ALMOST 2000 comments on Celtique Energie’s proposal for exploratory drilling for shale gas at Fernhurst have been posted on the South Downs National Park Authority website.
But with six days to go before the closure date for comments next Wednesday (January 22) the sheer volume of response is causing the website to crash.
Campaigning group Frack Free Fernhurst (FFF) have had several messages from people complaining that they are unable to access the site or submit their objection online.
An FFF spokesman said people had written to the national park authority and to MP Andrew Tyrie about the website problems, and FFF understood Andrew Tyrie was following the matter up with the authority.
Leading FFF campaigner Martyn Knights said today (Friday, January 17): “it is incredibly encouraging that so many people wish to be heard on this contentious issue but alarming that the planning website cannot take the volume of correspondence.
“We have had reports from several people saying they have simply been unable to object due to the crashing of the site. We assume that the planning authority will be taking this into account when they analyse the responses made from the public.’
Greenpeace has now set up a web page with an email button to get comments through to the SDNPA.
Spokesman Lawrence Carter said: “so many of us tried to file an objection to drilling in the South Downs, we broke the National Park Authority’s website!
“This response is amazing and it shows the impact we’re having. Let’s not stop now.”
A spokesman for the national park authority said: ““We are aware that people are experiencing delays as a result of unprecedented numbers trying to access our planning system at the same time and our engineers are doing their best to increase the capacity of the site.
“In the meantime we have set up a special mailbox for people wishing to submit comments on planning application number SDNP/13/05896/CM at email@example.com”