Celtique Energie suffered its second defeat in their attempt to explore shale gas in Sussex, United Kingdom. Several weeks after West Sussex County Council unanimously rejected plans for an exploratory shale oil and gas well near Wisborough Green, a second application to test for shale oil in the South Downs National Park have been unanimously rejected by the local authority yesterday.
The South Downs National Park Authority planning committee blocked the application for a test site at Fernhurst, in West Sussex, having decided that Celtique had “failed to demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist for such exploration” in the protected landscape or that exploration would be in the public interest.
Geoff Davies, chief executive of Celtique Energie, said that he was disappointed in the decision, adding: “The decision fails to take into consideration the importance of this project to the nation and the comprehensive steps Celtique would be taking to ensure that all exploration work would be done sensitively during the very temporary period we would be working in the National Park.”
“It seems wrong in these highly uncertain geopolitical times that the national and public interest can be given such low priority. If we are not even allowed to explore it will not be possible to prove how significant this resource could be for the country.”
Mr Davies also said that there was a glaring discrepancy between the government, which has promoted the need for shale gas to boost energy security, and the decisions of Sussex councillors to reject individual applications. He also hinted that Celtique may seek to appeal the decision, expecting a better outcome on appeal.
“Our application was totally compliant, comprehensive and of high quality,” he said. “We believe it has been refused on subjective and unjustified grounds. We believe this proposal would be supported by the Planning Inspectorate or the Secretary of State in the event of an appeal. We are considering our further options and will make a decision in due course.”
The decision was welcomed by environmental groups and local residents, who hailed it as a ‘victory for common sense’.
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