Shale gas exploration day in Haywards Heath

Friends of the Earth members met in Haywards Heath on Saturday to find out more about shale gas exploration and how to support clean energy instead.

The group organised a day’s seminar at Clair Hall for residents who wanted to find out more about where companies want to exploit gas reserves and how it might impact on them.

Protest about Shale gas in Haywards Heath and Balcombe. Outside Clair Hall

Protest about Shale gas in Haywards Heath and Balcombe. Outside Clair Hall

FoE’s south east campaigner Brenda Pollack said: “More and more people want to know about shale gas and are looking for advice on what to do if companies seek permission to drill underground near them.”

Before their meeting those attending gathered outside Clair Hall to spell out the words “CLEAN ENERGY NOT GAS” to show their support for renewable energy.

Organisers said there was a need for local and national action to stop “the dash for gas” from rock stratas under the Sussex countryside. FoE supports more renewable energy to bring down carbon dioxide emissions.

Shale gas has become an issue in Sussex because of drilling company Cuadrilla Resources’s site at Stumble Ridge, off the B2036 between Balcombe and Cuckfield.

Although gas is being extracted from shale elsewhere in the country, it is believed to be oil that would be extracted using the fracking technique if Cuadrilla gained permission to drill at Stumble Ridge.

In a poll of Balcombe residents, 82 per cent of respondents said they wanted the council to oppose fracking. The main reasons were road traffic through the village, pollution of water supplies and impact on the environment.

Those in favour of shale gas exploration believe extraction could help Britain move away from energy dependence on foreign suppliers and towards energy independence as well as reduce the cost of energy supplies.