Independent experts are to begin monitoring wells, boreholes and air quality around an oil exploration site near Billingshurst in West Sussex on behalf of residents.
The initiative comes as the operator of the Broadford Bridge well site, Kimmeridge Oil and Gas Ltd, prepares to begin flow testing.
The monitoring project is being funded by the Broadford Bridge Action Group (BBAG), which has been campaigning against operations at the site.
A spokesperson said:
“We are not aware of any official baseline monitoring being done above or below ground outside the perimeter of the site so we are conducting our own with input from expert consultancies.
“It’s expensive but how else will we know if there has been any deterioration in water or air quality?”
The group has offered to extend its testing programme if needed, and is considering crowd-funding to help pay for any extra work.
BBAG said initial advice from its consultant hydro-geologist is that monitoring for the effect of hydrocarbons needs to be ongoing and constant. The group said he believed water supplies could be at risk during the flow testing process.
BBAG said it couldn’t rely on the Environment Agency A to provide adequate monitoring:
“This is a risky business operating in an untested environment.
“Much remains unknown and it is an industry known to have accidents.
“We are not prepared to put blind faith in the EA, which is under financial pressure and does not have enough experienced staff to commit to monitoring which would need to be a full-time job on site.”
Earlier this week, KOGL’s parent company, UKOG, made a statement say it had all the permissions in place for what it called a “rig-less flow test”, following a review by the Health and Safety Executive.
The closing date for comments on UKOG’s application to West Sussex County Council extend permission at the wellsite for a year is Thursday 10 August 201. Link to West Sussex County Council planning details