AN oil exploration company with the largest licence to search for shale gas on the Isle of Wight has said it is considering its options.
Norwest, which, in a joint venture with Wessex Exploration Plc, holds a licence to search for oil, gas and shale gas across large parts of the Island, announced last year it was considering fracking on the Island.
This week the government announced plans to give local authorities 100 per cent of the business rates from fracking projects in their areas.
Supporters claimed this would bring many benefits to communities. However, opponents raised fears cash-strapped councils would put financial concerns before the environment.
Regarding its licences to explore the Island and a site in Christchurch, Norwest CEO Peter Manachen said: "These southern England licence areas still have significant potential and the joint venture is investigating ways of gaining more time to evaluate them at minimal cost."
He said the company’s main focus however, was the development of shale gas interests in Western Australia, where it has carried out fracking.
Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for planning Cllr Jonathan Bacon said there were no planning applications for fracking.
He added: "Given the potential environmental impacts of fracking and the sensitivity of much of the Island’s countryside and coastline, the council would have to carefully consider such impacts.
"The announcement in relation to business rates makes no difference to the approach the council would take. Given the potential impacts of fracking, we would still need to carefully consider each application individually on a fair and transparent basis. The news will not affect that."