Fracking ban in important countryside areas welcomed

CPRE Kent has welcomed the government’s commitment that there should be a ban on fracking in national parks, sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding national beauty.

Energy Minister Amber Rudd MP made the promise during a Commons debate last night (26 January) on fracking legislation in the government’s Infrastructure Bill.

“We are very pleased that the government has pledged to protect important landscapes under threat of industrialisation due to fracking. This would have had a devastating and irreversible impact on our countryside, so we are pleased these beautiful areas will be preserved,” said Richard Knox-Johnston, Vice President of CPRE Kent.

Fracking site, Colorado, by Phoenix Law, flickr

Fracking site, Colorado, by Phoenix Law, flickr

MPs also considered a report from the influential Environmental Audit Committee, published yesterday (26 Jan), which concluded that shale fracking should be put on hold because it is incompatible with climate change targets and could pose significant environmental risks to health and risk to our water supply.

CPRE Kent submitted evidence to the committee last month, detailing fears that fracking could damage the aquifer which supplies one million people with drinking water. The gas and oil deposits in East Kent are less 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.

The Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Joan Walley MP, said: “There are huge uncertainties around the impact that fracking could have on water supplies, air quality and public health.”

CPRE Kent is further concerned about regulation of fracking sites and is campaigning for regulators independent of Government to ensure proper supervision.

Graham Warren, Chairman of CPRE Kent’s Environment Committee said. “We know that for East Kent to reach any gas bearing shales it would be necessary to drill through 250m of the Chalk of the North Downs. These shales lie within a dense network of geological faults and we fear fracking would trigger further movement on these faults and create pathways for the flow of noxious gases and liquids into the aquifer.”

“We also have serious doubts about the effective regulation of the operation, which would require 24-hour on-site monitoring by competent, independent inspectors. We question how this would be achieved when the regulatory bodies are already insufficiently staffed and facing further cuts.”

To hear Graham Warren explain some of the risks of fracking in East Kent on video clip click here

January 27 2015

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