A COMPANY drilling for oil has been given a 12 month extension to its licence.

West Sussex County Council yesterday agreed to relax its September 16 deadline for UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) to complete works at Woodbarn Farm, near Billingshurst.

Company bosses have said there is evidence of “significant deposits” at the Broadford Bridge site.

However, more than 400 people have objected, citing concerns about vehicles, noise and environmental harm.

Councillors raised a number of conditions at the meeting in Horsham before reaching a unanimous decision.

Brenda Pollack, from Friends of the Earth, said: “Local residents have many concerns about the risks of these operations and have said loudly and clearly that they don’t want the oil industry on their doorstep.

“UKOG must have been aware that the site should be restored by September 2017 – what’s the point of these conditions if they can so easily be overturned?

“We should leave climate-wrecking fossil fuels like oil in the ground and develop cleaner alternatives instead.”

The council has stated further testing can be carried out within the next 12 months.