We have reached our fundraising target and are in the High Court this week!

Published by FFBRA on

We’re in court this week! We have been absolutely blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity.

Our big day is nearly upon us, this is our chance to stop Angus returning to Balcombe after the planning inspector overturned the decision to refuse planning permission. If you would like to attend on the 19th July, then the doors open at 10am at the Royal Court of Justice, The Strand, London WC2A 2LL, it is a short walk from Blackfriars which conveniently has direct trains from Balcombe.

Proceedings start at 10.30am with a break for lunch and finish about 4.30pm. The café in the building is currently closed, but there are plenty of places to have a coffee or drink nearby. You are only permitted to take water in a plastic bottle (not glass) into the court room.

We will be challenging the decision of the Planning Inspector to allow oil exploration in Balcombe, a village in the Sussex Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

This application by Angus Energy was refused unanimously by West Sussex County Council. In March 2021 we thought that our ten year battle against the oil industry had been won.

But then in February 2023, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities decided to overturn the decision and approve an exploratory project to drill for oil in our village. This will involve 24/7 flaring of gases for a year, the industrialization of our village, noise and light pollution, disruption to natural habitats, and oversized HGVs thundering past our primary school. The proximity of the oil well to the nearby Ardingly reservoir also threats local water supplies.

This scandalous decision not only goes against the country’s ambitions to reach net zero, it also runs roughshod over local democracy – overturning the refusal by West Sussex County Council and opposition by Balcombe Parish Council and hundreds of local people.

It is likely that it will take several months for a judgement to be handed down after our hearing finishing on Thursday. The outcome could have significant implications beyond Balcombe.

If we are successful in our judicial review, this will give protection to other communities faced with the threat of hydrocarbon exploration or extraction.

At the High Court, our barristers will make six legal arguments:
Ground 1: Unlawful to rely on benefits without harms of hydrocarbon extraction.
Ground 2: Flawed interpretation of M7 of the West Sussex Mineral Local Plan
Ground 3: Unlawful failure to consider alternatives to the AONB
Ground 4: Failure to comply with EIA Regulations
Ground 5: Failure to consider the impacts on climate change
Ground 6: Unlawful failure to assess impact on water resources

We only need to win on one of these to be successful.