A fracking firm’s plans to explore for shale oil and gas in West Sussex have been rejected by the County Council.
The Planning Committee turned down the application by Celtique Energy for exploration near Wisborough Green, a conservation area outside the South Downs National Park.
The county council said the firm did not show the site represented the best option compared to alternatives, it had unsafe highways access and it would have had an adverse impact on the area.
Councillor Heidi Brunsdon, Chairman of West Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee said: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.”
The news was welcomed by environmentalists who feared the exploration would lead to fracking.
Brenda Pollack, South East Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: “This was absolutely the right decision. Nobody wants to see Sussex ruined by industrial drilling for dirty fossil fuels. If Celtique had been allowed to test for oil or gas, then there’s every chance that fracking would have followed.”
Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale added: “Local councillors deserve credit for standing up to the barrage of propaganda and pressure from the industry and government. They have set an example of rigour and independence for other local authorities to follow.”
Celtique Energy said it is “disappointed” with the decision.
Chief Executive Geoff Davies added: “WSCC members have not followed the spirit or the letter of Government policy or good practice in dealing with this planning application. We believe this application was totally compliant, comprehensive and of high quality and would stand up to further scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate or the Secretary of State in the event of an appeal.”