A PARTNERSHIP between companies wanting to explore for shale oil and gas and the mineral authorities for the area is the best way forward.
That is the view of Joseph Ransley, a Chichester district councillor and parish councillor for Kirdford, where Celtique Energie is seeking permission to explore for fuel.
“In my view we would be better working together with the oil companies under the leadership of West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and the South Downs National Park (the mineral authorities for the area) and develop an interim strategic plan and policies to manage shale gas extraction in the county.
“Undeniably, this would locally be a political hot potato, but at least it would enable us to minimise the county-wide impact of exploration and extraction which the government has made it clear it wants and will seek to have occur.”
He said he had already spoken to WSCC about developing an interim strategy and ‘they rightly point out we should not dilute the resources allocated to developing a new Minerals Plan’.
“However, given the potential impact of fracking on the county, and accepting that the county is engaged in budget cuts and reduction of its services, it is now the time to consider applying new resources for dealing with fracking.”
In the short term, he accepted it would be controversial and ‘politically risky’, but councillors, like most residents, valued the area and all it currently offered. “Let’s look together at finding a way to preserving as much as we can, for the benefit of all, before it is too late.”
He said he believed Kirdford and Wisborough Green parish councils would be happy to lend their support to such an initiative.
“They recently contributed to informing WSCC on a number of issues that has led to Celtique Energie being asked to supply extensive additional information.”
But Cllr Ransley said he would take no joy from a refusal of planning permission at Kirdford if it meant ‘passing the issue on to an adjoining parish and another inappropriate location’.
He congratulated Rogate on setting up a citizens’ forum of parishes to look at fracking: “It is the most sensible approach we have seen in the last few months, especially when it seeks to ‘inform on the topic and engage with all parties involved’.