29th April 2014
The planning committee of West Sussex County Council has approved the application by Cuadrilla to flow test its oil well at Balcombe. This is despite 900 objections and a call by a village group to delay the vote on the application.
The council’s strategic planning manager, Mike Elkington, had recommended the application should be approved. His report to the committee said there was a national need for oil and gas and the application did not threaten air or water pollution. Other impacts of the application on roads, public health, landscape and ecology were acceptable, he said.
But Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association urged the committee to delay consideration of the application or risk a legal challenge. It said the report had not accurately assessed the risks. It relied too heavily on the advice of the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive, which the group said had been “deficient in their responsibilities at Balcombe.” The group also criticised the planning conditions on Cuadrilla’s operations as “far too weak”. It said planning permission should not be granted without a legal agreement between the company and the county council to protect the environment and local people.
More to come soon