CAMPAIGNERS have criticised the county council for not taking a tougher stance against fracking.
Councillors at Tory-led Hampshire County Council are recommending each potential application for fracking is considered on its merits.
Green groups, who oppose the extraction of shale gas from rocks deep beneath the ground, were hoping the council would make a more resolute stance against fracking as other councils, such as Brighton, are considering becoming fracking-free zones.
Members of the environment and transportation select committee considered a motion, raised by councillor Adam Carew, to consider ‘the controversial impact of fracking’.
Councillor Sharyn Wheale, chairwoman of the committee, said: ‘A number of members initially had concerns about fracking, but after being briefed on the subject had been reassured. Members were more confident in the regulations in place to manage the risks, particularly the prospect of continuous monitoring.’
A report states the Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan – which the county council draws up to make decisions – has ‘up-to-date robust planning policies to help and address and consider the environmental concerns’.
Environmentalist Ray Cobbett, from Emsworth, was angry as earlier this year the authority banned large wind turbines on its land – some 21,000 acres.
He said: ‘It looks inconsistent. They appear to be very exercised about banning wind farms for visual reasons from their own land, yet quite relaxed when it comes to creating fracking farms, possibly on the same land.’
‘We don’t think they are taking a strong enough view to safeguard Hampshire’s environmental assets. They have lost the opportunity to express a point of view.’
But he admitted the council probably had to stay neutral on oil, gas and fracking applications because it is the planning authority.
By contrast, applications for wind farms are decided at a local level by borough and district councils.