Balcombe, West Sussex

Wednesday 21st August 2013. Balcombe South East England, UK. Cua

Photo: David Burr

Last updated: 18/10/22

Key facts

Address: Lower Stumble, off London Road, Balcombe, West Sussex

Planning applications: WSCC/027/10/BA (exploratory borehole) and WSCC/005/14/BA (for three-year flow testing and monitoring – later withdrawn); WSCC/045/20 (for one-year flow test and monitoring – unanimously refused by West Sussex County Council but approved on appeal by a planning inspector.

Operator: Angus Energy

Licence: PEDL244

Status: Short oil flow test carried out in autumn 2018. Application for a three-year well test withdrawn after opposition from Environment Agency and county council. Application submitted for one-year flow test. No date for decision meeting.


13 February 2023

Well test granted permission by planning inspector. Details

17 February 2022

Balcombe appeal underway. Details

2 August 2021

Angus Energy to appeal against Balcombe oil test refusal Details

17June 2021

Appeal over Balcombe well test not “foremost in our minds” – Angus Energy. Details

29 March 2021

Lessons from Balcombe, guest post by Helen Savage. Details

2 March 2021

Well test plans blocked after West Sussex planning committee unanimously refuse application.  Details

19 February 2021

Planners back application for a one-year well test. Details

27 August 2020

Plans for shorter Balcombe well test published. Details

13 August 2020

Notice of new planning application for Balcombe well test. Details 

30 July 2020

Angus Energy says it plans to return to Balcombe to test the well in Q4 of 2020. Details

1 May 2020

Angus Energy withdraws Balcombe application. Details

19 March 2020

Villager “delighted” was recommendation to refuse Balcombe well test. Details

17 March 2020

Balcombe and Broadford Bridge decisions delayed by coronavirus. Details

16 March 2020

Planners oppose oil test plans at Balcombe: “not in public interest” and “not appropriate to area”. Details

5 March 2020

Angus says it is counting on oil flow at Balcombe to mark a “turnaround in the group’s fortunes. Details

19 February 2020

Regulator drops objection to Angus Energy test plans at Balcombe. Details

10 February 2020

Balcombe villagers accuse Angus Energy of “cutting corners” on environmental protection. Details

6 February 2020

Decision date for extended well test application of 25 February delayed. Details

13 November 2019

Regulator objects to Angus Energy test plans at Balcombe. Details

9 October 2019

Plans to test the flow of oil at Balcombe published. Details

27 September 2019

Radio programme which claimed it would to set the record straight about reporting of 2013 anti-fracking protests in Balcombe has itself attracted “many complaints” about accuracy and bias. Details

25 September 2019

Angus gives notice of application for extended well test at Balcombe. Details

11 July 2019

Conference call reveals that a planning blunder forced Angus Energy to reapply for planning permission to test Balcombe well. Details

26 February 2019

Angus Energy announces it will seek permission for 24-month extended production test for Balcombe. Details

10 January 2019

Angus says unexpected water encountered during well test was “unrecovered brine from previous activities at the site. Details

2 October 2018

Angus announces flow rates of 853 and 1,587 barrels of oil per day in tests but says it also encountered unexpected water and ran out of time to do more than two tests. Details and company statement

24 September 2018

Angus Energy announces start of seven-day flow test. Details

180924 Angus Balcombe flow test tweet

18 September 2018

Villagers protest against Balcombe oil flow tests. Details

12 September 2018

Balcombe flow test expected to start next week, Parish Council reports. Details

5 September 2018

Balcombe prepares to flow testing. Details

22 August 2018

EA grants new permit for Balcombe oil site but orders work before flow test can start. Details

21 May 2018

Angus Energy confirmed as operator of Balcombe licence. Details

4 May 2018

Cuadrilla applies for a environmental permit for oil storage and handling at the Balcombe site. Link to application

14 February 2018

Angus Energy, which is aiming to take over the Balcombe licence, tells the web magazine London South East that the Balcombe flow test will be “comfortably before the summer”. Details

22 January 2018

Cuadrilla and Angus Energy announce a partnership which gives Angus 25% of PEDL244 and makes it operator of the Balcombe site for £4m. Details

9 January 2018

West Sussex County Council planning committee approves unanimously planning application for three years for flow testing at the well. Live updates of the meeting and reaction and link to decision notice. WSCC decision notice

30 November 2017

Final day of comments on Cuadrilla’s planning application for flow testing at Balcombe. Details

19 October 2017

Cuadrilla announces it is to apply for planning permission to flow test oil at Balcombe. Details

End of July

Expected date by which the Environment Agency will decide variation of permit for flow testing (decision not made)

2 May 2017

Deadline under planning permission for flow testing for work to start. West Sussex County Council has said it expects Cuadrilla to apply with a fresh application in September 2017.

