Latest News

Weald Action Group Leaflet - Fracking under the Radar

Fracking under the radar? is a new leaflet about acidising from The Weald Action Group (WAG). 

The leaflet explains the oil or gas extraction method known as ‘acidisation’ or ‘acidising’, which, like fracking, is a ‘stimulation technique’ designed to release oil or gas tightly trapped inside the pores of rocks. While fracking is used to crack open  shale, acidising is used to dissolve passageways through limestone or sandstone. Acidising uses far higher concentrations of chemicals than fracking, and brings similar risks for local people, animals and the environment.

Download a copy of the Fracking Under the Radar leaflet

FFBRA's Annual General Meeting - Thursday 1st March 2018

FFBRA's members fought the snow to attend the annual AGM on Thursday. A full house heard our guest speaker Professor David Smythe on "Fracking: the wild west comes to the UK" including a fascinating analysis of the Balcombe-1 well log data drilled by Conoco in 1986. Thank you to all who came!

An extract from the Chairman's report:

"First, the big news: Cuadrilla has sold 25% of Cuadrilla (Balcombe) Ltd to Angus Energy, and it will be Angus who will be flow testing at Lower Stumble. And Angus have implied that they’ll be coming soon.  

Angus Energy is a small company, quoted on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). They also have sites at Brockham, in Surrey, and Lidsey, north of Bognor Regis. Their chief claim to fame so far is that they drilled an unauthorised lateral (horizontal borehole) at Brockham, with no planning permission. Surrey County Council has generously allowed them to apply for retrospective planning permission. So far, Angus have failed to get the paperwork right. Not a company that sticks closely to the rules! 

Despite Cuadrilla’s absence from Balcombe throughout 2017, FFBRA members have been active in keeping other communities informed about the activities of oil and gas companies. Some FFBRA members have attended meetings of the Weald Action Group, a strategic umbrella group of community associations opposed to unconventional oil and gas development in the south-east of England. 

We have had fun, too, at various social events. In May, a large group of us went to see a performance of Alistair Beaton’s play Fracked at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. We held a party at Bramble Hall in November, and our annual dinner at Café Elvira earlier this month. This was well-attended, a very enjoyable evening, and the raffle raised £250.  

On several occasions, members have also attended meetings of APPGs (All-Party Parliamentary Groups) in Westminster: the APPG on Onshore Oil and Gas and the APPG on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning. FFBRA submitted a response to the consultation on the West Sussex Joint Minerals Plan. A paper on acidification written by Kathryn McWhirter (a FFBRA member) was circulated to members and county councillors. Acidification is the process Angus intend to use to flow test at Lower Stumble. 

In April 2017, Cuadrilla submitted an application to vary their waste permit. FFBRA sent in a formal objection. Then, in November, Cuadrilla submitted another application to flow test the well at Lower Stumble. FFBRA wrote a long and detailed objection. There were over 2,700 objections to Cuadrilla’s application to flow test their Balcombe well, only 11 in favour. But the application was unanimously approved by seven West Sussex County Councillors on the minerals planning committee in January 2018. A coach-load of our members attended the planning meeting.  

The new operator, Angus Energy, have said they intend to prioritise flow testing at Balcombe over work at their other sites, so we may expect activity at Lower Stumble to resume before long. Watch the B2036!"

2018 AGM Chairman's Report and Agenda and Minutes 

The FFBRA AGM will be held in Bramble Hall at 8pm on Thursday 1st March

The committee will aim to get through formalities as quickly as possible as we are  amazingly lucky to have Professor David Smythe as our guest speaker.

David is Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, Glasgow. He will talk to us about the geology of the Weald and what this means for Balcombe. Then there will be a short question and answer session and a glass of wine to round off the evening. It will be a great (informative and fun) evening.

Hope to see you there!

This is a FFBRA members only evening.

Angus Energy Agrees to Acquire a 25% Interest in the Balcombe Licence PEDL244 subject to consent by the OGA (Oil and Gas Authority)

It was announced on 22nd January 2018, that Angus Energy will be the new operator of the well site at Balcombe.

Angus are already operating across the Weald at Brockham, Holmwood and Lidsey and have stated that they will flow test Balcombe as soon as possible. They have infrastructure in place for transporting oil because of their existing wells and are keen to get started on the Sussex shale bed.

Angus are notorious for being in a battle with Surrey County Council after apparently drilling an additional side well without a valid planning permission at their existing well site Brockham.

Angus are a small oil company listed on the London Alternative Investment Market (AIM trading around 9.6p at the time of writing) with a market capitalisation of about £28 million

The Company will commence a fully approved well test program of the Balcombe-2Z horizontal well at the earliest opportunity. Angus Energy will also establish a local Community Liaison Group and contact local residents, at the appropriate time, before work commences.

FFBRA's Annual Dinner at Cafe Elvira

We invite all members to our annual dinner at Cafe Elvira, Borde Hill on Saturday, February 10th! Now that Cuadrilla has its planning permission to return to Balcombe, it's even more important to get together and re-confirm our friendship and aim - and anyway, it's fun, and the food is always delicious. 

