If you'll excuse me another colossal name-drop, chatting to Prof Iain Stewart after his visit to Pennsylvania for his Horizon documentary, one of the most striking impacts that he found wasn't the pollution or lack of it, but how drilling had divided communities. Sadly, it seems that this is already happening in Balcombe, as a message I received from a local resident will testify:
A few months ago, I like many had never heard of fracking! Just a few lines to put you in the picture about who I am. Malcolm Thomason is my name, a 56 year old Balcombe born & bred guy. Until a couple of weeks ago most in the world had never heard of our lovely village with a population of about 1750. Balcombe is about 16 miles due north of Brighton, 8 miles south of Gatwick Airport in the Sussex Weald. We have a lake, mill and the fantastic Ardingly Reservoir - most of reservoir is in Balcombe. We have a pub, social club and a village shop. Not a lot but its nice and mainly quiet. But in recent years the outsiders, not village types have moved here, paying vast prices for houses near the main London-Brighton rail line with easy access to Croydon & London. I would say 25/30 years ago I knew 90% of the Village and now I dont know 90%. Thats the short introduction done with !
In 1986 Conoco drilled the same site next to B2036 south of village for 23 days. The site is 600-700yds due south of my house as crow flies. In 1986 there were no protesters, in fact we were invited to view site and to see what was going on, a very interesting visit it was as well. Conoco found some oil, not in large quantities but it was there.
How things have changed in July/Aug 2013, we have now been invaded by a vast array of people of all descriptions. Another 1000 NoDashForGas folk are setting up a camp in a field from 16-21August, the same group that shut down West Burton power station for three days last year! They seem intent on shutting down also the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe as well.
Not knowing about fracking I set of to research the subject! Plenty info about if one cares to take time and look that shows in my opinion that it is not dangerous in any shape or form! Just scaremongers putting out propaganda to try and convince the gullible that its not the thing to do! I stumbled across James Verdon twitter page and read with interest his blogs on fracking and learnt a lot more than I already knew. I only wish the antis in Balcombe would view these blogs, but a lot can only see the the water being polluted, the fantastic Victorian Balcombe Viaduct finished in 1841 collapsing through an earthquake, and the blue skies turning black!
This issue is already dividing a village with people who used to talk to each other, now trying to avoid each other, a sad state of affairs i think you all will agree!