An anti-fracking British Tea Party is being held today (Monday June 17) outside the Balcombe site where Cuadrilla Resources wants to test drill for oil and gas.
Oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla Resources announced last month that it is to drill an exploratory well at Balcombe to test for underground oil reserves.
The Lower Stumble site, where drilling will take place, is the target of a vociferous campaign by groups who are opposed to the use of the technique known as fracking, properly called hydraulic fracturing.
The controversial process uses large quantities of water, sand and some chemicals to fracture rock to release gas or oil.
However, Cuadrilla, has given an ‘unequivocal assurance’ to Balcombe Parish Council that it will not be using fracking at this stage.
In the last few days the firm has begun drilling a water monitoring borehole.
A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said: “The drilling of the monitoring well is an additional and voluntary environmental monitoring measure on Cuadrilla’s part.
“It does not require permission from DECC to drill this water monitoring well.
“The water monitoring well is being installed to monitor the groundwater quality of the Ashdown
Beds before, during and after operations.”
The well will go to a depth of approximately 160ft to reach the top of the Ashdown Bed.
The spokesperson continued: “The substances for drilling the water well are commonly used in any shallow boring operation and are all classed as non-hazardous at the concentrations being used.
“The Environment Agency visited the site at Lower Stumble on Wednesday June 12 2013 and are fully aware of this activity.
“Cuadrilla will be able to give a further update on the time scales for the completion of this activity in the next few days.”
The move took campaigners by surprise, who are holding a tea party this afternoon from 4pm until 7pm.
It has been backed by charity Friends of the Earth.
Carol Dawes from Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth added: “We totally support the people in West Sussex who are fighting fracking.
“This energy process will industrialise the Sussex landscape and undermine investment in clean, renewable energy.”
The company G4S is going to operate security at the site on behalf of Cuadrilla.