Fracking frontline as Sussex has 15 licences to drill

Colours show the areas covered by different companies – Cuadrilla (red), Magellan |Petroleum Corporation (blue), iGas Energy Ltd (purple) plus PR Singleton (grey) Midmar Energy (grey), Northern Energy (grey) and Northern Petroleum (grey)

Anti-fracking protesters put up a sign at Brighton Station highlighting their concerns

First published in News by

Sussex is now on the front line of the controversial fracking revolution.

The Government announced yesterday it was lifting its ban on the shale gas extraction process, opening up dozens of drilling sites across the county.

The Argus has discovered that 15 licences for exploring Sussex’s reserves have already been issued by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The areas covered by the permits span hundreds of thousands of acres of Sussex countryside and include towns and villages such as Balcombe, Midhurst, Petworth, Bolney, Haywards Heath, Crawley, Billinghurst, Barnham, Bognor, Uckfield and Crowborough.

Opponents of the extraction process say Sussex has the country’s second largest reserves of the precious energy source.

A spokesman for anti-fracking group Frack Off told The Argus Sussex could soon resemble a “Swiss cheese” as firms drilled up to 3,000 wells.

The lifting of the ban is subject to new controls which aim to reduce the risk of seismic activity.

Moves by gas company Cuadrilla to exploit the unconventional gas in Lancashire were put on hold after hydraulic fracturing caused two small earthquakes last year.

Potential energy

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said shale gas represented a promising new potential energy resource for the UK with £1.5 trillion worth of unexploited shale gas beneath the UK.

Cuadrilla hopes to secure the necessary planning permission and permits to resume fracking in the coming months and have initial data on the amount of gas it might be able to exploit from the shale near Blackpool by the middle of next year. Balcombe, near Haywards Heath, could follow in 2014.

Fracking involves blasting water and sand at high pressure, deep underground to cause mini-explosions which release shale gas.

A spokesman for anti-fracking group Frack Off, told The Argus: “Sussex is the second biggest part of the country for potential fracking sites.

“The exploitation of shale gas sites across the county runs the risk of the Sussex countryside being turned into something looking like a Swiss cheese."

There are 3,000 wells in the licence areas and eight per square mile.”

Cuadrilla, which is backed by former BP boss Lord Browne, has a licence to exploit shale gas in Balcombe, and could start work as soon as 2014.

Vehement opposition

The proposed Cuadrilla site is less than a mile away from a water reservoir that serves more than 65,000 homes.

Vanessa Vine, of Frack Free Sussex, said the Government’s decision “made no sense”.

She said: “I and the overwhelming majority of local people are feeling utterly disillusioned by the government's abject failure to act in the interests of the greater good on our behalf. In a recent Balcombe poll, more than 80% of local residents made it clear that they are vehemently opposed to hydraulic fracturing going ahead in the area.

“The Balcombe bore is 100 yards from the London to Brighton railway line, less than a mile from its Grade II listed viaduct, half a mile from the River Ouse, three quarters of a mile from Ardingly Reservoir, a mile from the village and two and a half miles from the Millennium Seed Bank.

“If Cuadrilla go ahead with their plans, residents will experience 24/7 noise, air pollution and a huge amount of heavy tanker traffic on roads that weren't built for it.”

Testing sites

But a spokesman for Cuadrilla, the company responsible for the site at Balcombe, dismissed the concerns.

He said: “These are absolutely groundless concerns. Balcombe is something we may do in 2014 but it would be a much smaller operation [compared to Lancashire].

“Lancashire is our concern at the moment. No plans will be made until testing on our five sites in Lancashire is complete. We can’t just turn up somewhere and drill. First of all we would have to test the site to see if it was suitable.

“Secondly there would be public consultations with residents and we would have to get permission from the health and safety executive as well as environmental health.

