Anti frackers claim victory after experts cross swords in Lewes

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The All Saints Centre in Lewes was full to capacity for Sunday’s debate on fracking and more than 80 people had to be turned away.

Eminent professors put the cases for and against the controversial process of extracting natural gas and oil.

A show of hands was taken at the beginning of the meeting in which the majority were against fracking, and about a fifth were in favour or undecided. At the end of the meeting most of those undecided had changed to opposition.

The audience was surprised to hear Professor James Woudhuysen, of De Montfort University, claim that fracking is no more dangerous than accepted technologies such as fire or surgery, and that it would have to be accepted if Britain were to keep the lights on.

Professor David Smythe, of Glasgow University, showed that the geology of England is heavily faulted so it is highly likely that toxic fluids used in fracking will migrate to the surface and pollute groundwater. He also demonstrated that many thousands of wells would have to be drilled in order to meet the industry’s productivity targets.

Lewes Energy Information Group organiser Dirk Campbell said: “We wanted to present a balanced picture so that people could make up their own minds. Most people want to hear the facts from both sides. As it turned out, the argument in favour was just not very convincing and the argument against was fairly conclusive.”