A CONTROVERSIAL drilling application which received nearly 2,500 public objections has been recommended for refusal.

Energy firm Celtique Energie wants a test drill for shale gas at Northup Copse, near Wisborough Green, Billingshurst.

But its plans for the site, adjacent to a nature reserve, were dealt a blow when West Sussex Highway Authority objected over road safety and congestion fears.

Wisborough Green Parish Council, Kirdford Parish Council, Loxwood Parish Council and Sussex Wildlife Trust have all also objected.

Sharon Aldersley, of campaign group Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green, which fears fracking could take place, said: “We’re delighted it’s taken a step in the right direction but we don’t think we’re out of the woods yet.”

Officers from West Sussex County Council listed a series of issues with Celtique’s application, such as a failure to show how approach roads could cope with additional traffic or if large vehicles could exit.

Officers said “drilling has the potential to adversely affect the environment and people in the area”, and that the applicant “failed to accurately quantify the increase in HGV movements”.

Celtique said it hoped to resolve the council’s issues.

The planning committee at West Sussex County Council will make a decision on the application in the Park Suite in Horsham at 10.30am on July 22.

Anyone who want to address the meeting can email oilandgas@westsussex.gov.uk by 12pm on Monday, July 21.