FRACKING could be coming to Salisbury Plain.

An unknown company has applied for licences to drill in four areas in central Wiltshire, one of which includes Codford.

The news has sparked fears that water supplies will be contaminated if the controversial process is allowed to go ahead.

Grass-roots campaigner Becky Martin from the group 'Keep Wiltshire Frack Free', who lives in Amesbury, said: "Unconventional gas exploitation, commonly referred to as 'fracking' has caused numerous incidents of water contamination in USA and Australia where it has been happening for some time now. "Doing it through Wiltshire's chalk aquifers is insane and could have serious consequences for so many people, including those in the Salisbury area.

"Many of the potential contaminants are carcinogenic and radioactive.

"A large section of the river Wylye is in the fracking zone.

"Its not just one or two wells, but thousands that are needed to turn a profit.

"HGV movements are expected to be up to 52 per day in affected areas.

"How many of these lorries will be coming up the A303 and the A36 carrying things like hydrofluoric acid, and going back containing polluted waste water?"

The controversial process, which involves drilling into the earth to release shale gas, would be the first in Wiltshire if the proposed sites are granted licences.

A total of 27 locations throughout the country were granted a licence by the Oil and Gas Authority last week, with another 132 – including those in Wiltshire – being put forward for consultation.

Colin Beagley, chairman of Codford Parish Council, said: "As far as I understand it the process of exploration for gas and oil in our area is at a very early stage at this time.

"The parish council has only recently been made aware of the licensing round for Wiltshire and our own district.

"We are beginning to build up our knowledge of all the implications of the potential for drilling for shale gas and oil on our countryside.

"For the time being my council is keeping an open mind on the matter before taking a firm decision, but we are fully aware that our parish is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well being in a Special Area of Conservation and we would not support any decision at the planning stage which would have a detrimental impact on our environment."

Drilling is allowed underneath protected areas.