Balcombe is a small, friendly village located in West Sussex surrounded by beautiful countryside. With approximately 1900 residents, the village includes numerous shops and stores, a tea room, village pubs, a social club, St Mary's Church, numerous sports and scoial clubs, a primary school and a mainline train station providing links to London, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.
The aims of FFBRA are to prevent exploration and production of hydrocarbons (oil or gas) in the parish.
Cuadrilla will return to Balcombe
The WSCC Planning Committee voted to grant temporary permission for exploration and appraisal for oil and gas at the existing Balcombe site subject to a number of amended conditions. A unanimous vote. See our Latest News page for more information.
Thank you to over 2700 people who lodged objections and concerns including Balcombe Parish Council, the Primary School, Sussex Wildlife Trust, CPRE, Friends of the Earth, Jeremy Quin MP and Keith Taylor MEP, along with hundreds of concerned residents with West Sussex County Council regarding Cuadrilla's latest planning application to flow test the well drilled in the summer of 2013.
In 2013, Cuadrilla Resources drilled a well at Lower Stumble.
As a village, we voted in February 2014 to keep oil companies out of our village.
However, West Sussex County Council gave Cuadrilla planning permission to return. We contested this through a Judicial Review in the High Court, but lost. Cuadrilla's old planning permission expired in May 2017 and Cuadrilla reapplied for planning permission through West Sussex County Council to flow test the existing well which was granted by planning committee in January 2018.
Most recent development:
On 27th October 2017, Cuadrilla submitted a new planning application to flow test the well drilled in the summer of 2013. They were granted planning permission, and have explicitly stated that if they find oil in recoverable quantities, they will immediately apply for further planning permission, to start producing oil.
FFBRA does not want them in the village again, and must do everything legal in our power to stop them.
If Cuadrilla find oil here, they won’t be content with just this one well. It is likely to mean many more wells, all over our countryside, with new roads to service them, and pipelines built to carry the oil away. As one oil company CEO put it, we’ll have ‘back to back wells’ across the Weald.
A production well at Lower Stumble
This time Cuadrilla say they will immediately apply to turn Lower Stumble into an oil production site if their initial two-week test proves a success. Full-scale production will mean drilling more wells. Indeed their licence obliges them to drill another well by 2021. Remember, Cuadrilla have leased the Lower Stumble site for 30 years, until 2043! Yet our village voted “no” to oil exploration and production.
At Lower Stumble on the southern end of our village, Cuadrilla have drilled horizontally for a third of a mile into an oily limestone-rich sliver within the thick bed of oil-bearing shale beneath our feet. They intend to use hydrochloric acid, along with other chemicals, to dissolve passageways through the limestone. By targeting (for now) only the limestone, Cuadrilla can avoid using the Fracking word.
Why should I care about acidising?
Acidising brings the same risks as fracking – risks to our health and environment, wildlife and farm animals, the clean country air we breathe, potentially the water we all drink. Acidising brings noise, flares, heavy traffic on our country road, a range of chemicals whose toxicity in some cases is unknown and untested. It brings unwanted heavy industry to our peaceful village - and as we know, it brings social stress.
There could be hundreds of wells. So far, oil companies are prospecting in a few scattered places across the South East. But oil companies are thinking big. One oil CEO in the Weald has referred to wells ‘back to back’ across the landscape.
‘But Sussex has had oil wells for decades!’ Oil companies today can drill horizontally over long distances into different kinds of rocks, through which oil cannot flow without acidising or fracking. Until recently, no one was talking about wells every couple of miles, under our homes, communities and fields. What is proposed now is much more intrusive and intensive. And regulation is lagging behind new technology.
Examples of why FFBRA objects to this planning application:
Air pollution - The prevailing wind blows from the site towards the village. It will bring toxic compounds from the flare, and emissions from diesel generators on site and HGVs.
Risk of water pollution - There may be leaks and spills, onto surrounding land and streams beside the site. These streams eventually end up in our drinking water.
Noise - In 2013, Cuadrilla ignored limits on noise until we brought this to the attention of West Sussex County Council, who should have policed noise. Can we trust them?
Toxic waste disposal - The waste fluid from the well could be contaminated with heavy metals and Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMS). It will be extremely salty, perhaps five times as salty as seawater. Some will inevitably be left underground. Some will be transported by tanker, through the village, for disposal elsewhere.
Traffic volume and accident risk - There will be more traffic, particularly HGVs, driving past the village Primary School. An accident with an HGV carrying hazardous liquid, would have grave consequences.
Wildlife and environment - There will probably be disturbances to the birds and bats in the ancient woodland near the site. We should be fighting to protect our wildlife, and avoid the industrialization of our countryside.
What if something goes wrong? - Cuadrilla is a limited company, and could declare bankruptcy and walk away if a serious accident occurred.
Village life - Cuadrilla’s return would mean disruption and division in our community.
Cuadrilla has no social licence – the village voted ‘no’ in the Parish Council poll in 2014, and doesn’t want Cuadrilla back.