CAMPAIGNERS have warned a company behind an oil drilling project in ancient woodland it has a fight on its hands.

UK Oil and Gas Investments (Ukog) has revealed it is intending to resubmit a planning permission for the site at Markwells Wood, which is 20 miles west of Chichester.

It emerged earlier this week Ukog had withdrawn its application to drill up to four oil wells at the site on the South Downs, which was due to run for 20 years.

The application, originally due to be decided next month, attracted more than 2,000 objections, including from Friends of the Earth and the Environment Agency as well as local campaigners.

However Ukog has now revealed the withdrawal is temporary and it hopes to reapply to the South Downs National Park Authority later this year.

Executive chairman Stephen Sanderson said: “Given the potential sensitivity of the Markwells Wood site to the adjacent chalk groundwater system, it is in the public interest that this subject be investigated as thoroughly as possible prior to any further site activity.”

Friends of the Earth regional spokeswoman Brenda Pollack said she was not convinced Ukog would make the resubmission.

She said: “There has been such a huge level of opposition to this.

“That opposition is not going to go away and the pressure will continue.

“If Ukog does resubmit, which I am not sure it will actually do, then it will have a big fight on its hands.”