Fracking fears rise in the national park

Lord Cowdray points to the proposed fracking site from his garden in Fernhurst.
Lord Cowdray points to the proposed fracking site from his garden in Fernhurst.

MORE than 2,000 objections have flooded into the South Downs National Park and now the county highways authority has added its weight against drilling plans at Fernhurst from Celtique Energie.

A decision to allow planning permission at Nine Acre Copse could result in more than 1,000 fracking wells across the South Downs National Park, claim campaigners.

Leading Frack Free Fernhurst member Marcus Adams hit out at chairman of the Environment Agency Chris Smith, who said in an interview with The Times that fracking could take place in national parks because the visual intrusion was minimal and the environmental risks had been exaggerated.

Lord Smith’s comments came as South Downs prepares to become the 
first national park authority to decide a shale gas drilling plan,

Mr Adams said: “The reality is fracking is a long-term, noisy, dirty heavy industrial process, completely unlike conventional oil extraction. And in order for it to be economically viable, there would need to be thousands of wells.

“In America, where fracking is taking place there is one well every 360 acres – that would mean over 1,100 wells in the national park.”

He said Lord Smith’s ‘apparent ignorance’ about the real environmental and health problems was a concern. “Many doctors and scientists are now linking poor health outcomes, such as infertility, cancer and birth defects with the high level of endocrine and hormone-disrupting chemicals used in the fracking process.

Lord Smith said he did not agree with the anti-fracking stance. “Campaigners fall into 
two camps.

“One is very much campaigning against the local impact of drilling at particular sites. Provided it’s done carefully and properly regulated, those fears are definitely exaggerated.”

He added: “I wouldn’t rule out fracking in national parks because provided it’s being done properly, the visual impact can be very limited indeed. It will depend on any individual location.”