ACTIVISTS marched on County Hall demanding council bosses say ‘no’ to fracking.

Vicar and TV personality Peter Owen Jones joined the Friends of the Earth rally at Lewes.

The campaigners called on East Sussex County Council to “lock the gates” to fracking amid fears energy companies could drill in the Wealden area.

Councillors rejected demands to declare the county a “frack free zone”, but reassured campaigners any potential environmental risks would be given careful consideration.

In a speech to councillors, Andrew Durling, of Eastbourne and District Friends of the Earth, said: “For the sake of our future public health and wellbeing, for the sake of our safe climate future, for the sake of our beautiful countryside, please impose a ban on fracking, at least temporarily, until a truly comprehensive and independent evaluation of the risks of fracking to public health is completed, and a dedicated and legally binding regulatory regime for fracking is in place nationally, before considering any applications for fracking in East Sussex.”

A petition urging the council to ban the controversial practice has received more than 500 signatures.

There are thought to be around 30 licences for oil and gas exploration in East Sussex – though no planning applications have been submitted for shale-related drilling.

West Sussex County Council rejected two applications to explore for shale gas in Midhurst and Wisborough Green earlier this year.

Meanwhile campaigners are fighting a High Court battle over drilling in Balcombe which sparked huge protests last year.