Cuadrilla chief: 'We will complete our work'

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Cuadrilla Resources CEO Francis Egan speaks to ITV News.
Cuadrilla Resources CEO Francis Egan speaks to ITV News. Photo: ITV News

In the next couple of days, as many as a thousand protesters are expected to descend on the tiny village of Balcombe in West Sussex.

They are trying to stop the oil company, Cuadrilla, carrying out exploratory drilling for oil, that potentially one day could lead to the controversial process of fracking in a quiet corner of the Home Counties.

But in an exclusive interview with ITV News, the chief executive of the firm, Francis Egan, told me that the company will not walk way and he vowed to finish their work there.

He said, “We will complete our approved work to drill …it is not a hugely complicated activity. There have been fifty other exploration sites in Sussex. We want to complete that.”

Despite protesters trying to stop lorries entering the site and blocking the road, he said, "I do not accept that there is enormous public anxiety" about what they are doing.

Demonstrators outside the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe, West Sussex, this morning.
Demonstrators outside the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe, West Sussex, this morning. Credit: ITV News/Laura Kuenssberg

Although there have been suggestions that the company will give up, he was adamant that there is "no grand backing away."

But as tension builds at the site ahead of the expected swelling of protesters this weekend, Mr Egan admitted he is worried about dangers on the site.

He told me, "We are doing something that is legally approved and I am worried about the safety implications for our workers.”

Mr Egan also admitted that the company had not yet explained what they want to do clearly enough, saying, "People are having to debate without the facts … the reality is often, very different to the fear."