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WSCC approves Cuadrilla’s application at Balcombe despite public outcry

Friday, 12 January 2018 10:49

Opponents gathering outside West Sussex County Council Opponents gathering outside West Sussex County Council © Friends of The Earth

I attended this morning's meeting (9th Jan 2018) in Chichester of the WSCC Planning Committee that considered Cuadrilla's renewed application to be allowed to flow test the existing exploratory well at Balcombe over a six week period during the course of the next two years.

As widely expected, despite over 2,700 objections including CPRE’s, that application was approved unanimously by the Planning Committee today, albeit with some modest strengthening the proposed planning conditions, including a very positive one requiring Cuadrilla to set up a liaison committee with local residents.

There was no opportunity for CPRE to speak at the hearing: only three public speakers opposed to the application were allowed and (quite reasonably) they were taken by the Chair of Balcombe Parish Council and two Balcombe residents' groups. One of those speakers did agree to voice CPRE's message that Government policy no longer gives such strong support for indigenous hydrocarbon extraction as the NPPF indicates it should. However that cut no ice with the officers who focussed much of their economic justification for their recommendation on NPPF para 144 which requires that " local planning authorities should give great weight to the benefits of the mineral extraction, including to the economy". Hence my belief that CPRE needs to press for updating of the NPPF/NPPG to require equal weight to be given to the Government's recently announced Clean Growth Strategy and its change of emphasis on sources of energy generation.

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