January Newsletter

BILLINGSHURST NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN: HAVE YOUR SAY

Happy new year to all our supporters!

You may have noticed signs around the village encouraging you to get involved and comment on the Billingshurst Neighbourhood Plan. The Parish website explains the purpose of the plan:

http://www.billingshurst.gov.uk/Billingshurs-Parish-Council/billingshurst_parish_neighbourhood_plan-5596.aspx

Since 2012, local communities have been able to produce Neighbourhood Plans for their local area, putting in place planning policies for the future development and growth of the neighbourhood. Statute vests the power in the Parish Council to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. A Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led framework for guiding the future development and growth of an area. Neighbourhood Plans relate to the use and development of land and associated social, economic and environmental issues.

This offers an opportunity for people who live in Billingshurst to convey their concerns to the Parish Council about UKOG’s drilling plans. As stated on UKOG’s website, they intend to start drilling in the first half of this year.

There will be consultations for residents at the Community Centre in Roman Way when you can discuss your concerns about the impact drilling may have on our area:

SATURDAY 28th JANUARY 2017 (11.00am – 3.00pm)
THURSDAY 16th FEBRUARY 2017 (6.00pm – 9.00pm)
SATURDAY 4th MARCH 2017 (12.00pm – 4.00pm)

At Adversane Hall on TUESDAY 7th FEBRUARY 2017 (5.00pm -7.00pm).

KBFF have already met with the Parish Council (and MP Jeremy Quinn and Green MEP Keith Taylor) to express our concerns, as we reported in our newsletter at the time. But it’s important that as many of us as possible take this opportunity to express our views about the drill site, relating to potential:

  • Health impacts such as air pollution
  • Increased traffic movements during drilling
  • Wastage of vast quantities of water
  • Noise pollution
  • Industrialisation of our countryside
  • Contamination of our water supplies

All of us at KBBF have been paying close attention to the experiences of those living near the Horse Hill exploration site (the “Gatwick Gusher”). Drilling started 2 years ago by HHDL of which UK Oil & Gas Investments Plc holds 48% of the stake and provides management of the licence. These are recent comments by Alex Gaché, owner of Lomond Classical Riding School, which adjoins the drill site:

For the last 2 years in the field adjoining Lomond there has been drilling for oil. The first year the drill was here for 3 months, last year for 8 weeks and our lives were ruined. The noise, the smell, the disruption to our rural area were changed to such an extent that we did not want to be here. We cannot prove any connection but we had horses with nosebleeds, clients with headaches, oil appeared all over the land. We don’t know what chemicals were coming and going but we had broken pipes pouring water into our fields and ditches (which continue to the river mole). The roads were blocked by protestors (who we do support) so clients could not come in and out.
The company has now put in a planning application to drill another well and continue exploratory work for 3 years. They say they are not fracking but the government has changed the law to make fracking easier so it might not be now but once they are drilled down who knows what they are going to want to do. They are going horizontally too so they could be under your home.
I am obviously very upset that having spent 33 years of building Lomond that this can be allowed next door but I am also for the bigger picture. The oil companies want the whole of the Weald basin to be the next Texas and many other people will suffer as we have. 

We are of the view that Billingshurst residents have not been informed about the reality of drilling, and the potential risks involved, all of which could have a major impact on our quality of life and health, and that of our environment.

We will be urging the Parish Council and those involved in development of the neighbourhood plan to ensure that our views are represented. For our part, we would rather see a move towards safe, clean, renewable community energy projects which will help us all thrive.

Thanks for your support and we will be in touch again soon with information about our next community event.

All the best for 2017,

Keep Billingshurst Frack Free

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