“Out of the oily frying pan into the fire” – Green MEP reacts to Cuadrilla’s Balcombe sale

The Green MEP for the South East has reacted with incredulity to the news that the fracking firm Cuadrilla has sold the operation of its Balcombe drilling licence to Angus Energy.

Cuadrilla was granted permission to drill in Balcombe following a unanimous decision by West Sussex County Council earlier this month. The decision caused an uproar among local residents and campaigners who successfully rebuffed the fracking firm’s previous incursion into the village in 2013. With local residents pledging to continue opposing the plans, Cuadrilla has announced the sale of its Balcombe operation to Angus Energy.

The sale has raised eyebrows among campaigners and commentators alike. Angus Energy is currently locked in a long-running planning dispute with Surrey County Council after the firm drilled a side-track well without permission at their Brockham drill site in Dorking. A subsequent retrospective application for permission has been rejected as ‘invalid’ by the council.

Responding to the news, Keith Taylor MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee and the European Chair of the Climate Parliament, said:

“As if having Cuadrilla circling around again wasn’t bad news enough, the people of Balcombe have now been tossed out of the oily frying pan and into the fire. As our neighbours in Surrey are only too aware, Angus Energy is a firm that believes it is above local democracy. Angus’s belligerence after drilling without permission in Surrey betrays a company that is, at best, ignorant of the planning regulations imposed on them, and, at worst, feels no duty to abide by them. In short, Angus is a firm that can’t or shouldn’t be expected to be trusted.”

“West Sussex County Council’s unanimous decision to hand Balcombe back to the frackers and oil and gas industry was certainly a sad day for the village but residents have had little time to wallow and have, instead, galvanised and reinvigorated the campaign to protect their homes, their communities and, ultimately, our climate and environment.”

“The further exploitation of oil and gas resources either by conventional or unconventional means is a form of dangerous climate denial, especially when there is such a huge and passionate renewable energy industry in Sussex that is limited only by the lack of Government and local authority support.”

“In just the last week we’ve seen two reports from scientists at NASA and academics at the University of Manchester reveal that not only is the oil and gas industry one of the least sustainable it is also the most responsible for the accelerating global emissions of climate-destructive methane. Methane is more than 80 times more damaging to our climate than CO2 emissions. At the same time, the UK Government’s own Climate Change Committee concluded that unless immediate action was taken Britain will fail to meet its legally-binding climate agreements by a huge margin.”