Hydraulic fracturing can pollute water resources and cause earthquakes

Shale gas test drill in Nottinghamshire gets green light from council

Image credit: Reuters

The local council in North Nottinghamshire has approved the application from IGas Energy to drill two exploratory shale gas wells near Doncaster to assess the potential of the site for future fracking operations.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s planning and licensing committee approved the application seven votes to four, despite substantial local opposition.

“We now have the consent to develop a hydrocarbon well site and drill up to two exploratory hydrocarbon wells (one vertically and one horizontally) to help us better understand the shale gas potential in North Nottinghamshire,” said IGas CEO Stephen Bowler.

“We are at a critical juncture in the future of our energy mix and supply, as we move away from coal towards lower carbon energy sources.

The exploratory phase will involve no hydraulic fracturing at the site in Mission, south east of Doncaster.

The UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) welcomed the decision, stating the importance of shale gas for the future UK energy mix.

“This follows the successful applications for onshore oil and gas developments in North Yorkshire and Lancashire and shows positive momentum towards finding out what natural gas resources we have beneath our feet that can be developed for the good of the whole of the UK,” said Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UKOOG.

“84 per cent of our homes use gas for heating and by 2035 four-fifths of that gas will come from outside the UK. That is why this is important.”

However, environmental groups have criticised the decision, which they see as diverting resources from the more favourable renewable energy generation options such as wind and solar.

“Fracking makes little economic and environmental sense,” said Greenpeace UK campaigner Hannah Martin. “It will cause disruption to local communities, industrialise our countryside and hold back efforts to bring down climate-warming emissions.”

The technique of fracking, which involves pumping liquid under pressure into the ground to fracture the rock and release the gas, has taken off significantly in the US. Evidence already exists linking the method to the contamination of water resources and the triggering of earthquakes.

Bowler said development of the shale gas industry in Nottinghamshire could create new job opportunities in a region stricken by the demise of coal mining.

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