Shale gas exploration bid ‘should be refused’

A company’s bid to explore for oil and gas in a national park near West Sussex should be turned down, planning officials have recommended. Celtique Energie has put forward a […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A company’s bid to explore for oil and gas in a national park near West Sussex should be turned down, planning officials have recommended.

Celtique Energie has put forward a planning application for a site near Fernhurst in the South Downs National Park to drill a vertical well to test for oil and gas.

Officers at South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) have recommended the proposal should be refused at the national park’s planning committee meeting next week.

Their report said the company “has failed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances exist for such exploration and appraisal to take place within the protected landscape and that it is in the public interest to do so”.

Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive for the SDNPA added: “Key assessments are whether there is a proven need for this development in this location or whether oil/ gas exploration could take place elsewhere.”

Celtique Energy however said it has submitted a “comprehensive” Environmental Statement that assesses potential impacts and “describes in detail” the steps it would take to mitigate them.

A spokesperson added: “We are confident in the robustness of our application and hope that the Planning Committee of the South Downs National Park Authority shares this view when they meet to decide on the application next week.”

The decision now lies with the members of the Planning Committee.