Kent is frack free

by Rosie Rechter, Chair, East Kent Against Fracking

Anyone who knows anything about the dangers of fracking will be celebrating that not a single licence in the whole of East Kent was included in the recently announced 14th Licensing round.  Licences that previously threatened Woodnesborough, Shepherdswell, Guston and Tilmanstone have all been relinquished so our concerns for water,  public health, our environment and our quality of life have been put to rest. Local businesses involved in tourism and food production can all heave a sigh of relief – as can householders worried about the falling value of their houses and the rising cost of insurance – the true costs of  fracking which were hidden from the public within the redactions of the DEFRA report.(hyperlink to Talk Fracking section here?)

We may well speculate on why Kent has been spared. Falling gas and oil prices have probably played a part but we remain convinced that the successful campaign waged by a EKAF signalled to fracking companies that we are an undesirable location! Any company looking our way would surely realise the force of our formidable, well-connected and well-informed opposition. Continue reading

Kent is frack free

Great news that Kent is now frack free as there are no petroleum exploration development licenses (which would allow test drilling) in the county.

Coastal Oil & Gas relinquished all their PEDL areas and no other company has applied to drill here thanks to determined opposition in the county.

Fracking well in North Dakota

Fracking well in North Dakota

CPRE Kent expert hydrology engineer Graham Warren said: “This is a relief for Kent as we there would have been a serious risk that fracking would damage the aquifer which supplies 70% of the county’s water. The gas and oil deposits are no more than 600-700m below the aquifer, the Chalk of the North Downs. There was also a risk that geological faults in the area would have been re-activated allowing gases and fracking fluids to leak into the chalk and so contaminate the water supply.”

Mole Valley, photo by David Fisher, flickr

Mole Valley, photo by David Fisher, flickr

However, our neighbours in Surrey are under threat with licence areas having been granted in some of the most beautiful countryside in the Mole Valley. Mr Warren is advising the Surrey campaigners, and said of the proposed horizontal drilling corridor that will run beneath the aquifer: Continue reading

Campaign to stop fast-track fracking decisions

CPRE Kent is supporting a challenge to Government plans to fast-track applications for fracking projects.

According to the Government announcement on 13 August, councils will be given a deadline of 16 weeks to approve or reject applications; after then, ministers will have the power to call them in and make a decision themselves. The Government will also consider calling in any application for shale gas and oil exploration, and will consider recovering appeals. In publishing the announcement, Communities Secretary Greg Clark said that “no one benefits from uncertainty caused by delays in planning decisions”.

We are highly concerned that this removes decision-making from local communities and is out of step with plans for new energy infrastructure.

Fracking well in North Dakota

Fracking well in North Dakota

Nick Clack, national CPRE senior energy campaigner said: “Ministers talk of a national need for shale gas and oil, but have yet to make a convincing case to communities. These changes, which could see Government taking more decisions away from local people, won’t help to persuade them and could fuel division and disempowerment. Enabling broad local conversations about what appropriate local energy projects might be, taking full account of local environmental impacts, would be the most positive way forward.

“It is very concerning that it looks like Government has chosen a different path for fracking than for onshore wind planning, where recent welcome changes have sought to put local communities at the heart of decisions. Why is greater localism appropriate for some new energy projects, but not for others? It sounds disingenuous for the Government to claim that local communities will remain fully involved in shale gas and oil planning decisions if these decisions are ultimately taken by ministers.

“Taken with the weak statutory safeguards proposed for protected areas, the fracking announcement suggests a wish to create a fracking regime that works more effectively for developers than for local people and the environment.”

CPRE Kent is now backing a campaign to look at taking the Government decision to judicial review. This case will be the first to challenge the Government’s pro fracking stance, approach to climate change and local democracy. We are seeking to get the Government to change course and to implement adequate climate change policies and to give local communities a say in what energy choices they would prefer.

For more information click here.

September 9th 2015.

 

 


Submission on Environmental Risks of Fracking

Just before Christmas (23rd December), we submitted evidence on the danger of fracking in Kent to a Commons Select Committee. The Environmental Audit Committee is undertaking an inquiry looking at the potential risks to water supplies and water quality, emissions, habitats and geological integrity.

We fear fracking could damage the aquifer which supplies 70% of the county’s water. The gas and oil deposits are no more than 600-700m below the aquifer, the Chalk of the North Downs. There is also a risk that geological faults in the area would be re-activated allowing gases and fracking fluids to leak into the chalk and so contaminate the water supply.

Fracking site, Colorado, by Phoenix Law, flickr

Fracking site, Colorado, by Phoenix Law, flickr

Continue reading


Fracking debate

CPRE Kent has taken part in two debates on fracking in the last fortnight. Vice-President Richard Knox-Johnston and Chairman of the Environment Group Graham Warren attended the

Graham Warren and debate chairman Trevor Sturgess

Graham Warren and debate chairman Trevor Sturgess

 

debate at Christ Church University on November 19th which attracted great media interest.

