Keynsham Action Alert

**ACTION ALERT – Oppose UK Methane’s planning application to test drill for Coalbed Methane in Keynsham **

UK Methane have applied for planning permission for a test drill in the Hicks Gate area of Keynsham. Read more about Coalbed Methane below.

Submit a planning objection – find all details, links and potential points to include here.

What more you can do:

1. Click here to sign the petition.

2. Write a letter to Bath & North East Somerset Council and Keynsham Town Council, find addresses & templates here.

3. Get involved with a local group that is taking more grassroots action – particularly Transition Keynsham & Saltford Environment Group. Find your local group & contact details here.

Is Coalbed Methane like Fracking?

The basic method (as with Fracking/Shale Gas extraction) is to drill into the gas containing rock formation, though for CBM it is a coal seam rather than a layer of shale. As with Shale Gas, more effort is needed to get the gas out though. Unlike Shale Gas where the basic technique used, hydraulic fracturing, is almost always the same, for Coal Bed Methane a wide variety of techniques are used depending on the nature of the coal seam. If the seam is permeable enough, pumping water out of the seam will be enough to start gas flowing from the well, but if not, some sort of extra stimulation will be needed. Often this is hydraulic fracturing, like that used for Shale Gas, but an even more extreme technique called cavitation (also known as open-hole cavity completion) can also be used, which involves pumping water and air or foam into the well under very high pressure and then suddenly releasing the pressure (sometimes likened to opening a shaken fizzy drink) causing gas, water, coal and rock fragments to explode out of the well. This can last up to 15 minutes and be repeated dozens of times and results in an enlargement of the initially drilled hole (well bore) by as much as 16 feet in diameter in the coal seam, as well as producing fractures that extend from the well bore. Even if it isn’t necessary initially wells are often cavitated later on to try to slow the inevitable decline in gas production.

There is a substantial amount of evidence documenting the side effects of Coalbed Methane extraction.

The main causes of concern include:

  • CBM occurs much closer to the surface than Fracking and therefore it is even more likely that Methane will migrate to the surface.
  • The huge quantity of produced water (water pumped back out of ground to get gas flowing) can by up to five times as salty as seawater and contain a wide variety of toxic contaminants.
  • The massive pumping of ground water can also negatively affect water tables and aquifer levels.
  • The possible contamination of the River Avon .
  • Food Crops being contaminated via contaminated water.
  • The possible use of hydraulic fracturing uses a HUGE quantity of water in the process. In a climate of drought, water resource pressures and the needs of the agricultural community in Somerset need to be protected.
  • This technology also demands an industrial landscape and an increase in traffic, the have knock on affects including a drop in house prices and tourism.
  • Detrimental effects on ecology of the area and sites of specific interest (SSI) in the Hick’s Gate area.
  • Detrimental effects on sites of arechological importance in the Hick’s Gate area.
  • Coalbed Methane extraction also extinguishes any opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a county or national level leading to increased Climate Change.

But isn’t this only a test drill?

This is the first attempt of an Oil & Gas company to submit a planning application for test drilling in the South West of the UK. We should show them NOW that there is strong resistence.

If we don’t nip it in the bud now then there is the real possibility that it will spread across the region. Their plans are not going to stop at one drill. If they went into full production they would want to coat the countryside in wells: http://theinformalreview.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/aerial-view-csg-mining.jpg

There is a LINK between planning and investment in the industry.
At the moment these small companies need to put in planning applications to the county council for their tests sites. Their aim is to prove that the whole process in viable, with the hope of being able to sell to a much larger corporation – who will have the money to undertake full scale development. Then the large corporation will put in one application to the Major Infrastructure Planning Unit – part of central government for a whole area and that point there is little chance of any local input at all.

So fighting these test sites NOW is very important, while there is scope for local opposition to count for something.

For more information about Coalbed Methane please visit Coalbed Methane – evil twin of hydraulic fracturing & Coalbed Methane Fact Sheet

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