Balcombe anti-fracking group take protest to High Court

Balcombe anti-fracking protests Protesters from around the country gathered last summer amid fears that test-drilling would lead to fracking

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Anti-fracking protesters have begun legal proceedings against plans for the continued exploration for oil and gas at Balcombe.

Lawyers for the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA) claim West Sussex County Council's decision to allow energy company Cuadrilla to carry out further tests is unlawful.

Permission was granted following test-drilling by the company last summer.

Both the council and Cuadrilla have not commented.

West Sussex County Council granted permission for the new tests in May.

In the claim issued at the High Court, Leigh Day, the law firm representing the FFBRA, claim the council were "simply wrong in law" to ignore the number of objections made against the application.

'Overwhelming opposition'

The application received 889 objections and nine communications in support.

Ugo Hayter, of Leigh Day, said the decision "flies in the face of overwhelming community opposition" from people who were "concerned that this operation risks polluting the aquifer and nearby reservoir".

The firm have also accused Cuadrilla of not complying with agreed conditions during previous operations and repeatedly providing "unsatisfactory communications" with residents.

They highlighted a request made to Cuadrilla for a timetable of the development which the energy company had failed to give.

A Cuadrilla spokesperson has previously said the testing would last seven days but it was "unlikely" the work would be carried out this year.

The energy company have also said it would not carry out hydraulic fracturing at the site because the rock is naturally fractured.

It insists the new tests involve using solutions that are considered non-hazardous to groundwater.

Protesters from around the country gathered at the site last summer amid fears that test-drilling would lead to fracking.

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