Wisborough Green becomes the first village in Britain to reject fracking; Celtique Energie not happy

Wisborough Green becomes the first village in Britain to fight off fracking by Chris Green, July 22, 2014, The Independent
West Sussex County Council’s planning committee refused an application by Celtique Energie for oil and gas exploration near the village of Wisborough Green, a conservation area just outside the South Downs National Park. The council announced the decision yesterday at a public meeting attended by local campaigners, which included Likely Lads actor James Bolam and his wife Susan Jameson, who had argued that the exploration would lead to controversial fracking for oil or gas in the area. They also claimed that lorries would need to pass through the quiet village 24 times a day.

The proposals, which attracted nearly 2,500 objections from locals, were also criticised by local MP Nick Herbert, the former Conservative Police and Criminal Justice Minister, who warned that they could lead to rural West Sussex becoming “a carelessly industrialised landscape”.

The council said it had turned down the application because it was worried that the exploration activity would have an adverse effect on the area, adding that other sites might be more appropriate. Planning committee chair Heidi Brunsdon said: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance. We have noted the objections of the local community.”

Andrew Jackson of Wisborough Green parish council said the villagers had felt that it was important to make a stand. “If this was to be allowed today, it sets a benchmark for all other villages like ourselves,” he said. It’s clear that earlier applications that have been approved have all had direct access to the major lorry routes. This one does not and it’s not an appropriate location.”

Local landowners were so determined to stop the exploration that they launched a “legal blockade” against Celtique, informing it that it did not have permission to drill under their properties and that they would go to the courts if it proceeded as planned. A similar tactic was employed by campaigners in nearby Fernherst, which sits inside South Downs National Park. [Emphasis added]

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