Opposition

Balcombe villagers protest against oil tests

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Protest outside Angus Energy oil site at Balcombe, West Sussex, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillorDrop

About 50 people from the West Sussex village of Balcombe joined a protest this morning against imminent tests at a nearby oil site.
They walked to the site at Lower Stumble to demonstrate their opposition to renewed oil operations in the village, they said.

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Protest against Angus Energy flow test at Balcombe, West Sussex, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The oil well has been suspended since it was drilled by Cuadrilla in 2013.

Angus Energy, which took over operation of the site in May 2018, has been bringing equipment on to the site for the past few days. A seven-day test of the flow rate of oil in the well is due start next week, Angus has said.

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Delivery lorry leaving Angus Energy’s oil site at Balcombe, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

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Equipment arriving at Angus Energy’s oil site at Balcombe, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Helen Savage, of Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA), said this morning:

“We wanted to come down here to remind Angus, and local and wider politicians that this work is not welcome here. We said no. We do not want it here and we do not think it should be done anywhere.

“We signed up to climate agreements. If local government agrees to these operations how are we going to reduce our carbon emissions?

“The government is prioritising oil and gas over renewables. The future is going to be in renewables. Why is the government not investing in them.”

FFBRA is particularly concerned about the impact of flaring at the Lower Stumble site on local air quality. Helen Savage said:

“If this industry takes off and this site and others go into production, we will have more wells drilled, more traffic movements and more effects on air quality, from here to the Isle of Wight. Where are we going to find clean air?”

The Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, backed the villagers. In a statement he said:

“I want to extent my solidarity to campaigners and residents in Balcombe. I and fellow Greens will continue to stand with you in your fight – as we did five years ago. And, as in 2013, our strength in numbers and unity will prevail once again. more power to your elbows.”

Last night, four village representatives were voted onto the community liaison group, established as a condition of planning permission for the Balcombe flow test. They join four parish councillors and representatives of Mid Sussex District and West Sussex County Councils. The first full meeting of the group is on Thursday (20 September 2018).

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Last week, Angus Energy secured an interim High Court injunction. It seeks to outlaw trespass and what are described as unlawful protests at the Balcombe site and a nearby four mile section of road. The injunction also covers another Angus Energy oil site at Brockham in Surrey.

A second High Court hearing on the injunction has been set for 2 October 2018. People who wish to be challenge the order should file evidence with the court and serve it on Angus Energy by 24 September 2018.

DrillOrDrop invited Angus Energy to comment on today’s protest. This post will be updated with any response.


Reporting on this event was made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop

65 replies »

  1. Helen Savage .Why are you calling yourself Frack free balcombe residents association FFBRA Angus energy .Are NOT Fracking at balcombe or anywhere in the Weald basin Surrey .You should call your self not on my doorstep residents association NNMDRA Yes this is conventionally oil extraction for jobs and energy for the Uk economy .Selfish residents .By the way l live near the village .And l Don,t recognise many of these faces .Bus in protestor .Silent majority are quite happy for Angus energy to go about their business.They even said they will contribute a % of their profit to the local area .Win Win for all

    • I’m not surprised you don’t recognise them , they wouldn’t want to associate with your kind . please pay more attention to your grammar and punctuation when attempting to look intelligent .

      • Get a live Jono .I,m sure your not a local of balcombe.We don,t want your sort in our village please. Leaving your rubbish for tax payers to clean up .No wonder Surrey councils are almost bankrupt

        • “life” “You’re” “Balcombe” Space after a full stop, Jono is right Slade, you need some grammar lessons. Oh and you certainly don’t live in Balcombe with grammar like that, more like Crawley if you South of Aberdeen!

          • Slade
            Since you claim to be a local I’m sure that you are aware that Balcombe isn’t in Surrey.

            I think you may need to brush up on your map reading skills and get your story straight before launching into your vitriol.

          • “Oh and you certainly don’t live in Balcombe with grammar like that, more like Crawley if you [sic] South of Aberdeen!”

            You’re also not from Balcombe?

  2. Over 4 years ago in Ryedale our MP at the time Ann McIntosh was told by 3rd Energy they had no plans to frack, then announced shortly after, they had plans to frack. Ann called them out on their lies, and it is time we called out all the onshore oil and gas companies: they ALL have plans to frack and cannot be trusted: this is their business plan now that most conventional supplies have dried up or have marginal or no profitability. And these so called “outside protesters” are getting awfully numerous, they keep popping up simultaneously in Yorkshire, Lancashire, various counties in the the Midlands, Surrey, as well as Balcombe. These “outside protesters” keep sending their children to local schools, are seen running local businesses, even taking up local council positions, why, they could almost pass for long time residents. Perhaps somebody could go to these local protests and ask for ID, and ban anyone that looks too much like a local resident, so that we can make sure that only outside protesters are seen to defend our communities.

    • Not a bad ideal Identification of local protesters.I bet less than 10 including the dogs They call themselves Frack free balcombe residents association.That is a lie .I,m sure if it was raining the number would be less than 10 Fine weather protestors

  3. Just a bunch of NIMBY HYPOCRITES who want Oil & Gas but not sourced near them !!! Turn off their Electricity (50% made from Gas) & watch them protest about that ! Amazing that the majority drive petrol or diesel cars/vans/campers etc polluting the atmosphere daily but turn a blind eye to that ‘cos it does not suit!!!

