In a small village in West Sussex, named Balcombe, a significant struggle rages between local protestors and Cuadrila Resources – the company who discovered vast reserves of shale gas underneath Blackpool and who are now looking for more in the South.
Cuadrilla has come to Balcombe for 40 days and nights of drilling, up to 2,000 ft below the surface, to attempt to discover commercially viable reserves of gas. Although you couldn’t tell from the droves of protestors outside the gates – waving placards including such choice phrases as ‘frack off!’ – no fracking is actually taking place in this installation. Planning Permission and licenses restrict Cuadrilla to conventional mining means only.
That isn’t to say fracking won’t take place there in the future. Chief executive Francis Egan told reporters:
“If it’s not commercial then we would look at whether fracking would improve the rate of flow.
“We’ll make an assessment of that, and if it would and we wanted to do it, then we would have to go through a separate planning process.”
The residents of Balcombe and a number of so-called professional activists have vocally expressed their displeasure at this possibility. 16 were arrested on 25th July for blocking the entrance to the installation. Many other protestors opportunistically held placards completely unrelated to fracking, detailing changes they resist to tax and benefits.
This is the first sign of protest outside of the North West, where reserves under Blackpool were found to be huge in 2011 (see link to article below). That provides a test for the Government: if shale gas is found that requires fracking to extricate, it could mean £6bn in revenue for the Government. A decision would have to be made then, in the face of vociferous protests, whether proceeding is necessary and / or worthwhile in the leafy heartland of Britain.
Also in the August edition of the newsletter, we discuss the legal aspects of fracking and the consequent potential future impact…
01/08/2013 SRJ / LCB