VILLAGERS across the Midhurst and Petworth area sitting on pockets of shale oil and gas are moving to arm themselves with all the facts about fracking.
Rogate Parish Council has hosted what they hope will become a ‘citizen’s Forum’ teaming up with neighbouring parishes to learn more about hydraulic fracturing.
Sarah O’Brien-Twohig, Rogate Parish Council’s lead on fracking said it was intended to ‘inform ourselves about the topic’ and she had invited speakers for and against.
Representative for the oil industry Peter Carson, an experienced oil and gas field mechanical engineer who has worked for big oil companies, told the meeting shale gas was ‘cheap’.
“In 2005 the gas price in the US was $10 a cubic metre and now it is $3 – fracking has revolutionised the US.”
He said drilling could take place from two to four miles horizontally under the ground: “From Fernhurst, it could go one and a half miles and go under Liphook golf course with pinpoint accuracy to follow shale lines.”
In terms of water pollution he said there were ‘very stringent regulations’ governing fracking in Britain and the long term integrity of wells after fracking would also be ensured.
“In terms of the environment the UK is regulated more stringently than many places in the world including the United States and Australia.”
But hydro-geologist Graham Warren of CPRE (Protect Kent Environment) who has written papers on fracking and its environmental impact said the ‘anticline’ structure of the rocks under Fernhurst and the surrounding area were ‘absolutely riddled with fault lines’ and he added “faults are bad news for frackers.
“These faults can cause earthquakes and any tendency for the plates to move will be exacerbated by the fracking process.”
Mr Warren told the meeting leading geophysics expert David Smythe believed if faults were intersected ‘they became fast track conduits for surface water contamination’.
And Mr Warren said he believed, not three or four, but between one and two hundred ‘toxic and very aggressive chemicals’ were mixed with the water in the fracking process ‘some of which we know little about’.
And he added that the Environmental Agency would not have enough resources to ensure compliance with regulations on every site drilled in the country.
John Buchanan from the Frack Free Fernhurst group told the meeting: “There are genuine unknowns and genuine risks and I am very uneasy about the way this whole thing has been handled by the government.”