MP for Wisborough Green and Kirdford Nick Herbert has written to Celtique Energie asking for greater clarity on the impact of lorries and additional traffic at their proposed drilling and exploration site between the two villages
The MP has asked for further information from Celtique boss Geoff Davies, after he was unable to tell villagers at a public meeting how long traffic movements would last for.
At the meeting, organised by Mr Herbert and Wisborough Green and Kirdford parish councils on Friday 31 January, the MP repeatedly pressed Mr Davies on the issue of traffic.
More than a 100 villagers packed into Wisborough Green Village Hall to hear presentations from the Environment Agency, West Sussex County Council and Mr Herbert, and to question them and Celtique.
Villagers once again expressed their concern about the level of traffic through Wisborough Green which would be caused by the drilling and any subsequent production.
Mr Herbert told the meeting he believed traffic issues were the biggest source of concern, and that while he did not oppose oil exploration or fracking in West Sussex, locations had to be chosen sensibly so as to minimise disruption to local communities.
He believes it would be preferable for the company to drill in a remote location with direct access from a main road, where lorries would not be required to pass through a tranquil village.
In his letter to Celtique, Nick Herbert points out a recently published government report has conceded that: “high levels of shale gas production could ... have some potentially adverse impacts on the environment and communities, including an increase in traffic congestion.”
The report also indicates, said Mr Herbert that residents could face as many as 51 lorry journey each day for three years, and that these traffic issues could be “more sustained and locally significant” on communities adjacent to the development sites, or on the routes to the sites, during exploration and site preparation.
Mr Herbert noted Celtique’s view that it was impossible to predict a future scenario and said this could explain why Mr Davies found it difficult to give clear answers to questions about traffic movements at the meeting.
But he has told the the chief executive: “You must be aware of the range of possibilities, since this is how you will be basing your investment decisions, and therefore broadly what traffic movements would be involved, and for what period, under each one.
“I would therefore urge you to be clear about these scenarios so residents know what they could face and for how long.
“In the absence of this information, residents not only fear the worst - significant lorry movements thorough the village for an indefinite period - but also form the impression that you are not being open about what will be involved.”
Celtique’s application for exploratory drilling is expected to be determined on 30 April. The date has been delayed following a request from West Sussex County Council for further information from Celtique Energie.
The company must respond by February 28 and a further period of public consultation will take place.