DURING the last 12 months, we have all experienced first hand that a year can feel like a very long time indeed.

During a child’s life, a year is an even more significant period of time.

On March 2, West Sussex county councillors will decide whether to approve a one-year well test planning application from Angus Energy in Balcombe village.

The previous application for a three-year well test was withdrawn when planners recommended a refusal as it was “not in the public interest and would compromise the landscape of the High Weald AONB”.

They must again conclude that reducing the time period to one year does nothing to change this.

Angus’s own report highlights that there will be “56 two-way trips” of eight HGVs rumbling directly past the village school in an average week, or 16 two-way trips (yes, 32 trips) daily. That’s one every 15 minutes.

There will also be a 13.8m flare (four storeys high) burning for the duration of the test.

The impact on air quality, noise and disruption of this type is significant to everyone that lives within Balcombe village including the natural inhabitants of the ancient woodland and Sites of Special Scientific Interest that surround the drilling site.

Last summer during the pandemic West Sussex council (quite rightly) banned bonfires, stating that air quality was of paramount importance to the local community.

I’d argue that the flare and HGVs are also highly significant at a time when, coming out of this pandemic, children’s education and community physical wellbeing and mental health is of primary concern.

The UK government has declared a climate emergency and we are set to host COP26 in November 2021.

Prof Sir Robert Watson branded the progress of a new Cumbrian coal mine a failure of leadership and “absolutely ridiculous” in the national news. Surely we don’t want the same reputation in West Sussex?

Scientists are spending millions currently to develop technology to pump carbon dioxide into bedrock - here’s an idea, why don’t we leave this carbon where it belongs?

Protests in response to previous activity at the site in 2013 cost taxpayers £3.7 million. With increasing public support for the climate and ecological causes, after a year of truly appreciating the value of our outdoor spaces, I think it should be expected there would be further uproar and objection to any tests at this site.

With the economic fallout of the global pandemic yet to fully unfold, surely potential policing costs would be better spent elsewhere?

With 800 community and parish council objections it is clear there is no public interest in supporting this and huge environmental, ecological and economic costs to an area that is meant to have the highest protection.

No to further well tests.

Rebekah Heaton