Firm linked to quakes eyes Sussex drilling

Cuadrilla Resources, the fracking company which counts the former BP chief executive Lord Browne as a director, has been granted a licence to drill for shale gas on a new site in West Sussex.

In a press release slipped out quietly last week, Cuadrilla revealed it had received planning permission and regulatory approval to drill for hydrocarbons in Balcombe, near Haywards Heath.

Cuadrilla stressed that "there are no plans, or regulatory approval, for hydraulic fracturing to take place at this stage", adding that "exploratory drilling activity may take place at a future date, consistent with the terms of the licence".

Although Cuadrilla said it had no plans to use hydraulic fracturing on the site, it is understood that no other technique could be used to remove the hydrocarbons from the shale rocks if the company did decide to extract its reserves.

Furthermore, it did not rule out using the technique in future.

Locals were concerned to hear about Cuadrilla's licence after watching the US documentary, Gaslands, which purported to show residents close to fracking locations across the US lighting methane-heavy tap water.

Brian Hall, an independent councillor on West Sussex county and Haywards Heath town councils, said: "My biggest concern is about water contamination. I am especially concerned because I understand that the shale in this area is much shallower than in many other areas, meaning it is closer to water aquifers than it might otherwise be."

"The area is also densely populated, so hundreds of thousands of people could potentially be affected," Mr Hall added.

If Cuadrilla does take up its option to conduct initial drilling this would be done using traditional methods, rather than with the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique. The company would need government approval to frack on the site.

"In line with Cuadrilla's record of openness and transparency, any activity would be preceded by local engagement, briefing and explanation," the company said.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said yesterday that the group would "never allow a situation that comprised health and safety to occur in the UK".

Cuadrilla resources: A Pioneer in the UK

Cuadrilla Resources, the fracking company that was linked to 50 earthquakes in the Blackpool area last month, is run by Mark Miller, its American chief executive, who is a veteran of the so-called unconventional gas industry.

Before joining Cuadrilla, he was president of Eastern Reservoir Service, a well-testing company based in the US. Cuadrilla, which was set up in 2007, specialises in fracking and is the first and so far only company to employ the technique in the UK. In addition to sites near Blackpool and in West Sussex, it has licences at Grange Hill, also near Blackpool, and at Hesketh Bank, near Preston. It has completed exploratory drilling at these latter two sites, but has not yet done any fracking there.

The privately run company is backed by Riverstone investment firm, where Lord Browne is a partner, and by AJ Lucas, an Australian engineering firm.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific