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CPRE Sussex shocked by Balcombe oil exploration recommendation

1st March 2021

CPRE Sussex has written to members of West Sussex County Council’s Planning Scrutiny Committee urging them to reject Angus Energy’s application to extend the lapsed oil exploratory testing period at Balcombe.

CPRE Sussex is shocked by the decision by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) officers to recommend approval for Angus Energy to have yet more time to explore the commercial viability of their oil well at Balcombe.  CPRE has long campaigned against this environmentally mad-cap proposal.

WSCC has acknowledged that we face a climate emergency.  Local authorities have a crucial role is crucial in delivering the nation’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions through the use of their planning powers.  Yet, when the chips are down, WSCC officers are not recommending the tough decisions required to turn fine words into action.

This illusionary economic benefits of onshore fossil fuel exploitation are being valued at the expense of our climate and of the precious, supposedly protected High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around Balcombe.  The poor residents of Balcombe, who have already faced a decade of disruption, would face the potential of at least another four years of uncertainty.

The recommendation is perverse in terms of the impact on the High Weald AONB.  An earlier planning application was withdrawn by Angus Energy last year after WSCC’s planning officer recommended refusal because the major development would have a significant adverse local impact on the AONB.  There are no landscape-related differences in the latest application for essentially the same works that would justify a different conclusion about its impact on the High Weald AONB.

WSCC’s officers need to get to grips with the harsh reality that the protection of our environment and climate requires tough decisions.


CPRE Sussex email to members of West Sussex CC Planning Scrutiny Committee

CPRE Sussex press release on Balcombe oil exploration for more detail, plus reference sources for CPRE Sussex objections