Fracking gas firm drops licence bid

Fracking firm Cuadrilla has withdrawn an application seeking a six-month extension of its oil exploration in a Sussex village which has been the scene of protests.

The company said it has decided to submit a new planning application to cover the flow testing of the horizontal oil exploration well at its site in Lower Stumble, Balcombe.

A statement said: “The new application will cover the same well testing that is in the currently permitted activity but will include revised planning boundary lines showing the extent of the horizontal well being tested. It will not include additional drilling or any hydraulic fracturing.

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“Our original planning application was approved in 2010 with a boundary delineation covering the surface drilling site area.

“Our decision to make a new application for the well testing activity, rather than an extension of previously approved activity, is to resolve any potential legal ambiguity around how the planning boundary should be drawn for a subsurface horizontal well.

Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen said Cuadrilla’s plans for Balcombe were a “dog’s dinner”, adding: “The poster boy for fracking looks like it’s in trouble again.”

A meeting of West Sussex County Council’s planning committee on September 19 has been cancelled following the withdrawal of the application.

Any new application will not go to the planning committee until next year.