Sunday, 29 September 2013

Fracking in the Garden of England - Meeting 16th Oct

Fracking in the Garden of England?
What you should know
Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd has recently submitted three applications to drill exploratory boreholes in East Kent to test for the presence of coal bed methane and/or shale gas. If these applications are approved and the extraction of unconventional gas or oil is found to be feasible and profitable, the companies involved would eventually - if not immediately - apply to carry out fracking at these sites.

Ian Crane, ex-oilfield executive of Fracktured Future fame, will share his valuable experience of working in America and present a comprehensive introduction to the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), including information about regulation and safety issues in the UK.

Graham Warren, hydrogeologist and Chair of the Environment Group of CPRE-Protect Kent, will give a presentation about the local geology and explain the high risk of contamination of the water resources of more than 70% of the population of Kent from exploratory drilling at these sites.

Sue Taylor of Conservatives Against Fracking will also be present to provide us with a first-hand account of what it is like to live near Cuadrilla's exploratory borehole at Balcombe. 

In the last half hour of the evening, Rosemary Rechter, Chair of East Kent Against Fracking, will introduce and chair a Question and Answer session, giving you the opportunity of putting your own questions to this distinguished panel of speakers.
Wednesday, 16th October
Connaught Hall, Dover Town Hall,
Maison Dieu House, Biggin St,
DOVER   CT16 1DL −      Free event

Friday, 27 September 2013

CPRE Press release on Fracking in Kent

Press Release:

Fracking in Kent? The Public Say No!

Jamie Weir, PR & Events Manager, Protect Kent 
Friday 27th September 2013
Almost 300 concerned members of the public crowded in to Sheperdswell village hall on Wednesday night to listen to CPRE Protect Kent’s views on the 3 applications for exploratory boreholes in Dover district. CPRE Protect Kent Chairman Richard Knox-Johnston introduced the organisations views and briefed the crowd on the serious concerns that CPRE Protect Kent has with the test boreholes being drilled, whilst the Chairman of our Environment Committee, Graham Warren, gave a technical description of the geology of the area and the potential impact that drilling may have on Kent’s water resources.  CPRE Protect Kent’s experts believe that in an already water-stressed area of the country, the prospect of loss or contamination of water resources that are already heavily committed is too great a risk and that the geological uncertainties of the Kent coal fields remain too great a hazard
Members of the public were given the opportunity to ask questions of the CPRE experts in attendance, whilst the local MP Charlie Elphicke also attended to hear the views of the public and to answer questions. He echoed the concerns raised by Protect Kent over the particular risks of gas exploration in this location and announced that he would raise these concerns with Ministers.
CPRE Protect Kent has a number of serious concerns about test boreholes being drilled in these rural areas, not least the landscape and traffic implications whilst our Environment Committee has raised serious concerns regarding the potential for groundwater contamination due to the particular formation of geological layers and fault lines beneath the chalk.
CPRE Protect Kent Chairman Richard Knox-Johnston said:
“There is considerable concern amongst those in the area about this drilling operation, the way in which it needs to be regulated and the unseemly speed with which the planning application is being processed. We are also concerned by the many impacts these developments will have on the tranquil landscapes of the Dover district. We would ask all members of the public who are concerned by these developments to respond to the Kent County Council planning applications to ensure that their voice is heard.”
For more information, contact:
Jamie Weir
PR Manager
Tel: 01233 714544
1.To access the planning applications, please follow the links below:
2. CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England. We advocate positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county. President: Sir Andrew Motion. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.
3. Protect Kent (The Kent Branch of CPRE) is one of the charity’s largest county groups, with more than 3,000 supporters, 12 district groups and four special-interest groups, which focus on transport, planning, historic buildings and the environment.
4. Protect Kent (The Kent Branch of CPRE) exists to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England by encouraging the sustainable use of land and other natural resources in town and country.
5. Registered office: Queens Head House, Ashford Road, Charing, Ashford, Kent TN27 0AD, Telephone: 01233 714540, or, email: A company limited by guarantee, registered in England number 4335730, registered charity number 1092012.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Planning Latest...

