Angus Energy pulls Balcombe three-year well test plan – but will submit further application

Residents of Balcombe in West Sussex have welcomed the withdrawal of oil company Angus Energy’s planning application for a three-year well test on the edge of the village.

However, they warn that the fight goes on, as a company statement to shareholders announcing the withdrawal on 1 May also said that Angus intends to submit an updated application for a shorter test within six weeks.

In March 2020, West Sussex County Council planners had recommended refusal of the application for a three-year test, saying that it would establish a continued presence of industry which was not appropriate to the area, which forms part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The planning officer’s report said: “On balance, it is concluded that although there may be a need for onshore oil and gas development to contribute to national energy security, the need is not such that it represents exceptional circumstances, or that it is in the public interest for the proposed major development to be located in the High Weald AONB.”

Sue Taylor, of the Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association said: “Angus may just be trying it on but we know that those same planning objections still stand.

“We just wish they would give up and go away and leave us in peace. However, if they do come back, we will be ready for them.”

Aside from the industrialisation of the countryside which will result from the operations of companies such as Angus, the climate imperative means fossil fuels must stay in the ground.

Oil companies already have more oil and gas on their books than we can afford to burn if we’re going to stay below 1.5ºC heating. So it makes no sense to allow exploration for any more.

To stave off the worst effects of climate change, we need to keep all fossil fuels in the ground. That means saying no to exploratory oil and gas drilling in the Weald and everywhere else.

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