Hampshire must protect environment and support economy, says leader

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AN AUTHORITY has expressed its commitment to protecting the environment and supporting the economy as details have emerged of oil and gas plans.

The government has released details of the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round – which includes blocks of land where operators can apply for permission to drill.

Leaders at Hampshire County Council say they have ‘robust policies’ to deal with any applications that come their way.

It comes as MPs last week voted to allow fracking for shale gas 1,200m below national parks and other protected sites.

The move has once again raised fears that fracking could take place beneath the South Downs National Park, which covers a wide expanse of Hampshire and West Sussex.

The drill rigs would have to be positioned outside the national park boundary.

Councillor Sean Woodward, who leads environment in Hampshire, said: ‘Our role as the local authority is to protect Hampshire’s environment and communities while supporting the economy through sustainable management of minerals and waste development.’

He said a minerals masterplan had been adopted and two supplementary documents to support the plan are in the pipeline.

Cllr Woodward added that any application would be considered on its merits and would need planning permission from the relevant planning authority.