Beware the no-frack promise at Billingshurst, campaigners warn

Campaigners are stepping up their opposition to an exploratory oil site near Billingshurst in West Sussex with a warning: beware the no-frack promise.

Celtique Energie is expected to begin drilling soon at the site at Wood Barn Farm, Broadford Bridge. The company has planning permission for a conventional hydrocarbon well. Its website says the well would “not, at any stage, involve hydraulic fracturing of shales”.

But last week, a group of local people formed Keep Billingshurst Frack Free, arguing that the well could lead to fracking in the area in the future.

Emily Anderson, one of the organisers of Keep Billingshurst Frack Free, told the Midhurst and Petworth Observer: “If this test well turns into a fracking site, there are so many possible risks involved. We will see an enormous increase in local traffic – much of it massive lorries thundering down country lanes – air pollution from methane flaring, and potential damage to our precious water supply.

Celtique Energie has prepared the site and installed security fencing.

Security fencing and gates

Security fencing and gates

Celtique’s partner in exploration licences in the Weald, Magellan Petroleum, told investors in December 2014 it was “evaluating the potential of its unconventional prospects in these licenses”.

Drilling compound

Drilling compound

Next month, Keep Billingshurst Frack Free is organising a public meeting with the subject Beware the No-Frack Promise. Speakers will include Tony Whitbread, chief executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust, and Brenda Pollack, south east regional organiser of Friends of the Earth.

The event is on Friday 10th April, 7pm-9pm, at Billingshurst Community & Conference Centre, Roman Way, Billingshurst RH14 9QW.  More details

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