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We are dismayed that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has granted Southern Gas Networks permission for a gas installation on Broad Street and Rydes Hill Commons, near Guildford in Surrey.
Southern Gas applied to the environment secretary in 2008 to place a gas installation on the common, replacing an existing one which is in a less contentious location. The Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the environment secretary, decided in January 2012 that the works would not do any material harm to the relevant interests in the common, ie people having rights there, and the interests of the neighbourhood and the public. The public has the right to walk and ride over the whole area, under section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925.
Says Bob Milton, the Open Spaces Society’s Guildford representative: ‘We are dismayed that the Planning Inspectorate, using its powers, has ridden roughshod over public rights, to facilitate financial savings for a utility company, without recognising the obstruction of public access to both walkers and riders on this area of common land.’