Balcombe children speak out against oil testing in village: ‘I don’t want big lorries going past my school’

Balcombe children have spoken out against further oil testing in Balcombe as a public consultation asking residents to give their views comes to a close.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 2:37 pm

Angus Energy has applied to return to the Lower Stumble Exploration Site, off London Road, for three years’ oil prospecting.

It has previously insisted there will ‘never’ be hydraulic fracturing – fracking – at the site. And, it said, there will be no drilling during current tests. But villagers have remained worried.

A public consultation by West Sussex County Council giving residents the opportunity to have their say on the application closed on Tuesday (November 12).

Photo contributed

Children in the village have since voiced their opposition to the Middy.

Arlo Bett, aged eight, said: “I don’t think it is a good idea to drill for oil in my village because it’s a really pretty place to live and I don’t want the countryside ruined.”

Daniel Butcher, aged ten, said: “I don’t want big lorries going past my school. Fossil fuels should stay in the ground.”

Edwin Green, aged 12, said he was very concerned about the oil site.

Photo contributed

“Young people all over the world are standing up for the planet and their environment, and it’s the same in Balcombe,” he commented.

“There will be so many trucks carrying possible toxic waste through the village.

“I went to Balcombe school, and you can see that the trucks carrying waste will go within a couple of metres of my old classrooms.

“The work would be day and night. I’m worried about water pollution, and the effects on wildlife, and the wind which will carry the toxic gases from the flare towards the village.

Photo contributed

“This battle has been going on since I was in the infants, but there are so many cleaner ways to get energy if that’s what people wanted to try. We all deserve so much better.”

Worried villagers and mums gathered in protest last September, as oil firm Angus Energy started to prepare the site at Lower Stumble for exploration.

Hundreds of protesters set up a large roadside camp in the summer of 2013, when Angus’ associates Cuadrilla first drilled the site

Last year, Angus obtained a court injunction which threatened protesters with arrest if they blocked the road or site entrance.

Photo contributed

Dr Archibald, local GP, said: “There is lots of evidence regarding exposure of children to particulate matter from diesel fumes and the increased incidence of asthma and breathing probems.

“Given that the school is only 2m from the road, this is something we need to take into account. I have significant concerns regarding impact on air quality and spillage risk. The school is downhill from the road so would take the worst of it if a vehicle were to have a spillage.”

To view the application, visit the West Sussex County Council website and search under reference WSCC/071/19.