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Ashdown Forest: Borehole Proposal

Volume 490: debated on Tuesday 17 November 1987

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will invite British Petroleum not to appeal against the unanimous decision by the East Sussex County Council and the Conservators of Ashdown Forest not to allow an exploratory borehole within the original pale of the forest, which is an Environmentally Sensitive Area.

It would be inappropriate to ask any developer to forgo its right of appeal following the refusal of planning permission.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will summarise the reasons put to them by BP for sinking an exploratory borehole on the edge of Ashdown Forest in an AONB and SSSI which persuaded them that the need to undertake the development outweighed the environmental objections.

An applicant for planning permission for an exploratory borehole is not required to set out reasons for its proposals to HMG. The case for the development should be made as part of the application.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the exploration for oil within the original pale of Ashdown Forest and its subsequent exploitation would be consistent with the letter and spirit of Section 16 of the Ashdown Forest Act 1974 (c xxi) in which Parliament lays on the Conservators the duty to "protect the forest from encroachments and to conserve it as a quiet and natural area of outstanding beauty".

Each case should be considered on its merits. Any development permitted by a planning application would remain subject to the provisions of the Ashdown Forest Act 1974, including the need to comply with the by-laws made under the Act.