Angry residents call for immediate halt to UKOG oil drilling plans at Broadford Bridge

Billingshurst 170401 2 Jon O'Houston

Photo: Weald Oil Watch

Opponents of oil exploration at a site in West Sussex have called for an immediate stop to work after the drill rig was installed yesterday.

The campaign group, Keep Billingshurst Frack Free, alleged the plans by UK Oil & Gas for Broadford Bridge were “illegal, irresponsible, ill-judged and irregular”. It accused UKOG of “riding roughshod” over the planning process.

The group said in a statement:

“This is totally unacceptable. We are calling on the Environment Agency, the [former] local MP Nick Herbert and West Sussex County Council to intervene immediately.

“The rig should be dismantled and all work should stop until the planning process is completed in an open and transparent way. Local people are angry and shocked. We will not stand to one site and let this continue.”

UKOG said the allegations were unfounded and repeated a statement made yesterday that it had all the permissions it needed to drill at Broadford Bridge.

Broadford Bridge 170525 Weald Oil Watch2

The drill rig installed on 25 May 20117. Photo: Weald Oil Watch

UKOG said yesterday that the well would explore for oil in Kimmeridge limestones. DrillOrDrop report  The company’s application for an environmental permit included acidising the well, nitrogen lifting and hot oil treatment.

But Keep Billingshurst Frack Free (KBFF) said planning permission granted by West Sussex County Council in 2013 was for gas exploration in the Sherwood Sandstone and did not mention these techniques.

A condition of the planning permission required the development to be carried out in accordance with the environment statement. This said the operation was for conventional drilling to reach what were described as “free-flowing hydrocarbons” in the sandstone formation.

KBFF has asked West Sussex County Council to require UKOG to make a new planning application to explore for what it called “tight” or unconventional oil in the limestone. So far, the group has failed to persuade the council.

The group said:

“We are outraged. UKOG is riding roughshod over the planning process and West Sussex County Council is doing nothing to stop them.

“We wouldn’t be allowed to put up an extension to a bungalow without proper planning permission – and yet they [UKOG} have been able to sneak in a giant mechanical rig before the planning process is finished.

“They wanted to carry out unconventional oil exploration on a licence that was granted for conventional oil only.

“The two are very different. This unconventional exploration uses chemicals that are damaging to people, animals and the environment.”

The Council for the Protection of Rural England referred in its response to the environment permit consultation to a fault near the site. It said this could allow fluids and chemicals from the site to reach the River Arun and local groundwater.

KBFF said:

“Our water could be contaminated and affect the river Adur and Arun. And all without a proper planning process.”

Yesterday, a UKOG statement to investors said the company had all the permissions in place for Broadford Bridge and that drilling would begin shortly.

But KBFF said that statement was premature:

“The Environment Agency has not finished considering an application to vary the company environmental permit and no works can take place during the birds and bats breeding season (UK law, Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981).”

The group added:

“There is no social license for this project. It will use more energy than it might find and that’s yet another blow to the climate.”

UKOG told DrillOrDrop the KBFF accusations were unfounded. A spokesperson said the company had approval for drilling from the OGA, Environment Agency and West Sussex County Council. The spokesperson said the company was waiting for the variation of the existing environmental permit, which would allow it to carry out extended well tests but the tests were contingent on the drilling phase.

98 replies »

  1. First it was UKOG wouldn’t be able to raise the funds to drill, now it has turned into “Big Oil”!! Talk about cake and eat it.

    • I do wonder if these “angry residents” have stopped driving their cars and heating their houses. I wonder if other residents of west sussex might be even angrier were they to be denied access to oil and gas products? Perhaps this is going to be Ruth’s next article headline: “Angrier Residents Call for Immediate Halt to Protests Designed to Limit Access to Oil and Gas Products”?

  2. Jeeeeeeez do none of these people have jobs? So practices that have been taking places for yonks are now on the radar [edited by moderator] due to them being easily misled by misinformation spewed out by the, quite frankly, dangerous organisations such as FoE.
    This word “chemicals” seemingly conjures up exceptionally negative thoughts, take them for an information trip around their local garden centre remembering the um bongo and colouring pens to keep them happy.
    These people are adverse to anything they don’t understand (which is a lot!).

  3. Paul, I’m assuming it’s Paul. The two words you edited out are actually by dictionary definition correct in their description of the scenes we are witnessing. But I do get some people are a little fragile on here so I’ll rein in my alliteration. Boo hoo.

  4. The KBFF group also demands
    All legitimate businesses to stop all their legal activities because these dont fit into their lifestyle ideology.
    All government agencies must cancel all their issued license and permits because these have not been approved by the KBFF group.
    The group also issued a warning to the government and other ligit businesses if their demands are not met immediately to their personal gratification they will throw a tantrum.

  5. The “Big Oil” poster is not just academic. It means this group either do not have a clue about the subject, or they are deliberately trying to misinform the public. Now where have we seen that before? Just keep on doing it. It creates quite a good library for those who will want to dismantle the anti argument when the time is right. Just like the students who post pictures of themselves on Facebook in drunken stupors, and then attend job interviews stating how sober they have been throughout their lives. (And then being shocked the employer had looked!)

    • Clutching at straws again Martin? The fact that somebody has a poster about big oil lies does not of course mean that they are accusing one of the opportunistic minnows of being “big oil” does it? For example I am concerned by Cuadrilla and also by the lobbying of the oil industry (Big oil) as a whole – those are clearly not contradictory standpoints, but are in fact complementary. But you keep logging all this – I’m sure it will turn out to be very useful for you – but seriously if this is how you plan to dismantle the anti argument then you really are in trouble 😂

  6. Can we report only officially news not groups of nimbys personal views. Ukog is a professional company and Steve Sanderson a very well respected oil man. One day I hope to see more positive oil news!

  7. Really refracktion??? You obviously convince yourself, and you seem happy with that. The fact is, you are not convincing anyone else. We all know the antis views. If you are happy to keep preaching to the converted, good luck, but you will find you fail to convert others through misinformation.

    • Martin old boy I’m just responding to what you post – It’s YOU that’s trying to convince people here 😉

  8. Posting at 11.07pm but not trying to convince anyone! Nice to see you are so concerned about me refracktion. Us old boys are tucked up in bed, following their Horlicks, by then.
    Yes, I’m up early today. Thunderstorms worrying the dog. Must be global warming, all caused by Big Oil. (To save the Giggle brigade some work, noticed yesterday most of my peaches fallen following the sharp air frost from around 10 days ago. That must be the new ice-age caused by Big Oil.)

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