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Discovery of gas deposits could lead to drilling

Gas deposits found in the East Sussex town of Crowborough may lead to the controversial practice of fracking in the future.

Gas exploration company Cuadrilla has a licence that would allow it to carry out exploratory drilling at sites in Crowborough and Heathfield, where gas has been discovered.

Cuadrilla said it has no plans at present to carry out drilling at either site, but the controversy at the firm’s site in Balcombe in West Sussex, where a major protest against fracking has been ongoing for more than two weeks, has prompted fears of similar activity in the east of the county.

More than 30 arrests were made as protesters clashed with police at Balcombe.

On Friday Wealden MP Charles Hendry voiced his support for the divisive technique.

He said: “My position as a local MP is that we cannot ignore a technology that is now the main economic driver in the United States.

“Gas prices in the US are one-third of the level of those in the UK and this could therefore play a vital role in tackling fuel poverty.

“However, it should only be done with the highest levels of environmental protection, and we will certainly be implementing higher standards than have applied elsewhere.”

The process of fracking involves pumping liquid into the ground at high pressures to split shale rocks and release gas.

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