FRIENDS of the Earth called on David Cameron to listen to the people of Hampshire after the government issued new oil and gas licences for the area.

The controversial activity, which has been linked to minor earthquakes and other environmental problems, could take place in the Whitchurch and Andover areas of the county.

These licences could open the door for gas exploration and production such as fracking for shale oil and gas.

Under the plans, fracking could take place in large parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The government has also given the goahead for the technique to be used north of Winchester and in the southern half of the Isle of Wight – subject to the outcome of environmental assessments.

Brenda Pollack, campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: “Increasing evidence on the health and environmental impacts of fracking is emerging.

“That’s why people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and across the country are concerned about what fracking means for them.

“Mr Cameron needs to understand that local communities up and down the country are rejecting fracking and demanding clean energy.

“It’s particularly appalling the day after the government completed its U-turn on promises to protect national parks and groundwater protection areas from the risks of fracking.

“The message from the climate talks in Paris is clear. We need to take strong action on climate change so it is ludicrous that David Cameron is opening up vast swathes of England to exploit new fossil fuels.

“Fracking is banned or put on hold in places across the world including Scotland, Wales, France and New York state by governments acting to protect people from the impacts.

“Yet the UK government has taken the first step to impose fracking and unconventional gas in this area.”