The three planning applications for Test Bore Sites at Guston, Shepherdwell, Tilmanstone from fracking company Coastal Oil & Gas will go to Kent County Council (KCC) for approval:

Public will be able to start commenting on the planning applications from Monday 16th September and the cut-off date 15th November 2013. 

EKAF Petition against test bore holes - please circulate asap

Planning Refs & Details:
Shepherdswell - KCC/DO/0218/2013
Guston -KCC/DO/0216/2013
Tilmanstone - KCC/DO/0217/2013

You have the option on commenting/objections online on the links above [there is a limit of 3900 characters] or you can email them direct to KCC at but quote the planning references (ideally do one per planning application).

We have a template letter but please modify it to your concerns here

Full advice on commenting on planning applications at KCC can be found here

KCC Planning Meeting - Decision Meeting (earliest date)  -December 11th Maidstone County Hall

KCC Members -  Public meeting  - November (venue and date being confirmed)

Protect Kent CPRE have a meeting for Residents of Shepherdwell, Guston, Tilmanstone and other affected villages on 25th September at Shepherdswell Village Hall 7:30pm

Monday, 23 September 2013

East Kent Gas Drilling Applications - KCC Breaks the Rules

22 September
East Kent Gas Drilling Applications - KCC Breaks the Rules
Campaigners against exploratory shale and coal bed methane gas drilling at Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell have accused Kent County Council of breaking planning rules and best practice (1).
In a letter to KCC Planning boss, Sharon Thompson, East Kent Against Fracking supporter and Thanet Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, accuses officers of:
• failing to ensure that the drilling company, Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, organised public meetings with residents of the three villages to discuss the applications and answer questions;
• failing to advertise the planning applications in local newspapers;
• failing to notify all village residents about the applications, rather than just those living in the immediate neighbourhood of the proposed drilling site;
• failing to organise village public meetings at which residents could find out how to object to the applications;
• failing to provide parish, district and county councillors with technical briefings on the three applications.
Said Driver: “These applications are extremely controversial and have potentially life-changing implications for local residents. KCC and the Local Government Association have devised special rules for consulting with the public and briefing councillors about such applications. But it seems to me that the planners have torn up the rule book. They have not briefed the relevant parish, district or county councillors and they have failed to properly inform and consult with the people of Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell.”

Shepherdswell resident Pamela Mudge-Wood said: “I heard nothing from the developers or KCC about this application. No letters have been sent to me and no public meetings organised by KCC or Coastal Oil and Gas. I found out about the applications from Facebook and was so worried that I started leafleting Shepherdswell myself. We now have a small group of about 20 residents who are beginning to campaign against the applications.”
Chair of East Kent Against Fracking Rosemary Rechter said: “KCCs management of these applications has been absolutely appalling. Their failure to follow the rules means that local people are being denied their democratic rights to make informed comments about extremely important issues in their villages.”
Driver is now calling upon KCC to terminate the “fatally flawed” consultation process and re-start it, allowing residents more time to understand and comment on these complex applications and providing councillors with technical briefing sessions. If KCC fails to do this, Driver says that he will complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.
In a separate development, countryside charity CPRE-Protect Kent will be holding a public meeting at Shepherdswell Village Hall on 25th September at 7.00pm to discuss the applications.
For more information contact Councillor Ian Driver on 07866588766
(1) Kent Minerals and Waste Development Framework Statement of Public Involvement 2011 can be found at

Local Government Association Probity in Planning 2010 p7

Text of Ian Driver’s letter to Sharon Thompson
Dear Ms Thompson
I am writing to express my concern about the management of the consultation process for the exploratory gas drilling planning applications at Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell.
It is my view that the Planning Authority has failed to adhere to its own guidance as set out in the Kent Minerals and Waste Development Framework Statement of Public Involvement 2011. This failure is of a sufficiently serious magnitude to justify the termination of the current consultation process and for you to begin a new one, which accords more fully with the Statement.

