Fears after gas drilling ban is lifted

PUBLISHED: 09:00 06 January 2013

Fracking campaigners have warned of what they say are the potential dangers

Fracking campaigners have warned of what they say are the potential dangers


A BAN on drilling for gas in the UK has been lifted by the Government – meaning Somerset’s Mendip Hills could be subject to the process in future.

The practice of extracting gas from rock formations, known as fracking, had been placed under moratorium last year after being linked to two earthquakes in Lancashire.

But the restrictions have now been lifted subject to changes designed to ensure seismic risks are prevented, in a move which has been slammed by campaign groups and Somerset’s MP Tessa Munt.

She said: “The fracking debate is fundamental to the direction of UK energy policy.

“Do we, as a country, want to scramble around trying to drag every last remnant of polluting fossil fuels from our earth before we understand fully the impact of this highly controversial technique?

“Or do we want to be serious about reducing our energy demand, improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, vehicles and equipment and embracing renewable energy, with its absolute energy security, declining costs, many new jobs and real growth?

“Even as a small part of the energy mix, a push for shale gas will swiftly descend into a commercial stampede and investment will leak away from the renewable sector.

“There is an alternative, it is better for our country, our beautiful county, our communities and our children. I know where I stand.”

Helen Moore, a member of the Frack Free Somerset group, said: “It’s really shockingly irresponsible.

“We oppose drilling for gas because of the environmental implications and the potential damage to human health.

“We are gravely concerned.”

She claimed that, in Somerset, drilling for gas could affect the area’s drinking water because of contamination of underground caverns.

She added: “The infrastructure is there for Britain to lead the world in renewable energy, but there are lots of ministers with vested interests in the fracking industry.

“They are prepared to further their own interests ahead of those of the country and, ultimately, the planet. It’s the same old story.

“Fracking is still a fossil fuel, it’s contributing to climate change and that change is manifesting.”

She said drilling, if carried out in Somerset, would ‘massively industrialise’ the landscape due to the large amount of machinery needed to carry it out.

She added: “I am all for exploring ways to keep the lights on, but we really don’t want to go down that route.”

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