A bid to drill for oil and shale gas at a rural county site has been unanimously rejected by councillors.

Energy firm Celtique Energie was seeking to build an exploratory well at Northup Copse, near Wisborough Green, Billingshurst.

But the application was refused by the planning committee at West Sussex County Council this afternoon.

The committee heard fears over road safety and the damage to the "quintessentially English" villages of Kirdford and Wisborough Green. 

Speaking after the decision, Councillor Heidi Brunsdon, Chairman of West Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee, said: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance. 

“We have noted the objections of the local community and I felt that the debate today was a full and robust one.” 

Nearly 100 people attended this morning’s meeting at County Hall North in Horsham to hear the debate and decision.