According to Paragraph 4.2 and Policy 6 of the Statement of Public Involvement, your department must encourage “applicants of potentially controversial proposals to engage with the relevant communities as early as possible and subsequently demonstrate how they have responded to the issues raised”.
I am sure you will agree that these applications are extremely controversial, but I am unaware that Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd have engaged, to any meaningful degree, with the local communities concerned. To the best of my knowledge, this company has not set up public meetings at Guston, Tilmanstone or Shepherdswell at which they have presented their plans to residents, answered questions and taken into account any comments or proposals.
I would be grateful if you could provide me with evidence (e-mails, meeting records etc) that your officers made genuine efforts to implement this policy. Please provide me with evidence (e-mails, meeting records etc.) of how your officers managed any resistance or refusal by the applicant to engage with the communities concerned.
According to KCC’s Planning website, a notice of the planning applications was published in the Kent on Sunday newspaper on 15.09.2013. Policy 7 and Para 4.4.1 of the Statement of Public Involvement requires that the application is published in local newspaper(s). The editorial of Kent on Sunday on 21st September described itself as a “county newspaper” and Wikipedia describes Kent on Sunday as a “regional newspaper”.
It would therefore appear that in placing the planning notice in Kent on Sunday on 15th September you have acted contrary to your Statement of Public Involvement, which requires the notice to be published in a local newspaper(s). Could you please advise me whether any notices of application have been published in local newspapers and, if so, in which publications. If such notices were published after the 15th September, then I assume that you will alter the consultation timetable accordingly.

Paragraph 4.4.9 of the Statement of Public Involvement states that, depending upon the nature of a planning applicant, you may sometimes exceed statutory consultation requirement by notifying all local residents rather than just adjoining neighbours of a planning application. I would argue that the controversial nature of the applications at Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone merit the application of this discretionary power. Please provide me with evidence (e-mails, meeting notes etc) to demonstrate that consideration was given to notifying all local residents about these applications and evidence as to why it was decided not to do this.
Para 4.5.5 of the Statement of Public Involvement states that in the case of controversial applications, or applications which have a high level of interest from the local community, a “public meeting may be arranged”. I am sure you will agree that these three applications are extremely controversial but I am unaware of your having made any arrangements to hold public meetings at Guston, Shepherdswell or Tilmanstone. Could you please inform me whether it is your intention to hold public meetings at each of these locations?
Even if you do, belatedly, decide to hold public meetings, I feel that the time required to organise them and notify residents means that they will be held very close to the consultation deadline, which will be extremely unfair to residents.

Finally, test drilling for gas is a very complex and technical issue. I am very surprised therefore that the Planning Authority appears to have failed to provide democratically elected consultees and decision makers, at parish, district and county level, with any background briefing or training so that they can make informed comment on behalf of their constituents.

I was at the Shepherdswell Parish Council meeting last week and no planning officer was present to provide advice to councillors. I understand that no planning officer was present at the Guston or Tilmanstone Parish Council meetings either. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, all 3 parish councils have decided not to make formal comment to KCC about these applications because they feel that the information provided by KCC has been insufficient.

The Local Government Association, of which KCC is a member, recommends in its Guide for New Councillors 2013-14 and its 2010 publication, Probity in Planning, that because planning is a complex and changing area, councillors must be specially trained and that this training should be supplemented with special briefing sessions on planning issues which may be technical or controversial, such as those at Guston, Shepherdswell or Tilmanstone.

I have found no evidence to demonstrate that KCC, in partnership with Dover District Council, have made any effort whatsoever to provide parish, district or county councillors with special briefings to help them understand the issues involved before they make formal comments about, or decisions on, these applications.
I am extremely disappointed that the Planning Authority appears, in relation to these three applications, to have clearly disregarded its own guidance on public involvement in the planning process and to have ignored the advice of LGA about providing training and briefing sessions for councillors commenting or deciding on complex planning issues. This is particularly worrying when the nature of the three applications concerned is taken into account.

