There are fears fracking could extend into the Cranleigh and Godalming areas as companies look to take advantage of licenses granted by the government to search for oil and gas.
Sites in Surrey could be used to drill from as part of a hydraulic fracturing process – known as ‘fracking’ – campaigners have warned.
Speculation over where such sites could be has been rife in recent weeks, as energy exploration and production companies look to take advantage of licenses granted by the government to search for oil and gas – covering areas including parts of southern Surrey.
One company, Celtique Energie, has gained planning permission to build an exploratory well at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex, and is working on plans for two more sites in the county at Wisborough Green, and Fernhurst, on the county border.
Celtique and another company, iGas, have exploration licences covering areas going from Capel and Ockley in the east, through Ewhurst, Cranleigh and Witley, and to Hindhead and Churt in the west. The villages of Alfold, Dunsfold and Chiddingfold also fall into the potentially-affected areas. If the companies can gain planning permission for wells, they could drill down to rock in these areas.
Fracking involves drilling thousands of feet down to an area of shale that contains gas, and forcing large quantities of water, mixed with sand and fracking chemicals, into wells at high pressure. Fractures in the rock are held open by the sand and the gas forces its way up to the surface, along with some of the fracking fluid.
Environmentalists warn that naturally occurring radioactive materials would be brought up to the surface.
People in Surrey will be affected, Marcus Adams warned. He is chairman of Frack Free Fernhurst, a campaign group opposing the fracking plans.
“You could have somewhere between 1,000 and 6,000 wells across West and East Sussex and Surrey,” he said.
“We’ve been holding meetings with parish and district councils, including in Surrey, to speak about what fracking could mean. The worst case scenario is that Fernhurst is one of many hundreds, if not thousands, of wells.
“Shale gas is not easy to transport. You’d need to install pipelines or build mini power stations on site to turn it into electricity. There would be enormous industrial activity and lorry movements, and the process requires millions of gallons of water. There’s a chance the wells could leak and cause contamination.”
Mr Adams encouraged people to write to their MP or councillor to express concerns.
Kathy Smyth, planning spokesman for Guildford, Waverley and Woking Friends of the Earth, said: “Fernhurst is the south western tip of the area one of the licences covers. They extend over southern areas of Waverley.
“My main concern is the issue of the supply of water and then when it comes up, it’s highly contaminated. This has to be contained somewhere.”
A spokesman for Celtique Energie said: “Celtique Energie has no plans at present to undertake exploratory drilling in Surrey, and any future proposals would be subject to public consultation with the relevant local communities.”