Friends of the Earth


Markwells Wood Watch was formed to stop a proposal to drill for oil and gas in this special part of the South Downs National Park. Markwells wood is an area of ancient woodland which is home to a rich biodiversity including the rare Bechstein’s bat.
Friends of the Earth helped the group, to set up an easy way for people to object online and encouraged them to send letters to all councillors in the area highlighting key concerns. Over 2,000 objections were sent in relating to potential water, air and noise pollution and negative impacts on the natural beauty of the South Downs. As the hearing by the South Downs National Park’s planning committee drew close, UKOG’s plans looked likely to be rejected, and the company withdrew its application.
However, the fight is not over as a new application could be submitted. The group remains vigilant and meanwhile is helping other local groups to object to similar proposals for fossil fuel extraction.

Emily Mott has lived in the area for eight years. She comes from New York State where fracking has been banned due to risks to drinking water and was surprised by the poor regulation to govern oil and gas exploration in England.

“We are so lucky to be living in one of Englands most beautiful landscapes. We want to keep fracking and acidising out of our Naitonal Parks and protect our water which is some of the most pure in England.”

Ann Stewart has lived in the area for ten years. She fell in love with the woodlands, and is deeply concerned that their unique nature could be damaged further, she has already seen and heard changes in the wildlife present here including a decrease in skylarks.

“Markwells wood is ancient woodland, it’s been wooded for 400 years continuously and that means that there is a very complex ecosystem much of which is in the ground, losing any bit of ancient woodland is very serious it’s a bit like losing our rainforests”

“My environment degree with the Open University, has made me aware of the ancient woodland, biodiversity loss and habitat loss issues. I think the beauty of the area speaks for itself. The thought of fracking occurring here in the middle of England’s breathing space was anathema”

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