South Downs oil and gas exploration a no-go

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PLANNERS have rejected a bid by a shale company to explore for oil and gas in the South Downs National Park.

Celtique Energie put in a planning application for a site near Fernhurst, West Sussex, to drill a temporary vertical well to test for oil and gas.

The plan, which attracted more than 5,500 objections, could also have led to the drilling of a horizontal well extending out from it.

But members of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) heeded their officers’ recommendations and turned down the bid.

Cheers and applause broke out among opponents fearful that the plan could have led to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, taking place if the drilling had been successful.

Geoff Davies, chief executive of Celtique Energie, said the firm was ‘disappointed’ but not surprised.