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Cuadrilla to return to Balcombe
Updated 2:16pm Tuesday 29th April 2014 in News
Controversial energy company Cuadrilla Resources will return to Balcombe.
West Sussex County Council's planning committee agreed an application by the company to carry out further test drilling at the site this afternoon.
The application was agreed by councillors at County Hall North, in Horhsam, despite 900 objections from members of the public.
Last summer Balcombe become the battleground for anti-fracking activists protesting Cuadrilla's presence at Balcombe.
Cuadrilla has said it will not carry out hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, at the Lower Stumble site.
But campaigners are now expected to return to the rural site to protest the company's presence.
The temporary oil and gas exploration was approved subject to several conditions made in response to objections raised to the application.
The conditions were that 24-hour light monitoring around the edge of the site be undertaken to protect wildlife, proposed access routes are to be reconsidered by Cuadrilla following concerns, all sound from the site be continuously monitored, and a liaison group is established between residents and Cuadrilla.
Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the committee, said: “As Chairman I thought the debate was robust.
"Members gave all the issues a good airing and the further conditions we agreed might not go as far as some would have wanted, but we feel they were proportionate and fair in addressing the issues that members of the committee had surrounding this application.”
More than 100 members of the public attended the meeting.
Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East Campaigner said: “We are extremely disappointed that councillors have not listened to local people.
"This is an attempt by Cuadrilla to set the wheels in motion for dirty fossil fuel extraction. We need the council and our Government to push forward with clean energy solutions.
"The UK is the windiest country in Europe yet the Conservatives have just announced they would put a stop to new onshore wind power if re-elected in 2015.
"Allowing companies to drill underground for ever more difficult to extract oil and gas reserves is crazy when it won’t help keep bills or polluting emissions down. We have abundant clean sources of energy from the sun, wind and waves.”
Groups from across Sussex attended the meeting and demonstrated outside with banners saying “Sussex Says “not here, not anywhere” .
They oppose oil and gas extraction for a range of reasons including local and global environmental impacts.
A spokeswoman for Cuadrilla said: "Cuadrilla welcomes the decision to approve the application.
"The next step will be to liaise with the county council about the conditions of the application."
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