GREEN campaigners fear the countryside around the Havant and Waterlooville area could be the next place to be targeted by frackers.
A public meeting has been organised in Havant next week to discuss the controversial energy scheme, which involves pumping high pressure liquid underground to split shale rock and release oil or gas supplies.
It comes as areas such as Horndean, Hambledon, Rowlands Castle, Petersfield and even Leigh Park have been identified by geologists as areas where shale gas deposits may lie.
Oil extraction has been under way in Horndean for decades, with exploratory drilling for oil already approved in Forestside, near Rowlands Castle, and off Hulbert Road, Leigh Park.
Although there is no guarantee, the same areas could potentially harbour shale gas deposits.
Tim Dawes, who leads Havant’s Green Party and has been taking part in anti-fracking demonstrations at Balcombe, West Sussex, is very concerned.
He said: ‘There are a number of potential sites round here for frackers.
‘We are calling a meeting. We just think it’s likely that we are going to be next.
‘We have all sorts of different people getting involved – rich property owners who are up in arms and climate change activists.’
Objectors say fracking can cause small-scale earthquakes and contaminate groundwater – a major concern as springs in Havant provide drinking water for most of the Portsmouth area.
Mr Dawes added: ‘The amount of water running into these wells is extraordinary. We are not talking about one or two. We are talking about hundreds, maybe thousands, across the south coast in order to extract this.’
Prime Minister David Cameron insists fracking will attract ‘real public support’ when the benefits are explained, such as cutting energy bills.
Ray Finch, who leads Hampshire’s UKIP party and lives in Havant, said: ‘My personal opinion is as long as it’s been proven to be safe and the proper safeguards are put in place and as long as the problems people are associating with it can be overcome, then I am totally in favour of it.
‘It brings energy security and it brings jobs.’
The meeting takes place on Thursday, August 29 at St Faith’s Hall, The Pallant, Havant, from 7pm.