Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Oil and Gas Licences in Whitchurch & Clere

Last week, the Government has just confirmed the 14th round of onshore oil and gas licencing.

For Hampshire, this includes the reconfirmation of licences previously issued and the allocation of two new licence areas around Andover and Whitchurch. The two new licence areas can be seen on OS maps as the whole of SU44 and the northern half of SU34 - the southern half already has a licence.

I'd like to make it clear to residents of Whitchurch & Clere that a licence does not give consent for drilling or any development. Potential operators will still need to obtain planning permission from Hampshire County Council, as Minerals and Waste Planning Authority, as well as other associated consents before any development can take place.

The County Council adopted its Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan in 2013. This plan includes policies which all types oil and gas development would be judged against.

The County Council is due to consider a supllementary planning document (SPD) on the matter in early 2016. Once adopted, the SPD will be used to determine whether a planning application received for oil and gas development in one of the licence areas should be granted / refused.

As your County Councillor, I will monitor the situation and I have asked County officers to inform me as soon as it receives any application for oil or gas planning permission in this division.

Anyone, who is interested in the County's role in Oil and Gas Planning, should visit:

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Refurbishment of Zebra Crossings – Whitchurch Town Centre

Details of the scheduled works in Whitchurch Town Centre:


Works to upgrade the pedestrian crossings on  safety grounds on Newbury Street and Winchester Street Whitchurch will commence on the 13th January 2014, for a period of approximately 2 weeks.

The work to the Newbury Road crossing will necessitate a road closure in order to maintain a safe working environment. This work will be carried out on two consecutive Sundays, commencing on January 19th 2014, between the hours of 0700hrs on the Sunday until 0700 hrs on the Monday.

Although the road closure notice states that the road will be closed until 0700 hrs on the Monday morning it is envisaged that the road will be reopened at 0500 hrs at the latest.

The works to the Winchester Street crossing will be carried out under the use of temporary two way traffic signals.

During the period of the works the contractor will maintain vehicular and pedestrian access to all properties and will liaise with residents and business owners if any short term restrictions are necessary.


Any question relating to the works as they proceed should be made using the HCC contact centre tel: 0845 603 5633.

Tufton Pathway

This time last year, I described how I was pressing for a pathway to replace the worn verge, between  Tufton and the the A34 underpass, to be laid down in 2013: http://whitchurchandclere.blogspot.com/2012/12/a34-slip-road-and-tufton-junction.html

I emphasised that my priority was to make the road safer for families and other non-car users, who needed a safe route between Whitchurch and Tufton. 

I am delighted to report that the the new pathway is now in place. Families and residents can now safely pass under the A34 and are now able to cross the Winchester Road, closer to town and away from the A34  interchange.

The new pathway is both cost effective and makes a safer route between Tufton and Whitchurch.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Energy in Hampshire

I recently have received a number of emails from residents on the future of the county's and the country's energy supplies.

       Here is the gist of a couple of replies that I have given.

First of all, you probably know that I am deeply opposed to Wind Farms in Hampshire, mainly because they blight the countryside, but also because they are the wrong solution to a problem.
Energy in UK needs to be available in two ways – a constant, stable supply and a supply that can be varied according to changes in demand. This is because, unless you have high mountains and low plains, electricity cannot be stored (hence one of the reasons wind farms are the wrong solution).
Traditional coal, gas and nuclear stations, alongside biomass, can supply the stable base load. But what of the variable supply? Modern Gas turbine stations can support this need .
We will not, whatever we do, be able to move away from mainly relying on the three traditional fuels, but it does seem clear that gas is cleaner and less polluting than coal, and can compete to supply the market without subsidies. Not so nuclear, wind and to a lesser extent, solar, which need vast tax payer or enforced consumer subsidy.
So I do see a future where most of our energy is supplied by gas power stations of one kind or another. I would be happier if our gas was sourced from within the UK, rather than relying on imports.
Therefore I am not against shale gas in principle. However, Hampshire is the planning authority and as your County Councillor, I am making clear that I would need to be convinced of three things in any application: that the fracking operation must be shown not to pollute the land, rivers  and aquifers; that the vast amount of water used in the fracking process must be sourced sustainably and that fracking presents no geological seismic dangers to the county. 

The first and last points speak for themselves, but the matter of water is of great concern. Where will the water in a fracking operation come from? What will happen to it? Will it exacerbate water shortages and droughts? If it is to come from elsewhere, how is it to be transported?
Where I am not satisfied that these points are addressed satisfactorily, I would not be able to support an application to frack in Hampshire.

Hampshire County Council has produced a FAQ document to address the questions that we county councillor s are getting in our email post bags:

The document answers, amongst others, the following questions:

There are no current fracking activities in Hampshire;
There are no current applications for fracking planning permission the have been submitted to Hampshire County Council;
In the event of an application, communities local to the proposed site will be consulted as laid out in section 20 of the document.

DECC, not Hampshire is the licencing issuer for oil and gas operations. (see sections 16 and).
“Before starting works the operator must also gain a ‘well consent’ for exploration from the DECC. An operator will then seek planning permission from the MPA to drill (see question 18 - 'What does the planning application process
for onshore oil and gas development entail?').
Hampshire County Council, as Minerals Planning Authority (MPA) does not issue licences for oil and gas development.
The granting of a licence for the exploration for the resource does not imply that planning permission would be granted for the extraction of the resource.”
“Based on information available from DECC, the existing licences are located geographically across Hampshire.
These are located at the following locations:
- north of Winchester, from Kings Worthy stretching west almost to Stockbridge;
- further north, reaching from Chilbolton west to Amport;
- east of Winchester, underneath Hampage Wood;
stretching west from Hinton, in the New Forest;
- from east of Fareham, stretching further east; and
- licences stretching east from the Hambledon area.”

Friday, 21 June 2013

Women on bank notes

I've just read the open letter from women MPs to the Court of Directors of the Bank of England, asking for a woman to be celebrated on the next bank note to replace Elizabeth Fry. The letter offers suggestions: Mary Seacole, Mary Wolstencraft, Emmeline Pankhurst or Rosalind Franklin - all feminist icons.

By focussing on feminist heroines, the signatories missed many other possibilities, such as perhaps the greatest example of a woman making it to the very top, Margaret Thatcher. I wonder why they missed her off?

Personally, I would suggest Joyce Wethered (truly great inter-war golfer), Agatha Christie, Margot Fonteyn, Gracie Fields, or my favorite, Audrey Hepburn.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

If the MOD objects to the wind power station, due to its effect on its Radars, what would be the effect on bats?

I recently have received a reply from the MOD to a letter I wrote concerning the proposed wind power station. They have confirmed that they have written  to all three district councils objecting to the Upper Norton Farm Wind Turbines for three reasons:

  • impact on Air Traffic Control Radar at Middle Wallop and RAF Boscombe Down;
  • the impact on the Precision Approach Radar at Middle Wallop;
  • unacceptable effects on military activity on the Low Flying Area 1, within which the proposal lies.

The MOD has also advised me that, should EDF be able to overcome the MOD's objections and if planning permission is granted, then the MOD will insist that each turbine be fitted with aviation lighting.

Military exercises and good radar support are extremely important for our professional armed services.
I and my fellow Councillors are very aware that the forces play a huge role in the life and economy of  Hampshire and of the employment that the Army, Navy and Air Force bring to this county.

This surely is a major obstacle for EDF to overcome.

A red sky at night would not be Whitchurch's delight, I fear.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Tom Thacker Re-elected

Thank you all who voted to give me a second term as your County Councillor.

I will work hard to justify your faith in me.