Sussex

Bid to declare West Sussex a 'frack free zone' fails

South Downs
Image caption An application to test for oil and gas in the South Downs National Park was turned down last month

An attempt by campaigners to have West Sussex declared a "frack free zone" has failed.

A petition calling for the restriction, signed by 3,600 people, was presented to the county council earlier.

It said the underlying geology of the Sussex weald was "multi-faulted and completely unsuitable for hydraulic fracturing".

But councillors voted to adopt a neutral stance and not to predetermine any future test drilling applications.

"Fracking" - or fracturing rock under high fluid pressure - allows oil and gas to be freed from rocks previously considered too tightly-packed to exploit.

Brenda Pollack, from Friends of the Earth South East, said although the campaigners' attempt had failed, it sent a clear message to those in power.

'Green light'

"Councillors and other people listening today would have been left in no doubt how fracking is hugely unpopular across West Sussex and further," she said.

"People don't want to see fracking given the green light."

Image copyright PA
Image caption More than 1,000 activists set up camp at the height of protests in Balcombe

Protesters demonstrated in Balcombe, West Sussex, last summer amid fears that energy firm Cuadrilla's plans to test drill for oil near the village would lead to fracking.

More than 1,000 activists set up camp at the height of the protests in August.

Cuadrilla said it had found oil at the site, but the nature of the rock meant fracking would not take place.

Celtique Energie this week lodged an appeal against West Sussex County Council's refusal of permission for it to test drill for oil and gas near Wisborough Green in July.

The firm also had an application turned down by the South Downs National Park Authority last month to test for oil and gas near Fernhurst.

The company said the applications would not involve fracking.

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