SDNPA seeks more information on Fernhurst fracking application

THE FERNHURST fracking application is temporarily ‘on hold’ after the drillers were asked to provide more evidence supporting their proposals.

South Downs National Park Authority chief executive Trevor Beattie broke the news last night (February 13) at a public information meeting in Chichester on the hydraulic fracturing process.

Celtique Energie has applied to the SDNPA for permission for an exploratory drill at the West Sussex village.

However, Mr Beattie revealed ‘significant details’ had been omitted from the Celtique’s environmental statement.

“I can therefore announce tonight that the national park will be submitting a request for further information under regulation 22 of the town and country planning (environmental impact assessment) regulations 2011.

“This will, in effect, put the Fernhurst application on hold while the applicant provides the additional information we require.”

He told assembled residents this would likely mean the SDNPA’s planning committee was unlikely to consider the application until the summer.

“I pledge to you that the scrutiny, will be close, expert and intense,” he said.

“That’s why we have a national park. That’s the value that the national park adds. Our precious landscape demands no less.”

Celtique’s environmental statement was apparently missing details on noise, hydrology and geology information and engineering aspects associated with borehole integrity, well drilling, well casing and testing.

In response to a resident’s question, Mr Beattie defended the SDNPA’s approach to considering applications.

“It’s absolutely not a box-ticking exercise,” he said. “That’s not how it works. It’s about having all the information available to make the right decision and what the park authority is about.

“It’s not ticking boxes. It’s about getting all the information necessary.

“We don’t think we’ve got all the necessary information.”

The meeting at St George’s Church in Chichester was well attended, with speakers including Green MEP Keith Taylor, Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth and Mike Elkington, strategic planning manager at West Sussex County Council.