For arrival drinks and a two-course buffet-style menu followed by tea and coffee, the total cost is £25 per person.

Please contact to reserve your place, also giving details of any dietary requirements.

There'll be a raffle on the night. If you are unable to attend or donate a prize, but would like to support us, you can now donate online through the PayPal donate button below.

We look forward to seeing you there!

FFBRA Annual Dinner
Saturday 10th February 2018
Cafe Elvira, Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath RH16 1XP
£25 per person for a two-course buffet style menu followed by tea and coffee

Cuadrilla have been granted permission to 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 by the nine councillors present.

The Planning Committee was held at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday 9 January 2018 at County Hall, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RQ

  • The Planning Committee started at 10.30am and was broadcast live on the WSCC website
  • Chris Bartlett the Planning Case Officer from WSCC introduced the application
  • The application received 2739 objections, 11 in support and 4 raising concerns 
  • Sue Taylor, representing Balcombe Parish Council "In summary, Balcombe Parish Council opposes this application, as do the majority of Balcombe residents." 
  • Helen Savage, representing FFBRA "You can say no! And for the sake of my children, of all the children at the Balcombe School and Buttercup Barn nursery, and of the residents old and young of our lovely village, I ask you to reject the application."
  • John Scates, representing FFBRA spoke against the application
  • Cuadrilla spoke in support of the application
  • Rodney Jago spoke in support of the application "protestors were allowed to block the road for hours of end" and "I urge you to approve the application"
  • George Cramp spoke in support of the application "I live in Balcombe not far from the well head" and "the noise level is minimal and pollution insignificant"
  • Amendments and informatives were proposed, discussed and voted on including traffic management around school drop off and pickup times
  • The Planning Committee voted to grant temporary permission

The Planning Committee voted on 9th January 2018 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.

To consider and determine the following application: WSCC/040/17/BA Temporary permission for exploration and appraisal comprising the flow testing and monitoring of the existing hydrocarbon lateral borehole along with site security fencing, the provision of an enclosed testing flare and site restoration. Lower Stumble Hydrocarbon Exploration Site, London Road, Balcombe, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6JH

Planning Committee Date and Location Confirmed - 9th January 2018 - Chichester

The Planning Committee will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday 9 January 2018 at County Hall, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RQ

To consider and determine the following application: WSCC/040/17/BA Temporary permission for exploration and appraisal comprising the flow testing and monitoring of the existing hydrocarbon lateral borehole along with site security fencing, the provision of an enclosed testing flare and site restoration. Lower Stumble Hydrocarbon Exploration Site, London Road, Balcombe, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6JH

  • On the 9th January for live updates from the committee meeting follow the following accounts:
    Twitter Account @FFBRA_Balcombe 
    Facebook Account
  • Because of the high level of public interest in this application, attendance at the Planning Committee meeting will be via allocated ticket.  There is a maximum number of 80 seats available in the public gallery at County Hall.  Places for tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To apply for a ticket to the meeting, please send a request with your contact details to:
  • Read the Planning Officers Report:
  • Make sure you have contacted your local councillor and members of the planning committee with your views - see list of emails below
  • If you are unable to do any of the above but would like to help us please consider donating via PayPal using the button below. 

Contact the WSCC Planning Committee 

The consultation on the "Temporary permission for exploration and appraisal comprising the flow testing and monitoring of the existing hydrocarbon lateral borehole along with site security fencing, the provision of an enclosed testing flare and site restoration" lodged by Cuadrilla on the 27th October 2017 has now closed. 

The application will be determined by Planning Committee at County Hall in Chichester on Tuesday, 9th January 2018. You can see the full application online at West Sussex County Council’s website

Please contact your local councillor and the planning committee to ensure that they take into account your opinion on the proposal. The planning committee are listed below:

Mr Bill Acraman - Electoral division Worth Forest -

Lt Cdr Noel Atkins -
Mr Andrew Barrett-Miles -
Lt Col George Barton -
Mr Ian Buckland -
Mr Duncan Crow - Chairman - 
Mrs Janet Duncton - 
Mrs Liz Kitchen - Vice Chairman -

Mr Nigel Jupp -
Mr Simon Oakley -
Mr Ashvin Patel -
Mr Brian Quinn -
Mrs Jacquie Russell -
Mr Sujan Wickremaratchi -

FFBRA's Objection to the Latest Planning Application

FFBRA submitted an objection to WSCC on behalf of it's members - it can be viewed online here

Further Information

Over the next few months we will be adding further information to the website covering the following:

Cuadrilla’s Local Drilling Licence

The government has stipulated that Cuadrilla must fulfil two conditions to retain their rights to drill:

  • Cuadrilla must flow test their well at Lower Stumble by 30th June 2019.
  • Cuadrilla must also drill an additional well in this area by 30th June 2021. This second well could be anywhere in the PEDL licence where a landowner will grant them permission. Cuadrilla has given no indication where the second site is likely to be. It could be a second well at Lower Stumble, or another site in Balcombe or outside of Balcombe.

For the latest news on drilling, exploration and fracking in the UK refer to Drill or Drop - publisher of independent, evidence-based journalism about the onshore oil and gas business in the UK and the campaign against it.