Saturday, September 09, 2017

Village Hall meeting on fracking information in Somerset

Last night I took an hour long drive to a village hall in Crowcome, Somerset, to hear Dr Julie D Richardson, a geologist, talk about fracking. The drive there was amazing, luckily I didn't get lost as I would have done in pre- GPs days. The Quantocks present some fantastic views, I'm going back there.

It was a big meeting, maybe 150 or more present, mostly respectable and well-heeled denizens of the village, with a good group of potential activists at the back.

Julie said she was neutral about fracking, but is leaning slightly towards opposition on climate change grounds.

Take home points for me were :

  1. There is significant separation between the aquifers (which are relatively shallow) and the level where fracking takes place which is set to be at least 1200 metres deep. 
  2. Methane does percolate up from the ground naturally, but elevated levels have been detected in the vicinity of drills after fracking, and it is thought that gas finds its way up alongside the casing of the drill. Between 3% and 12% of the resource escapes in this way.
  3. The Government boasts that we will have much tighter controls on fracking in the UK than the USA. However, there is a very sparse inspection regime. I spoke 2 days ago with the  Environment Agency (EA) staffer responsible for fracking and his knowledge was very basic. The EA have experienced cuts of 16% since 2009 due to the Tory obsession with cutting budgets for public services. So their promise of a tight regime is just lies on a bus.
  4. Dr Richardson does not expect UK shale gas to produce significant amounts of energy.
  5. While Government whines about our need to become independent of imported gas, we are exporting 20% of our gas. Wonderful...
  6. The shale in Somerset is very close to the surface, far too shallow to meet the criteria (I would not be surprised if this Government gave them an indulgence to do shallow drills)
  7. It is likely that South West Energy will put in an application to drill "South of Weston super Mare" (? Burnham on Sea area) before the end of the year. This latter fact is from the excellent Kevin Ogilvy-White who is so well informed he should come and give us a talk in North Somerset.

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