Issues surrounding the controversial hydraulic fracturing process known as ‘fracking’ will be discussed at a public meeting in Hook.

Specialist oil and gas consultant Caroline Dibden will talk about the practice and the dangers it might pose to the public during the meeting in the Elizabeth Hall in Raven Road on April 10.

The expert energy adviser, who is also a member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), has worked in the oil and gas industry for many years and was a consultant for the Brent oilfield in the North Sea.

She said: “I will be looking at these questions from the viewpoint of a practitioner. But I am also a campaigner, and believe passionately in the value of the countryside.

“I am delighted to be asked to set out the main issues for the public to understand. Whichever side you take, shale gas is going to become a major issue for all of us.

“The public need better information on its potential role as well its dangers.”

Fracking involves drilling thousands of feet down to an area of shale that contains gas, and forcing large quantities of water, mixed with sand and fracking chemicals, into wells at high pressure.

Fractures in the rock are held open by the sand and the gas forces its way up to the surface, along with some of the fracking fluid.

Environmentalists warn that naturally occurring radioactive materials would be brought up to the surface. It is suggested there could also be dangers from earth tremors.

Edward Dawson, who has organised the event and is a trustee of CPRE Hampshire, said: “We are keen to have a factual presentation on what hydraulic fracking actually is.

“Shale gas is thought to be a vast resource, but it also has to be safe to extract.”

Mr Dawson said shale gas extraction is relevant to many parts of Hampshire.

“There is significant oil and gas bearing strata where Hart, Basingstoke and East Hampshire meet, centred on the Humbly Grove oil field at Herriard,” he added.

“This was discovered in 1980 and production began in 1984, with up to 1,000 barrels a day of crude oil being piped to the terminal.

“In 1995 the oil field was developed into an underground gas storage facility, with a gas pipeline linking it to the national gas grid.

“The replenished gas cap on the oil field increased the pressure on the remaining oil, boosting production and increasing the lifetime of extraction.”

Hampshire County Council said it will ‘rigorously access and scrutinise’ any proposals for oil and gas development and they will only be granted permission where they are considered to be in accordance with the adopted Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan.

Tickets for the Hook meeting, which starts at 8pm, are £8 for CPRE members or £10 for non-members and will include drinks. Call 01962 779185 to book.