29 March 2017

Cuadrilla confirms it will not carry out any work at Balcombe before May 2017, suggesting the company will need to apply for an extension to its planning permission. Details

24 March 2017

Cuadrilla applies for a variation of its environmental permit and reveals details of well test. Details

30 April 2016

The Brighton Argus reports that the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Unit, based at the Metropolitan Police, have been monitoring the MP Caroline Lucas at public demonstrations, including the Balcombe anti-fracking protests, for nine years.

1 February 2016

Balcombe residents describe government plans to fast-track fracking decisions as an “attack on democracy” Details

6 December 2015

COP21 London to Paris bike ride stops outside the entrance of Cuadrilla drilling site.

4 September 2015

Police training on the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy refers to the arrest of Caroline Lucas at anti-fracking protests at Balcombe, reports The Times Educational Supplement

20 May 2015

Charles Metcalfe, an opponent of Cuadrilla’s plans to drill at Balcombe is elected chair of the parish council.

16 December 2014

Netpol reports that the College of Policing use a fictional anti-fracking protest, based on Balcombe and Barton Moss, to train senior officers.

5 December 2014

Balcombe residents’ group loses judicial review into the way West Sussex County Council’s planning committee gave permission to Cuadrilla for flow testing and flaring its exploratory oil well Details

6-7 November 2014

Judicial review of West Sussex County Council’s decision to approve planning permission for flow testing at Balcombe Details and links to other reports

3 September 2014

The Advertising Standards Authority rules that a pro-shale gas advert paid for by a US fracking company is misleading, exaggerated and unsubstantiated, after complaint by a Balcombe resident. Details

21 August 2014

Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association gets a court date for its judicial review. Details

1 August 2014

Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association wins the right to challenge in court the decision by West Sussex County Council to grant planning permission to Cuadrilla to flow test and flare in the village. Details

11 July 2014

Cuadrilla confirms that a letter which came to light during the protest court cases is genuine. It dates from 2011 and states that a subsidiary company intended to frack in the Weald Basin. A statement from Cuadrilla repeats that fracking is not required at Balcombe. Details

21 June 2014

Our FOI request for a review of policing at the Balcombe protests shows Sussex Police used covert intelligence gathering. The review also concluded the force was caught off-guard. Sussex Police says the review will help with further demonstrations. Details

18 June 2014

Sussex Police says an independent review of its operation at Balcombe will help future approaches to policing protests. Details

16 June 2014

Official report of Sussex Police’s operation at Balcombe says the force was caught off-guard. Details

13 June 2014

Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association issues legal proceedings in the High Court in a judicial review of the approval of planning permission for flow testing at Cuadrilla’s well. Details

5 June 2014

Cuadrilla’s exploration licence, PEDL244, which includes Balcombe is extended for two years. Details

19 May 2014

The latest survey by Nottingham University on attitudes to fracking shows the “Balcombe effect” is continuing as support falls to below 50%. Details

29 April 2014

Cuadrilla receives planning permission from West Sussex County Council to test its oil exploration well. Details The Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association vows to fight on (details) and starts proceedings for a judicial review of the decision.

25 April 2014

More than 70% of the charges that went to trial following the Balcombe anti-fracking protests have resulted in acquittals or were dropped during the court case. Details

17 April 2014

Caroline Lucas MP, Sheila Menon, Ruth Potts, Ruth Jarman, and Josef Dobraszczyk are acquitted of obstructing the highway and a public order offence arising from the Balcombe anti-fracking protests. Details

31 March 2014

The trial of Caroline Lucas and four other people arrested with her at Balcombe runs out of time and is adjourned until 17 April 2014.

28 March 2014

The Police and Crime Commissioner of Sussex announces that the Home Office has agreed to contribute £905,000 to the costs of policing last summer’s Balcombe protests. Details

21 March 2014

Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association submits its objection to Cuadrilla’s planning application to flow test its well at Balcombe. Details

8 March 2014

Balcombe Parish Council confirms it will object to Cuadrilla’s latest planning application to flow test its exploratory oil well.

28 February 2014

freedom of information request to the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirms that Cuadrilla did not seismic surveys at Balcombe.

24 February 2014

Natalie Hynde and Simon Medhurst are found guilty of besetting Cuadrilla’s Balcombe site under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 Details. Nichola Sanger is found not guilty of the same charge. Robert Basto is found guilty of obstructing the highway but not guilty of obstructing a police officer.

