Cuadrilla faces the villagers

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More than 400 people visited an exhibition staged by oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla Resources in Balcombe last week.

Activists from outside the area, including campaigners from Frack Free Sussex and Greenpeace, also turned up to support villagers, more than 80 per cent of whom voted against fracking in a recent survey by Balcombe Parish Council.

protesters near Bramble Hall, opposed to Cuadrilla's plans

protesters near Bramble Hall, opposed to Cuadrilla's plans

Some 15 senior managers, including chief executive Francis Egan, represented Cuadrilla which is starting exploratory drilling at Lower Stumble off the B2036, close to the village centre.

The executives answered questions about the risks and safety of their operations and tried to allay fears about the potential for pollution of the countryside, water table and atmosphere.

Demonstrations included a march past Bramble Hall and groups with flags and banners who put the views of those who believe resources should be ploughed into developing alternative energies.

Views were again polarised with one villager of 50 years standing saying he had no worries and trusted the parish council to look after the interests of the village. The man, who asked not to be named, said he had seen Gatwick Airport develop, the M25 and M23.

But another man accused Cuadrilla of not being open about the pollutants that would be emitted during gas burn off, claiming that as well as methane they included a list of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.

Keith Taylor, MEP for South East England, sent a statement of support to Balcombe residents saying he was “appalled” by Cuadrilla’s plans and the potential for fracking.

He promised to check whether Cuadrilla was complying with legal requirements including those in the EU Mining Waste Directive.

Cuadrilla has now put a summary of its Balcombe plans and commitments on its website at www.cuadrillaresources.com/balcombe and has opened a dedicated community information line on 0800 008 6766. It can be emailed at enquiries@cuadrillaresources.com

Balcombe villagers who want to get involved can join a private Facebook account at No Fracking in Balcombe - No FiBS - which can also be emailed at nofibs@btinternet.com