WILDLIFE groups have raised fears that ‘fracking’ could cause water pollution and harm wildlife in Hampshire.

A report by leading wildlife and countryside groups contains ten recommendations for making fracking safer.

Several chunks of Hampshire have licences for companies to explore and drill for shale gas.
RSPB south east conservation officer Alison Giacomelli said: “The effects of fracking in sensitive areas on wildlife and the risks of water pollution are such that we would recommend those areas are avoided altogether for exploration.”

South Downs National Park that runs east from Winchester to Sussex are potential fracking areas.

The concern is that chemicals used in the exploration process could pollute ground and surface water which would affect wildlife and drinking water quality.

The fracking report published last week has been produced by the Angling Trust, the National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon & Trout Association, The Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

Janina Gray, Salmon & Trout Association head of science, said: “The water use of the UK shale gas industry could exacerbate pressure on rivers and wetlands, particularly on sensitive water bodies and those already suffering from over-abstraction, such as chalk streams, and this adds yet further pressure on declining fish populations - the Atlantic salmon being a prime example.”

Simon Pryor, National Trust natural environment director, said: “The debate on fracking needs to be evidence based. The evidence from this detailed research clearly reveals that the regulation of shale gas needs to be improved if it’s to offer adequate protection for sensitive environments.

Martin Salter, national campaigns coordinator for the Angling Trust, said: “A poor fracking operation has the potential to pollute groundwater supplies and to cause damage to fragile ecosystems in our chalk streams and other rivers. That is why we need the strongest possible regulatory framework, funded from the profits of the industry rather than from taxpayers’ pockets.”