Joy in the wake of county council decision to throw out Wisborough Green drilling plan

Actor and campaigner James Bolam is interviewed after the meeting photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140722-102107001
Actor and campaigner James Bolam is interviewed after the meeting photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140722-102107001

AS WEST Sussex County Council (WSCC) became the first planning authority in the country to reject a plan for oil and gas exploratory drilling there was joy and relief.

Among the high profile names which have fought the plans are television stars James Bolam and his wife Sue Jameson, who have lived in Wisborough Green for more than 30 years.

Sue voiced the views of many campaigners when she said: “It’s been 18 months of nervous hell really and anxiety about the horrors to come.”

The Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green anti fracking campaign added: “We hope Celtique Energie will accept this decision together with all of the reasons why this site is totally unsuitable and take into account all the voices of the local people whose lives they wanted to irreversibly change.”

Frack Free Fernhurst campaigners will have to wait until September for the South Downs National Park to make a decision on a Celtique plan to drill at Nine Acre Copse.

Leading campaigner Marcus Adams said: “It is clear planning committee members recognised this was a completely inappropriate site. They chose not to defer a decision because they also acknowledged Celtique had had plenty of time to submit accurate traffic information, but until the very last minute, didn’t feel they needed to. We remain confident the SDNPA will reach a similar conclusion when they consider the plan at Fernhurst.

Brenda Pollack, South East Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: “Nobody wants to see Sussex ruined by industrial drilling for dirty fossil fuels. If Celtique had been allowed to test for oil or gas, then there’s every chance that fracking would have followed.

“It has been clear from the start that this application must be refused for a range of reasons.”

“Celtique should now drop this application and think again about its plans to drill in the South Downs,” said MP Nick Herbert.

And he added: “The Government should consider the damage that is being done to its attempt to boost fracking when the earliest bids to drill are in or near a landscape which is highly protected for good reason.”