First success for UK anti-frackers – Wisborough Green fends off shale company

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The application to carry out exploratory drilling for shale gas in the West Sussex village of Wisborough Green was thrown out by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee – Midhurst and Petworth Observer reported. The village has become the first community in the country to successfully fight off an application by an energy company to explore for oil and gas

On Tuesday, the proposal put in by the British oil and gas exploration company Celtique Energie was rejected by the County Council on the grounds that the company had not demonstrated the site represented the best option compared to other sites, had unsafe highways access and would have an adverse impact on Wisborough Green as a conservation area.

Speaking after the decision, Cllr Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the planning committee, said: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.

“We have noted the objections of the local community and I felt that the debate today was a full and robust one.”

Nearly 100 people attended this morning’s meeting at County Hall North in Horsham to hear the debate and decision.

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said: “The shale industry’s clumsy attempt to impose fracking on Sussex has fallen at the first hurdle. Save for Celtique, this is fantastic news for everyone in the area and should bring hope to other communities resisting the industrialisation of their local countryside.

“Celtique’s bid was in trouble the moment they were caught underplaying the impact of extra heavy freight needed at the site. This is a serious concern for the local community, and the attempt to put a rosy spin on it hasn’t been forgiven.

“Local councillors deserve credit for standing up to the barrage of propaganda and pressure from the industry and government. They have set an example of rigor and independence for other local authorities to follow.”

The fracking proposal was opposed by the inhabitants of Wisborough Green – one hundred of whom appeared at the meeting at County Hall North in Horsham – along with the Tory MP Arundel and South Downs, Nick Herbert. Mr Herbert said he was not opposed to fracking in principle but that the site was the wrong location.

The Conservative government, headed by David Cameron, supports shale development in the UK, controversially changing landowner legislation to streamline shale excavation process.

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