West sussex council reject exploratory shale gas license

In what is regarded as a UK first, a local county council in England have rejected an application for exploration license for shale gas.

Protest against Fracking traffic and Celtique Energie drilling rig in Fernhurst West Sussex

The Guardian report:

An application by a shale company to explore for oil and gas in a picturesque part of West Sussex has been turned down. West Sussex County Council’s planning committee refused the application by Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration near Wisborough Green, a conservation area just outside the South Downs National Park.

The refusal, thought to be the first time a council has rejected a planning application by a shale company, was welcomed by local campaigners and environmentalists who feared that the exploration would lead to controversial fracking for oil or gas. The county council said it turned down the application because Celtique did not demonstrate the site represented the best option compared with other sites, it had unsafe highways access and would have had an adverse impact on the area.

Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance. We have noted the objections of the local community and I felt that the debate today was a full and robust one.”
Almost 100 people attended the meeting at County Hall North in HORSHAM to hear the debate and the decision, including actor James Bolam and his wife, actress Susan Jameson, who are local residents who fought against the scheme.

After the decision, Brenda Pollack, South East campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “This was absolutely the right decision. Nobody wants to see Sussex ruined by industrial drilling for dirty fossil fuels. If Celtique had been allowed to test for oil or gas, then there’s every chance that fracking would have followed.

“Local people would have seen their peaceful neighbourhoods shattered by the drilling and the extra lorries and other industrial traffic that comes with it. It has been CLEAR from the start that this application must be refused for a range of reasons.”

To read the article in full, click here.

The news came a day after drilling equipment arrived in Belcoo, County Fermanagh for an exploratory borehole drill, to be carried out by Tamboran Resources, an event which is rejected by local residents.

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