Fight for the climate and our green spaces

by Good Law Project

Fight for the climate and our green spaces

by Good Law Project
Good Law Project
Case Owner
Good Law Project's mission is to achieve change through the law. We uphold democracy, protect the environment, and ensure no one is left behind.
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Good Law Project
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Good Law Project's mission is to achieve change through the law. We uphold democracy, protect the environment, and ensure no one is left behind.
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Latest: Oct. 12, 2022

This could open the door to fracking

We have just heard that local community group Protect Dunsfold has been refused permission to proceed with their legal challenge to Michael Gove’s decision to overrule Surrey Council and force …

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We're already seeing the devastating impact of the climate crisis in the UK. Scenes of people losing their homes, as wildfires ripped through their community, have brought our collective future into sharp focus.  

There has never been a more important time to do everything we can to protect the environment and preserve our precious green spaces.  

That’s why we are taking action now, and we want you to join us. 

Good Law Project is supporting a new legal action, brought by local community group, Protect Dunsfold, which wants to protect an important green space on the edge of Surrey Hills, an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, from an ill-conceived carbon-heavy drilling project. 

We are challenging the Government’s decision to grant UK Oil and Gas permission to start exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons near Dunsfold village. 

This could cause severe damage to Surrey Hills, and could open the door to future projects that will add to the UK’s carbon footprint. 

Our challenge centres on a decision by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, under the leadership of Michael Gove, to overturn Surrey County Council’s initial refusal of planning permission. This is despite admitting it would cause "a significant level of landscape and visual impact." 

We believe there are a number of weaknesses in this decision. The Government did not properly consider the climate impact of unmitigated emissions from natural gas exploration and did not give sufficient weight to the need to conserve an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

The Government’s decision has also been condemned by Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey (which includes Dunsfold). In a letter to Michael Gove, he wrote: “I am writing to protest in the strongest of terms against your decision to grant the appeal that will allow drilling and exploration of fossil fuels in Dunsfold… it will create enormous disruption and environmental damage for little if any economic benefit.”

Sarah Godwin from Protect Dunsfold: “Neither local nor national interest is served by imposing a project harmful to one of the nation’s most sensitive landscapes by inflicting such industrial activity whilst brushing the environmental consequences of continued fossil fuel exploration under the rug.”

Jo Maugham, Director at Good Law Project: "Why, in the aftermath of the hottest day ever, are we wanting to dig up more fossil fuels? Why are we doing it next to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? And why is the Government afraid to let the people of Surrey make their own decisions about what works for their community? We are proud to stand side-by-side with Protect Dunsfold."

Good Law Project is committing to funding this case and to paying all of Protect Dunsfold's legal costs. If you are able to, please consider donating to support this legal challenge. With your help we can protect Surrey Hills and the environment. 


You can read the claim as filed against the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities here.

Details: Leigh Day Solicitors, Estelle Dehon QC (Cornerstone Barristers) and Alex Shattock (Landmark Chambers) have been instructed in this case.

Ten percent of the sums raised will go to Good Law Project, so that we can continue to use the law for a better world. It is our policy to only raise sums that we reasonably anticipate could be spent on this litigation. If for some reason we don’t spend all the money raised on this case, the donations will go towards supporting other litigation we bring.

Update 1

Good Law Project

Oct. 12, 2022

This could open the door to fracking

We have just heard that local community group Protect Dunsfold has been refused permission to proceed with their legal challenge to Michael Gove’s decision to overrule Surrey Council and force through a new drilling site on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But we and Protect Dunsfold refuse to give up. The issues at stake are simply too important. 

The threat of fracking looms large once more over our countryside, communities and climate. Liz Truss and Jacob-Rees Mogg are tearing up the 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge to end this harmful practice, without any public mandate whatsoever. 

That’s why local community group Protect Dunsfold, supported by Good Law Project, are asking for the Loxley exploratory drilling permission decision to be reviewed at an oral hearing. 

This action is about protecting an important green space from a drilling project that could not only cause severe damage to Surrey Hills, but open the door to future projects that will add to the UK’s carbon footprint. 

We won’t just stand by.

Sarah Godwin from Protect Dunsfold said: 

“We have been campaigning since 2019 to stop this application by UK Oil and Gas Plc to drill for hydrocarbons, supported by local residents and the wider community. It is hard to understand why the Government sees fit to overrule Surrey County, Waverley Borough and local Parish Councils when there is a declared climate emergency and strong local resistance to this application.

The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a vital green area providing safe habitat to many and varied wildlife, flora and fauna plus providing a popular rural environment for visitors and residents to enjoy.

We intend it should stay this way and we are grateful for the support from both the local councils, Good Law Project and the community. We will not back down.”

Jo Maugham from Good Law Project said: 

“We share the local community’s determination to keep going. After a summer of unbearable heat and wildfires, the impacts of climate change on life in the UK have never been clearer.  It baffles us that Liz Truss and her government think digging up more fossil fuels is a good idea and without any public mandate whatsoever are threatening to go back on their word on fracking. 

We will continue to stand side-by-side with the local people of Dunsfold in their campaign to protect the environment.”

If you are in a position to do so, please consider donating to the community group’s legal challenge here.

We believe that prospects for the renewal are good because the Judge did not raise any additional points and seems to have just adopted the Secretary of State’s reasoning. You can read the permission decision here.

Leigh Day Solicitors, Estelle Dehon QC (Cornerstone Barristers) and Alex Shattock (Landmark Chambers) have been instructed in this case.

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