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!”