Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Oil and Gas exploration on Leith Hill?

Posted by Matt | March 2, 2009 | 8 comments so far

Oil and Gas exploration on Leith Hill?
I realise that this might be old hat to many of our readers but for me it’s come as quite a surprise. Europa Oil & Gas are currently seeking planning permission (as at 1 March 2009) to prospect for hydrocarbons—that’s the black stuff to you and me—in Waterden Wood which is near Coldharbour and Leith Hill.

Obviously should they find oil and/or gas in sufficient commercial quantities they are then in a strong position to apply for permission to extract it.

Not only is this a gross intrusion into the area for residents who will have to put up with significant HGV traffic and road closures but there’s the wider impact too for all us mountain bikers who regularly enjoy the area, which offers some of the best riding in the south east.

The proposal will feature 24 hour lighting and provision for oil and gas flaring plus plenty of space for accommodating plant workers and such like and a flashing aircraft warning light on the rig. Who fancies night riding round that particular neck of the woods?

Initially for three years, this could easily turn into a longer term situation with no guarantee that remedial work to return the land to forest will be forthcoming. In any case, it puts the area out of riding use for years and since the area of extraction would cover a much wider area than that of exploration it’s possible that all Leith Hill users could suffer from the impact to a degree, in what is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Toby from mtbsurreyhills, an ex-Coldharbour resident (and still local) tipped me off to the plan which I’m objecting to; we’re lucky to have the Surrey Hills on our doorstep and are a riding mecca for many this side of London and beyond so I feel it’s worth protecting. If you happen to agree, visit for more information and details of how to effectively register your protest.

Filed under 2009, News in March 2009


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 8 comments on ‘Oil and Gas exploration on Leith Hill?’

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  1. Colin says:

    Unbelievable. I sincerely hope the Surrey Hills AONB organisation are going to make themselves useful and protest heavily against it.

    Seems a bit daft to be patting themselves on the back for a £150K grant to move powerlines underground in one area and then allow this kind of environmental rape elsewhere.

  2. Nick (Easynow) says:

    What makes this even more alarming is that, as pointed out by Huey on the DOMB site, this is already underway in Blackheath which is also part of the Surrey Hills AONB, where the STAR energy company have been granted permission to drill against some pretty powerful protest groups

    And if they find hydrocarbons under Leith Hill, the implications for the rest of the Surrey Hills are appalling…

    Everyone who uses the Surey Hills for anything at all should register

  3. Simon Lea says:

    Outstanding, Matt! Many thanks.

    My personal letter of objection includes:

    “Quite contrary to the applicant’s claims, the economic impact on the village of Coldharbour will be totally negative. Access to local businesses will be adversely affected, particularly the Plough Inn which depends on its weekend ‘walker and mountain biker’ trade – a very large proportion of whom arrive on a Saturday morning. Very many will simply go elsewhere to avoid the traffic.

    Many mountain bikers cycle up Coldharbour Lane. Those that are not put off doing so (see point above) will be at risk of fatal injury as they are overtaken by HGVs.”

    Many thanks for your post – and what a nice site!

  4. Colin says:

    Matt, you’re famous !!

    Riders angered by plans for oil well on Surrey hillside

    Good linkage indeed and loads of exposure for the Muddymoles.

  5. Steve Gipps says:

    Unbelievable, just the thought let alone the possible reality. I drive from Essex to visit the Surrey Hills for bike rides seing it has the best trails and landscape in Southern England.

    Please dont let this happen.

  6. ironic says:

    Steve: “I drive from Essex …” can you not see the irony here?

    How lucky we are to be able to post these kind of comments from the safety of our desks / armchairs without the fear of Iraq invading Surrey Hills and killing everyone who gets in the way

  7. Muddymoles says:

    Oil and Gas exploration at Leith Hill – a follow up

    A response to the common arguments put forward that the Leith Hill Planning protest is just selfish protectionsim.

  8. Related: Oil and Gas exploration at Leith Hill - a follow up | Mutterings, Lifestyle | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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