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.
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.
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).
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