Fracking meeting is held in Melton

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More than 40 people attended a recent public meeting about fracking in the Melton borough and surrounding areas.

The meeting, held at the Samworth Centre, was called by members of the Rutland and Melton Green Party who felt wider discussion on the issue was needed.

They claim local residents have become ‘increasingly concerned’ about the Government’s recent extension of the exploration area open to be licenced by gas and oil companies, this area now covering large parts of the northern and eastern parts of the Rutland and Melton parliamentary constituency.

The main speaker was Alastair McQuillan, local Green Party parliamentary candidate in the recent general election, who presented three short videos from the Department of Climate Change and Environment, which is pro-fracking, a neutral presentation from the nearby-based British Geological Survey, and an anti-fracking piece.

A Green Party spokesman said: “Most of those present were concerned about whether hunting for more oil and gas hydrocarbons to burn, at a time of rapid climate change and all the implications of that, was a sensible direction to head in. Some also felt the short time given to local authorities to decide on planning applications was insufficient for community consultation.

“Many present were concerned about possible pollution, the eyesore of numerous wells and associated extraction machinery being built, increases in traffic, associated roads, fences and other infrastructure, and the potential effects on wildlife, National Soil Association and organic certification labels for local food producers, and pollution of underground aquifers and local watercourses.”

However, a locally-based consultant geologist, Matt White, said the risk of such pollution and contamination was minimal. It was pointed out that the British Geological Survey report also reached this conclusion on a general level.

The Green Party spokesman added: “Many felt local communities should be consulted far earlier so that local councils, planning departments and local residents for each location and sites concerned could express their views.”

Speaking before the meeting, Anna McMaster, communications manager for London-based company Hutton Energy, said: “We haven’t been granted any licenses for fracking anywhere in the UK. We have been granted petroleum exploration and development licenses (PEDLs).

“We currently hold four PEDLs and we have been offered three more as part of the 14th round, including one covering the Melton area.”

She added: “PEDLs alone do not grant permission to frack. We must apply for and gain planning permission before any operations, fracking or conventional drilling, are carried out.

“We do have planning permission granted for an exploratory well in Radcliffe on Trent, which is a conventional oil well and does not involve fracking.”