MORE than 100 people turned up to a meeting of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) as the body attempts to arm itself with a weapon of information in readiness for the prospect of future drilling applications.
The meeting was held on Tuesday (October 15).
Though no applications have actually been submitted to the park, the authority hosted a presentation to gain more knowledge about the drilling and exploration process, and, thereafter, hydraulic fracturing, or, ‘fracking’.
Members of the public were invited along to find out more about the process from experts, although they were not allowed to make representations or ask questions.
But not everyone was pleased with the presentation agenda. Professor Roger Cullis from Fernhurst was one of the members of the public in the audience. He said: “The presentation was very anodyne and in favour of fracking.
“It presented arguments for it, but very little against it.”
Peter Styles is Professor in Applied and Environmental Geophysics at Keele University and has been advising the government on Cuadrilla’s work. He gave an overview about fracking.
He said: “People get very upset about fracking. I want to educate them on something they often know little about.”
There from the government’s department of energy and climate change was Duarte Figueira, head of the office of unconventional gas and oil (OUGO).
Set up in December 2012, one of the main priorities of the OUGO is ‘to ensure people benefit from shale gas production if there are future developments in their area’.
Councillor Andrew Shaxson said: “If, heaven forbid, there was some terrible incident, and the company walked away from it, would the government be responsible for the clean-up operation?”
Mr Figueira responded: “The government checks the company has the appropriate insurance in place.”
Also presenting was Simon Deacon, technical specialist at the Environment Agency, and SDNPA minerals and waste officer, Claire Potts.
Margaret Paren, chairman of the SDNPA, said: “We really appreciate these expert speakers coming to talk to us.
“There are many questions that will need to be answered in the event of a planning application. I think we are now much better placed to make sure we are asking the right ones.”