Chewton Mendip residents concern at prospect of Unconventional Gas Extraction
On July 16 over 70 people attended a public meeting arranged in Chewton Mendip village hall by Gas Field Free Mendip, a non party-political campaign by local people to protect the Mendip Hills and surrounding area from potential unconventional gas extraction. UK Methane who own the PEDL licences for this area have expressed interest in test drilling in the locality.
Tim Richards from Frack Free Chew Valley outlined the processes involved in coal bed methane and shale gas extraction before focusing on the hazards of the process and its incompatibility with low carbon energy targets as outlined by the Climate Change Committee.
Local Applied Geologist Gareth Thomas then gave a presentation from an independent perspective outlining the local impacts and hazards that a Mendip gas field might have, relating in particular to the complex geology and hydrology of the area which greatly increase the risk of pollution of the region’s water supplies, industrialisation of a beautiful recreational amenity and endangering the World Heritage site of the hot springs in Bath whose water is believed to originate in the Mendips.
Questions were then raised by the audience, most notably the issue of where the millions of gallons of water required for the process would come from, where in our region the polluted ‘flowback water’ would be disposed of and what Bristol Water’s policies would be.
Many in the audience were concerned that Jacob Rees Mogg MP has stated his support for unconventional gas extraction and it was suggested that he might rethink his stance if he better understood the geology of the area and the impact that the rush for gas would have on the local community.
Concerns were also raised about the accountability of the drilling companies and who would pay for any damage caused by their activities and the degradation of the area.