Residents raise concern about fracking site 7 miles from town

Some residents in Crawley have raised concerns about exploratory drilling taking place just seven miles from town.

Fracking company Cuadrilla is testing for underground reserves at the Lower Stumble Site, one mile south of Balcombe, but said it would not be fracking at this stage.

The controversial fracking process, or hydraulic fracturing, uses large quantities of water, sand and some chemicals to fracture rock to release gas and oil. The method is opposed by some campaigners after it was linked to earthquakes in Lancashire and there were fears over water pollution.

Resident Derek Hardman from Southgate, said: “There is potential for it to pollute undeground water resources that we have in Sussex and there is the risk of airbourne pollution. Although it is more likely to affect people in the Balcombe and Cuckfield area, I think there is a slight risk here.

“The risk to our underground water supplies does affect all of us. I think this has been kept rather quiet and yes we should have been made more aware. I think this is a local issue which is very important for all of us. Legislation may have been passes, to ease the passage for the benefit for a minority but all is not lost for us locally, if we make our voice heard now.”

More than 400 people visited an exhibition staged by Cuadrilla in Balcombe last week. Activists 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.

Some 15 senior managers, including chief executive Francis Egan, represented Cuadrilla.

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 marched past the meeting hall believing resources should be ploughed into developing alternative energies.

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.