Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
New bid to drill for fossil fuels in South Downs National Park
An energy firm has submitted a new application to drill for fossil fuels in a national park.
Celtique Energie wants to explore for oil and gas in Fernhurst – and said it could apply to frack if it finds shale gas.
The controversial process which injects pressurised fluid into the ground to crack rocks and release gas attracted hundreds of protesters when test drilling took place in Balcombe this year.
Celtique already has a similar application pending for test drilling at Wisborourgh Green, near Billingshurst.
A third application to drill was permitted at Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst – though this does not include shale exploration.
The latest application was submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority.
Celtique said the temporary well would have “modest impact” on the environment.
Chief executive Geoff Davies said: “We are aware that there is significant interest locally over the role of hydraulic fracturing at our proposed well site.
“As we have consistently stated, Celtique is not applying for hydraulic fracturing as part of this planning application.
“However, as part of our planning application we will be drilling through shale formations encountered in the well to confirm what potential these rocks have for commercial production.
“Should this data prove positive, we may wish to explore these formations further, which could include the use of hydraulic fracturing on this same site.”
A vocal campaign is opposing the plan including Lord Cowdray, owner of the Cowdray Park Polo Club and estate.
He said: “I do not support fracking at all, and I especially oppose it in a National Park, with the potential for ground water and aquifer pollution from the toxic mixture of chemicals they’ll be using.
“It’s hardly what people expect when they come to an area of outstanding natural beauty – flares, trucks and 40m tall gas rigs.”
Lord Cowdray is backing a Greenpeace legal bid to stop horizontal drilling under people’s land without their permission.
Meanwhile anti-fracking campaigners have accused Celtique of touting the area to investors.
A classified document quotes the company as offering potential investors the “potential for cost optimisation via an extensive drilling campaign assisted by dedicated drilling and fracking” as far back as 2011 in the Weald Basin.
Comments are closed on this article.