Landowners in Sussex have begun a challenge to legally block fracking in the South Downs.
Celtique Energie, the oil and gas company, has made an application for planning permission to drill for shale gas near the national park.
Residents living near the village of Fernhurst have arranged for their lawyers to write to Celtique Energie and the Energy Secretary Ed Davey to state that they do not give permission for horizontal drilling under their land and properties.
There has been hints that the Government many change the trespass law to make it easier for companies to drill under people’s land.
One of five landowners who are fighting the cause, Marcus Adams, said
“Trespass law gives residents a chance to stand up to powerful corporations wanting to drill under their homes but now the government wants to take this protection away from them.
“Many Tory voters here will be baffled by a government ready to bend the rule of law and chip away at homeowners’ rights to clear a path for the industrialisation of our countryside.”
Greenpeace have said that they hope the Fernhurst legal blockade becomes a “blueprint for local resistance right across the country”.
A spokesperson from Celtique said: “The horizontal well would be located exclusively within the ownership of the land owners with whom Celtique has entered into a leasing agreement for its proposed exploration well. Furthermore the horizontal well is only an option at this stage and would be drilled on the basis of positive data from the vertical well.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it issues licences to when the operator secures landowners’ permission and meets “stringent regulations” including planning permission.