  4. I can confirm that there were about 50 demonstrating at the site, although you may not be able to count our heads from the photographs, and some people couldn’t stay for long but wanted to attend albeit briefly. A large group of Balcombe residence walked from the village and were joined by others. Anyone who doesn’t recognise the people from the photographs is clearly not a resident of Balcombe nor frequents the village.We don’t do lies or misinformation, we leave that to this government and to the industry that it backs, against all the evidence. The two community police at the site acted at all times in a friendly manner and were offered cakes from our PTA. This was an orderly demonstration against an unwelcome intrusion in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. For most of the time we were there, there was what sounded like a diesel generator operating just inside the gates; diesel fumes, probably containing dangerous particulates, were evident whilst we were assembled, and they haven’t even started the flow test yet! I suggest any police assigned to the site bring suitable gas masks for when the flow testing starts in earnest. Remember events at Horse Hill. With regard to whether they are fracking or not, we simply do not know, for this government’s definition allows operators to frack whilst claiming they are not; the UK government definition would mean that around 80% of the fracked wells in the US would not have been fracked. There is also confusion around the words ‘acid frack’, with the operators conveniently using different terms such as acid stimulation.
    The HGVs that arrived at the site whilst we were there, were massive, far larger than anything we’ve seen on this road since Cuadrilla’s activities in 2013. There was a good sized queue of traffic waiting behind them as they awkwardly manoeuvred onto the site, without any obstruction from the demonstrators. I imagine the emissions from these vehicles are probably at the high end of HGV emission levels, given their size.
    I note there is yet another article of the danger of emissions particulates to school children both whilst on their way to and from school and whilst in the classroom. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/18/school-run-air-pollution-children-black-carbon

    • I bet most of those local protestor have more that 1 car park at home .Not on my doorstep Selfish resident .I don,t want to mix with hypocrites like that thank you very much .You are just using children to validate you argument Maybe go protest to farmers about the cows farting in the fields See how far you get with that

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

      • To be fair Balcombe has worked hard to build an energy cooperative, so not only is your criticism unfair because there is limited choice in terms of fossil fuel free alternatives at the moment (though the technology continues to advance) but the villagers of Balcombe have worked hard to establish green energy generation for the village. I would assume that. if you are a local Slade, you would known all about this? http://www.repowerbalcombe.com

        • KatT, “there is limited choice in terms of fossil fuel alternatives at the moment” . Exactly the point. Might be worth thinking about when these alternatives might appear, especially those to replace the gas heating of the 80+% of U.K. households that rely on it. I guess something will arise, my guess mini nuclear power stations akin to those we have in nuclear submarines. However the point is for the next 30 years or so, climate change or not, we’re going to need gas and oil.

    • So what is the equipment in photo 4 Malcolm? Clue is in the size of the trucks ….. something heavy perhaps?

      Diesel generator – my goodness – shock – horror – this cannot be real. Surely you are making this up…. If the test is successful and they go to production they may use produced hydrocarbons to generate their electricity – or even plug into the grid if there is a suitable supply nearby. Do you expect them to use wind turbines or PV? This is a serious operation which requires 24/7 reliable power in order to reduce HS&E risks.

      The school run 4x4s generate more paticulates than a few of these trucks? Perhaps all the kids walk / cycle to school in Balcombe? If they do, great. But this would be a major exception, particularly for the south of England.

    • If there is a danger to Balcombe children from vehicle emissions why do the school allow many cars to park all around the vicinity of the school blocking roads and causing traffic mayhem at drop off & pick up times?????? Also why in 2013 if there was a ‘Danger’ to children from vehicle emissions did the protestors outside Lower Stumble set up a ‘Kids Play Area’ directly next to the B2036 ??? You could not make it up !! If you would care to monitor traffic flow on The Haywards Heath Rd many LARGE/ARTICULATED lorries are using it everyday after coming south of the M23 at Junction 10a! On cycling past one of Balcombe’s ‘Big Anti Fracking’ residents house recemtly i noticed five cars and 2 large vans outside!!!! Very good for the enviroment! NOT!

  5. Shoudn’t the title of this piece be, “Balcombe villagers, plus some other folk who travelled from miles away, protest against oil tests” ?

  6. Don’t you Malcolm???

    Shame about Frack Free Balcombe then!

    Oh dear, now catering for those who are unable to read? So, the use of the word frack, is just in case they are or might or it could have been in their dreams? How would you feel if the same “logic” was utilised to describe the protestors?

    No diesels in Balcombe? Hmmm.

    However, some who think it appropriate to drive in a vehicle to photograph some gates-see previous in DOD.

    Meanwhile, those in the middle of the hurricane/typhoon season desperate for some diesel generators, fuel for the chain saws and some more diesel for the diggers. Solar panels under water, wind turbines blown down and power cables gone. Oh how the cosy minority sneer at those who have a desperate need for something they want to limit.

  7. All that “pollution” and dogs and children being subjected to it! You do sometimes wonder if anyone thinks about the story being presented to the wider public.

    I heard exactly the same when I lived in Newbury during the construction of the bypass. It produced exactly the opposite effect amongst the mostly silent majority and became obvious that it was in place of a sound argument.

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