I trust that, in light of my comments, you will now begin a new and proper consultation process and initiate a programme of councillor briefings, otherwise I will have no option but to take this matter to the Local Government Ombudsman on the grounds of maladministration and injustice.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Ian Driver
The Green Party
Thanet District Council

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Monday 16th September 2013

Hundreds of people will be attending public meetings this week to discuss three controversial planning applications to allow exploratory drilling for coal and shale bed methane gas at the East Kent villages of Shepherdswell, Guston and Tilmanstone(1)

On Monday 17 September Tilmanstone Parish Council meets to discuss an application to drill on the village’s former colliery site. It is expected that neighbouring Eythorne Parish Council will also meet shortly to discuss the same application. On Wednesday 18th September Shepherdswell Parish Council is meeting to consider an application for test drilling near to the village. On Thursday 19th September, there will be a village meeting at Guston to discuss a similar application (2).

Dover District Council will be discussing a motion calling for a full report on the implications of the planning applications at its meeting on 18th September (3).

Protect Kent, an affiliate of the charity Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has issued a statement expressing its concerns about the planning applications and will be holding a public meeting for residents of Guston, Shephersdswell and Tilmanstone on 25th September (4).

The applications have been submitted to Kent County Council by Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, which already has permission to conduct exploratory gas drilling at nearby Woodnesborough.

KCC Principal Planning Officer Mike Clifton has confirmed to campaign group East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) that the deadline for raising objections to be addressed in the committee report will now be Friday 15th November, not 6th October as previously posted.

EKAF and the Kent Green Party strongly oppose the applications. Chair of EKAF, Rosemary Rechter said 'we understand from Graham D Warren, hydrogeologist of CPRE Protect Kent Environment that exploratory drilling could pollute the Chalk Aquifer which lies beneath the drilling sites and provides water for thousands of homes in Kent.’(5) EKAF Vice Chair, Julie Wassmer pointed out that 'additional vehicle movements and noise and light pollution resulting from 24 hour drilling operations will industrialise the East Kent countryside, causing property blight for residents and harm to local wildlife.’ Green councillor, Ian Driver warned 'If gas is discovered and permission is granted for extraction, this may lead to full-blown fracking which will cause serious damage to the entire area.'(6)


(1) The planning applications can be seen at
Coastal Oil and Gas already has KCC planning permission to conduct exploratory gas drilling at Woodnesborough nr. Sandwich see
(2) Tilmanstone Parish Council 16th September, Tilmanstone Village Hall 7pm contact Parish Clerk Mrs Cathy Skinner 01304 830200. Shepherdswell Parish Council Wednesday 18th September 7pm Shepherdswell Parish Hall contact Parish Clerk Steven Durbidge 01304 830242. Guston residents meeting Thursday 19th September Burgoyne Community Centre from 7.30pm CT15 5LY Parish Clerk Glynis Farthing
(3) Dover District Council meeting 6pm Wednesday 18th September will be discussing the following motion
“This Council is concerned by the prospect of fracking and related drilling activity in the Dover District area and requests that a report is brought forward to the next meeting of this Council to inform the Council of the nature of the process, the potential impact on subsurface water resources and geological formations, the type and scale of the surface structures, and the impact of anti-fracking demonstrations in the light of recent experience in Sussex on the local communities and on the police."
(4)  CPRE Protect Kent public meeting Wednesday 25th September 7.15pm Shepherdswell Village Hall. CPRE statement on the planning applications can be seen here
(5)  Briefing document by hydrogeologist Graham D. Warren of CPRE – Protect Kent Environment warning of the risk of contamination to the Chalk Aquifer. (Attached Item 1)
(6)  Single page bullet point summary about dangers of Coal Bed Methane Gas (CBM) – exploration and extraction.  (Attached Item 3)
(7)  Photograph of EKAF committee members. EKAF Chair Rosemary Rechter 4th from left. (Attached Item 4)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Busy, Busy ...

Good news: One of the Parish Councils - Guston - have voted against Coastal's Plan to have a bore hole on the Pineham rd. 

