OIL EXPLORATION company UK Oil and Gas has announced that it has temporarily withdrawn its planning application to drill in Markwells Wood at Forestside near Rowlands Castle.

The application was due to be decided South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) on Tuesday, May 11, but it was withdrawn so that new site-specific hydrogeological data can be gathered.

It is now planned to resubmit the plans later this year after the data has been collected and ongoing talks with the Environment Agency (EA) about a ground water risk assessment are concluded.

A drilling company spokesman said: “We requested the SDNPA delay the determination of the Markwells Wood project until July 13, but disappointingly this request was refused.

“Collecting the data has begun, and is expected to be completed before the summer.”

He added the compnay will now also apply for a full EA permit covering the first phase of the proposed development when the planning application is resubmitted.

UK Oil and Gas chairman Stephen Sanderson said: “Given the potential sensitivity of the Markwells Wood site to the adjacent chalk groundwater system, it is in the public interest that this subject be investigated as thoroughly as possible prior to any further site activity.

“Whilst the SDNPA refusal to accommodate this is somewhat unsatisfactory, we look forward to concluding this matter with the EA and resubmitting the application as soon as practicable.

“Our target of drilling Markwells Wood by 2019 is unlikely to be affected."