Fight pledge as gas drilling goes south

Cuadrilla's drilling rig in place on the site at Singleton
Cuadrilla's drilling rig in place on the site at Singleton
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CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to continue their fight against a shale gas drilling company set to expand its operations in the south.

Until now Cuadrilla Resources has only been operational in Lancashire, with three sites on the Fylde coast in Weeton, Singleton and Westby, and a fourth site in Southport.

Cuadrilla has stressed it remains “fully engaged” in Lancashire, but it has now been granted permission by West Sussex Council to conduct exploratory drilling in Balcombe, near Haywards Heath.

Fracking – the process of pumping water deep underground to fracture rock and release gas – is currently suspended on the Fylde after a series of earthquakes, and the company has no plans, or approval, to frack in the south at present.

But that hasn’t stopped anger growing among residents in Sussex.

Vanessa Vine, who started Facebook group No Fracking in Sussex, said: “If we don’t collectively learn from the irreversible havoc that hydraulic fracturing has already wrought elsewhere, then this suicidal, ecocidal insanity is heading for everybody’s doorstep.

“By Cuadrilla’s own admission, its technology has caused earthquakes in Lancashire.”

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The growing anger in Sussex comes as Cuadrilla Resources has applied for more time to drill on its site at Grange Road, Singleton.

The company has applied to Lancashire County Council for permission to remain on the site until July 2013, an additional 18 months.

A Cuadrilla spokesman said the application had been made because of the delays caused by the suspension of the fracking process.

The spokesman said: “Normally you would drill and then a few months later you do your fracking and then you leave.

“Obviously we had the slight interregnum around the fracking process.”

Consultation on the plans ends next week.