Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
— Edmund Burke

Urgent - What you can do today

  • Please write to your MP and councillor today. In the lead up to the election on June 8th when fracking is not even on the political agenda, please make sure you still raise it with your elected representative. Meeting with them at their surgeries carry more weight but do make sure you are up to speed with what is happening. Guidance notes below.
  • UKOG has submitted the additional information for comment re their Markwells Wood drill site to the South Downs National Park Authority. The planning officer has extended to 6 April but will accept comments after this date, it just won't be included in their report. UKOG have also submitted their new hydrogeological report, revised transport statement, report on emissions, light, noise and ecology.

    You can inspect copies of the application, plans and other documents submitted on-line.  Anyone wishing to make representations about this application should do so on-line from the website or by email or in writing to the address provided in website, quoting the case reference SDNP/16/04679/CM by 11th May
     
  • Attend the gathering where the South Downs National Park Planning Committee will be meeting and voting on UKOG's Markwells Wood's application on 11 May 2017 at 10:00 atSouth Downs Centre Hall, Bepton Rd, Midhurst GU29 9QX.

    Markwells Wood Watch are organising the gathering to show their opposition outside the offices at 09:00 on 11th May and as the press will be there it would be really supportive to have as many people as possible. There is transport being arranged from Forestside. Get in touch if you want a seat at markwellswoodwatch@gmail.com
     
  • Sign Markwells Wood Watch petition 'Keep the South Downs National Park safe' https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/keep-the-south-downs-national-park-safe and share in your networks and with friends.
  • Arrange to attend the public awareness event at Broadford Bridge, Billingshurst. Happening every Saturday 2-4pm. Next to the Blacksmiths Arms, corner of Adversane Lane, near to the drill site RH14 9JH

  • Volunteer some of your time :)

Act now! Help stop Cuadrilla coming back to Balcombe

Deadline midnight April 25th! 

Cuadrilla has applied to make changes to its Environmental Permit, an important element of its planning permission at Balcombe. Please write a personal objection to the Environment Agency’s consultation. The more objections they receive, the stronger our voice. 

Although for the moment Cuadrilla says it has no intention to frack, Lower Stumble would be no simple little free-flowing well with a nodding donkey. Cuadrilla would acidise, a sister process of fracking raising similar serious concerns. 

It’s easy to object, on-line or by letter. It need take only a few minutes. Even if your objection is very brief, it is important to give the industry (and the Environment Agency, and local government) an idea of strength of feeling against this work.

What is wrong with Cuadrilla’s application?

Of course we do not want Cuadrilla here at all. Balcombe do not want HEAVY INDUSTRY in their village, and the TRAFFIC it will bring, not to mention the RISK to our HEALTH and ENVIRONMENT. Balcombe would be a ‘foot in the door’ for the industry, who would need A GREAT MANY WELLS across the Weald to access the unyielding rocks they are now targeting. 

But arguments that will carry weight with the Environment Agency relate specifically to the changes Cuadrilla now wants to make. You could pick out just one of the following three issues for a short objection, or cover all three, or you could read the ‘further information’ at the end of this email (or even Cuadrilla’s 94 pages of documents!) and give a more detailed response.

These are the changes: 

> A new flare

Cuadrilla have designed a new 45ft (nearly 14m) flare to burn off unwanted gas. But a study of the probable emissions from this new flare is missing from the documents. Cuadrilla should be asked to provide such a study. Flares are extremely noisy and give off serious pollutants. This flare is only 500m away and upwind of many residents. The top of this flare, like the one previously proposed, would be lower than the centre of the village, because Lower Stumble lies down in a dip. A study on pollution from the new flare is missing from the documents. The new flare, burning at a higher temperature will mean increased levels of NOx (which is causing such problems for inner city air at the moment). Also, Cuadrilla’s original application was based on the wrong assumption that no sulphur compounds would be present in the oil here – even though sulphur compounds were found when a well was drilled on the site in 1986. Public Health England said in 2014 that Cuadrilla should address the risk to the community from toxic sulphur dioxide from the flare. They have not done so. Public Health England were critical of Cuadrilla's lack of complete air study data in the previous application. As we know, Cuadrilla lost air samples when they drilled the well. It is vital to have up-to-date, complete information on air pollution.

> Waste water

The waste water flowing back from the well would be extremely salty, and could contain radioactive and toxic substances, a mix of the original chemicals used (far more than 'just' hydrochoric acid), the products of their reactions underground, and substances leached out from the rocks. Cuadrilla says the ‘salty water’ flowing back would be ‘low risk’ and ‘non-hazardous’. Yet this waste water will contain much more than common salt. No one can tell beforehand the composition of the waste liquid . Cuadrilla admits in the documents that the composition of the liquid waste will change over time. The Environment Agency is allowing Cuadrilla to declare that the liquid waste will be 'non-hazardous'. Cuadrilla's old permit included a 'mining waste facility', allowing Cuadrilla to leave liquids in the ground. Cuadrilla now say they do not need this mining waste facility. They say they will get back all the waste and deal with it at the surface and they do not intend to leave any waste underground. This is not possible. The EA has admitted there is a hydraulic link between lower stumble and Ardingly reservoir which provides water for thousands, therefore this mining fluid should be very closely scrutinised.

