21st July 2014
Friends of the Earth has welcomed the call by former minister Nick Herbert for a rejection of Celtique Energie’s planning application to drill for oil near Wisborough Green and Kirdford.
In today’s Daily Telegraph, the Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, urged West Sussex County Council’s planning committee to vote against the proposals in his constituency when they are considered tomorrow (Tuesday).
“Rural West Sussex cannot become a carelessly industrialised landscape”, he said. If approved, the development would cause “huge disruption” from lorries going to and from the site on what he described as “totally unsuitable” roads.
Mr Herbert told the paper local people were united against the plans. He said the promised community benefits didn’t “really cut any ice locally” and government plans to allow fracking under homes without consent were “provocative”. Claims that shale exploration would cut energy bills had been “oversold”, he said.
Mr Herbert now joins his Conservative colleague, Andrew Tyrie, in opposing drilling in his constituency. Mr Tyrie, the MP for Chichester, objected to Celtique Energie’s application for an exploratory oil well near Fernhurst.
This evening, Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth’s South East Campaigner, said: “Mr Herbert recognises that fracking has no place in tranquil Sussex and is correct to question the misinformation from some in Government, who claim that shale oil and gas will lower our energy bills – even the frackers themselves admit that this is not the case.”
“Council officers have wisely recommended that this application to drill for oil in rural Sussex is rejected at the planning committee meeting tomorrow and we hope that councillors reject it outright.”
“The Government must end its support for this industry that can cause damage locally and contributes to climate change – instead, they should focus on clean, safe renewables and cutting the huge amount of energy wasted in the UK.”
Planning officers have recommended the application (which does not include fracking) is refused on the grounds of traffic numbers and road safety. Celtique Energie has urged West Sussex County Council to defer the application so that it can address the planners’ concerns. The company submitted extra information to the council late on Friday.