FrackFreeSussex has welcomed the unanimous vote by Wisborough Green Parish Council to oppose a planning application by Celtique Energie for an exploration rig near the village.
The group said: “Brilliant example of what can be achieved, against all odds, when a community unites, plans and acts with one voice!”
The parish council held an extraordinary meeting last night (November 5th) to discuss the application. Its vote reflects public opinion already expressed to West Sussex County Council, which is now considering the application. Between September 16th and November 3rd, the county council received 411 online responses, 398 of which were objections, 8 expressions of concern and 5 were in support.
Last week, the West Sussex County Times reported that over 100 residents from Wisborough Green and nearby Kirdford walked along the country lanes between the villages to register their opposition.
The application (WSCC/083/13/KD), is for a site at Boxal Bridge. It proposes: “The installation of a well and associated infrastructure, including access road and soil bunds, for the drilling of a vertical borehole and contingent horizontal borehole from the same well for the exploration, testing and evaluation of hydrocarbons for a temporary period of three years.”
Loxwood Parish Council has already objected to the application, as has Sussex Wildlife Trust, which owns nearby Northup Copse nature reserve. The response from the Environment Agency is that the proposal poses an unacceptable risk unless the applicant submits an approved site drainage scheme, construction method statement and hydrogeological risk assessment.
Horsham District Council has made no objection to the proposal and Natural England chose not to comment. The public consultation on the application closed on October 24th and the target date for a decision by West Sussex County Council is December 30th this year.
On a set of information panels used at an earlier consultation event in Wisborough Green, Celtique Energie said it was keen to explore for oil or gas in Kimmeridge Limestones. The panel text stated (in bold) that “This well is conventional and will not be hydraulically fractured”. However, it also said Celtique Energie would be “in a position to gather information about shale horizons which could contain hydrocarbons.”
And Magellan Petroleum, a partner of Celtique Energie, told its shareholders in May this year: “In the UK, we maintain a large acreage position in the Weald Basin, which we believe is a very promising unconventional play.” It said that in order to assess the value of the asset, it planned to “drill one or two evaluation wells at the end of 2013, through which we will gain a better understanding of the shale potential of our acreage. In the meantime, Magellan remains one of only three publicly traded companies to offer significant exposure to this emerging UK shale play.”