Well actually, no! There will be no fracking for the time being, but what has been applied for are three test boreholes which are spread across countryside in the Dover District.
Whilst there is no intention (yet) of hydraulically fracturing the shale to release gas, there are still concerns for CPRE Protect Kent; not least what these test boreholes might lead to! The test boreholes, in much the same way as Balcombe, will be located in quiet, rural and tranquil areas of open countryside. Even with nothing more than a test borehole being drilled, there will still be a significant impact on the countryside.
There will be an increase in traffic movements which will be primarily from large vehicles and which will undoubtedly be travelling down small and inaccessible roads. These roads were never made for large lorries and the impact that these traffic movements will have on residents of the area could well be significant.
There is also the landscape issue. The sites will be entirely removed from their natural states, and in many cases will likely be visible from a fair distance away. At around 1900 square metres, their size is nowhere near as great as many inappropriate developments we normally see proposed for the countryside, but it is still significant, and with the drilling rig standing around 9 metres it will certainly be prominent.
There will also be associated lighting of the site. This causes us considerable concern as I’m sure many of you know, CPRE run a national ‘dark skies’ campaign, asking members of the public to count the stars they can see. For a large chunk of open countryside to be lit through the evening hours is simply inappropriate, not to mention a crass waste of valuable energy!
These proposals, whilst not guaranteeing that fracking will ever take place, are of a serious concern to CPRE Protect Kent. This is because of the many impacts they will have on areas of our precious landscape, regardless of the arguments for or against the actual extraction of gas—they are many, and for both sides of the debate! There will be landscape impacts, there will be ecological impacts, there will be traffic impacts and because of these cumulative issues, and because of CPRE Protect Kent’s desire to keep Kent beautiful, we will be responding to the public applications (you can find them at the links below). We would urge all residents who care about their countryside to do so as well.