An environmental campaigner who objected to the extension of oil drilling near Gatwick and raised concern about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions has lost a High Court fight.
Sarah Finch had challenged Surrey County Council’s decision to allow a well six miles from her home in Redhill, Surrey, to be extended.
She said council bosses had failed to assess “the indirect greenhouse gas impacts” and did not take into account environmental protection objectives.
But a judge, who considered evidence at a High Court hearing in November, on Monday dismissed her claim and indicated that the council had behaved lawfully and rationally.
Mr Justice Holgate said it was impossible to say the council’s judgment, that greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of refined fuels “were not an environmental effect of the proposed development” was, as a “matter of law, irrational”.
Council bosses, who gave Horse Hill Developments permission to extend drilling at Horse Hill, Surrey, just over a year ago, had disputed Ms Finch’s claim.
Lawyers representing the council said Ms Finch’s approach to the interpretation of environmental impact requirements was “misguided”.
They suggested that it was for the council to judge what “indirect effects” were likely to have a “significant effect” on the environment.
Friends of the Earth had backed Ms Finch’s challenge and said the case could have widespread implications.
Ms Finch said later: “This ruling shows just how out of touch our planning system is with the climate emergency.”
Solicitor Rowan Smith, who represented Ms Finch and is based at law firm Leigh Day, added: “Our client is, of course, bitterly disappointed with this judgment, especially after such a long-standing campaign against oil development in Surrey, and is accordingly taking legal advice on grounds of appeal.”