Volunteers with gardening tools gathered outside the Broadford Bridge oil exploration site in West Sussex yesterday (Saturday 23 December) to mark what they said should have been the end of flow-testing.
They planted bulbs and seeds outside the site and offered to help the drilling company, UK Oil and Gas, restore the well pad inside the gates.
Broadford Bridge Action Group said UKOG had told the county council’s planning committee in September that flow testing would take 14 weeks – ending on 22 December – just before Christmas.
The group said UKOG had worked at night and weekends, in breach of planning conditions. But it was still at the site near Billingshurst.
Actor Sue Jameson, who opposed an extension of planning permission at Broadford Bridge at the September council meeting, said:
“They [UKOG] said they’d go home for Christmas but yet again there is a big difference between what they say and what they do.
“It is time they admitted this is a fool’s gold. We want them to return our countryside to the peace and quiet that we all value so much.”
Local woodsman and smallholder, Jim Kelsey, who has been leading testing water wells and water courses around the site since the work began, proposed a vote of thanks UKOG.
The company had shown how hard it is to extract oil from the faulted and fragile geology of the Wealden clay, he said:
“UKOG have shown industry and the world how difficult the Weald can be. Pouring money and chemicals into the site with a high likelihood of failure is driving public and investors opinion against these speculators.”
He called on residents to “work together to ensure that there is no trace of this dirty industry left on this Wealden soil”.
DrillOrDrop invited UKOG to respond to the residents’ comments. This post will be updated with any response.