Temporary permission was granted for exploratory drilling in Balcombe by the county council in the face of huge local opposition today (Tuesday April 29).
In front of a packed audience at Horsham’s County Hall North West Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee approved Cuadrilla’s proposal for flow testing at the Lower Stumble Exploration Site off London Road.
This was despite calls from Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association to defer the application because the officers’ report had ‘not satisfactorily addressed the risks of the application particularly in water and air pollution’
Anti fracking protesters gathered outside County Hall North before the meeting waving banners and placards, while the meeting had to be adjourned at one point after repeated outbursts from the public gallery.
Cuadrilla’s application for exploratory drilling expired in 2013, but not before protests in Balcombe garnered national media attention.
Despite Cuadrilla’s repeated assurances that it would not employ hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at the site, campaigners fear that exploratory drilling in Balcombe could eventually lead to fracking.
The controversial process involves pumping water and chemicals underground at high pressure to split apart porous shale rock to release trapped oil or gas.
More to follow.