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Hampshire's fire service also received calls about strong gas smell

The control room of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service has reported receiving more than twenty calls today about a strong smell of gas in the air.

In a statement they said: 'The unpleasant odour is understood to emanate from a leak in a factory in Rouen in northern France.

'The Health Protection Agency has stressed the gas is non-toxic and presents no threat to the public. The chemical released - mercaptan - is an organic compound added to natural gas, lubricants and paints. The smell is caused by the sulphur in the gas but it is completely harmless.'

The initial alert to the Hampshire control room came from their counterparts in West Sussex. The calls from the public came from as far apart as far north in Hampshire as Basingstoke and Andover, and as far west as Ringwood.

"Our control room has dealt with a number of calls reporting the unpleasant gas smell.

"We want to reassure the public that the gas presents no threat to health and is completely harmless.

"We would also like to remind the public that if they suspect they are dealing with a genuine gas emergency in their home or building, they should call the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111999."

– Group Manager Tony Deacon, Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service

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Government gives green light to fracking in the UK

Fracking will be allowed to resume in the UK but under new controls, the Government has announced.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said fracking will resume under strict regulatory measures "is likely to develop slowly". He said: "Fracking must be safe and the public must be reassured it is safe".

He added that although shale gas exploration remains in its early stages, it offers a promising new energy resource that could help the move towards a low carbon economy and away from our reliance on gas from abroad.

Shale gas can be found through seismic surveys in rock below the ground.

But the process has attracted strong opposition in the UK as campaigners say the drilling causes earthquakes and the chemicals that are used can pollute the water supply.

Conservatory built over gas flue

A Kent double glazing company has been fined for safety failiures after building a conservatory over a gas flue.

Family firm Supaglazing, of Strood, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for breaching gas safety regulations for the second time.

Dartford Magistrates Court was told that the firm’s workers built the conservatory over an existing flue for a boiler at a property on Beavor Road, Allington, Maidstone, so there was no escape route for gases and other combustion products.

A woman who was pregnant and a child were living in the home.

The incident came to light after an engineer visited the house to give an estimate for relocating the flue.

The firm, with outlets in Dartford and Sittingbourne, admitted breaching the gas safety regulations between 23 July and 2 October 2010. It was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £2,826 in costs.

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Gas explosion: Cooker was left on

A gas distribution company has issued a stark warning after it emerged that an explosion that destroyed a house in Southsea was caused by the cooker being left on.

Following an investigation it has emerged that gas mains and services in the area are sound and have not contributed to the incident.

"We can also confirm the explosion was caused by the gas cooker being left on," said Chloe Boyce, a spokeswoman for Southern Gas Networks.

"We've isolated the gas supply and done further checks which show there are no gas readings at all in the area.

"This is a stark reminder to everyone to check gas appliances are fully turned off before they go to bed or leave their house. If anyone smells gas they should contact the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999.

"Our thoughts are with the gentleman who has been injured today."

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