SOUTHERN ENGLAND SHALE
The discovery of billions of barrels of shale oil lurking underneath affluent neighbourhoods of southern England has caused concern among residents, the National Trust and estate agents alike.
Locals in parts of Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, which lie above the oil-rich "Jurassic Weald Basin", are worried their properties and the surrounding environment will be affected by fracking – the process of extracting shale oil – and view the government's offer of additional community compensation as a form of "bribery" to win over local councils.
Martin Bamford, a 34-year old financial services professional, lives a few miles outside of Godalming, Surrey, one of the areas above the basin, said: "The government is sending mixed signals – it is backing energy, but it is almost bribing local communities to allow this to happen.
"You cannot put a price on a danger to the environment, or on potential damage to your property."
The squeeze on local council's finances could be another incentive for them to accept compensation in exchange for firms to "frack" in the area, added Mr Bamford, which could cause "conflict between councils and the people they represent".
The area is already susceptible to shifting foundations underneath houses, due to the clay soil. "I think there'll be real concern about tremors. Before I bought the house in 2005, we had to have it underpinned. Friends have had similar issues."
Other local residents fear house prices could be affected.
Richard Hebditch of the National Trust, said there were "very real dangers" for the environment in "going all out for fracking".
"That's why we'd like to see specific changes to its planning and regulatory framework, including ruling out fracking in National Parks and in sensitive environmental areas," he said.
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