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Gas Driller Freezes Plans in Rural Britain after Fracking Protests

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LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Oil exploration at a site in rural England that sparked anti-fracking protests two weeks ago will be put on hold later this month and reconsidered next year with the freeze hailed a "cautious victory" by campaigners.

Shale gas driller Cuadrilla Resources on Tuesday withdrew an application to extend drilling and horizontal well testing at a site near Balcombe village in West Sussex beyond Sept. 28 when its current permit expires and said it would submit new plans.

The new application for a six-month extension will cover the same well testing as in a 2010 proposal and will not seek permission for extra drilling or any drilling known as fracking, a move Cuadrilla may hope will allay local community fears.

The application will not come before the council's planning committee until next year after further local consultation.

"Our decision to make a new application ... is to resolve any potential legal ambiguity around how the planning boundary should be drawn for a subsurface horizontal well," the company said in a statement.

"As this is a new planning application, the County Council will consult with interested third parties and we will have the opportunity for further engagement with Balcombe residents about our well testing plans."

Balcombe was the site two weeks ago of angry protests following an almost month-long standoff over the nascent shale gas extraction industry in Britain.


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