Fracking could come to the area despite cheaper oil prices

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FRACKING remains a very real possibility in Hampshire and West Sussex, a campaign group has warned.

Cheaper oil prices have not taken the pressure off the pursuit for shale gas, says the local branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

CPRE has no objection in principle to shale gas exploration and extraction.

But it says drilling must observe the strict guidelines suggested by the Royal Academy of Engineering and planning conditions should be put in place to deal with traffic and landscape issues.

Edward Dawson, a trustee at CPRE, said: ‘Shale gas is a potentially strong source of energy, but we all need to know that it is safe and not disruptive. We have tried to explore the policy issues and the techniques being used in its exploration.

‘It seems that using shale gas utilises many of the techniques which have been used for onshore oil and gas over many years. In addition, the depth at which explosive charges are used is too far down to effect the surface.

He added: ‘The price of oil has dropped over recent months, and the pressure has eased on indigenous sources. However, many new licences have been granted for exploration in the south of England, and these may be implemented over time.’

Last year, MPs voted to allow fracking for shale gas 1,200m below national parks and other protected sites.

The drill rigs would have to be positioned outside the boundaries of the protected areas.