UK Oil & Gas PLC (London AIM: UKOG) today announces that following detailed consultations with the Company’s QC and planning advisers, the Company will now launch an appeal against Surrey County Council’s (“SCC”) 15 December 2020.
The decision to refuse planning consent for the Company’s 100% owned Loxley gas appraisal project. The Company plans to submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate early in the New Year, with an expectation that a public hearing or inquiry will be held in the following 6-9 months.
Leading Counsel has advised that there are strong grounds to expect a positive appeal outcome, as the cited grounds for refusal are in direct conflict with both SCC’s Planning and Highway Officer’s reports and the Officers’ two separate recommendations for approval.
An appeal will enable an independent professional inspector from the Planning Inspectorate to consider the evidence and come to an objective, evidence-based decision which determines whether the temporary Loxley development meets the requirements of the Town and Country Planning Act and other relevant policy guidance.
At both the 29 June and 27 November 2020 SCC planning committee meetings, UKOG also highlighted the role that a successful Loxley gas project would play in the government’s low-carbon hydrogen policy, in which natural gas is reformed into clean burning hydrogen, with an envisaged 85% saving in related carbon emissions. Domestic gas has approximately a quarter of the carbon emissions of imported liquefied natural gas.
The importance of such domestic gas as part of the net zero transition was further underscored by this week’s Written Ministerial Statement and Energy White Paper, in which it was acknowledged: “The UK’s domestic oil and gas industry has a critical role in maintaining the country’s energy security and is a major contributor to the economy”.
It continued: “The projections for demand for oil and gas, though much reduced, is forecast to continue for decades to come”, adding: “We will therefore make sure the natural gas markets and networks evolve in a way which enables continued investment and ensure secure supplies but also promotes the use of low-carbon options (i.e. hydrogen), wherever possible”. The government also reaffirmed its position that low-carbon hydrogen would be required as part of the transition to net zero.
Further updates will be issued in due course.
Stephen Sanderson UKOG’s Chief Executive commented:
“Although not ideal in terms of speed, the appeal process at least ensures Loxley’s case will be assessed by a competent and independent inspector who will deliver an evidence-based decision that is not unduly swayed by unsubstantiated and emotive local argument.
We trust that any future decision will also consider the needs of the many who could benefit from a successful Loxley project’s affordable, low-impact, low-carbon energy, as well as those of the privileged few.”
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