Environmental advocacy groups have staged regular demonstrations in Balcombe near the southeast coast, to protest a drilling program launched by Cuadrilla, which has licenses to use the controversial technique hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, elsewhere in the country.
Energy companies like Cuadrilla signed up to deliver as much as $150,000 up front to the communities near fracking operations. But the company said the kickback might not apply for Balcombe and other nearby communities because they're only doing ordinary drilling there.
A spokesman for the company told The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London the financial pledge wouldn't be a factor because it's not targeting shale in the area. Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan said it was a government matter.
"Perhaps if we drill ordinary wells there should be the same (benefits)," he said in an interview published Sunday. "This is an area that ultimately is for the government to decide."
Critics of fracking are concerned about the potential for groundwater contamination. Cuadrilla said it would need another permit if it plans to use fracking at Balcombe.