New plans for exploratory drilling site in West Sussex

The test drilling site The test drilling site is between Kirdford and Wisborough Green

New plans have been submitted for an exploratory well in West Sussex which could eventually lead to fracking.

Celtique Energie wants to drill at a site near Kirdford and Wisborough Green to test for commercial oil or gas.

It has submitted plans to West Sussex County Council and will submit similar proposals for a site in Fernhurst soon.

Stu Clark, from Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green, said the group had mounted a legal challenge and wanted to stop the plans at their earliest stage.

He said the group would be submitting a legal objection to the council and, if necessary, would consider pushing for a judicial review.

'Terror and fear'

Mr Clark said: "We object because we know what the intention is here,

"We would very much like to avoid replicating the scenes recently seen at Balcombe, however, passions are high and the groundswell is being fuelled by the terror and fear of Celtique's 'endgame'."

Celtique Energie has stressed the plans at this stage do not include the use of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

Geoff Davies, chief executive officer, said: "Celtique will be drilling through shale formations encountered in the well to confirm what potential (if any) these rocks have for commercial production.

"Should this data prove positive, Celtique may wish to explore these formations further, which could include the use of hydraulic fracturing at a new well on the same site."

Mr Clark said the campaign group also opposed the application because of the increase in traffic on small country lanes and because drilling would be around the clock.

Celtique Energie said construction at the drill site would take between one and two months and would involve about 35 two-way vehicle movements a day.

It would take a further two to three months for the drilling to take place.

The company added that a further planning application for a well site in Fernhurst, near the border with Surrey, would be submitted to the council in late September or early October.

Protests took place in the West Sussex village of Balcombe recently over plans for test drilling for oil by the company Cuadrilla, which it is feared could lead to fracking.

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