Oil drilling would be ‘devastating’ for riders

  • Riders organised a march in protest at plans to drill for oil that would cause “devastation” if allowed to go ahead.

    More than 20 people joined the event, on 23 October in Forestside village, West Sussex, along the route the tankers and lorries would take should permission for the project be granted.

    Tracey Hodkin, who organised the march, said riders would face a number of large vehicles every day on the Broad Walk if the plans went ahead.

    The lane is used by riders from three livery yards in the area, as well as other local riders, to access nearby bridlepaths.

    Mrs Hodkin said her 15.2hh, 17-year-old mare would “cope with one or two vehicles, but faced by a line of them, she would be off”.

    “It would be devastating if it went ahead and would ruin the riding in our area for so many people,” she told H&H.

    An application to drill four oil wells underground beside Markwells Wood at Forestside was submitted by United Kingdom Oil & Gas (UKOG) in early October.

    A spokesman from UKOG told local press the maximum number of tankers would be six to eight per day, while the well was being set up.

    “These roads are completely unsuitable for an increase in heavy lorries,” said Emily Duncannon, who helped set up the grassroots campaign group, Markwells Wood Watch.

    “It is impossible to pass on some stretches and downright dangerous. We don’t think that this type of development is suitable in our tranquil and beautiful area,” she added.

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    The riders’ march was covered by local TV, two radio stations and four local papers.

    There have been 800 objections so far, but admits Mrs Hodkin “we desperately need more otherwise it will go ahead”.

    The deadline for the consultation period has been extended from 31 October, until 17 November.

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