Markwell’s Wood Watch
UK Oil & Gas have applied to drill and produce oil for 20 years at Markwells Wood, a designated ancient woodland in the South Downs National Park near Forestside, West Sussex.
The proposed method of drilling for this oil involves the injection of acid, chemicals and water (acidisation) under pressure through the underground layers of chalk, into the limestone below.
Markswell Wood Watch is a group of committed activists who are fighting to prevent oil drilling in the South Downs National Park. In their research they have found that our geology may be particularly vulnerable to spills and pollution. The aquifer may move water quickly into the Havant and Bedhampton Springs, which is an important source of drinking water for Portsmouth Water. The water company supplies over 300,000 households stretching from Portsmouth and West Meon in the West to Chichester and Arundel in the East.
UK Oil and Gas (UKOG), who have made this application, claim that the dangers to our water supply would be ‘negligible’. They withdrew their application but seem to be planning another.
So, why should we allow these risks to be taken in our National Park?
There are many reasons for objecting to this application ( like the argument for keeping oil in the ground and switching to renewables) but the group is focusing on the water issue first. There are other areas of concern, particularly traffic, as that is an issue that will also affect many people beyond those in the immediate area around Markwells Wood. Another issue is monitoring the site in future for methane leaks etc.