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Supreme Court decision on oil drilling is major win for the countryside

20th June 2024

The Supreme Court has today ruled that emissions from burning fossil fuels, known as downstream emissions, should have been considered when approving new drilling sites in Surrey.

Judges ruled that Surrey County Council should have considered the full climate impact of burning oil from new wells. The Horse Hill oil well in Surrey was given planning permission to expand its operations in 2019, a decision that was challenged by local campaigners Weald Action Group.

Today’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court is a major win for the countryside, for the planet and for common sense. We hope it signals a major shift away from fossil fuels and towards clean, sustainable energy.

Businesses should not be allowed to profit from causing lasting damage to protected landscapes, wildlife and our environment. We need to safeguard our finite supply of green space to help us reach net zero, not cover it in oil wells and coal mines.

Instead of burning dirty fuels of the past, we must urgently decarbonise our energy system by switching to renewable alternatives. Investing in clean, sustainable technologies such as rooftop solar will generate the energy we need while protecting the countryside and the planet from further harm.

Climate change is the biggest threat to our countryside. It’s scandalous that the climate impacts of burning fossil fuels have not previously been included in the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for proposals to extract oil, gas and coal.

It made a mockery of the government’s net zero targets and helped fossil fuel companies make money from lasting damage to protected landscapes, wildlife and our environment.

The Supreme Court, Parliament Square, London
The Supreme Court, Parliament Square, London Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo


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