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Fears up to 2,100 fracking rigs could be created in Somerset

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

Campaigns against fracking have been stepped up

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Environmental campaigners have raised the spectre of up to 2,100 fracking wells being created across the former Somerset coalfields.

A series of public meetings have been held to raise awareness of what plans to carry out shale gas drilling could mean for local communities.

More than 30 people attended a meeting in Midsomer Norton to hear from national campaign group Frack Off and Frack-Free Somerset about hydraulic fracturing, coal bed methane and unconventional gas drilling.

The meetings are part of a month of action called Frack-Free February organised in response to planning applications and other proposals for gas extraction.

UK Methane, which owns licences for an area covering Midsomer Norton, Peasedown St John and Chew Magna, recently withdrew a planning application to test drill on land near Hicks Gate on the edge of Keynsham, saying it was likely to go straight to a full production application.

Edward Lloyd-Davies, of Frack Off, produced estimates of the potential extent of drilling in Somerset based on information being given to investors from UK Methane’s Australian parent company.

He claimed this indicated the possibility of up to 2,100 drilling sites with extensive gas pipelines across the countryside if permission was granted, which he said would “industrialise the rural landscape”.

He also raised concerns about water table contamination, seismic activity and the disposal of gallons of contaminated water once it has been used.

The next meeting is at Blagdon Village Club on Thursday, February 28, between 7pm and 9pm.

North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said he was “cautiously in favour” of fracking but would be reserving final judgement until a government report is published, which he expects to reveal that there are significantly more shale gas reserves than previously thought.

Mr Rees-Mogg added: “If so it will be important to investigate the opportunities this could bring through lower energy costs for both industry and consumers.

“Energy poverty could be practically eliminated. Thus I remain cautiously in favour subject to further evidence becoming available.”

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  • Yetypu  |  February 14 2013, 11:53PM

    The term "fracking" is now so devalued as to be almost completely useless, other than as a perjorative calculated to arouse alarm & opposition - as in 'Frack Off' or 'Frack Free'. There is a tremendous difference between the development of coal bed methane or shale gas, due to their relative shallowness or great depth. UK Methane are being ingenuous in not specifying which they seek, as the number of exploitation wells would differ greatly, being far more frequent for coal bed methane. Coal beds are also thousands of feet nearer than are shale beds, to any aquifers.

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  • nigant  |  February 14 2013, 12:08PM

    "Energy poverty could be practically eliminated. Thus, I remain cautiously in favour subject to further evidence becoming available."! So could our drinking water, landscape and much more! They know far too little about the effects of fracking and, as we get a lot of our water from bore holes, I don't think they should be messing around with anything that could cause that to be polluted! Also, as an area that does, from time to to, have minor earth quakes, I think it also very unwise to risk making that any worse. After all, the church that was on Glastonbury Tor was destroyed by one such earth quake! Just one accident could be catastrophic for the whole area and it is not a risk worth taking!

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