Leith Hill on Sunday 1st July (starting at 10am) in order to raise funds for LHAG.   We are trying to advertise this as widely as possible to ensure we get a good turnout. To this end, I am writing out to all local running clubs, it will be advertised on Runners World, details have been sent to LHAG’s 1,400 registered supporters and we will be manning a stand up at Leith Hill over the coming weekends to advertise it there too.


The route passes through some of the most beautiful Surrey Hills countryside and is a hilly course taking in Leith Hill, offering a challenging run for serious runners, as well as a lovely day out for those who want to take it at a more leisurely pace.


Details of the course route, as well as online entry, can be accessed from this page of our website. There is also a link from that page to our terms and conditions, which is a comprehensive document providing all the necessary details about the run, but I attach a copy too. I also attach a copy of our postal entry form and our poster advertising the run.


I set out below details about the Leith Hill Action Group, including why we were set up and why we need to raise money.


LHAG background


The Leith Hill Action Group (“LHAG”) was established in 2009 by local residents of Coldharbour and Dorking to fight a planning application submitted by Europa Oil & Gas Ltd to set up an exploratory oil drill site, consisting of a 35 metre high drilling rig, in Bury Hill Woods in the Abinger Forest, off Coldharbour Lane, in the heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (“AONB”).


LHAG is not opposed to Europa exploratory drilling for oil, we just believe it should be done in a less sensitive and more appropriate site than an AONB. This is possible, but Europa don’t want to explore it as it will cost them more money. We don’t believe landscape that has been designated AONB status, which affords the same protection as a national park and where development is supposed to be strictly prohibited unless it can be said to be of “overwhelming national importance”, should be used for commercial purposes, purely on cost grounds, when there are alternative sites available. From Europa’s own statistics, any likely oil find is expected to yield less than 1/200th of 1% of the UK’s needs, which we do not believe can possibly be said to be of “overwhelming national importance”.  This is just one of the reasons we are objecting.  Other reasons, which can be found on this page of our website, include:


·         the likely damage that will be caused to Coldharbour Lane (an historic sunken Surrey Hills lane barely wide enough in most places for two cars to pass side-by-side) by the proposed 1000+ movements of super-sized HGVs;

·         the danger to local residents and schoolchildren of Knoll Road, a residential road in Dorking, being used as a proposed HGV truck park until the vehicles can be moved up Coldharbour Lane;

·         the impact on wildlife of industrialisation of this nature.  Birds on the RSPB’s red list including nightjars, cuckoos and others are known to be in the area as are many other European protected species including dormice, badgers and bats;

·         the implications for other AONBs and National Parks in Britain if this development, which is in green belt land and which is an AONB, is allowed to proceed.


Thanks to the hours and hours of work put in by LHAG and thanks in no small part to their fantastic performance at Surrey County Council’s planning hearing, the application was turned down. This was despite the Planning Officer recommending the application go through, so it was a fantastic result! That was back in May of last year and it made the BBC London News.


In December, Europa lodged an appeal. There is to therefore now be a Public Inquiry, which will start on 10 July this year and last for 2 weeks, to determine once and for all whether this application should be allowed to proceed.  LHAG has been granted “rule 6 status” which means we have a full role to play in the appeals process on the same standing as Europa and Surrey County Council.  To this end, we have appointed our own barrister and expert witnesses. However, as you can imagine, these professional fees don’t come cheap and we need to raise £50,000 by 10 July, which is a really tall order!


LHAG consists of just a few members made up of Dorking and Coldharbour residents and a few more members (again local residents) on the fundraising committee. So it really is a David versus Goliath fight. Given that the fundraising committee was only established at the beginning of February, we are doing incredibly well as funds raised to date stand at £21,500. However, we still have a long way to go and in order to help us reach our target, we have a number of fundraising events planned over the coming months, one of which is the 10k run.


Ways you might be able to help


It would be great if you are able to help us achieve a good turnout for the run by forwarding details on to your members. 


Secondly, if you are also able to forward details of our website to your members, anybody interested in our campaign can sign up to our newsletter, which will keep them updated with progress; our newsletters are issued approximately fortnightly.  We currently have 1,400 registered supporters signed up to receive our newsletters, but we are continuing to try to spread the word as far and wide as possible.


Finally, if any of your members would like to make a donation, they can visit this page of our website for details of how to do so:


Thank you so much for your support and I hope we might see some of you on 1st July!


With very best wishes,


Charlotte Nolan

Chair of LHAG Fundraising Committee
Cranleigh Runners,
23 Apr 2012, 02:54