No fracking at Balcombe, says energy company Cuadrilla

 

No fracking will take place at a site in West Sussex which was at the centre of large-scale protests last year, energy company Cuadrilla has told residents.

Hundreds of anti-fracking activists set up camp last summer after Cuadrilla started exploratory drilling on the outskirts of Balcombe.

Protesters concerned about potential environmental damage feared that the company would eventually go on to hydraulically fracture - or frack - at the site.

Fracking involves high pressure liquid being pumped deep underground to split shale rock and release oil or gas supplies.

Fears have been raised over the potential for small-scale earthquakes and water pollution, and that a drive to exploit new gas reserves will turn the focus away from efforts to develop a low-carbon economy to tackle climate change.

In a letter to Balcombe residents from Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan, he said the rock underneath the drill site, at Lower Stumble, was already naturally fractured, and the company had no intention of fracking there.

He wrote: "The presence of these natural fractures and the nature of the rock means that we do not intend to hydraulically fracture the exploration well at Lower Stumble now or in the future."

However, although Mr Egan ruled out fracking at the site, Cuadrilla's association with Balcombe is by no means at an end.

In his letter, published by Balcombe Parish Council, Mr Egan said Cuadrilla had submitted a new planning application to West Sussex County Council to complete flow testing of oil from the exploration well.

Over the summer, the firm drilled horizontally for some 1,700ft through Micrite formation, a type of limestone, at a depth of around 2,350ft below ground level.

Mr Egan wrote: "We were expecting to and did indeed find oil in the Micrite. However, without testing we cannot be sure at what rate the oil may flow to the surface."

The proposed flow testing operations would be "significantly smaller in scope" than the drilling operations conducted previously, he said.

The main testing operations would last for up to five weeks, after which the well would be closed in and monitored for up to 60 days.

Balcombe still remains a focal point for anti-fracking protesters, months after the encampment which gained headlines worldwide moved on.

On Sunday, more than 400 protesters gathered at a rally there attended by French MEP Jose Bove, a key campaigner from the French anti-fracking lobby.

This week it was revealed that the cost to taxpayers of policing the lengthy anti-fracking protests at Balcombe was nearly £4 million.

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne said the bill placed pressure on the police budget when savings were having to be made.

As she revealed the final sum for the policing operation, Ms Bourne said she had submitted an application to the Home Office to recover the cost.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

Recruitment Genius: Fundraising Manager / Income Generation Coach

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A smart software company locate...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Account Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy, friendly and creative marketing ag...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Wes...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project