“The existing Balcombe oil well was drilled by Conoco in Autumn 1986 and was plugged and abandoned after the evaluation. “We have a planning permission from West Sussex County Council for further exploratory drilling, but have no plans to do so at present.”

Talking point: How concerned are you about fracking in Sussex?

See the latest news headlines from The Argus:

More news from The Argus

Follow @brightonargus

The Argus: Daily Echo on Facebook - facebook.com/southerndailyecho Like us on Facebook

The Argus: Google+ Add us to your circles on Google+

Comments (12)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:08pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Flippin Burghers says...

Poor old Balcombe. Brace yourself for earthquakes, explosions, lorries roaring up and down the lanes etc.
Poor old Balcombe. Brace yourself for earthquakes, explosions, lorries roaring up and down the lanes etc. Flippin Burghers
  • Score: 8

2:25pm Fri 14 Dec 12

bogs says...

Great news.

Keep sucking those lemons Ms.Vine.
Great news. Keep sucking those lemons Ms.Vine. bogs
  • Score: -10

2:45pm Fri 14 Dec 12

HJarrs says...

If you don't want fracking then vote your Tory MP out!
If you don't want fracking then vote your Tory MP out! HJarrs
  • Score: 11

4:42pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Maximus Of The North says...

Just what Brighton needs - Well done.
Just what Brighton needs - Well done. Maximus Of The North
  • Score: -5

5:10pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Look Deeper says...

Fracking is gambling with water and ecology. Who wants toxic fracking fluids in our water courses? Can't we learn from Pennsylvania? http://pennsylvaniaa
llianceforcleanwater
andair.wordpress.com
/the-list/
Fracking is gambling with water and ecology. Who wants toxic fracking fluids in our water courses? Can't we learn from Pennsylvania? http://pennsylvaniaa llianceforcleanwater andair.wordpress.com /the-list/ Look Deeper
  • Score: 7

5:14pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Fercri Sakes says...

Thank God I live in Brighton, where we get our water from The South Downs.

If somebody wanted to make some serious money they should start selling water purifiers to households in mid Sussex.

How long until we start seeing reports of dead fish in lakes, people suffering unknown illnesses, funny smells and earthquakes? Hopefully The Argus will report these and not hush them up as has happened elsewhere.
Thank God I live in Brighton, where we get our water from The South Downs. If somebody wanted to make some serious money they should start selling water purifiers to households in mid Sussex. How long until we start seeing reports of dead fish in lakes, people suffering unknown illnesses, funny smells and earthquakes? Hopefully The Argus will report these and not hush them up as has happened elsewhere. Fercri Sakes
  • Score: 6

8:01am Sat 15 Dec 12

Old Ladys Gin says...

In France they can pump water from anywhere in the country to anywhere else. The result? Few if any shortages..

However we all depend on the energy so have to get it from somewhere and the more independent we are the better, whatever the disruption.
The UK is moving further and further down the pecking order for world supplies, we no longer punch big when it comes to obtaining what we need.
The more we can produce ourselves, by whatever means, so much the better.
It's the same with oil and even the eco warrior cyclist depends on that to get around (and import their machine from the far east).
We are going to have to stop whinging, nuckle down, and get on with it.
In France they can pump water from anywhere in the country to anywhere else. The result? Few if any shortages.. However we all depend on the energy so have to get it from somewhere and the more independent we are the better, whatever the disruption. The UK is moving further and further down the pecking order for world supplies, we no longer punch big when it comes to obtaining what we need. The more we can produce ourselves, by whatever means, so much the better. It's the same with oil and even the eco warrior cyclist depends on that to get around (and import their machine from the far east). We are going to have to stop whinging, nuckle down, and get on with it. Old Ladys Gin
  • Score: -6

8:15am Sat 15 Dec 12

whereisthe...? says...

This is beginning to be banned EVEN IN AMERICA as they realise how dangerous it is!! Guess thats why the lobby groups for drilling targeted Cameron - he's a soft touch.



This is PROVEN to POISON WATER SUPPLIES, CAUSE EARTHQUAKES (Yep, I know how that sounds but even some of the company heads themselves admit its true), and also carries a risk of potential EXPLOSIONS due to the dangerous chemicals and gasses used!!


THIS MUST BE STOPPED. Even optimists admit gas extraction will be (at BEST) ONLY 5%, with a profit only achieved after TEN YEARS!!


For all that damage / cost / time / government help, they could do A BETTER JOB BY USING GREEN ENERGY!!
This is beginning to be banned EVEN IN AMERICA as they realise how dangerous it is!! Guess thats why the lobby groups for drilling targeted Cameron - he's a soft touch. This is PROVEN to POISON WATER SUPPLIES, CAUSE EARTHQUAKES (Yep, I know how that sounds but even some of the company heads themselves admit its true), and also carries a risk of potential EXPLOSIONS due to the dangerous chemicals and gasses used!! THIS MUST BE STOPPED. Even optimists admit gas extraction will be (at BEST) ONLY 5%, with a profit only achieved after TEN YEARS!! For all that damage / cost / time / government help, they could do A BETTER JOB BY USING GREEN ENERGY!! whereisthe...?
  • Score: 8

9:00am Sat 15 Dec 12

Old Ladys Gin says...

whereisthe...? wrote:
This is beginning to be banned EVEN IN AMERICA as they realise how dangerous it is!! Guess thats why the lobby groups for drilling targeted Cameron - he's a soft touch.



This is PROVEN to POISON WATER SUPPLIES, CAUSE EARTHQUAKES (Yep, I know how that sounds but even some of the company heads themselves admit its true), and also carries a risk of potential EXPLOSIONS due to the dangerous chemicals and gasses used!!


THIS MUST BE STOPPED. Even optimists admit gas extraction will be (at BEST) ONLY 5%, with a profit only achieved after TEN YEARS!!


For all that damage / cost / time / government help, they could do A BETTER JOB BY USING GREEN ENERGY!!
Please define 'Green Energy'.
[quote][p][bold]whereisthe...?[/bold] wrote: This is beginning to be banned EVEN IN AMERICA as they realise how dangerous it is!! Guess thats why the lobby groups for drilling targeted Cameron - he's a soft touch. This is PROVEN to POISON WATER SUPPLIES, CAUSE EARTHQUAKES (Yep, I know how that sounds but even some of the company heads themselves admit its true), and also carries a risk of potential EXPLOSIONS due to the dangerous chemicals and gasses used!! THIS MUST BE STOPPED. Even optimists admit gas extraction will be (at BEST) ONLY 5%, with a profit only achieved after TEN YEARS!! For all that damage / cost / time / government help, they could do A BETTER JOB BY USING GREEN ENERGY!![/p][/quote]Please define 'Green Energy'. Old Ladys Gin
  • Score: -2

9:16am Sat 15 Dec 12

Somethingsarejustwrong says...

HJarrs wrote:
If you don't want fracking then vote your Tory MP out!
If the green party's very own village idiot is opposed to it then we can be assured its the right thing to do!
[quote][p][bold]HJarrs[/bold] wrote: If you don't want fracking then vote your Tory MP out![/p][/quote]If the green party's very own village idiot is opposed to it then we can be assured its the right thing to do! Somethingsarejustwrong
  • Score: -9

4:28pm Sun 16 Dec 12

Joshiman says...

Wonder if we can sue the Government if we get earthquakes or contamination of some sort.Fracking is being banned in a lot of Countries.
Wonder if we can sue the Government if we get earthquakes or contamination of some sort.Fracking is being banned in a lot of Countries. Joshiman
  • Score: 5

4:19pm Mon 17 Dec 12

Fairfax Sakes says...

great news for sussex, soon to be the saudi arabia of the UK!
great news for sussex, soon to be the saudi arabia of the UK! Fairfax Sakes
  • Score: -9

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree