‘Fracking for gas could bring jobs and prosperity’

Richard Stride, the director of the Groundlings Theatre in Portsea

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SEARCHING for shale gas deposits in and around Havant has been supported by the UK Independence Party.

Councillor Ray Finch, who represents Bedhampton and Leigh Park, said the industry – known as fracking – could bring jobs and prosperity.

It comes after an announcement this week that the UK may have much bigger shale gas reserves than expected.

Fracking involves blasting underground shale deposits with water to release trapped pockets of natural gas.

Ancient rocks beneath Hampshire and West Sussex have been identified as sites to explore.

As reported, eight licences for gas exploration have been awarded in the south of the county, including land east of Hambledon.

Meanwhile, oil exploration is taking place at Forestside, near Rowlands Castle, and on a patch of land off Hulbert Road, Leigh Park, and it is possible there are also gas reserves in the same rocks.

A ‘fracking boom’ is expected nationally as a moratorium was lifted by the government in December.

It was banned after being linked to two small earthquakes near Blackpool, but is now allowed again following safety improvements.

Cllr Finch said: ‘The plain and simple facts are that, at present, renewable sources of energy do not work efficiently enough to keep us going and we are relying on foreign supplies, particularly of gas, which leaves us insecure both politically and financially.

‘Wind farms, as well as being a blight on our landscape, are simply a method of transferring money from the poorest in our society to the richest.’

He added: ‘There are indications that the area around Havant may possibly be a source of shale gas and I am sure my constituents, who are enduring hard times and no help from the government would welcome the chance of jobs and prosperity.’

But Tim Dawes, Havant’s Green Party spokesman, said: ‘We are not talking about the kind of oil wells we have in Horndean.

‘We are taking about exploding the rock to increase the fissures underground and then pumping chemical-laden water in to encourage the stuff to come out.

‘I can’t think of any good reason to even suggest that fracking is a good idea in Havant. One of the main benefits of Havant is we have pure water – we wouldn’t have pure water if we had fracking.’