Balcombe Parish Council announces the results of its poll of the village on fracking and oil exploration. On all questions, a majority opposed Cuadrilla’s existing and future plans. Details

31 January 2014

Crown Prosecution Service reveals that 35 Balcombe charges have been dropped before trial. Details

30 January 2014

Nottingham University research suggests support for fracking is continuing to fall and opposition growing since the Balcombe protests Details

24 January 2014

West Sussex County Council says an Environmental Impact Assessment is not needed for Cuadrilla’s new planning application at Balcombe

23 January 2014

Cuadrilla tells Balcombe residents it has no plans to frack at Balcombe. Details. NoFiBS says it doesn’t believe the company Details. Sussex Police says costs of last summer’s demonstrations outside Cuadrilla’s site at Balcombe were £3.985 million.

22 January 2014

Cuadrilla submits planning application to carry out flow testing at Balcombe to West Sussex County Council. Details

Nationwide anti-fracking meeting in Balcombe, which includes a short occupation of the drill site. Details

15 January 2014

DrillorDrop reveals that nearly half the people arrested at Balcombe had their cases dropped. Details Sussex Police employs a civilian to manage its investigations into the fracking protests. Details

9 January 2014

11 people charged with obstructing the highway at Balcombe anti-fracking protest found not guilty  Details

20 December 2013

Balcombe residents take a letter to Downing Street calling for a moratorium on shale gas, coal bed methane and underground coal gasification. Details

5 December 2013

Cuadrilla submits a revised planning application for its site at Balcombe to West Sussex County Council covering flow testing, an enclosed test flare, security fencing and arrangements for site restoration. The company publishes its environmental monitoring report. Details West Sussex County Council apologies at a public meeting in Balcombe for mistakes made in the summer.

25 November 2013

The first trial of a Balcombe anti-fracking campaigner collapses after the district judge questions whether an offence took place. Details

19 November 2013

West Sussex County Council uses bailiffs to evict the roadside camp

18 November 2013

Opponents of fracking meet the leader of West Sussex County Council. Details

17 November 2013

Anti-fracking campaigners pitch tents on the lawn outside the headquarters of West Sussex County Council in Chichester

12 November 2013

West Sussex County Council holds talks on how to evict protesters at Balcombe. Details

11 November 2013

Mrs Justice Lang in the High Court grants the application for a possession order by West Sussex County Council for verges alongside the Cuadrilla site at Balcombe.

5 November 2013

Fracking companies, including Cuadrilla, tell the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee they need a “social licence” to drill and cannot go ahead without the “acquiescence” of local communities. Details

4 November 2013

Cuadrilla agrees a new 30-year lease on the site at Balcombe. Details

14 October 2013

Balcombe Parish Council announces a new ballot on oil and gas exploration at Lower Stumble. Details

9 October 2013

More protest cases come to court. Details

8 October 2013

The Guardian reveals that energy minister, Michael Fallon, met Cuadrilla executives on 24 June 2013, a month before the company got the go-ahead to drill at Balcombe.

2 October 2013

The Environment Agency investigates possible pollution of a stream near the Balcombe site which turned bright green – later suspected to be dye. Charges dropped against former model and Lewes District Council chair, Marina Baker, and Caroline Lucas’s son Ben. Dates set for first trials Details

1 October 2013

Nottingham University announces the trend in favour of shale gas has reversed since Balcombe. Details

28 September 2013

Cuadrilla’s planning consent at Balcombe expires

27 September 2013

Drilling site is cleared and Sussex Police scales down its operation. Sussex Police confirm 125 people were arrested since 25 July. Costs have reached £3.337m.

25 September 2013

MP Caroline Lucas charged with obstructing the highway and a public order offence. Details Reports say the rig left Balcombe.

24 September 2013

Sussex Police in a statement says it will allow vehicles to leave the Cuadrilla site outside the times set in the planning permission to protect public safety and prevent crime and disorder. Details

23 September 2013

Cuadrilla announces it has found the presence of hydrocarbons at Balcombe. The well is now to be closed while the company applies for permission to flow test.

22 September 2013

Third Belt it out Balcombe event

16 September 2013

West Sussex County Council fails to get an order in the High Court to evict campaigners from the roadside. No Fracking in Balcombe Society welcomes the ruling. Details

13 September 2013

Sussex Police says costs have reached £2.449m

11 September 2013

11 Balcombe residents write to the Guardian complaining about poor regulation at the Cuadrilla site.

10 September 2013

Sussex police says 100 people have been arrested so far at Balcombe. West Sussex County Council confirms it is going to court to evict protesters from the roadside.