The other three Parish Councils are meeting in the next week or so plus there is a motion at Dover District Council next week... If you live in communities please talk your Parish Councillors as well DDC and KCC Councillors

Shepherdswell EKAF supporters will be outside the Co-op on Saturday.

We are in process of organising meetings in Dover (Sept) and Deal (Oct) plus there will be a CPRE meeting at Shepherdswell we think on the 25th Sept .... details all to follow

Lots of press this week ... p7 EKM and bits on the BBC

Hope to publish the planning process soon ... we think the public can start commenting on the planning application early next week 

We are arranging campaigning material and a petition to get rapidly growing supporters listinvolved

If you want to get involved contact us on 075999 35640 or email ... you can find us on facebook at 'Like' us and please invite your FB friends....

Monday, 9 September 2013




Monday 9th September 2013
Irreversible contamination to a major east Kent water source could result if plans are allowed to go ahead for a fracking company to drill for methane gas in east Kent. 

Hydrogeologist Graham D Warren of CPRE (Protect Kent Environment) gave this warning to campaign group East Kent Against Fracking after 3 planning applications for exploratory drilling were recently submitted to Kent County Council by Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd

East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) strongly oppose the applications claiming that drilling will raise even more environmental concerns than contamination of domestic water supply. Chair of EKAF Rosemary Rechter said “we understand from Mr Warren that there is a high risk of methane and other constituent 'free' gases being mobilised by this exploratory drilling which could subsequently migrate into the Chalk aquifer on which the 3 sites at Tilmanstone, Guston and Shepherdwell are located. As the contamination of this aquifer would impact on a significant proportion of water consumers in east Kent this is something which potentially affects all of us - not just those residents close to the 3 sites. However, there will be associated burdens upon the local communities situated close to the drilling operations, as we have seen at Balcombe in Sussex – where an exploratory drilling operation is also being conducted.’ Mrs Rechter cited 24 hour drilling operations, excessive noise, light pollution, banishment of local wildlife, heavy vehicle traffic and damage to roads as well as property blight for residents. Mrs Rechter also explained ‘although the current applications before KCC are for exploration only, should Coastal Oil and Gas succeed in finding coalbed methane gas, or any other unconventional gas, it will of course progress to exploitation with all its attendant risks: possible subsidence, earthquakes, major disruption and industrialisation of the garden of England as well as economic loss to tourism and agriculture.’

Vice Chair of EKAF Julie Wassmer explained,  ‘homeowners close to areas involved in unconventional gas drilling operations can find themselves trapped in a home they cannot sell, re-mortgage, insure or develop but EKAF is determined that this message will go out loud and clear to the residents of East Kent.’ Ms Wassmer said there was also considerable concern that the consultation period for the current planning applications was too short and needed to be extended beyond the 6th October deadline. ‘These applications concern a major and controversial development with a potential to impact negatively on public health and water supplies. Concerning no less than 3 sites they also have a cumulative effect.

Waste from these sites may have to be disposed of outside of the county, affecting residents in other parts of the UK and so inviting objections nationwide. I understand from Cllr Ian Driver that KCC officers are expecting to receive comments from ‘far and wide’ so I strongly suggest it would be wise for KCC to set a precedent to extend the consultation period not only to prevent a burden on local officers but to allow time for crucial baseline assessments of local and air and water to be taken by the appropriate agencies. If these applications are seen by local people to be rushed through by KCC, or a decision buried in the run up to the Christmas period, it would be fair to say protest would ensure east Kent could well become the next Balcombe.’  

Graham Warren confirmed in a written statement that there was a high risk of contamination of the Chalk aquifer ‘notwithstanding the best efforts of the Regulators to ensure compliance by the operators with the necessary protective measures.’ He added ‘We are surprised that any Shale Gas development could be contemplated, given the hydrogeological regime of the three sites selected for eventual fracking operations. The Chalk Aquifer of East Kent supports a high density of public supply boreholes and forms part of the North Downs groundwater resource which supplies at least 70% of Kent’s domestic and commercial requirements.’

End of Press Statement