A month-long public consultation has opened on a bid to extend planning consent at the Broadford Bridge oil exploration site in West Sussex.
The site operator, Kimmeridge Oil & Gas Ltd (KOGL), is seeking permission to retain the site near Billingshurst for a further 12 months.
The deadline for comments is 10 August 2017.
The current planning permission, sought by the previous operator, Celtique Energie in 2012, runs out on 15 September 2017.
KOGL, which is wholly-owned by UK Oil & Gas Investments Ltd, said it needs the extra time to carry out 15-weeks of tests on the flow of gas and oil in the well.
If the tests were successful, the company said, it would “complete further assessments needed to inform a new planning application for further development”.
If no hydrocarbons were encountered, the site would be restored by spring or summer 2018.
The application has no non-technical summary, environmental statement or environmental impact assessment. There is no reference in the online documents to acidising or the use of hydrochloric acid in the well. This is planned as part of preparation for flow tests and has attracted controversy locally.
The planning statement said:
“The development, as extended, would not give rise to any new or additional significant adverse effects beyond those already considered within the ES [Environmental Statement submitted with the current permission]. With this in mind, the proposal is not accompanied by an environmental impact assessment.”
But the 2012 Environmental Statement did not mention acidising and opponents of operations at Broadford Bridge have said KOGL should submit a complete new planning application. They argue that Celtique Energie intended to explore for gas in sandstone, unlike the current plans for oil in Kimmeridge Limestones.
The new planning statement includes a revised site plan with larger area for chemical storage. It said a 12-month extension would not affect local traffic, residential amenity or wildlife. The risk of groundwater pollution was “inherently low”, it added.
The application said the proposal supported national and local planning policy. On the local economy, it said:
“Agricultural diversification would be supported by virtue of the steady income stream that would supplement the existing agricultural business – consistent with Horsham District Planning Framework rural economic development policy.”
When considering environmental impact, the application took account of the existing well site:
“The temporary and reversible nature of the effects of the proposal are acceptable when considered against an environmental base-line that contains the developed site.”
Application reference: WSCC/029/17/WC