Regulation

Angus Energy to appeal against Balcombe oil test refusal

The operator of the controversial Balcombe oil site in West Sussex has said it intends to appeal against the rejection of its well test.

Banner outside Angus Energy’s site after the refusal of planning permission in March 2020. Photo: Helen Savage

In March this year, the county council’s planning committee unanimously refused Angus Energy planning application for a one-year test, against the advice of officials.

In a statement today, Angus Energy said:

“The Company has had further discussions with West Sussex County Council [WSCC] and has indicated its intention to appeal the WSCC Planning Committee’s decision to reject our application for a short well test against the Officers’ recommendation to approve.

“Angus will be making its appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and is presently preparing its statement of case.”

Many Balcombe residents have opposed oil operations in the village.

The site saw mass daily protests and arrests when Cuadrilla drilled an exploration well in the summer of 2013.

After this year’s refusal, Sue Taylor, a spokesperson for Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association, said:

“This verdict is such a relief. Thanks to all the hard work of so many people is looking positive for Balcombe.”

The Balcombe site is in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Under planning law, this means that major applications, like the Balcombe well test, must show there are exceptional circumstances and in the public interest to be approved.

In 2020, planning officers recommended refusal of a three-year test.

This year, county councillors argued that nothing had changed since then and there were still no exceptional circumstances to approve the plans. One councillor said the planning officer had “misdirected himself”.

Angus Energy took over operation of the Balcombe site from Cuadrilla in 2018. A short test in September 2018 encountered unexpected water and ran out of time.

In 2019, Angus announced it would need to re-apply for permission for testing because of a planning blunder. That year, the Environment Agency also initially objected to the proposals.

A new test proposal in 2020, was opposed by planners and later withdrawn by Angus.

4 replies »

  1. I’m surprised that Anguish didn’t just go ahead despite being refused, that’s their normal style #Brockham #BRx4z
    The Weald isn’t looking good for these shysters.

  2. Why would Angus think the Kimmeridge at Balcombe will flow oil without fracking when they concluded the Kimmeridge at Brockham would not?

    Just like the Kimmeridge’s closest analogy, the Bakken in North Dakota which was a failure as a conventional oil target between 1952 and 1980, and only began to become productive in oil after the advent of fracking.

    Of course fracking isn’t allowed at Kimmeridge depths.

    They really haven’t thought this through have they?

    • You may recall Cuadrilla’s initial letter to WSCC stating that the site would not prove economically viable unless they were allowed to frack. But it makes sense when you realise that both Angus Energy and UKOG shareholders are being taken for a ride.
      The site has also been compared with that at Horse Hill (the Gatwick Gusher aka the Gatwick Dribbler), where UKOG had to write-off £millions.

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