And Graham Warren was on the key speaker against fracking at a debate hosted at Hadlow College and organised by the Rural Business Group. CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport also attended.

To read Graham Warren’s detailed report on Shale
Gas and Oil Exploration and Development in the
Weald and East Kent click here. To read more of
CPRE Kent’s views on fracking click here.

December 2nd 2014.


‘Frack free zone’ called for in East Kent

CPRE Kent is calling on the Government to make East Kent a ‘frack free zone’ because of serious risks to the water supply if drilling took place.

It believes that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at the four potential drilling sites – Shepherdswell, Guston, Tilmanstone and Woodnesborough – could damage the aquifer which supplies 70% of the county’s water.

The gas and oil deposits are no more than 600-700m below the aquifer, the Chalk of the North Downs. Not only that, but there is a risk that geological faults in the area would be re-activated allowing gases and fracking fluids to leak into the chalk and so contaminate the water supply.

Image from BGS: copyright NERC 2014

Image from BGS: copyright NERC 2014

CPRE Kent has prepared a ministerial briefing outlining the serious threat to East Kent and is calling on the Minister of State for Energy Matthew Hancock to make East Kent an exclusion area from fracking.

CPRE Kent Vice President Richard Knox-Johnston said: “Water resources in Kent are already seriously stressed – there is a danger that if fracking went ahead we could damage the aquifer that provides most of the county’s water. Plus, we fear that water supply boreholes could be damaged causing pollution which would threaten public health as well as harm environmental quality, agriculture and wetland habitats.” Continue reading

New study maps shale and water

The BGS and EA have today released maps which show the depth and location of the important underground aquifers in England and Wales and their relationship with the shale oil and gas deposits which lie beneath them.  We welcome these maps, which contain important information that will help inform decisions over where it might be possible to safely exploit shale resources by fracking.  However, in and around Kent, the vertical separation of the aquifers and the shale which lie beneath them is only a very small part of the information that must be taken into account.

The Geology of the Weald is naturally heavily fractured as the result of ground movements in the distant past.  It is densely packed with planes of structural weakness which, if fracking were to go ahead, could well open or re-open fissures which would allow the contamination or loss of important aquifers.

In the light of recent calls to ‘cut red tape’ and lighten the burden of regulation on the oil and gas industry, we retain serious concerns over the prospect of fracking in the geologically vulnerable region which is the Weald.

See information about the maps here: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/news/docs/aquifersAndShales_FINAL.pdf

(Contains BGS materials: copyright NERC 2014)
July 3, 2014

Yet another dash to frack…

Hard on the heels of the UKOOG report published last week, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee (here) today also calls for the UK to speed up the exploitation of its shale gas reserves, again highlighting the potential benefits to the economy and down-playing the risk of harm to the environment. Much less emphasis is being placed on the need to ensure the safety of the process and very little is being placed on the down-side of diverting attention from the need to develop a safe, cost-effective renewable energy regime which will help break us from our addiction to fossil fuels.

It’s ironic that on the very same day Lloyds of London have published a report which highlights the increasing costs to the insurance industry of more frequent severe weather events such as storms and flooding – it seems clear that increasing our reliance on fossil fuels will have economic consequences that are by no means wholly positive.
(Image from Wikipedia)

The dash to frack

This morning’s release of the report from the UK Onshore Operators Group highlighted the huge potential benefits to the economy of pressing ahead with the exploitation of shale gas. Here in Kent we are increasingly concerned by the overly-enthusiastic emphasis on potential economic benefits which is being highlighted by groups like UKOOG. The word ‘potential’ is the focus of our concern. These benefits can not be guaranteed, and in fact, many within the industry such as Cuadrilla have acknowledged that shale gas extraction simply will not lead to lower energy prices, and the oil and gas industry can never guarantee that its exploration will find economic quantities of gas.

However, if the UK Government does press ahead with its commitment to fracking, we are opening our countryside up to a host of environmental damage as a result, as well as its guaranteed industrialisation with more HGV movements along narrow lanes, large pipes to take the gas away, and development in places it simply should not be allowed.

There are particular concerns over the risk to our precious water resources in Kent, which, according to the Environmet Agency, is already seriously water-stressed. Kent’s underlying geology is characterised by a high density of faults and there is no way in which any operator or regulator could anticipate the re-activation of a geological fault, which would lead to serious risk of an escape of contaminants into underground water resources. Once triggered, there is little that can be done to control or alleviate that contamination.

We want to be certain that a rigorous, evidence-led debate has taken place and a strong regulatory and inspection environment has been put in place before the UK Government commits to shale gas exploitation, so that ‘potential’ environmental damage doesn’t become a reality.