Protesters speak out as Balcombe fracking company is granted permit

Anti-fracking campaigner at balcombe fete
Anti-fracking campaigner at balcombe fete
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Campaigners have come out in force today (Thursday July 25) at Cuadrilla’s drilling site in Balcombe after a mining waste permit was granted by the Environment Agency.

Friends of the Earth South East regional campaigner Brenda Pollack, said: “Today’s action at Balcombe shows the scale of concern about the lack of information on the environmental impacts of this project.

“No environmental impact assessment has been carried out for this site, so how does the Environment Agency know that groundwater is not at risk?”

She continued: “There are already high levels of pollution in the Ashdown groundwater beds and any further contamination could lead to dangerously high levels of pollution in the water.

“The speed at which the Environment Agency has considered hundreds of responses begs the question as to whether they are properly considering the impacts or rushing ahead.”

Work at the site came to a standstill this morning when protesters blockaded the road leading to the company’s site.

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, said: “It’s deeply concerning that Cuadrilla are likely to begin drilling this week.

“Cuadrilla are clearly desperate to begin drilling into the Sussex countryside but they are doing so against the will of the people of Balcombe.

“Cuadrilla’s determined efforts to drill near Balcombe will be of concern to anyone worried about the effects of shale gas and oil. This kind of drilling threatens to carve up our countryside, pollute our water and lock us into burning fossil fuels for years to come.”

The Environment Agency has yesterday (Wednesday, 24 July) granted a mining waste permit to Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd (Cuadrilla). This permit covers the management of wastes arising from an exploratory borehole to test for oil and gas reserves at Balcombe in West Sussex.

After a thorough assessment the Environment Agency is confident that, providing their permit is complied with, the environment will be protected. The company is not proposing to carry out any hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as part of this activity.

Before reaching its decision, the Environment Agency reviewed concerns raised by local people during the four week consultation with communities, interested groups and other professional organisations.

The permit will require the company to manage its waste effectively in order to protect local people and the environment. Environment Agency officers will now enforce these operating conditions.

Chris Wick of the Environment Agency said: “We have scrutinised the application rigorously together with undertaking a full public consultation to gather in any local information necessary to determine the permit. We would like to thank all those people who responded to this consultation.

“Detailed information from the company shows they have the necessary plans in place to carry out this activity to the highest environmental standards. If the activity goes ahead as planned, we will monitor Cuadrilla’s operations and work with other regulators to ensure that the activity does not cause harm to people and the environment.”

The environmental permit and the decision document outlining how we reached our decision are available here https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/permits/app/cuadrilla/balcombe.

Cuadrilla has also formally applied for a permit to manage any waste water or solid waste which may contain naturally occurring radioactive substances. Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) are present in many types of rocks. Sometimes, waste water from such activities can contain low levels of this NORM. A permit is required to ensure safe disposal of any waste that may fall within the scope of the regulations.

Cuadrilla does not need this permit to drill a borehole, but the company will need it in order to carry out well testing.

Cuadrilla’s application is available on our website: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/

People now have the chance to comment on the proposals by visiting our website or by emailing: rsr.rotherham2.ne@environment-agency.gov.uk