Published: 09:00, 08 November 2013
The company behind plans to drill for oil and gas at three sites in east Kent has abandoned its proposals - but might submit more applications.
Coastal Oil and Gas has withdrawn the planning applications to make exploratory boreholes at Shepherdswell, Guston and on the former Tilmanstone Colliery site at Eythorne.
The company has told Kent County Council it intends to collate the additional information requested and re-submit the applications in due course.
Members of East Kent Against Fracking, who had campaigned against the plans, are claiming it as a "small victory", but say they will be ready to protest again if and when fresh applications are submitted.
"Coastal has a track record of putting in applications and withdrawing them when faced by opposition," said a spokesperson for the group. "They will be come back. We will be waiting."
Julie Wassmer, vice chairman of East Kent Against Fracking, said: "Coastal Oil and Gas were asked to produce more information for the Environment Agency and obviously they couldn't or they would have submitted it by now.
"I believe this clearly demonstrates that the company was unable to satisfy the demands for more information on how Kent water would be protected from contamination by drilling.
"This is a victory in the sense that yesterday we had three applications for drilling in East Kent and today we have none. I think all the opposition was a blow to Coastal who underestimated our power.
"Let this be a lesson to KCC now and if Coastal does submit fresh applications, they will have to do far more to create a dialogue with the people."
The applications by Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd for test drilling sites were not for shale gas, but for methane gas - and similar extraction techniques are used.
Residents feared that if the exploratory drilling led to searching for shale gas, "east Kent could become the next Balcombe" - the Sussex village at the centre of a huge anti-fracking campaign.