Balcombe Parish Council is to formally object to the planning application submitted by Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd to flow test the oil exploration well in the village. The parish council has published a report detailing these objections. A summary of the reasons for objection are listed below.
Although they are specific to Balcombe, most are relevant to sites elsewhere, and offer some good points for residents to raise with councils everywhere.
- Public opinion in Balcombe 60% of respondents to a village poll said the council should object to the planning application
- Cuadrilla Balcombe’s financial position The report will raise questions about the company’s financial resources to deal with any issues resulting from oil exploration or production.
- Environmental Impact Assessment The report will challenge the scoping document by West Sussex County Council, which concluded that the planning application did not need an EIA.
- Traffic The council will challenge the lack of a traffic assessment or traffic management plan in the planning application.
- Noise The council’s response will take issue with the way background noise will be measured. Councillors also questioned whether West Sussex County Council was competent to assess noise data.
- Air pollution Balcombe Parish Council will argue for high levels of monitoring and control of air quality and calls for additional pollutants to be considered.
- Drainage and flooding The report will point to inaccuracies in the application’s flood map and what it says about the site’s proximity of water courses.
- Ecology Habitat issues surrounding great crested newts will be challenged, as well as the timing of a bat survey, which was carried out when Cuadrilla was last on site. Councillors recommended this would be a good time to re-do the survey.
- Timing of operations Cuadrilla’s application is for three years and requires the company to give just seven days’ notice before it starts work. The report will say there should be a longer notice period to give statutory authorities, like the county council, longer to prepare.
- Site restoration If permission were granted, the report calls for a 50-year period when the site would be regularly monitored.
- Pollution risk and crisis planning The council will raise the issue of emissions from a flare, which is included in the application. It is concerned that the application includes plans to handle potentially hazardous liquids outside the area of the site which is surrounded by a pollution-control bund. There were also calls for a protocol for informing the water company, South East Water, of any pollution incidents.
- Lighting The council will call for limits on the site lighting to limit impacts on nearby properties and the railway line.
- Baseline studies The report will raised public concerns about the baseline studies carried out in 2013. If the application were approved, Balcombe Parish Council will want to see an agreed schedule of air, noise and water monitoring before work begins.
- Landscape and visual intrusion The report will argue that the application is incomplete on this point because it says a photo-montage submitted by Cuadrilla did not include the 14m high flare.