9 September 2013

West Sussex County Council serves notice on campaigners camped along the B2036 to leave the land by 9am. The council says it is taking the action because of increased concerns for the safety of road users. The council sends a letter to Balcombe residents informing them of its action. Details Sussex Police issues a Section 14 notice under the Public Order Act 1986 restricting protest outside the Cuadrilla site at Balcombe to a specified assembly area  from September 10-27.

6 September 2013

Sussex Police say costs have reached 2.381m. The force says two men were arrested on 5 September and another man on 6 September. West Sussex County Council says it has received complaints about noise from the wellsite, despite changes made by the company to reduce the impact of its work. Details

3 September 2013

Cuadrilla withdraws application for a six-month extension of planning permission and to increase the height of the flare and tells residents it plans to submit a new application for testing the well. Details.

23 August 2013

Sussex Police says costs have reached £2.3m. Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, confirms she will be applying to the Home Office to meet the additional costs of the policing

21 August 2013

Reclaim the Power camp disbands but original roadside camp remains. Sussex Police scales down its operation. Cuadrilla resumes deliveries and drilling Details 10 campaigners appear in court.

19 August 2013

Campaigners in wheelchairs blockade the site entrance. Sussex Police say 29 people are arrested, including Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas. 10 people later charged.

18 August 2013

Around 2,000 people attend a march, double the expected number. Sussex Police say there were 48 arrests in July and 34 people charged.

17 August 2013

RSPB issues first objection to fracking. Details

16 August 2013

Reclaim the power camp opens with a visit from Vivienne Westwood. Details. Cuadrilla scales down work. Details. Sussex Police says its costs top £700,000

14 August 2013

14 people arrested at Balcombe appear in court and plead not guilty. Details

13 August 2013

Environment Agency extends permit consultation extended to 28 August 2013. Cuadrilla tells the BBC it does not rule out fracking at Balcombe in future Details and confirms to the parish council that it is not likely to become a production site Details. The council defends its “no comment” on the Cuadrilla planning application. Details. 40 people have been arrested and 33 charged.

12 August 2013

Two people arrested at Balcombe. Details. Balcombe Parish Council opposes civil trespass or illegal acts. Details.

11 August 2013

Belt it out Balcombe event where a choir sings a version of Jerusalem outside the site. Details. David Cameron tells the Telegraph Britain cannot afford to miss out on shale gas. Details

9 August 2013

No Dash for Gas hold a meeting about the Reclaim the Power camp in Balcombe. Details

7 August 2013

Two people arrested at Balcombe appear in court. Balcombe Parish Council is revealed to have made no objection to the planning application without consulting the village. Details Sussex Police put the bill for the protests at £73,000.

6 August 2013

No Dash For Gas announces it is switching is camp to Balcombe. Details. 15-year-old arrested at Balcombe appears in court. Details. Cuadrilla says “We’ve no intention of ruining the countryside and we won’t ruin the countryside”. Details

3 August 2013

Balcombe villagers announce the result of a poll on Cuadrilla’s operations: 85% against, 9% undecided; 6% against. Details

2 August 2013

Cuadrilla announces it starts drilling. Details. West Sussex County Council leader apologises to Balcombe residents for the protests. Details. Villages criticise the letter. Details Two people arrested after what police describe as assaults on officers.

1 August 2013

Police write to Balcombe residents about their role in policing the protests. Details. Parish councillors meet representatives of the Environment Agency. Details. The parish council chairman, Alison Stevenson, admits the council did not appreciate the full implications of Cuadrilla’s application. Details Protesters block the site entrance with a fire engine. Details

31 July 2013

Cuadrilla Resources publishes Interim pre-drill Environmental Monitoring Summary Report. Details

Natalie Hynde and Simon Medhurst, arrested after allegedly super-gluing themselves together through metal gates at Cuadrilla’s Balcombe site. Details

30 July 2013

West Sussex County Council confirms it gave Cuadrilla permission to work on Saturday 27 July until 4pm, three hours beyond the planning condition. Police defend their tactics against public criticism.

Lord Howell, father-in-law of George Osborne and until April a government energy policy advisor, asks at Lords Questions suggests fracking should be carried out in “large and uninhabited and desolate areas2 in the north east. He later apologises and says he meant the north west. Details

29 July 2013

Sussex police say they arrested six people

28 July 2013

Bianca Jagger visits the site entrance. Details

27 July 2013

Sussex Police says 12 people charged following 16 arrests on 26 July 2013. The police also report that Cuadrilla has agreed to stop bringing vehicles into the site after 2pm in recognition of local people

26 July 2013

About 60 protestors gather at the site. 16 are arrested, 11 under Section 241 of the Trade Union Labour Relations Act.

