Celebrations for Balcombe residents fighting against oil well testing in village
Suddenly, Balcombe residents have something to celebrate! For the first time in ten years, experts in Minerals Planning at West Sussex County Council have recommended refusing an application to continue oil exploration at Balcombe.
Angus Energy’s application was meant to be up for decision this week at a meeting in Chichester.
More often than not, councillors on the committee follow the professional planners’ advice. But the next two meetings have now been cancelled thanks to Covid-19 concerns. The Balcombe oil well will not be on the agenda until May at the earliest.
The company hope to flow test the well over a period of three years. Their first job would be to attempt to pump out water they found when they tried to test the well in 2018. Angus has said they will question the planners’ decision, which has important implications for the company’s fortunes. Their share price now lies at one per cent of its peak of September 2017.
Many Balcombe residents have expressed their unhappiness about the potential health effects of air pollution caused by traffic and flaring, about noise, earthquakes, and the risk of contamination of the water systems in the area. Many also object to Angus’ proposals because of the contribution they will make to catastrophic climate change. The oil battle in our village has taken a great toll, in stress, distress and discord between the majority against and the few in favour.
This planning meeting had felt for some of us like the very last straw – coming on top of Brexit and Covid-19.
The planning officer’s decision is great news, but it is not over until the councillors vote.
We pray that they will follow the expert’s advice, fulfil their duty of care towards us, and vote to put an end to at least one aspect of our current distress.