UK council rejects Celtique Energie's fracking proposal

LONDON Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:10am EDT

Demonstrators hold placards during an anti-fracking protest in central London March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Demonstrators hold placards during an anti-fracking protest in central London March 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

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LONDON (Reuters) - A plan by London-based oil and gas exploration firm Celtique Energie to drill for shale gas in southern England failed to win county government approval on Tuesday, the latest in a series of setbacks to Britain's fledgling shale industry.

Citing concerns about noise and the impact on the environment, West Sussex County Council's planning committee rejected the firm's application for permission to explore for oil and gas in Wisborough Green for three years.

"There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance," Councilor Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the committee, said in a statement.

In fracking, companies pump water and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to release oil and gas trapped in layers of rock.

Fracking wells will in the next few years be critical to establishing whether shale gas can be commercially produced in Britain.

The technique has led to a lot of public opposition in Britain over its environmental impact, including protests last year against Cuadrilla Resources when it was getting ready to drill a well in West Sussex.

Celtique Energie could not immediately be reached for comment.

Celtique holds 16 licenses for exploratory drilling in five countries in Europe, it says on its website. It holds four licenses for the Central Weald basin in southern England, which is estimated to hold a substantial amount of untapped reserves of gas or oil.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Jane Baird)

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