A new oil drilling plan for the South Downs National Park?

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OIL exploration has re-emerged into the limelight once again.

And this time Graffham has come under the microscope after oil company IGas expressed its interest in an exploratory drilling well at Baxter’s Copse.

But residents have been assured it could be longer than a year before any plans are submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).

Graffham Parish Council chairman Richard Davidson said they had met with a land agent to discuss proposals for an exploratory well on the edge of the village.

“We held a meeting with a land agent representing the client, IGas,” he said.

“Around 45-50 members of the public came along, as well as Chichester District councillor John Elliot.

“The purpose was simply to hear what was proposed.

“The land agent was not a geologist, so didn’t have much information, but explained the client’s interest in an exploratory well in Baxter’s Copse, where there had been drilling in 1983.

“IGas is an oil company, not a gas company, so they are looking for oil and it could be a year before any application is made.

“We will probably set up a steering group to look into the proposals, but have nothing really to look into at the moment.

“This was an information gathering exercise, not a meeting where people could give their views. We will publish the minutes of the discussion on our website after our council meeting on Monday.”

A spokesperson for the SDNPA said: “Graffham Parish Council has let us know that they have been approached by a developer regarding proposals for oil/gas drilling.

“To date we have not been contacted by the developer regarding any application for this site.”

In response to concerns from residents across the county, West Sussex County Council is hosting a free public information event about oil and gas exploration and extraction this Saturday, November 8, in the Assembly Rooms at The Council House in Chichester between 10am-4pm. There will not be specific discussions about live planning applications.

Attending will be officers from the Environment Agency, and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Representatives from the SDNPA are also expected. Due to limited capacity, residents are asked to confirm their attendance by 
emailing oilandgas@westsussex.gov.uk