West Sussex council has given its approval for fracking firm Cuadrilla to explore for oil at the Lower Stumble site near Balcombe, UK – when the company last extracted oil there, in 2013, thousands of campaigners swarmed the site. Cuadrilla scrapped its plans, citing the fall in oil prices in 2014 as the reason, but eventually re-applied for planning permission to test oil flow in the existing well.
The vote on 9 January was unanimously in favour of approval, defying local opinion. The approval is not for fracking – Cuadrilla has stated that the site does not need to be fracked as the rock is naturally fractured.
Approval came with conditions. The company will be required to set up a community liaison group and ensure that the site is restored to its original state following the exploration.
This news comes as the Scottish ban on fracking faces legal challenges. Energy Company Ineos, Switzerland, is seeking a judicial review to overturn the moratorium, claiming that the decision, in October 2017, had not scientific base.