A majority of people attending a public debate on fracking in Lewes, Sussex, last night (October 7th 2013) opposed the technique for extracting gas or oil.
A show of hands at the beginning and end of the event suggested a small number of people were undecided about fracking, slightly more were in favour and a large majority were against.
Lewes is about 15 miles from Cuadrilla’s exploration site in Balcombe and several Lewes campaigners are due to stand trial following the protests there this summer.
The debate heard from James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester, who argued that fracking was a highly productive innovation that was worth exploring in the UK because it could make a big difference towards meeting energy demand. It also heard from David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at Glasgow University, who questioned government assurances that fracking is unlikely to contaminate groundwater supplies. He said geological faults, particularly in the Sussex Weald and Bowland Basin where Cuadrilla is working currently, could create conduits for contaminated fracking fluids and methane to reach the aquifer.
Exploration licences for areas around Lewes are expected to be sold by the government next year (2014).