Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed the county council’s decision to reject exploratory drilling proposals between Kirdford and Wisborough Green.
Almost 100 members of the public cheered, wept and hugged each other as West Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee rejected Celtique’s bid for a temporary well off Kirdford Road near Northup Copse yesterday (Tuesday July 22).
Members of the committee expressed road safety concerns at the site’s proposed access, and at the junction of Durbans Road and the A272, and felt the character of Wisborough Green would be harmed by a stream of lorries heading through the village.
After the meeting Mr Herbert said: “This is good news for local residents and the right decision. The site was totally inappropriate for drilling because of the heavy lorry movements involved through tranquil villages.
“Celtique should now drop this application and think again about its plans to drill in the South Downs. And 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.”
Several campaign groups also welcomed WSCC’s decision.
Brenda Pollack, South East campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “This was absolutely the right decision. We don’t want 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 follow.
“Local people don’t want to see their rural peace and quiet affected by this type of industrial drilling nor by the extra lorries and industrial traffic that comes with it. We have said right from the start that this application must be refused for a range of reasons.
“Sussex could and should be at the heart of Britain’s clean, green energy and economic transformation with a drive to waste less energy and source it from the wind, sun and waves.”
Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale described the decision as ‘fantastic news’ for everyone in the area, and felt it would bring hope to communities ‘resisting the industrialisation of the local countryside’.
He also praised West Sussex county councillors for unanimously rejecting proposals.
He explained: “They have set an example of rigor and independence for other local authorities to follow.”