Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Press Release EKAF: Dover votes against Fracking

Dover District Council Votes Unanimously (but one!) to Oppose Fracking

On Wednesday, 27 November 2013 Dover District councillors voted almost unanimously to oppose fracking in our area, which we know to be geologically unsuitable for unconventional gas drilling.

This vote followed a Dover District Council (DDC) Scrutiny Committee hearing on 18 November at which studious citizen activists of Keep Shepherdswell Well and East Kent Against Fracking, along with parish councillors from the front line villages, and hydrogeologist, Graham Warren of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE- Kent), delivered a dozen carefully researched speeches which convinced the Scrutiny Committee to recommend that Dover District Council should oppose fracking.

Several DDC councillors who had attended the Scrutiny hearing praised the efforts of those who had addressed the Nov 18 hearing, and of District Clerk Rebecca Brough, who organised the administration of the Scrutiny Committee’s investigation into fracking. This involved inviting groups with views on the issue from all sides, including major stakeholders like Affinity Water, and of course the applicants themselves, Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd.

Sadly, neither Affinity Water nor CO&G Ltd attended these hearings. Whether this was  because the deliberations of the district council were felt to be beneath their concern, or because they may prefer to take refuge behind legislation that would minimise any responsibility for damage caused by drilling, we cannot say. Certainly, Scrutiny Committee Chair George (Jim) Hood had comments to make about their absence.

Consequently all the arguments before the Scrutiny committee showed that fracking for any unconventional gas extraction through the chalk aquifer under East Kent presents unavoidable risk of irreversible pollution to the area’s primary water resource. Councillors were also convinced by our arguments outlining potential damage in terms of traffic, noise, air pollution, risk to natural habitat and marring of the rural beauty of the area upon which its tourism income is based.

Having heard our case with increasing awareness, DDC councillors were largely unimpressed by the familiar half-truths we have all heard from central government and the gas industry, about ‘no cases of harm caused by fracking’ and the promise of jobs and economic revival through gas exploitation, that were put forward by the one councillor who spoke up against the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendation. It was gratifying to hear councillors using our arguments to rebut his statement.

Keep Shepherdswell Well and East Kent Against Fracking will continue to use this straightforward democratic approach of researching the facts and telling the truth; it seems to be working so far. The difference in our case is that we knew enough to oppose it at parish level before it could go through on the nod. We have an excellent team of committed local residents with an amazingly fortuitous mix of skills and talents for creating a convincing case. Is that enough to stand up to the would-be frackers and the powers that be? Time will tell. For now, all local campaigners can chalk up another victory for the protectors of the chalk aquifer.



  1. Disgraceful.. Give the people what they want!

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