Industry

Fernhurst drilling plans “not in the public interest”

Celtique Energie has failed to prove there are exceptional circumstances that justify its plans for an exploratory oil well at Fernhurst in the South Downs National Park, planners said this afternoon.

In a report released in the past hour, officers at the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) recommended refusal of the application to drill at Nine Acre Copse when it comes before the planning committee next week.

Tim Slaney, the Director of Planning, said Celtique Energie had failed to prove that that oil well could not be located elsewhere, outside the national park. He also said the company had not demonstrated that the well could be drilled without a damaging effect on the landscape.

“The requirement to demonstrate exceptional circumstances and that it is in the public interest for the development to be within the SDNP has not been appropriately or adequately met”, he said.

Mr Slaney said the type, height and scale of the development would “adversely affect” the character of the remote and rural landscape.

He added that noise and disturbance from the increase in lorries going to and from the site would have an “unacceptable impact” on people living nearby and the peace and tranquillity of the area.

The report said Celtique Energie had failed to provide enough information to demonstrate that the operation of the oil well would not harm local residents and potential appreciation of Fernhurst Furnace, a scheduled ancient monument.

For these reasons, the report said the proposed development was contrary to the:

  • National Planning Policy Framework
  • West Sussex Minerals Plan Chichester District Council Local Plan
  • Defra Circular 2010
  • South Downs national Park Partnership Management Plan 2013

Trevor Beattie, the Chief Executive of the SDNPA, said: “Any proposal for major development in a National Park must demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist for the development to go ahead and that it is in the public interest for the development to occur. Key assessments are whether there is a proven need for this development in this location or whether oil/ gas exploration could take place elsewhere. The report speaks for itself. “

The SDNPA planning committee will decide on the application at a meeting starting at 10am on Thursday September 11 at the South Downs Centre in Midhurst. The meeting will be webcast live at http://www.southdowns.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/145380

Planners’ report

Categories: Industry, Regulation

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