6th June 2014
New research for Greenpeace in Sussex found two-thirds of respondents wanted a temporary ban on fracking. About three-quarters wanted a public debate on fracking before planning authorities made decisions on whether it should go ahead.
The results of the independent poll, carried out over the last two weeks, were published this morning as councillors gathered at County Hall in Chichester for a full meeting of the council. Greenpeace campaigners set up an anti-fracking roadshow outside the building.
The poll found that 66% of respondents wanted a moratorium on fracking. 73% said more time should be allowed for a public debate on the issue. And 40% said they would be less likely to vote for politicians who were in favour of allowing fracking in Sussex.
Simon Clydesdale, Greenpeace UK energy campaigner, said: “The shale gas lobby and their political cheerleaders are hustling the country into taking a rash decision on something as controversial as fracking. But this survey shows local people would like their political leaders to take the foot off the shale gas pedal and slam the brakes on this mad dash to frack.”
On April 29th, the council’s planning committee granted planning permission to Cuadrilla to flow test its exploratory oil well at Balcombe. But the permission does not allow the company to frack. In July, the same committee is due to discuss an application for exploratory drilling by Celtique Energie at a site between Wisborough Green and Kirdford. Also next month, the South Downs National Park Authority will decide on another application by Celtique Energie for Fernhurst.
Mr Clydesdale said: “Sussex planning authorities are about to make a decision that will have huge repercussions not just for local people but for the rest of Britain too. They can be the first to open the floodgates to a fracking frenzy, or the first to make a stand against an industry trying to bulldoze its way across our countryside.
“Thousands of people in Sussex are already urging them to act responsibly to safeguard the well-being of our communities and our environment – they’ll ignore them at their peril.”
Richard Casson, one of the campaigners outside the council, said councillors in West Sussex were under tremendous pressure to bow to industry lobbying and government pressure. “That’s why we’re here today, making it clear what’s at stake and showing the extent of the growing opposition. We’ll be championing the right of local people to object to drilling, and encouraging councillors to take a stand against an industry that is trying to bulldoze its way relentlessly across the countryside.”