Horse Hill: Supreme Court judgment over oil drilling in Surrey due Thursday ​

Press release
Successful legal challenge could make it much harder for new UK fossil fuel developments to go ahead
  Published:  17 Jun 2024    |      1 minute read

A key legal judgment – which could have a major impact on new oil, gas and coal developments – is due to be handed down by the Supreme Court at 9.45 on Thursday 20 June.

The Supreme Court is considering a legal challenge by former Surrey resident Sarah Finch, on behalf of the Weald Action Group, to Surrey County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for an oil development at Horse Hill, near Horley.

If successful, the legal challenge could make it much harder for new fossil fuel developments across the UK to go ahead. This could impact Friends of the Earth’s legal challenge against the planned new coal mine in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

Ms Finch is challenging the council’s decision to grant planning permission without considering the climate impact of burning the three million plus tonnes of oil - equating to more than 10 million tonnes of carbon emissions - that will be extracted from the site.

Sarah Finch says the council could and should have considered the inevitable end-use emissions arising from this fossil fuel development as part of the environmental impact assessment.

Friends of the Earth was given permission to intervene in the Supreme Court as it did in earlier proceedings at the High Court and Court of Appeal.



Background information: Sarah Finch brought this case on behalf of the Weald Action Group, an umbrella organisation for local groups that campaign against the extraction of oil and gas in the south east of England:

Sarah is being represented in court by Marc Willers KC of Garden Court Chambers, Estelle Dehon KC and Ruchi Parekh of Cornerstone Barristers, and her solicitor is Rowan Smith at Leigh Day LLP.

Supreme Court to hear landmark legal challenge | press release:

A Friends of the Earth legal briefing is here:

Friends of the Earth Limited is represented in the case by Paul Brown KC of Landmark Chambers, and Nina Pindham of Cornerstone Barristers and by Matthew McFeeley and Hannah Brown of Richard Buxton Solicitors. The lead in-house lawyer at Friends of the Earth is Katie de Kauwe.