LIB DEMS have attacked a “complacent” county council report on fracking.

At a meeting last Thursday, the council considered the impact of controversial drilling for shale gas.

Cllr Martin Tod said it would be wrong to accept a report which said Hampshire had sufficient regulations in place to protect it from the risks of fracking.

He said the document compared the amount of water used in a fracking well to that used by a golf course, but that the figure used refers to a Florida golf course over one year. In Hampshire, he said, the amount of water required had been grossly underestimated.

At a full council meeting in Winchester on Thursday (NOV 28), he said: “The report is complacent about the use of water.

“Residents are being told to use water meters. Our two main rivers are vulnerable. We would be wrong to accept the committee recommendations,” he said.

Cllr Mel Kendal supported the report’s recommendations, but criticised some of the rhetoric surrounding the debate.

“In the case of fracking, the first casualty has been the truth. I do not think you can over estimate the economic benefits that would come to Hampshire with gas exploration. The economic benefits will create a boom.

“Gas is good, I agree though that water is a problem,” he said.

Fracking — or hydraulic fracturing — involves drilling thousands of feet underground and then pumping in pressurised water and chemicals to crack the rocks below and release trapped pockets of gas.

Concerns have been raised including pollution of groundwater, chemical spills, methane emissions and “small earthquakes”.

The Environment Agency would monitor water quality, methane escape and seismic activity and has the power to shut down wells if problems develop.

Licences for exploratory drilling have already been granted in parts of Hampshire, including north of Winchester between Kings Worthy and Stockbridge.

Despite lib Dem opposition, the council voted overwhelmingly to support the recommendations.