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Iconic Surrey Hills trails under threat from oil drilling

A worrying sign

The Surrey Hills are home to blisteringly good trails that have spawned some of Britain’s most talented riders, but they’re under threat thanks to an oil drilling company.

Europa Oil and gas won the right to undertake 18 weeks of exploratory oil drilling on Leith Hill despite a six year battle opposing it. The drilling is due to start early next year.

There are apparently up to 5 million barrels worth of oil under the hills, making it one of Britain’s most fertile oil wells. However, considering a 2015 estimate had the UK using over 1.5 million barrels per day… it’s not that much.

Drilling will begin in the Bury Wood Hill area of Leith Hill and it is understood that felling, increased traffic and the construction of a visible drilling rig will damage trails such as Summer Lightening, Lust for Life, Waggle Dance and many more.

As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a part of the Green Belt, you would hope that the Surrey Hills would have some level of protection, but this has been waived by the government as the drilling is only exploratory… for now.

Nobody knows what will happen if oil is discovered, but its possible that the entire Surrey Hills area could be under threat.

There are currently two campaign groups protesting against the drilling – Leith Hill Protection Camp (who are based up on the hill) and Leith Hill Action Group. There will also be a Leith Hill celebration walk (and ride) that you can get involved with here.

British Heart Foundation staged photo shoot in Bedgebury Forest on 14 May 2014. Photo by Sarah Ansell / Sarah Ansell Photography.

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