Fracking firm Cuadrilla has said that it is “unlikely” that its exploration site at Balcombe in West Sussex will be used for shale gas extraction in the future.
Cuadrilla had gone ahead with exploratory drilling to investigate the potential of the area, despite determined protests from local residents. Ten protesters were arrested last month, as police escorted drilling equipment into the site. Nine of them were due to appear at Crawley Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
However, BBC industry correspondent John Moylan has reported that the company said it is now unlikely that Balcombe would become a full production site.
Moylan added that Cuadrilla has not ruled out using fracking in the exploratory well at Balcombe in the future, though.
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen said, “The public pressure is clearly getting to Cuadrilla, but Balcombe deserves clarity. If the company is not going to extract shale there, it owes local residents an assurance and should give details of when it will leave the village, where it’s clearly not wanted.
“Cuadrilla has caused a lot of pain in Balcombe for no gain, which is likely to be the experience of fracking across England.”
On Tuesday, Greenpeace asked Cuadrilla for an open debate about fracking on Twitter, but the energy firm is yet to respond.
Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said, “Communities don’t want to see their quality of life and local environment threatened by fracking, and are rightly sceptical about claims it will lead to cheaper fuel bills.
“The government should pull the plug on fracking and create an energy policy that generates jobs and tackles climate change by developing Britain’s massive renewable energy potential.”
Before Cuadrilla’s announcement to the BBC, the campaign group No Dash for Gas had announced plans for a five-day ‘action camp’ starting at the drill site in Balcombe that would involve “mass, audacious and creative acts of civil disobedience”.
The protestors say that the camp is set to go ahead regardless, as, “Caudrilla have not committed to leaving Balcombe and they intend to frack other beautiful parts of Sussex. We see this as a soft deterrent, designed to create doubt and confusion around what Cuadrilla are really doing in Balcombe.”