Fernhurst oil drilling plan to go before planners

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ALL eyes will be fixed on the South Downs National Park when members meet to debate controversial plans for an exploratory well in Fernhurst to drill for shale oil and gas on September 11

A spokesman for the national park authority said: “We received an unprecedented number of responses to the consultation on this application.

“The committee papers for this meeting will be available from the national park’s website on Wednesday, September 3.

“This allows the maximum possible time for every comment to be taken into consideration by officers in their recommendation to members of the committee.”

Oil and gas exploration companies can apply for planning permission in any part of the country where they have been granted a license by the department of environment and climate change (DECC).

Villagers who opposed the plans for Nine Acre Copse on the edge of Fernhurst, formed the Frack Free Fernhurst (FFF) group last year and have spearheaded a major campaign against the plans which were submitted by Celtique Energie. The ‘anti fracking’ campaign was given a major boost after Lord Cowdray joined the ranks of FFF and publicly outlined his concerns about water pollution and lack of safeguards.

Despite the company’s claim its proposal would not involve hydraulic fracturing, the method used to extract fossil fuels from shale rock he said at the time: “We know perfectly well the endgame is fracking. If they find the reserves they are looking for they will frack.”

Lord Cowdray moved to Fernhurst from Cowdray Park House three years ago.