Fury as Fernhurst landscape is ‘disregarded’

Lord Cowdray pionts to the proposed fracking site from his garden in Fernhurst.'''Picture by Louise Adams C131287-1 Mid Cowdray Fracking ENGSUS00120130917170650
Lord Cowdray pionts to the proposed fracking site from his garden in Fernhurst.'''Picture by Louise Adams C131287-1 Mid Cowdray Fracking ENGSUS00120130917170650

THE oil company behind controversial plans for exploratory drilling at Fernhurst have enraged anti frackers by dismissing their area of the South Downs National Park (SDNP) as ‘not special’.

Celtique Energie has ‘written off’ the landscape in new information sent to the park authority supporting their plan to drill at Nine Acre Copse.

There were gasps of horror at a public meeting on Tuesday when leading Frack Free Fernhurst (FFF) campaigner Marcus Adams read Celtique’s statement.

It said: “The landscape character of the application site and immediate setting is part of a wider area of similar landscape character that cannot be regarded as contributing directly to the special qualities of the SDNP.

“It is not a ‘diverse, inspirational landscape’ and does not afford ‘breathtaking views’.

The statement continued: “...the site and immediate setting cannot be regarded as a tranquil and unspoilt place..”

Mr Adams said: “It shows the disregard and distain these people have for us. It is a totally inappropriate way to treat us.”

FFF is currently examining the new information to make further objections before the deadline on Sunday (May 25).

Objectors say Celtique has ignored at least half the questions posed by the national park and “of those they answered, only half have satisfactory answers. We believe the national park has no choice but to turn this down if it sticks to the rules.”

And they are not convinced by Celtique’s revised plan not to drill horizontally.

They say the proposed well stops at the boundary of land owned by Lord Cowdray, one of the landowners who has threatened an injunction to stop drilling under his land.

Mr Adams pointed out Celtique still intended to drill horizonally at its proposed site between Wisborough Green and Kirdford.

“Our concern is Celtique is determined to get a foot in the door and are trying to dress this application up to make it more palatable so they get approval. It is very clear to me they will frack should they find the appropriate shale gas and oil.”

He claimed Celtique was trying to bypass planning law and deal with other regulatory bodies which did not have sufficient safeguards in place.

“Planning regulations 10,000 feet down are very vague. Planning normally only concerns itself with surface activity such as the drill rig, and the site construction. Once Celtique have bored a hole down they will approach the Environment Agency and say ‘we now want to drill horizontally and that’s not a planning matter.” -

Campaigner John Buchanan added: “Celtique is betting the government is going to make it terribly easy to get permission for the horizontal well once they are through the gate.”

A spokesman for Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green (KKWG) said: “Since Christmas 2013 Celtique Energie have missed three deadlines to submit the answers to WSCC questions regarding their planning application.

“These long outstanding responses are now available on the councils website ref WSCC/083/13/KD.

“At the moment we have less than three weeks to submit comments and objections. We have asked for an extension on the deadline date and have been advised that the new date will be June 20.

“This change of date will be confirmed and posted on the WSCC website. Once again there are a lot of pages to read through so please keep checking our website www.no-drilling.co.uk or sign up for our newsletter or Facebook page whereby all the latest news and updates will be available.”