Concern for Mendips as bidding for fracking licenses begin

notforshaleGlastonbury Festival Founder Michael Eavis and daughter Emily – not for shale

Comments (0) THE new bidding process for fracking licences began on Monday.

A county council spokesman said that so far there are no fracking license applications for Somerset. He said that the Department for Energy and Climate Change is inviting companies to apply for a Petroleum Exploration and Development (PEDL) license and added that “Somerset County Council is not involved at this stage”.

He added: “Further along if there are any areas where licenses are applied for in Somerset we would be informed. The company would need to apply for planning permission. That is the stage where county council would become involved.”

Helen Moore of Frack Free Somerset, a coalition of concerned groups in the county, said: “As a member of Frack Free Somerset I am opposed to what the government is doing. Polls show that less than 50 per cent of people are in favour of fracking. As more people become aware of the dangers they are rightly saying not in our name.

“The government is blindly going ahead because they fail to see that we can meet our energy needs through renewables, as other countries such as Germany are aiming to do, and because of their own vested interests in fracking. There is plenty of evidence to show government ministers have their fingers in fracking pies.

“We know that UK Methane has just renewed its PEDL license 227 which covers areas of the Mendips. So we supsect they may want to put in a planning application.

“We expect other fracking companies may be biding their time in view of the Government’s intended change to the trespass laws, which we will be protesting. The Government would like to change the trespass laws to give fracking companies access to private land.”

A fracking license gives companies the rights to drill on a particular area. They are not free to frack until planning permission and permits from the Environment Agency have been granted. They also need a sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive.

Fracking is the controversial drilling process used to extract shale gas. It involves blasting water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into shale rock formations to release the gas and oil held inside.

Anti-fracking campaigners believe the process can contaminate the water supply and cause earth tremors. The Government has launched a new bidding round for licenses which covers half of the country and could include Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Fracking would only get the go-ahead in national parks, AONB or World Heritage sites in “exceptional circumstances” according to the Government.

Campaigners against fracking are disappointed the government the process has not been banned completely in these areas. Planning permission could be granted in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty if “demonstrated to be in the public interest”.

Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth. We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy.”

Wells MP Tessa Munt broke ranks with the Coalition Government last year over fracking tax breaks. She did not support Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to give tax breaks to companies involved in fracking, revealed in the 2013 Budget and said: “I am worried by tax allowances for shale gas investment. I do not believe that we should incentivise an industry that could do such damage to our precious Mendip countryside.”


Posted on: August 1, 2014