VILLAGERS in Westbourne have been debating the controversial topic of fracking.
Companies such as Northern Petroleum, which runs an oil field in Horndean, has applied for extensions to licences to explore the South Downs National Park, and in particular Markwells Wood, near Rowlands Castle, for oil and gas.
It has until March 2015 to complete its investigations and residents say that if the companies then decide to go ahead with fracking, their village and environment would be irreversibly damaged.
A group called Frack Free Solent has been touring the region holding public meetings to raise awareness of the issue.
Ian Marshall, who lives in Forestside, within the woodland, said the fracking process’ horizontal drilling could make it impossible to insure his home.
He said: ‘They could conceivably be drilling under my house without my permission and that could mean my house is uninsurable.
‘Then there are the concerns of high-volume, heavy-duty traffic.
‘From a community point of view, I’m very concerned about the pollution aspect because it could cause a lot of long-term health issues.’
The standing-room-only meeting was addressed by Tim Dawes, of Havant Green Party.
He said: ‘We want people to have the information about fracking now so they can start talking to their councillors and their MPs about it.
‘This is just to get people aware of this issue because we don’t think they are being told what they need to know about it, so if the companies do decide to start fracking in the area, they can make their own minds up.’
Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing to release shale gas and has been blamed for causing mini-earthquakes, water pollution and even methane escaping through the taps in people’s kitchens and bathrooms.
For details of future meetings, see frackfreesolent.org.uk