FRACKING could contaminate clean drinking water that has served the Portsmouth area for hundreds of years.
That was the warning as protesters gathered in Havant to voice their concerns over the controversial energy extraction process.
Demonstrators chanted ‘no fracking in Havant’ as they protested next to one of the town’s ancient springs.
It comes as the South Downs has been eyed up as a potential area for fracking, which involves blasting underground shale deposits with water to release trapped pockets of natural gas and oil.
Fracking companies will now be allowed to drill horizontally under national parks and other protected areas if their wells start just outside the boundaries.
Tim Dawes, Havant Green Party’s election candidate, said: ‘The reason Havant is here is because we have that pure water source.
‘You can drink the water straight out of the ground at the moment.
‘But if there was to be a spill somewhere up in the Downs in areas the government has licensed for shale gas exploration then this water and the aquifer that supports it would be polluted.
‘It would be polluted quite quickly.
‘A spill could come down here in just a couple of hours.
‘This is the water supply not just for Havant, but for Portsmouth, Chichester, Fareham. As soon as they get polluted, we don’t know how they can ever be cleaned up again.’
Havant resident Richard Lanchester, 67, said: ‘We have to reduce our energy consumption, not keep it where it is.’
A speech heard how current energy consumption was leading to global warming that could melt the polar icecaps during the lifetime of our children and future generations, leading to a rise in sea levels of up to 75m.
This would leave the Portsmouth area under water, said Mr Dawes.
Supporters of fracking say it could lead to decades of natural gas and oil production in the UK – rather than buying it from abroad.