Monday 16th September 2013
EAST KENT GAS EXPLORATION – THE DEBATE BEGINS
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 http://host1.atriumsoft.com/ePlanningOPSkent/loadFullDetails.do?aplId=34407)
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org
(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 http://protectkent.org.uk/blog/fracking-coming-kent/
(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)