Cuadrilla is caving in at Balcombe, crow campaigners

Drilling firm Cuadrilla has withdrawn its application for extra time to complete its drilling and testing programme in Balcombe. Its test site has been at the centre of media attention […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Drilling firm Cuadrilla has withdrawn its application for extra time to complete its drilling and testing programme in Balcombe.

Its test site has been at the centre of media attention ever since protestors set up camp outside last month (pictured).

Cuadrilla had originally applied to West Sussex Council to change its existing planning permission, a request due to be considered by the council’s Planning Committee on 19 September 2013. This application was withdrawn on 2 September.

Anti-shale oil and gas campaigners seized on the move yesterday, claiming it shows the firm could be caving in after more than a month of protests at its West Sussex site.

Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen criticised Cuadrilla’s plans for Balcombe as “a dog’s dinner”.

She said: “They only recently submitted an application to extend the drilling window, now they’ve already withdrawn it and admitted they’re reassessing the programme. It’s not yet clear if this is a shift of direction or if the company merely got its sums wrong.”

However today the shale oil and gas firm painted the adjustment as a way to make its plans clearer, rather than a change of direction.

Cuadrilla said in a statement: “Our decision to make a new application for the well testing activity, rather than an extension of previously approved activity, is to resolve any potential legal ambiguity around how the planning boundary should be drawn for a subsurface horizontal well.”