FFBRA - Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association
8th January 2018
Cuadrilla’s new planning application for Balcombe oil well to be decided tomorrow in Chichester
Cuadrilla’s planning application to flow test their Balcombe well will be decided tomorrow morning, Tuesday January 9th, at County Hall in Chichester. The meeting begins at 10.30 and is expected to run until 1pm.
Cuadrilla are seeking two years’ permission to test, but plan to apply immediately for production if oil flows. This will require further planning permission.
Members of the Balcombe community and supporters will gather outside County Hall beforehand, with a photo opportunity between 9.45 and 10am.
West Sussex County Council received over 2,700 objections to Cuadrilla’s application to flow test their Balcombe well, only 11 in favour. Planning Officer Chris Bartlett has recommended approval of the application.
“It seems that whatever local communities say, and however many of us say it, we carry no weight,” says Balcombe resident Kathryn McWhirter. “The planning officer appears not to have read our submissions! We have been researching all this for six years now, and I’m sure we understand the situation and the risks far better than he does. Right now Balcombe is in the spotlight, but we speak for communities right across the county. This oil well could be amongst the first of a very large number of wells across the South East.”
Balcombe residents object on grounds that include potential air and water pollution, site traffic passing our primary school, noise, and site lighting, which will disturb the five species of bats that inhabit the site and adjoining ancient woodland in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
An official poll established that the village opposes Cuadrilla's presence, whether they are currently intending to frack or acidise or neither. We recognise that they will not frack at this stage and suspect that they will sell on to another operator before the need to frack arises. We strongly contest Cuadrilla's assertion that this is a 'conventional' oil well. The British Geological Survey has confirmed that the definition of 'conventional' in National Minerals Planning Guidance is wrong. We also contest Cuadrilla's assertion that the 'naturally fractured' target rock will flow oil without serious 'stimulation' - ie acidising or fracking.
Along with two members of the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association, a representative of Balcombe Parish Council will speak tomorrow in opposition to the application.
Helen Savage, one of the speakers, teaches at the Balcombe Primary School and is mother of two young children at the school:
“We are very concerned,’ she says, “about the emissions from the increased number of HGVs that will pass our school if this application is permitted. The fence separating the school from the road is immediately above an area used as an open classroom, in front of the main school building. So the road down which HGVs pass is 2.1 metres from this outdoor classroom area, which is in daily use.”
John Scates, former Director of International Affairs at the CBI, is a long-time Balcombe resident. He will speak at the planning meeting on behalf of the frack free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA):
“So many details of this application are imprecise,’ he says, “from the unclear design and size of the proposed new flare to the fact that the Environment Agency has not considered several of the most toxic gases produced. The Environment Agency’s Mining Waste Permit specifically requires monitoring and mitigation of air emissions, yet their response to this application contains no comment on the lack of proper monitoring and mitigation. The top of the flare is below the level of our village, and toxic emissions will be carried towards us on the prevailing wind.”
Contacts (also available at County Hall tomorrow, 9th January):
Kathryn McWhirter (Balcombe resident, No FiBS, FFBRA)
01444 811682 07484 601374
Sue Taylor (Balcombe Parish Council, Leader of Energy Working Group)
01444 819329, 07815 800853
Helen Savage (Balcombe resident, No FiBS, FFBRA)
01444 819118, 07957 563387
John Scates (Balcombe resident, FFBRA)
- An open letter to the councillors, from No FiBS (No Fracking in Balcombe Society)