PARISH councillors were urged not to allow Wisborough Green to become Wisborough Grey at a meeting to discuss controversial plans for an exploratory well to drill for oil and gas.
It was described as ‘the biggest decision ever to be made by Wisborough Green parish council in its history’, and members of the public were invited along on Tuesday (November 5) to hear what conclusion the council would reach as it examined the Celtique Energie application for Northup Field, south of Boxall Bridge on the edges of Wisborough Green and Kirdford.
Famous faces among the audience included actors James Bolam and his wife Susan Jameson, who live in the village
Both parish councils met informally on October 29 to review the information put forward by Celtique Energie.
Wisborough Green has formally objected to the plans.
The proposals will now go before Kirdford parish councillors, Chichester District Council and the South Downs National Park Authority for comment before West Sussex County Council makes a decision, expected at the start of next year.
Tim Worral represented the Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green group (KKWG). “Celtique Energie sounds like a nice Irish dancing troupe,” he said.
“But it is backed by a hedge fund from New York which takes no prisoners and just wants money. The company has not drilled a hole in its life.
“This will be its first, and it is sub-contracted work – just like BP in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We have employed a planning consultant who is making a report to WSCC, and have identified several key issues, and Celtique is very misleading in the traffic survey it submitted – the numbers just don’t add up.
“There seems to be a lot of self-regulation, with no details about insurance and liability. Fracking is the elephant in the room.”
Petra Billings, landscapes project officer for the Sussex Wildlife Trust, said the trust was particularly concerned for wildlife in the area and the welfare and habitat of the incredibly-rare Barbastelle bat, which would have its flight line and roosts disturbed by the proposed site.
“It is actually illegal to disturb bat roosts so any activity would be illegal – so, too, would the lights used at the site,” said Petra.
Resident Peter Evans commented on several of the statements issued by Celtique. “Site noise would be quieter than your local library, traffic would be less than three or 30 per cent,” Mr Evans asked. “Well, which one is it, three or 30?”
Villager Sam Thompson added: “We have been too worried about that British notion of fair play, and hearing them out.
“Really, it is more about commonsense to object this.”
Peter Mann said to councillors: “We, your parishioners, urge you to oppose this wretched application and play no part in creating Wisborough Grey.”
Councillors voted unanimously against Celtique’s application.
Mr Mark Robinson said: “I have struggled to keep my mouth shut about how much I detest this plan.
“I was elected by the parishioners to represent their views.”