Tuesday, 22 October 2013

EKAF Press Release 21/10 - East Kent says NO to test boreholes

PRESS RELEASE  Monday 21st October 2013


During a week when Dover MP Charlie Elphicke shared his concerns with East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) regarding the possible contamination of an aquifer supplying 70% of the county’s water, 2 parish councils voted against applications for exploratory boreholes in East Kent.

On Monday 14th October, Mr Elphicke met with EKAF’s Vice Chair Julie Wassmer in Westminster and said ‘the energy resource is a huge opportunity but I’ve always said we must balance this with the risk to the aquifer and the risk is too great.’

On Tuesday 15th October Guston Parish Council voted to reject the applications, with Shepherdswell following suit on Wednesday (16th October). Shepherdswell villager Pam Mudge-Wood said ‘Keep Shepherdswell Well’, our local anti-drilling campaign group, is delighted with the result but we must emphasise to our village that we should still write and submit letters of objection to Kent County Council by Nov 15th.  We are delighted to have our Parish Council's support!” (NB SEE FULL STATEMENT FROM PAM MUDGE-WOOD BELOW.)

Ms Mudge-Wood and other villagers left the Shepherdswell Parish Council meeting early to break the news to EKAF which was holding its own public meeting on the same evening at Dover Town Hall.

EKAF Chair Rosemary Rechter said “We were extremely pleased by the Shepherdswell vote and our meeting proved to be a very informative, if disturbing evening. Ex-oil company executive Ian R. Crane explained the context and gave a very full account of the downside of this technology, citing countless examples of water contamination, and damage to the environment and health of people in the U.S. and Australia.  He also pointed out that the industry could cover 65% of the country. Graham D. Warren of CPRE Kent explained why the local geology presented a very high risk of water contamination and seismic events and Sue Taylor, a Balcombe resident, spoke movingly of the birds that had vanished from her garden and the effects of noise and vibration from drilling there. She explained that most villagers welcomed the protection camp and her personal account of the events at Balcombe praised the demonstrators, offering a very different account to that which people have seen on the TV. We were grateful for the attendance of district councilors including Cllr James Back (Con) and Cllr Peter Wallace (Lab) who also shared their concerns.”

200 people attended the meeting after which a show of hands revealed that only one person remained in favour of the unconventional gas/oil industry.

Thanet Green Party Councillor and EKAF member Ian Driver said "A Freedom of Information request made by the Green Party reveals that Kent County Council has invested £153million of its pension fund in companies which carry out fracking across the world. It is massive conflict of interest for KCC to decide on planning applications that could lead to fracking, when it is simultaneously investing in this extremely dangerous and damaging industry. KCC should do the right thing and sell off its shares in the fracking companies".

KCC has now cancelled a public meeting which was due to be held on 7th November. Julie Wassmer said “Sharon Thompson, Head of KCC Planning Applications, has confirmed to me that because of the many questions raised, from both the public and councillors, KCC now says it requires more information from Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd and that there will be no decision made by the KCC Planning Committee until at least the New Year regarding these applications.”

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