Council accused of pro-fracking stance at Pulborough drop in

JPCT 070714 S14280651x Pulborough. Nicola Peel on work in Guatemala, environmentalist -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140707-140830001
JPCT 070714 S14280651x Pulborough. Nicola Peel on work in Guatemala, environmentalist -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140707-140830001

A resident has called the council’s recent gas exploration and extraction drop in event ‘biased and pro-fracking’.

Award winning environmentalist and Pulborough resident, Nicola Peel, is against the notion of gas exploration and extraction coming to the South Downs National Park after The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced its intention to do so earlier this year.

More than 200 residents attended a drop in session at Pulborough Village Hall hosted by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) last month to learn about the council’s role and environmental impacts.

But Nicola, who was also in attendance, claimed that the council failed to tell residents the whole truth about the dangers of fracking.

“Sadly I felt the event was rather biased and pro fracking,” she said. “When I asked what the value of a glass of our water really is none of the departments could answer my question. How then can you do a risk assessment if you don’t know what the value is of what is at risk?”

The event was attended by officers from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Department for Energy and Climate Change as well as the county council and representatives from the South Downs National Park Authority.

Nicola continued: “Another table displayed a jar of Heinz salad dressing comparing it to the fracking fluid. They didn’t list the rest of the highly toxic chemicals used in the job. Lets not call it fracking, the industry call it stimulating, which sounds so much better.

“And the Health and Safety department talked a lot about the Risk Assessments. Well they were lost for words when I reminded them that the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill off the Gulf of Mexico had also had a Risk Assessment done and it was ‘No Risk’ (nothing would ever go wrong). It seems like the same old story, a few people will get rich from this over exploitation of the Earths resources, which actually belong to not only us but future generations.

“However if you want to keep heating your house and cooking using gas without ever thinking of the effects and with no desire to change then, hey, let them frack under your house. Why should other people in another country suffer the contamination for our use? And when in a few years the gas runs out, then what will we do? Some government departments say two years. I used to live in Australia where I witnessed first hand, leaking methane from the ‘latest technology’ drill sites.

“The solution is to talk more about anaerobic digestion, changing your energy company to one that supports renewables (at no extra cost) and think a little more about your grandchildren’s future. It’s not just all about us. It’s about our children’s children and the precious water which when we were born was clean. Is that a risk you are willing to take?”

In response a representative at West Sussex County Council said: “The oil and gas event in Pulborough related to all aspects of oil and gas.

“The intention of the event was to provide information on oil and gas exploration and extraction from a variety of viewpoints including regulators (HSE, DECC, the EA and WSCC), academics and opponents (Friends of the Earth, Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association and Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green).

“No fracking is currently permitted or proposed in West Sussex.

“If an application for fracking was received WSCC would consider it in the way we do any application, including taking into account risks to people and the environment, and taking advice from specialists.”