YOU say in your article of Monday, Sptember 16 September that ‘Cuadrilla has insisted fracking is not required’ in ‘the Balcombe field discovery site’.

We residents would beg to differ. We have always known that fracking is the end game in our ‘unconventional’ geology.

Remember Alistair Beaton’s satirical comedy a couple of summers ago at The Theatre Royal? It was called Fracked! Or please don’t use the F word.

It poked fun at the oil industry PR spin following the 2013 Balcombe protests. We had pointed up the dangers of fracking.

Suddenly the oil and gas industry (and government) was falling over itself to deny that fracking was the objective.

They went on to cook up a new definition of unconventional oil and gas extraction (in planning guidance in 2014) and a new, spurious legal definition of fracking (in the Infrastructure Act of 2015).

Suddenly they were insinuating that we were village idiots, and that despite devoting our considerable combined wit to the subject over an instructive period, we had been protesting on a false premise.

For the moment, Cuadrilla and Angus Energy have penetrated thin limestone/clay layers within the shale and intend to acidise the limestone at a certain pressure, dissolving pathways through it to release oil. But this is a short-term strategy. Long term, their sights must clearly be on the bounteous oil-bearing shale all around the limestone impurities – and these will undoubtedly need fracking.

One minute they were telling us there had already been 200 fracks in the UK so what were we worried about? The next minute, ‘Oh no, no, no, fracking? Not us!’ (Those 200 fracks were, by the way, mini-fracks, at the bottom of old-fashioned little wells.)

Now they want to come back and ‘test’ for two to three years.

We Balcombe residents have not yet seen the impending new planning application, but we expect a request for oil production in disguise. We shall be very surprised if turns out to be just ‘pumping out wastewater and oil’.

Yes, earthquakes are a worry.

The British Geological Survey and Imperial College (quoted in your article as exonerating the oil industry for the recent unprecedented spate of earthquakes in Surrey) are heavily subsidised by interested parties.

It is of note that other scientists, including a team of geo-scientists from the University of Edinburgh, have shown viable links between oil activity near Gatwick and these earthquakes.

Outrageously, there are claims that methane burnt at the site is ‘no different to an ordinary boiler’. On the contrary, the emissions from their flare will most certainly be different from those from an ordinary boiler!

The waste gases will be copious and will contain many impurities. The toxic plume carried on the prevailing wind over our village is one of our chief concerns.

We are not just nimbies. We are no village idiots. We have had eight years now to study the negatives of fracking, acidising and oil exploration in all its forms.

Planning law, developed to favour the developer, forces us to campaign and object only on ‘planning-relevant’ issues such as traffic, bats, newts, lighting and noise.

Yes, all those things are important. But so is the industrialisation of the Weald (oil extraction in this kind of geology requires wells ‘back to back’), so is the waste of the world’s vital resources (steel, energy, fresh water…), so is pollution, so is the climate emergency!

We simply should not be developing a new fossil fuel industry, whether companies are fracking or acidising to make a little more money before the bubble bursts.

Kathryn McWhirter, Balcombe resident