LORD Cowdray has stepped up his campaign against plans to drill for oil and gas close to his Fernhurst home.
He has registered, as under the ownership of his estate, the grass verges next to the narrow access to Nine Acre Copse, in Vann Road, where Celtique Energies plans to set up an exploratory well.
And he says he will refuse any request to widen the access and does not believe lorries will be able to drive in without crossing the verges.
He has also notified companies likely to seek permission for fracking activities that he will refuse permission to drill under his estate, even if the drilling site is on land owned by a third party.
He believes the ‘legal block’ if not successfully challenged in the courts or quashed by the government will block any significant fracking in the area.
Lord Cowdray is a powerful ally for the Frack Free Fernhurst group which formed earlier this year to fight Celtique’s proposals.
He is concerned about ground water pollution, the disruptive effect of the drilling on a site in the national park and the use of narrow lanes by lorries.
Chief executive of Celtique Energie Geoff Davies said if an attempt was made to restrict access to the site it would be challenged in the courts.
“A final recourse, of course, would be to use the statutory powers which are open to us where any owner unreasonably denies access we can apply for a statutory easement for the necessary rights.”
He said his company did not need to drill under Lord Cowdray’s land in the exploratory phase.
If reserves were found: “We are required to submit a new planning application for approval and to obtain approval from any affected landowner to drill such new horizontal wells under their land.”
If amicable terms could not be agreed, the company would apply via the secretary of state and the courts for the statutory easements needed. “But the preference is to explore and exploit under lands with willing landowners.”