Exploration company UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) has welcomed a gas discovery worth an estimated £123 million in the Surrey Hills.
After local opposition was defeated by the government last year, the company has been investigating the Dunsfold site.
Recoverable resources at the site, according to UKOG, may contribute to the UK's future energy security.
However, opponents cited a "detrimental impact" on the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the surrounding landscape.
After Surrey County Council rejected a drilling permit application twice, the government finally approved it in June 2022.
Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor and a local politician from South West Surrey, joined others in rejecting the proposal due to environmental concerns.
The CEO of UKOG, Stephen Sanderson, called the discovery "one of the UK's largest onshore gas discoveries" and expressed hope that production could begin in 2026.
According to him, UKOG will look into using the site to store about 1 billion cubic meters of hydrogen once the natural gas reserves are exhausted there by 2036.
"A further addition to the company's and UK's much-needed future energy storage portfolio," he said of it.
The government's decision to approve the planning application at the site, however, was challenged by Waverley Borough Council, which stated that it objected in the "strongest possible terms.".
The loss of ancient woodland, protected species, and other local wildlife, according to councillor Steve Williams, would result from drilling, which would also cause "irreversible harm" to the environment.
Concerning the effects on nearby businesses and residents, he also expressed concern.
Additionally, Tom Fyans, CEO of the nonprofit organization CPRE, said the plans "cannot go forward.".
He declared that these plans were "breath-taking in their audacity" in light of the climate crisis and the pressing need to break our addiction to fossil fuels.
The idea of a "decade of industrial gas drilling," on the edge of an AONB, would make the Surrey residents "aghast," he claimed.
It's challenging to imagine how the project could proceed without significant opposition. The idea of local democracy is made fun of, he continued.