At its meeting on 11 September the National Park’s Planning Committee rejected a planning application from Celtique Energie for exploratory drilling for “hydrocarbons” (or, oil and gas) at a site in the park near Fernhurst, West Sussex. This application had been highly publicised and very controversial as it has been widely assumed that, should extraction follow the exploratory drilling, it would be by “unconventional means”, or fracking.
Attendance at the meeting was by ticket only. From a large number of organisations and individuals who had expressed an interest in addressing the committee with their objections, local campaigners asked the Society to lead off. At the end of the two hour meeting the committee unanimously resolved to refuse the application.
Whatever the company may have had in mind by way of future extraction, the committee was at pains to stress that it could only consider the specific proposal in front of it — for exploration –; but members clearly expressed what they viewed as fundamental conflicts between the proposed drilling and the purposes for which the National Park had been designated.