UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) are seeking planning permission to drill 4 new oil wells at Markwells Wood in Forestside. It’s important to consider this proposal in detail as this will directly affect all visitors to Stansted Park and the South Downs National Park for the next twenty years at least.

We are in the South Downs National Park whose core purposes are:

  • To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.
  • To promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Park by the public.

Drilling would be in direct contradiction to the purposes of the SDNP and it’s stated primary role of conserving and enhancing the landscape, tranquility and Dark Night Skies, Water Environment and Biodiversity. If permission is granted to drill at Markwells Wood, the precedent would be set for a huge number of wells to be drilled as (according to the UKOG Executive Chairman, Stephen Sanderson)

“Continual drilling of back-to-back wells is necessary to combat the very steep 60-75% production decline of shale wells in their early lives.”

The immediate impact would be an increase in HGV traffic using Broad Walk past Stansted for access to and from the wells. They are proposing 4 new wells in addition to the existing well which by UKOG’s calculation will result in up to 170 days of 24 hour drilling with constant noise, light and traffic. After the initial drilling the site would be operated for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for 20 years if significant reserves of oil were found.

This would result in thousands of heavy truck movements on the narrow roads around Stansted. I know of two lorries carrying timber that have ended up in the ditch at Broad Walk within the last year due to the narrow roads, so the possibility of oil or waste spillage needs to be considered as well.

Even if you believe in the benefits of drilling in the UK, surely this should be kept out of our National Parks? This will impact the South Downs for the next generation, so if you are considering raising an objection then there is more information here about how best to do it.

The Deadline to raise an objection with South Downs Planning Authority is 31st October, please go to http://www.southdowns.gov.uk/planning/planning-applications/ with the Application No: SDNP/16/04679/CM

If you would like to be kept informed about what is happening with the Markwells Wood site, then please visit https://www.facebook.com/MarkwellsWoodWatch/

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