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No Environmental Impact Assessment for Cuadrilla’s new proposals for Balcombe

West Sussex County Council has said an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) would not be needed for Cuadrilla’s new proposals at Balcombe.

The company’s planning application was published yesterday (23/1/14) on the West Sussex County Council website. The application is for temporary permission for flow testing and monitoring a lateral borehole, as well as site fencing, an enclosed flare and site restoration.

The council was required under environmental regulations to consider whether an EIA was needed because:

  1. The site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  2. The development relates to a surface industrial installation for the extraction of petroleum and natural gas
  3. The area exceeds the 0.5ha threshold

EIA’s are designed to help understand the potential environmental impacts of major development proposals.

West Sussex County Council produced a screening opinion for an EIA, which was signed on 14th January 2014 by Michael Elkington, the strategic planning manager. The document states that in the council’s opinion, the development would not require an Environmental Impact Assessment.

It says: “It is not  considered that the proposed development would have the potential for significant effects on the environment within the meaning of the EIA Regulations.”

The reasons given in the screening opinion are:

  • The application is temporary for six months
  • The site has previously been used for hydrocarbon exploration
  • The site has no ecological, landscape, historic or other constraints, apart from its location in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and being next to an ancient woodland
  • As the site is less than 5 hectares and the application relates solely to exploration, government guidance recommends an EIA is unlikely to be required.
  • The site is “not considered to be ‘unusually sensitive’ to the limited disturbance, particularly as the development would not include the drilling phase which will already have been completed.”

Click here to see the full document: Screening Opinion Lower Stumble Wood Flow Testing Jan14

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