25 July 2013

At 12 noon the Department of Energy and Climate Change announces Cuadrilla has drilling consent. Details About 100 campaigners blockade the site and prevent vehicles entering. Cables are cut on a lorry delivering drilling equipment. Details West Sussex County Council confirms that an environmental impact assessment is not needed for the application for a time extension or changed flare height.

24 July 2013

The Environment Agency grants Cuadrilla a mining waste permit for Balcombe. Details

23 July 2013

Cuadrilla informs West Sussex County Council that the rig will be delivered from this date. See rig mobilisation

21 July 2013

Cuadrilla gives West Sussex County Council seven days’ notice of drilling. The council asks Cuadrilla to prepare a bat survey before determination of the application to vary permission.

17 July 2013

Cuadrilla applies for a variation of planning permission to vary the type of flare. A public consultation runs until 15 August 2013. See supporting statement

16 July 2013

Cuadrilla applies to the Environment Agency for a radioactive substances permit. A consultation runs until 13 August 2013

11 July 2013

Cuadrilla applies for an extension of its planning permission from 36 months to 42 months from the start of the development. See supporting statement

24 June 2013

Balcombe Parish Council’s oil exploration working groups meets representatives from the Environment Agency. Details

14 June 2013

Cuadrilla applies to the Environment Agency for a mining waste permit EPR/AB3307XD/A001. A consultation runs until 16 July 2013.

13 June 2013

Cuadrilla makes a statement that it was drilling a water monitoring borehole. Details

12 June 2013

The Environment Agency visits the site to check that drilling groundwater monitoring boreholes was the only activity being carried out.

31 May 2013

Cuadrilla announces a 40mph speed limit on the B2036 north of the village and 30mph on Church Hill. Details

29 May 2013

In a statement, Cuadrilla says it will impose a 20 mph speed limit through Balcombe, and monitor air quality and make the results public. It also said there was no evidence of illness as a consequence of flaring. Details

25 May 2013

Balcombe Parish Council informs residents that 60 vehicle movements in and another 60 out would be involved in delivering and removing the drilling rig. Details

23 May 2013

Cuadrilla holds a public information event in Bramble Hall, Balcombe

14 May 2013

Balcombe Parish Council informs residents that the concentration of hydrochloric acid used to stimulate the well would be not more than 10%. Details

8 May 2013

Cuadrilla announces plans to drill an exploratory well in Balcombe Details It writes to residents, inviting them to a meeting later in the month Details.

3 May 2013

Cuadrilla tells Balcombe Parish council it intends to drill but not frack an exploratory well. The council criticises the company’s use of market researchers to conduct a survey in the village. Details and formal minute

12 April 2013

Bolney Resources ltd changes its name to Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd. Details

20 December 2012

Mark Miller, CEO of Cuadrilla Resources, and Eric Vaughan, Chief Operating Officer, speak at a meeting Balcombe Village Hall organised by No Fracking in Sussex group. Details

30 November 2012

Balcombe residents deliver letter to David Cameron calling for a ban on shale gas and coal bed methane exploitation. Details

20 October 2012

Balcombe Parish Council tells Cuadrilla in a letter that the majority of people who participated in a poll would oppose any further applications for exploration or extraction of hydrocarbons in the parish. Details

5 December 2011

Cuadrilla Resources reveals it has planning permission for exploratory drilling at Balcombe. Details

28 September 2010

Cuadrilla starts construction phase at Balcombe sites, consisting of “minor improvements to the access track, the re-grading of the existing stone platform, the construction of a drilling cellar and an Environment Agency approved drainage scheme.”

23 April 2010

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd granted planning permission under delegated powers to drill an exploratory oil and gas borehole. Details

10 March 2010

Balcombe Parish Council confirms there is no objection to the planning application. Details

15 February 2010

Minutes of Balcombe Parish Council meeting record: “Mr Greenwood mentioned a recent application (to WSCC) relating to re-establishing exploratory oil drilling at the previous site off the London Road on Estate land.


Balcombe PC no objection

25 January 2010

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd applies for planning permission for an exploratory oil and gas borehole at Lower Stumble. Details

23 December 2009

West Sussex County Council confirms that an environmental impact assessment is not needed for a planning application on oil or gas exploration at Balcombe.

5 February 2009

Incorporation of Bolney Resources Ltd, the company that later becomes Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd. Details

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