> Monitoring

Cuadrilla have proposed new yet still inadequate methods for monitoring air, ground and surface water. There should be many more collection points for samples, and sampling should be done continuously, rather than the spot checks that are proposed. For instance, it is proposed that laser monitors to check for escaping methane would be used only on two occasions during testing, for ‘up to eight hours’ – so a few minutes’ use would count! We believe continuous monitoring should be carried out  by an independent body (such as the EA), not just by the company itself.

A couple of important ‘don'ts’ 

> Don’t mention the F word! At this point in the exercise (testing the well, by acidising) Cuadrilla do not need to frack. Mentioning fracking may make the Environment Agency believe that you don’t understand the issues, and they may discount your objection.

> Don’t fill in the ‘Organisation’ box – leave it blank. 

What you can do to strengthen our case: 

> Write it in your own words. If the Environment Agency thinks you are simply copying a template objection, they may count all such objections as one. Read the simple guidance above, then put this leaflet aside and don’t peek at it too much as you write! 

> Give your objection some local and personal colour. If you are connected to the village, tell the Environment Agency, for example, ‘My granddaughter is at Barn Meadow Nursery School in Balcombe village and I am concerned because the top of the flare is below the level of the school so that the lie of the land and the prevailing wind would carry pollutants towards the school.’ 

> Get your friends and family to respond – they don’t need to live locally. 

Respond on line by midnight April 25th! 

https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/psc/rh17-6jh-cuadrilla-balcombe

Or write to: Permitting Support Centre, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Parkway Business Park, Sheffield, S9 4WF

Some Background on Acidisation:

The industry is hiding behind the idea that it is 'not fracking' to get its drills in the ground. Remember the government changed the definition of fracking in 2014 to be determined not by pressure but by volume of water used. The target in the Weald is what the industry has traditionally termed 'tight oil', and we know that Stephen Sanderson, CEO of UKOG, has said that 'this type of oil deposit very much depends on being able to drill your wells almost back to back, so it becomes very much like an industrialised process. You have to drill a lot of wells close to each other so that you can maintain a certain level of production'. Acidisation still needs multi-well pads, multiple underground horizontal sidetracks, multiple flaring sites,  and heavy traffic. Combined with this are the issues of how to deal with the toxic produced water from the well, the possibility of this fluid travelling through our multi-faulted Weald geology (the EA have admitted there is a hydraulic link between Lower Stumble and the Ardingly reservoir) and the increased risks of seismicity. But because this work is not afforded the same 'protections' as high-volume slick water hydraulic fracturing, it will be much easier to get the work going. Balcombe is one of numerous other sites in the Weald and we need to anticipate the effects of these wells.

There are many reasons to try and stop the industry getting started, before we even bring in considerations of our climate change obligations.

To retain its current PEDL (Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence) Cuadrilla will need to drill and flow-test this well and drill another one in the same PEDL area by 2019. For those living nearby, the suspicion is that if this next well is not in Balcombe it might possibly be at Bolney as there is a previous well site there already.

Further information:

Read Ruth Hayhurst’s summary of Cuadrilla’s application on the excellent website Drill or Drop:
https://drillordrop.com/2017/03/24/cuadrilla-reveals-details-of-tests-on-balcombe-oil-well/


Other Actions You can Take

Emailing / Letter Writing

We have put together a list of concerns you may wish to raise in your letter or email and have provided examples of letters that have been written to give you inspiration! See our Letters & Objections page.

Write to Theresa May - 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA.  mayt@parliament.uk

Write to your MP - If you don't know who your MP is you can find out here http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

OR USE https://www.writetothem.com/

Write to County Councillors

You can find your West Sussex County Councillor here http://tinyurl.com/lvwl7y3 

You can find your East Sussex County Councillor here http://tinyurl.com/mxgjpoa

 

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Write to the water authorities- Guidelines to help you are HERE

Write to your local town and parish Councillors

Councilors and politicians needs votes, so make them engage with the issue!

 

OBJECT OBJECT OBJECT! to planning Applications

It is our job to object to the planning applications of companies like Cuadrilla and UKOG as they are submitted to West Sussex County Council and The Environment Agency. There is also a list of current applications on the WSCC site https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/living/environment_and_planning/planning/planning_applications/fracking.aspx

Please write an objection letter against heavy industrial drilling in our National Parks.

A simple objection letter template:

I object to the above application. I believe that the County Council cannot know the full impacts of the work that (name of gas company) wishes to undertake because a full Environmental report does not exist. (West Sussex County Council) should have required a full Environmental Impact Assessment when (name of gas company) applied for their permission in (2010) I believe that you cannot make a decision on this application without the required information about environmental impacts and therefore the precautionary principle must be applied.
There are a range of impacts I am concerned about including:
- Water quality
- Air quality
- increased traffic
- increased noise
- negative impact on local wildlife from lighting, noise and general disturbance.

