Fernhurst drilling plans worry residents

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DRILLING plans for Fernhurst have been further criticised over the past week, with the Cowdray Estate saying the plans could be the ‘thin end of a wedge’.

Following a recent public consultation held by Celtique Energie, the parish council held a packed-out meeting.

Chairman James Cottam opened the heated discussion on the proposal to drill for oil and gas and possibly develop a fracking site within a mile of the village.

Cllr Cottam said he lived very close to the site and had received a number of emails and letters of objection, 
but it was a complicated matter and they were still learning what the ramifications would be.

The first to speak was Judy Adams, who was vociferous in her condemnation of the plan, the choice of site and the damage drilling would do to the immediate area.

Those who rode along the bridleway were worried by the machines, while others were concerned about noise, smells and traffic.

Meanwhile, the Cowdray Estate has released a statement, in which it said it was approached by the company about an alternative location 18 months ago but had concerns about the environmental impact on the area and decided not to proceed with the proposals.

The statement also said: “Cowdray Estate has a number of concerns about Celtique Energie’s proposals for an exploration well at Nine Acre Copse, Fernhurst. These include traffic, noise, light pollution and the impact on an area within the national park.

“Whilst it is recognised that the proposals on the table are for an exploratory well, it could be the thin end of a wedge which would have long-term implications on the village of Fernhurst and the nearby residential and business properties.

“There is not enough information about whether or not Celtique Energie is expecting to find oil or gas.

“If they find shale gas they may apply for consent to carry out extraction by fracking or hydraulic fracturing techniques which may have long-term environmental implications, such as pollution to the natural water resources, the potential for wellhead pollution or indeed earth tremors. Fracking requires vast amounts of water and we must question where this will be coming from.

“We therefore have concerns about whether there have been sufficient investigations into the environmental assessments which have been carried out, for instance; we question the results of the noise level survey which has been published in Celtique Energie’s consultation document.”

The estate called on the company to make a public commitment to say it would fulfil its liabilities in the event of contamination.

Fernhurst Parish Council has written to MP Andrew Tyrie and chairman of the SDNPA Margaret Paren.