Anti-fracking campaigners lose planning block bid

Anti-fracking campaigners have lost a High Court bid to block planning consent for further work connected to oil and gas exploration in their village in West Sussex.

Campaigners have staged several protests over the exploration

Permission was granted earlier this year and affects Lower Stumble in Balcombe which has been at the centre of high-profile protests over the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas.

The Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA) asked Mr Justice Gilbart, sitting in London, to quash the permission granted by West Sussex County Council to energy firm Cuadrilla.

The go-ahead involved temporary permission being granted "for exploration and appraisal comprising the flow, testing and monitoring of the existing hydrocarbon lateral borehole" on the site, along with security fencing and the provision of an enclosed testing flare.

At a two-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, David Wolfe QC said the decision to grant permission was fatally flawed by "errors of law".

But the judge today rejected the FFBRA's case and ruled the county council had acted lawfully. He also ordered the association to pay £10,000 in legal costs.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this proposal has caused considerable concern to the association.

I also recognise that some part of the public are concerned about the process commonly known as 'fracking', although I must observe also that this application did seek permission for that activity.

– Mr Justice Gilbert