I therefore urge you to refuse it.

NAME and title

Change Your Energy Supplier

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You don't have to buy your energy from 'The Big 6'. There are alternatives out there...

Start here http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/

or Visit http://unfrack.me/

or  http://www.cooperativeenergy.coop

Raise awareness

The fight to keep Sussex frack free starts with raising awareness amongst the people of Sussex, and indeed throughout the UK.  We are doing everything we can to raise the issue throughout our networks of family and friends, BUT WE NEED YOU TO DO IT TOO!  Social media such as Facebook is a brilliant way of sharing information, petitions and news of the local campaigns. Why not organise a home screening of the film "Gasland"? Talk about fracking with other parents, church groups, sports groups, down the pub, at the bus stop, at the shops- anywhere you can! If your water was going to get poisoned and your home drastically de-valued, you would warn your friends, right?

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Attend public meetings and voice your concerns

Across Sussex local groups are organising film screenings and public meetings. Check in with our EVENTS page to see what is next on the Frack Free calendar. Please go along and educate yourself further on the issues and join in the debates on a local level about what is best FOR YOUR COMMUNITY.  These forums are a great opportunity to ask questions and get answers!

Get Involved!

The campaign to prevent Fracking ruining our county is made up of an ever growing number of people LIKE YOU! We are fighting against multi-national corporations with millions of pounds to spend on PR so we need you, whatever your skills and expertise.

Event organisers, letter-writers, graphic designers, video-makers, photographers, website builders, persuasive talkers, sign-makers, cake-bakers, tea servers, leaflet handers, media observers, database builders, film showers, nature-lovers, lorry-blockers, T-shirt designers, scientists, economists, environmentalists, musicians, artists....you name it!

Here is a list of Sussex based groups to get involved with;

Frack Free Sussex  FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/FrackFreeSussex

Worthing Against Fracking FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WorthingAgainstFracking/

Frack Free Arun FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/232783256869591/

Gas Drilling in Balcombe Website: http://gasdrillinginbalcombe.wordpress.com/

Frack Free Balcombe Website: http://www.frackfreebalcombe.co.uk

Knitting Nanas Balcombe FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/Knittingnanasbalcombe

Frack Free Cuckfield FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/frackfreecuckfield

Keep Kirdford and Wisborough ‘Green'  No Drilling FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/NoDrillingSussex

Frack Free Fernhurst FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/FernhurstAgainstFracking

Chichester Anti-fracking Forum FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/500267603421245/

Horsham Against Fracking FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/Horshamagainstfracking
                                               FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/795370587147155

Brighton Anti-Frack FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brighton-Anti-frack/420620088028811

Frack Free Mayfield & Five Ashes FB Page: http://www.frackfreemayfieldandfiveashes.org/

Frack Free FRow (Forest Row) FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/FrackFreeFrow

Frack Free Billingshurst FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/FRACK-Free-Billingshurst/368355889934042
                                         FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepbillingshurstfrackfree

Markwells Wood Watch FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/MarkwellsWoodWatch

Lewes Against Fracking FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lewes-Against-Fracking/234168936662614
                                          FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/166526800133807

Frack Free Storrington & West Chiltington https://www.facebook.com/groups/317039095146562

Warnham Frack Free FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/FRACKFREEWarnham

SEER - Sussex Extreme Energy Resistance: https://www.facebook.com/extremeenergyresistancesussex

Hand Out Leaflets or Display a Poster

An easy way of spreading information to people in your community is to do some hand outs. Here are some to get you started.

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'Get the Frack Out Of Sussex' poster

'Get the Frack Out of Britain' poster

'Top 20 ways to get fractivated' info sheet

'Common Myths' info sheet

'FRACK OFF' full info sheet

'Why Ban fracking?' food&water watch full colour flyer

'Our countryside is not for shale' Green MEP Keith Taylor, report

'Simple leaflet'

I OPPOSE FRACKING- sheet

PROTEST!

The fight to keep Sussex FRACK FREE may take years but we are in it for the long haul- for our children and their children. Every lorry that is slowed down, every delivery that is made difficult makes the share holders question their investment in unconventional oil & gas. We mustn't be afraid to exercise our right to peaceful protest. We mustn't be afraid to stand up and be counted. We mustn't be afraid to PROTEST because, ultimately, we need to ask ourselves "At what point do we claim self-defense?"

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Farmers & Foodies!!

Please join the Sussex Frack Free Food Alliance. More Details on our Food Not Fracking Page.

Keep the debate going!

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Participate in online discussions- Don't be afraid to post and comment on online news reports and articles. A lot of people are still unaware of this issue and you can help to change that.

Write to the newspapers- local and national.

Organise an event locally. Summer fairs, school fairs, meetings, fund raisers, screenings, petition signings, door to door information spreading - it all needs to happen!