UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG) has put a fourth application to delay restoring the well they drilled at Broadford Bridge in West Chiltington to West Sussex County Council.
The company is required by its initial exploration licence to restore the controversial site after its exploration but has convinced planners it needs ‘more time’ despite three previous extensions.
UKOG stopped work on the site nearly six years ago. It now claims it wants to explore the potential for generating geothermal energy at the site and could even support a potential future tea industry.
Campaigners who have long fought against the site – which they believe raises unnecessary risks to nature – are calling for West Sussex County Council to refuse to this latest application. The consultation period for their fourth extension closes on January 25th.
A spokesperson for Weald Action Group said: “This appears to be yet another attempt by this small company UKOG to delay spending the money needed to plug and restore the well at Broadford Bridge as required by their initial exploration licence. Their last extension expires on March 31st.
“West Sussex County Council should not let UKOG avoid their responsibilities again and risk the cost falling on the taxpayer or landowners should UKOG have financial difficulties down the line. They need to focus on their promises to restore the environment around sites.
“Any potential for geothermal energy needs to be assessed separately across our area.”
A Broadford Bridge Action Group spokesperson said: “This company is clutching at tea leaves to try to avoid coughing up the money needed to restore this site as per their original licence.
It’s ironic that UKOG objected to environmental campaigners having tea and cake mornings outside their gates to raise awareness of the risk of onshore energy production and are now claiming our need for a cuppa should allow them to delay their work on site further. Let’s hope WSCC councillors don’t buy it.”
Weald Action Group is calling on local people to object to this application before the 25 January deadline. You can do so online here: https://westsussex.planning-register.co.uk/Planning/Display/WSCC/046/23
When objecting, make sure to include the Planning Application reference number WSCC/046/23, and your name and address.