The prospect of fracking in local constituencies has sparked fury from Tory MPs, with one threatening to "man the barricades" if the shale gas exploration was found to affect local water supplies.
George Hollingbery, MP for Meon Valley in Hampshire, warned that the drilling could be "disastrous" in his area because of the sensitivity of the water supply.
The attack on fracking from the MP, who serves as parliamentary private secretary to home secretary Theresa May, would put him at odds with coalition ministers.
The fracking process involves fracturing rocks underground with water and chemicals to extract natural gas. The site in Balcolmbe, West Sussex, ran by energy firm Cuadrilla has attracted protests over the last few weeks.
Speaking to his local paper The Daily Echo, Hollingberry said: “Any threat to the water supply here would be utterly disastrous – every single person and business relies on that water."
“I don’t pretend to be an expert, but we do know of examples in the United States where there has been an impact on the water supply from fracking.”
“I’m not suggesting there is any threat to the chalk acquifers of Hampshire, but – if there was – I would certainly be manning the barricades.”
The MP later told the Telegraph: “There is lots to learn and I want to know more before I make any decision on this."
The prospect of fracking in local constituencies has already provoked fury, as shown when Tory peer Lord Howell accidentally called for fracking to be carried out in the "desolate" north-east and then the "unloved" north-west of England.
Ben Wallace, MP for Wyre and ministerial aide to Ken Clarke, has attacked the "risible" deals being offered to areas that accept fracking. Wallace's attack, in a letter to the prime minister, came after Tory MP Tim Yeo suggested local areas should be "compelled" to accept fracking, provided they get "real cash benefit".
“The industry agreed figure of 1/3 of 1 per cent of revenue to counties is risible and risks delaying shale gas exploitation. It is also tiny compared to what the industry has to pay in the US and elsewhere," he wrote.