PRESS RELEASE -EAST KENT AGAINST FRACKING
THREAT TO EAST KENT WATER FROM FRACKING COMPANYMonday 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