A permit has been given to Cuadrilla to drill an exploratory borehole to test for oil and gas reserves in Balcombe, mid Sussex.

The Environment Agency has this afternoon (Wednesday, 24 July) granted a mining waste permit.

It covers the management of wastes arising from an exploratory borehole.

In the announcement the Environment Agency said it is confident that, providing their permit is complied with, the environment will be protected.

The company is not proposing to carry out any hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as part of this activity.

Before reaching its decision, the Environment Agency reviewed concerns raised by local people during the four week consultation with communities, interested groups and other professional organisations.

The permit will require the company to manage its waste effectively in order to protect local people and the environment. Environment Agency officers will now enforce these operating conditions.

Chris Wick of the Environment Agency said: “We have scrutinised the application rigorously together with undertaking a full public consultation to gather in any local information necessary to determine the permit. We would like to thank all those people who responded to this consultation.

“Detailed information from the company shows they have the necessary plans in place to carry out this activity to the highest environmental standards. If the activity goes ahead as planned, we will monitor Cuadrilla’s operations and work with other regulators to ensure that the activity does not cause harm to people and the environment.”

The environmental permit and the decision document outlining how the Environment Agency reached the decision are available at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/permits/app/cuadrilla/balcombe.

Cuadrilla has also formally applied for a permit to manage any waste water or solid waste which may contain naturally occurring radioactive substances.

Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) are present in many types of rocks. Sometimes, waste water from such activities can contain low levels of this NORM.

A permit is required to ensure safe disposal of any waste that may fall within the scope of the regulations.

Cuadrilla does not need this permit to drill a borehole, but the company will need it in order to carry out well testing.

Cuadrilla’s application is available at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/

The consultation on the second permit runs until August 13.