Campaigners fight against oil drilling proposals

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Campaigners gathered outside council offices this week to continue their fight against oil drilling proposals.

Residents opposing an application for exploratory drilling at Markwells Wood in Forestside waved placards reading ‘protect our water’ ahead of a Portsmouth City Council meeting on Tuesday.

During the meeting councillors voted to approve a motion backing Portsmouth Water’s objection of the application by UK Oil and GAS (UKOG) to further develop the site, pending a full groundwater risk assessment of any impact it could have on the water supply.

It follows both Portsmouth Water and the Environment Agency lodging objections.

The EA say UKOG has failed to demonstrate that drilling poses no risk to a chalk aquifer below the site.

“Without a risk assessment showing the contrary, the risks to groundwater from this development are considered unacceptable,” it states.

UKOG insists that there is no risk of water contamination from hydrocarbons.

Around 25 members of Markwells Wood Watch took part in the latest protest on Tuesday, and argue that any risk to the Portsmouth Water source isn’t worth taking.

Member David Martin said: “UKOG say the risk of water pollution is negligible but both Portsmouth Water and the Environment Agency have raised concerns and have asked for a site specific risk assessment. So they have some way to go to satisfy them.

“We believe there’s a risk and we’re not alone. We are talking about a water source that supplies maybe 400,000 people and if there is a possibility of pollution, is it a risk worth taking?”

A UKOG spokesperson said a meeting was planned with Portsmouth Water and South Downs National Park Authority to discuss any concerns.

Hundreds of objections to the plans have been lodged.