Campaigners against oil drilling near two West Sussex villages announced today that Celtique Energie has agreed to pay their costs for a planning inquiry that never happened.
The company was refused planning permission in July 2014 for an exploratory well at Boxal Bridge between Kirdford and Wisborough Green. It appealed against the decision and arrangements were made for a public inquiry. This was scheduled to last about a month and was due to start in September this year.
But six months before the inquiry, Celtique unexpectedly withdrew its appeal and the hearing was cancelled.
The campaign group, Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green (KKWG), had been granted permission to play a full role in the inquiry. It would have called witnesses and cross-examined the company.
KKWG sought costs from Celtique. The group said today:
“This action [withdrawing from the inquiry] was demonstrated to have been unreasonable behaviour causing KKWG unnecessary and wasted expense in drawing up their evidence to take part in the PI [public inquiry]”.
“On August 3rd, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government ordered Celtique Energie Weald Ltd to pay KKWG their costs. These have just been agreed”.
Celtique Energie has also been ordered to pay costs to West Sussex County Council, which refused the planning application.
As well as this, Celtique has been ordered to pay £60,000 to its partner, Magellan Petroleum UK. The two companies are involved in a legal dispute over a $2m payment by Magellan towards drilling a well at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst in West Sussex. Celtique applied for a summary judgement at the High Court but this was refused and a judge ordered the company to pay Magellan’s costs. The case is continuing.