GREEN Euro MP Keith Taylor has joined the battle to keep Hampshire “frack free”.

Keith Taylor, who represents South East England, said he would be throwing his weight behind anti-fracking campaigners who want county bosses to reject applications to extract shale gas.

He said: “It’s no wonder that a number of campaigns have already sprung up across the South East as concerned residents realise the potential dangers of fracking.

“I am doing all I can to raise awareness of these controversial plans and I will support Hampshire residents who are concerned about this happening on their doorsteps and across the region.”

As previously revealed in the Daily Echo, eight drilling licences have been granted, opening up the possibility of extracting gas deep below the ground. Champions of fracking argue thousands of jobs would be created amid a multi-million pound bonanza for the local economy.

Potential sites include an area west of Hinton in the New Forest, north of Chilbolton and east of Hambledon. Other spots are north of Southampton, north and east of Winchester and east of Fareham Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling technique which involves injecting toxic chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water under high pressure directly into the ground to release natural gas in shale deposits.

This mixture of toxins and sediment, along with any natural gas released, can leak to the surface and enter rivers and groundwater in the process.

Mr Taylor said: “Despite what the fracking firms are communicating this new ‘dash for gas’ is misguided and potentially very costly. The evidence from the USA suggests that fracking can pollute water sources and cause significant disruption to local communities.

“Fracking has also been linked to earth tremors in Lancashire, which became the first location in UK to under go fracking 2011. To top it off, the evidence suggests that fracking won’t even help cut our energy bills.”