Kent should ready itself for New Year “fracking frenzy”, warns Thanet Green Party councillor, Ian Driver.
According to Driver, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will be selling off Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) early next year, covering those areas of Kent not already subject to licensing (1).
A map produced by DECC shows that licences covering more than four fifths of Kent will be up for grabs (2). It is expected that companies such as Cuadrilla, notorious for its Balcombe drilling site, will be amongst those seeking rights to explore for shale and coal bed methane gas beneath the county’s countryside.
Said Driver: “The sale of the licences will coincide with the publication of a report by the British Geological Survey (BGS) which will quantify the amount of shale and coal bed methane gas in Kent. The fieldwork for this report is already underway (3) and if, as many people predict, large reserves of gas are identified, the licences will be snapped up like hotcakes and Kent will see fracking frenzy.”
Driver’s views are echoed by Sevenoaks MP and Minister of State for Energy, Michael Fallon, who in an interview with the Daily Telegraph last week said that significant reserves of shale gas are likely to be found “right across the South – we’re talking about Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, into Kent” and that “households right across the South should prepare for gas fracking to begin in their areas (3).
Driver predicts powerful opposition to gas exploration and extraction. “In East Kent, Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd was recently forced, by overwhelming public opposition, to withdraw three planning applications for exploratory drilling at Guston, Shepherds Well and Tilmanstone. Planning authority, Kent County Council, was inundated by hundreds of objections from local residents, all four parish councils covering the proposed drilling sites voted to oppose the plans and the Environment Agency, CPRE-Protect Kent and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke also objected to the plans.
“I expect to see many more examples of people power and community opposition developing across Kent and the rest of South East England, as the new licences are sold and planning applications to drill are submitted. Whatever the Government might say, people don’t want their villages and towns torn up and disrupted by teams of modern day Yukon-style prospectors. Also compelling evidence continues to emerge that fracking and exploratory drilling can pollute water supplies, destroy our countryside, and poison the atmosphere. The Green Party is the only national political party to oppose the extraction of shale and coal bed methane gas and the use of fracking processes. We will work with local communities across Kent and the rest of the country to oppose the drillers and prevent their dangerous and damaging activities”.
The opening of the 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round has been confirmed to be taking place in the first half of 2014.
The DECC map of the new licence areas (shown in light blue) is attached as a separate document to this e-mail.
See e-mail from Dr Phil Richards BGS
Dear Councillor Driver, BGS is currently conducting a geological review of the shale oil and shale gas resource potential of the Weald area on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. We are not conducting any CBM investigations in that area. Work has only just started, and will take many months yet. DECC will publish the report when it is finished, probably sometime next year. I understand that Thanet is beyond the area of study.
Dr Phil Richards, Manager, Hydrocarbons ,British Geological Survey, Murchison House
West Mains Rd Edinburgh, EH9 3LA
Interview with Michael Fallon MP, The Daily Telegraph, 8th November.