XR activists protest at Horse Hill oil drill site

Protest at Horse Hill 6 July 2020

Photo by Natasa Leoni

This morning, Monday 6 July 2020, 20 Extinction Rebellion activists held a peaceful action at the UKOG oil production site at Horse Hill, in protest at the expansion of fossil fuel development during a climate emergency.

20 activists gathered in front of a tanker near the junction of Horse Hill with Reigate Road, and walked slowly in front of it to delay its progress along Horse Hill to the Horse Hill Developments Ltd (UKOG) oil production site, near Horley, Surrey.

Activists wore face masks as part of COVID-19 safety and etiquette.

This is a protest against the continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure allowed by both the UK Government and Surrey County Council.

On 25 June, the Committee on Climate Change warned the Government to prepare for a catastrophic 4°C temperature rise, an increase that leading climate scientists agree is likely to devastate most ecosystems, lead to widespread crop failure and the loss of coastal cities, with billions on the move to escape drought, flood and famine.

We need to be taking urgent action to mitigate the worst of these effects, including drastically reducing our reliance on fossil fuels such as oil. Yet the Government and Surrey County Council, despite declaring a climate emergency, continue to ignore scientists’ warnings. Rather than investing in renewable energy, they are continuing to allow companies like UKOG to drill new oil wells intended to produce oil into the 2040s.

This makes no environmental sense – and no business sense. Unless we reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7.6 %* year on year we are heading for catastrophic climate chaos. For a multitude of reasons, oil is over – it’s time to build back better.

Pauline, who took part in the action, said, ‘I’m here because we’ve seen that radical change is possible when governments decide it’s in the population’s wider interest. More than that, allowing fossil fuel extraction is public neglect, which is already open to legal challenge – there are currently 14 separate legal actions against the oil industry in the US for their historic lack of honesty about the damage burning fossil fuels does to our survival on this planet. 

‘I appeal to our local and national governments to halt this extraction right now. This has to change immediately – or it will be too late.’

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said, ‘This is a pivotal moment when the Government should commit to climate action by ending support for oil and gas extraction and investing in a green recovery. I’m doing all I can in Parliament to promote alternatives to fossil fuels – and at the same time, peaceful protest has been shown to make a difference.’

In September 2019, Surrey County Council Planning Committee permitted the drilling of four new oil wells and 20 years of oil production at Horse Hill.  But last week, they refused planning permission for three years of exploratory drilling for oil and gas at Dunsfold in South West Surrey. UKOG are considering an appeal.