West Sussex planners recommend approval of Cuadrilla’s application to flow test at Balcombe

17th April 2014

Cuadrilla’s planning application to flow test its well at Balcombe has been recommended for approval by planners at West Sussex County Council.

The agenda was published this morning for the meeting of the planning committee which will hear the application on April 29th. The agenda included a report  which said the application should be approved with conditions. Click here for the committee agenda and report

The report had the following conclusion:

The six month flow testing and monitoring operation proposed at the Lower Stumble Wood site has the potential to result in impacts on the highway, people and the environment, issues which have been raised in the large number of objections to the application. Balcombe Parish Council and Ardingly Parish Council have objected to the application, but no other statutory consultees have objected, subject to the imposition of conditions. It is concluded that the number of vehicles required to carry out the development is not significant enough to raise concerns regarding highway capacity or safety. Emissions from the development would be controlled through the planning regime as well as through the Environmental Permitting and health and safety regimes and the Health and Safety Executive which would ensure that water quality would not be compromised and that emissions to air would be acceptable. The rig and flare on the site would be visible at times during the development, but the impact would be short-lived so would not compromise the landscape qualities of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The report recommended:

That planning permission be granted subject to the conditions and informatives set out in Appendix 1 of this report.

West Sussex County Council’s planning committee is currently made up of 13 members, eight Conservatives, two UKIP, one Independent, one Labour and one Lib Dem. looked at the minutes of the past 10 planning committee meetings, going back to November 2012, which considered 24 applications. Our research showed that councillors voted against the recommendation of the planning officers on only one occasion and that was to defer and application that was approved at the next meeting.

The minutes do not always give information on voting figures. However, on five of the decisions considered at the meetings we looked at, the result was unanimous. On two decisions, the minutes say one member abstained.

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