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Oil drilling in Sussex ‘makes a mockery of the climate crisis’, we say

15th February 2023

Lord Lucan’s firm Angus Energy has won planning permission to drill for oil near Balcombe, West Sussex.

The plans, which were rejected by the local council, have been overruled by the Planning Inspectorate. Lucan’s firm could be producing oil as early as the third quarter of 2023.

Commenting on the decision, Paul Miner, acting director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘This extraordinary decision defies belief. It makes a mockery of the climate crisis. And, after more than 800 people objected to the proposal. It also shows contempt for local democracy.

‘But this is not the end of the road. There will almost certainly now be a statutory legal challenge at the High Court. Anyone opposed to turning our countryside into a cash machine for oil barons must hope this succeeds.

‘As damaging as this proposal to drill for oil would be for the residents of Balcombe, the danger is far graver and wider. This decision could set a precedent to expand drilling across the Jurassic Weald. This is an area of oil-rich shale that stretches all the way from Winchester in Hampshire to the rolling downs of Rye in East Sussex. It sends shivers down the spine.

‘The government must urgently act to make sure this cannot happen again. It needs to introduce, and enforce, a firm policy against new onshore gas and oil extraction in the same way that we should have a presumption against new coal extraction. And there’s no time like the present as this can be achieved by strengthening the National Planning Policy Framework, which is currently being reviewed by Ministers.’


A view over Balcombe, West Sussex, including farmed fields and the Balcombe Viaduct
The oil drilling will take place in Balcombe, West Sussex Joe Dunckley / Alamy Stock Photo


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