In 2013, Cuadrilla Resources drilled a well at Lower Stumble. FFBRA was founded in September 2013 in response to the excessive noise from Cuadrilla’s drilling.

As a village, we voted in February 2014 to keep oil companies out of our village.

However, West Sussex County Council gave Cuadrilla planning permission to return. We contested this through a Judicial Review in the High Court, but lost. Cuadrilla’s old planning permission expired in May 2017 and Cuadrilla reapplied for planning permission through West Sussex County Council to flow test the existing well which was granted by planning committee in January 2018.

Most recent development:

On 22nd January 2018 Angus Energy announced that it had agreed to acquire a 25% Interest in the Balcombe Licence PEDL244 subject to consent by the OGA (Oil and Gas Authority). See latest news for more information.

On 27th October 2017, Cuadrilla submitted a new planning application to flow test the well drilled in the summer of 2013. They were granted planning permission, and have explicitly stated that if they find oil in recoverable quantities, they will immediately apply for further planning permission, to start producing oil.

FFBRA does not want them in the village again, and must do everything legal in our power to stop them.

If Cuadrilla find oil here, they won’t be content with just this one well. It is likely to mean many more wells, all over our countryside, with new roads to service them, and pipelines built to carry the oil away. As one oil company CEO put it, we’ll have ‘back to back wells’ across the Weald.

A production well at Lower Stumble 

This time Cuadrilla say they will immediately apply to turn Lower Stumble into an oil production site if their initial two-week test proves a success. Full-scale production will mean drilling more wells. Indeed their licence obliges them to drill another well by 2021. Remember, Cuadrilla have leased the Lower Stumble site for 30 years, until 2043! Yet our village voted “no” to oil exploration and production.


At Lower Stumble on the southern end of our village, Cuadrilla have drilled horizontally for a third of a mile into an oily limestone-rich sliver within the thick bed of oil-bearing shale beneath our feet. They intend to use hydrochloric acid, along with other chemicals, to dissolve passageways through the limestone. By targeting (for now) only the limestone, Cuadrilla can avoid using the Fracking word.

Why should I care about acidising?

Acidising brings the same risks as fracking – risks to our health and environment, wildlife and farm animals, the clean country air we breathe, potentially the water we all drink. Acidising brings noise, flares, heavy traffic on our country road, a range of chemicals whose toxicity in some cases is unknown and untested. It brings unwanted heavy industry to our peaceful village – and as we know, it brings social stress.

There could be hundreds of wells. So far, oil companies are prospecting in a few scattered places across the South East. But oil companies are thinking big. One oil CEO in the Weald has referred to wells ‘back to back’ across the landscape.

‘But Sussex has had oil wells for decades!’ Oil companies today can drill horizontally over long distances into different kinds of rocks, through which oil cannot flow without acidising or fracking. Until recently, no one was talking about wells every couple of miles, under our homes, communities and fields. What is proposed now is much more intrusive and intensive. And regulation is lagging behind new technology.