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
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)
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 http://modafinil200mg.net 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.