Equestrians mount protest against South Downs oil drilling proposal

Horse riders demonstrate at Forestside  Picture: Christopher Ison
Horse riders demonstrate at Forestside Picture: Christopher Ison
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CAMPAIGNERS took to their horses to protest against a controversial application to drill for oil in the South Downs.

Equestrians have voiced their concerns over the prospect of more vehicles on roads such as Broad Walk that form their riding routes around Forestside, Rowlands Castle.

Investment firm United Kingdom Oil & Gas Investments PLC (UKOG) has applied to the South Downs National Park Authority for 20 years oil extraction at Markwells Wood, near Forestside.

Emily Mott, of the Markwells Wood Watch association, says that increased traffic on roads surrounding the site, which is near several livery stables, could have a negative impact on a ‘large part of the local economy’.

She said: ‘The stables and the routes are a source of tourism and leisure for a lot of horse riders.

‘We have a lot of concerns about the degradation of the roads, which are already so narrow.’

Ms Mott has also argued that the proposed route from the site to the A3(M) – via Emsworth Common Road and the B2148 – presents several traffic hazards, including a humpback bridge and a weight limit.

She said: ‘The lack of information in the application indicates that a proper traffic assessment of the area was not conducted.’

Fred Duncannon, owner of the nearby Stansted Farm Shop, is worried about the effects that the movement of HGV vehicles may have on local businesses.

He said: ‘The scheme would result in thousands of heavy truck movements on the narrow roads around Stansted.

‘I know of two lorries carrying timber that have ended up in the ditch at Broad Walk within the last year due to the narrow roads, so the possibility of oil or waste spillage needs to be considered as well.’

UKOG was unable to comment on the matter.