UK Methane announce plans for fracking in Somerset

UK Methane will shortly be applying for planning permission to drill for shale gas using hydraulic fracturing in Somerset. They have withdrawn a planning application to carry out exploratory drilling for Coal Bed Methane at the Hicks Gate roundabout in Keynsham.

Over 700 people had submitted individual objections to the planning application for Coal Bed Methane to Bath and North East Somerset Council. [1] Keynsham Town Council, Compton Dando Parish Council and the Ecology department had also submitted objections.

In an email to Bath & North East Somerset Council, UK Methane said: “Given recent communications from DECC we have decided to formally withdraw this planning application (ref: P/12/718/FUL) for exploration and re-submit a new application early in the new year for production which will include shale gas....we will apply for a full production permission. Central government...has recently lifted the moratorium on fracking. ” [2]

Anne Watts from Frack Free Somerset said: “We don't want our water to be polluted. Once fracking takes place contamination of land and water is inevitable. You cannot do it safely. Communities everywhere are resisting this toxic industry.”

Hydraulic fracturing is a method of extracting gas in shale rock. Huge amounts of water mixed with toxic chemicals are forced into the ground at high pressure, a large proportion of which are never recovered. In the United States numerous spills of these fluids have contaminated irrigation water, affecting food supplies, and the health of surrounding communities. [3] [4] [5]

UK Methane own PEDL (Petroleum Exploration and Development License) licenses for an area covering Keynsham, Midsomer Norton, Peasedown and Chew Magna. [6] Another company, Reservoir Resources own PEDL 225, covering Wells, Shepton Mallet and Bruton. [7] This area also includes a large number of villages, farms and water catchments for several areas, including the city of Bristol and water for areas in the Mendip such as Glastonbury & Street.

This is the second Coal Bed Methane application in the UK to have failed this year. Outrage from the local community stopped plans for Coal Bed Methane drilling in South Lanarkshire [8] Dart Energy have applied for planning permission for full-scale Coal Bed Methane production in Airth. This is also resisted by the local community. [9]

Notes

1. Planning reference 12/04304/FUL. http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/planning-and-building-control/view-and-comment-planning-applications

2. http://idox.bathnes.gov.uk/WAM/doc/Correspondence-644946.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=644946&location=VOLUME2&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1

3. 'Cracks in the Fa├žade: EPA Traced Pollution of Underground Water Supply to Hydraulic Fracturing' (Aug 2011 – EWG)
http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/fracking/cracks_in_the_facade.pdf

4. 'Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing' (May 2011 – Duke)
http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/cgc/pnas2011.pdf

5. 'Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts' (Jan 2011 – Tyndall Centre)
http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/sites/default/files/coop_shale_gas_report_final_200111.pdf

6. http://og.decc.gov.uk/en/olgs/cms/licences/licence_data/recent_licence/recent_licence.aspx

7. https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/information/licence_reports/databycompanyandblock.htmlhttp://www.acadvertiser.co.uk/lanarkshire-news/local-news/monklands-news/2012/03/21/company-pulls-the-plug-on-gas-drilling-application-65864-30581704/

8. http://www.acadvertiser.co.uk/lanarkshire-news/local-news/monklands-news/2012/03/21/company-pulls-the-plug-on-gas-drilling-application-65864-30581704/

9. http://frack-off.org.uk/frack-attack-application-for-britains-first-unconventional-gas-development/