New licence bid for drilling on land near Chichester and Bognor Regis

A fund set up in the wake of the Shoreham air disaster has received more than �15,000
A fund set up in the wake of the Shoreham air disaster has received more than �15,000

A NEW bid for energy exploration between Chichester and Bognor Regis has been received by the UK’s oil and gas regulator.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) announced last week that 132 new areas across the country could be offered to companies for exploration, but have been subject to detailed environmental assessments.

One of these geographical square blocks stretches from the northern part of Bognor Regis to Eartham, and in the east-west direction from Tangmere as far as Ford.

Meanwhile two smaller blocks cover land north and south of Singleton, with the latter stretching as far as parts of the Goodwood Estate.

All the 132 blocks have received licence applications from companies, but once granted by the OGA, planning permission is still needed for specific sites from local authorities.

Consultation on the environmental findings will run until the end of September.

Licences have already been granted for most of the Weald Basin, including at Lidsey where permission was granted to drill for oil around a decade ago.

West Sussex has been at the forefront of the fight to stop hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, with exploratory drilling applications refused between Wisborough Green and Kirdford, and Fernhurst last year.

These proposals were rejected by West Sussex County Council and the South Downs National Park Authority respectively.

But last week new guidance has been issued to fast track shale gas planning applications.

Under the measures authorities that repeatedly fail to consider exploration proposals could be stripped of their ability to determine applications.

Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs MP, said: “It’s one thing to demand that council decisions are timely, but another to overturn them entirely. “Councils should be able to decide if local issues like heavy lorry movements and noise from drilling have been properly addressed, as ministers originally promised.

“West Sussex County Council rightly rejected exploratory drilling by Celtique Energie near Wisborough Green because of traffic concerns, and it would be quite wrong to overturn a well-founded local decision.

Fracking involves pumping water and chemicals underground to split apart porous shale rock to release trapped energy deposits.

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