Back in the early 1990s there was a rumour that prospecting for oil had taken place, or would take place, around the castle. I recall hearing then that such claims had been made from time to time in previous years too but nothing ever happened of course.
Not that the possibilities have totally gone away. Currently we have the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan - Issues & Options Consultation which is a central and east Berkshire partnership to produce a plan which will guide minerals and waste decision-making in the area for the period up to 2036.
This consultation will inevitably raise the prospect of fracking which has divided opinion around the country. At a time when, on two recent occasions, renewable energy has provided all our energy needs nationally - making headlines in the process - one wonders how important the burning of fossil fuels will be in the future, especially as the provision of renewable energy continues to grow apace. Apparently we are doing better than most of Europe these days, although I have not researched that specific aspect in detail.
A solar panel array at Lavant, near Goodwood, south of Chichester, in 2014
I have seen, however, massive solar energy parks being constructed near me in West Sussex, with doubtless more to come, as well as wind farms out at sea although the major proposal off the coast at Bournemouth (Navitus Bay) was rejected at government level back in 2015. For those who haven't seen them, these solar energy parks cover substantial areas of farmland, and although the land is not totally lost to agriculture (I understand sheep can graze around and under the lines of panels) it is not an enhancement of the countryside in any shape or form.
The problems associated with energy supply are substantial, not least the effects on global warming, but one wonders if actively seeking further sources of fossil fuel under our feet is entirely wise, or even necessary. Perhaps we should also be making greater efforts to cut energy usage and not permit the use of, by way of example only, outdoor gas heaters in pub gardens, oversize personal transport, lighting that lights the way for no-one and a myriad other wasteful energy consuming ‘goodies’.
I wonder therefore what the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan - Issues & Options Consultation will come up with and what, if anything, we will have to say about it.