South Harting votes ‘no’ to fracking

The meeting at South Harting  PICTURES BY emilymott@2014
The meeting at South Harting PICTURES BY emilymott@2014

VILLAGERS in South Harting voted unanimously against fracking in the South Downs National Park after listening to a community debate on the controversial topic.

The debate was hosted by South Harting Primary School and at the end of the evening, those who attended were asked to vote on whether or not they would support fracking in the South Downs.

The vote was overwhelmingly against fracking, with just two people abstaining.

The evening kicked off with Tim Dawes of Frack-Free Solent telling the meeting that fracking required the injection of millions of gallons of toxic fluid underground which, he claimed, risked contaminating local aquifers and threatened drinking water.

He also argued that putting carcinogenic chemicals underground would be likely to cause property prices in the area to plummet.

The next speaker was John Diggens, a geo-scientist with 25 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry.

He presented maps of the rock strata under the South Downs and pointed out major fissures which he believed would allow fracking fluid to 
migrate into the drinking water table.

He further added that in his years of experience in the industry, “all fracking wells eventually do leak.”

Finally, Green Party MEP Keith Taylor played a video of an American industrial fracking site.

He explained that the wellheads ran compressors 24 hours a day which were ‘extremely noisy – 104 decibels or as loud as a rock concert’.

Mr Taylor claimed that fracking in the South Downs region would require around 3,000 wells, ‘roughly one every mile – and each well requires roughly 2,000 lorry trips to deliver the fracking fluid’.

To provide a counter-argument, the debate organisers invited Celtique Energie, the company seeking planning permission for an exploratory well near Fernhurst to attend, but, said spokesman Reed Paget: “They declined the invitation. Similarly, the MP for Chichester, Andrew Tyrie, also turned down the opportunity to explain why he supports fracking.”