Portsmouth Lib Dem supporters back council action against South Downs oil plan

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PARTY members have welcomed Portsmouth City Council’s commitment to oppose plans to drill for oil in the South Downs.

Lib Dem councillors Hugh Mason and Dave Ashmore brought a plan to the full council urging elected officials to condemn UK Oil and Gas’s application – and lobby it ‘to take all necessary steps’ to ensure the ‘continued security of pure water’ from its aquifers.

Their plan was accepted, as was a Ukip bid to get the council’s chief executive to write to the MPs of Havant and Chichester and the park authority to raise their concerns.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem leader, said: ‘It just seems to me that the concerns by Portsmouth Water have been swept under the carpet. Everyone is concerned by this.’

Explaining its processes, UKOG chief executive Stephen Sanderson said: ‘The chalk aquifer in the existing well and all future wells is completely isolated behind heavy gauge steel tubing, known as casing, which is bonded to the chalk with waterproof impermeable concrete.

‘The process of drilling ahead to the target almost a mile further underground uses a modern, environmentally-friendly, water-based drilling mud.

The pressure exerted by the mud prevents any oil from the oil reservoir entering the well until further sets of steel casing are set and bonded to the surrounding rock. The existing well and all future wells will have three sets of such overlapping steel tubing, all surrounded by cement.’