Meeting tackles plans to drill for methane gas

Bristol Post, Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MORE than 100 worried residents attended a meeting in Keynsham to hear about plans to drill for gas near their homes.

Specialist firm UK Methane has lodged a planning application to drill a borehole on land near the Hick’s Gate roundabout, to see whether extracting methane gas is viable.

Extracting gas from underground deposits is controversial because of a process used in some countries, known as fracking.

Fracking involves using fluids at high pressure to fracture underground rocks to release the remaining gas for extraction as fuel.

But the application currently before Bath & North East Somerset Council does not authorise fracking and if initial investigations found the site not to be economically viable, the hole would be filled with concrete and left. However if it is considered to be worthwhile a second application would have to be made to extract the available methane by drilling deeper and then horizontally into the ground.

Initially the methane would be turned into electricity through an on site generator before being sold for greater profit to the National Grid.

Usually a company will then look at further sites around two to three miles away from the original bore area to make further bore holes to extract more methane.

No one from UK Methane was at last night’s meeting to explain the company’s plans.

A short film was shown at last night’s meeting relating to fracking in America, where contaminated water, which would ignite when lit, has come through people’s taps and gas has been linked to illnesses.

Concerns raised in Keynsham included increased traffic, noise and loss of greenbelt land.

However Sam Willetts, of Transition Keynsham, which organised the meeting at the Royal British Legion in Charlton Road, conceded UK Methane had said they would not use fracking at the site as the practice is currently not allowed in the UK.

Laura Corfield, of Transition Keynsham, said it was “crunch time” in terms of energy consumption but told the audience other, less “radical” options should be looked into that did not “sabotage future generations”.

There was a discussion about projects such as the installation of solar panels on public buildings in Keynsham and the option of hydro-electric power on the River Avon.

This idea, proposed by Transition Keynsham, would have a preferred site of the Keynsham weir.

The group says it believes that two turbines could produce enough electricity for more than 1,000 homes.

There was also a presentation from Hinton Organics on the benefits of using compost – as part of an anaerobic digestion system – to produce energy to benefit the community.

Finally Dave Laming of the River Avon Corridor Group said it was time to learn from history, adding: “We must look to use the river because one day you will go to turn the switch on and nothing will happen or fill your car and it will cost £10 a gallon – then what will you do? We have to go back in time to make this work.”

After the meeting resident Stuart Tucker, 36, a microbiologist, said: “It has raised concerns. I have been to a few Transition Keynsham meetings before but this has really put it into context.”

Retired Richard Earle, 65, of Keynsham, said: “I thought it was a very good meeting and I think the hydroelectric power is a very good idea and there is a sewage farm in Saltford that could also be used.”

See pictures from the evening below:

Posted on: November 1, 2012