Anti-fracking campaigners launch survey to fend off potential fracking applications

Views of the Mendip Hills.

Views of the Mendip Hills. - Credit: Archant

Anti-fracking campaigners are gearing up for a fight over the controversial drilling technique while waiting for a firm to decide if it will seek to explore for gas near Weston-super-Mare.

Mendip Hills. Picture: Simon Williams

Mendip Hills. Picture: Simon Williams - Credit: Archant

Frack Free North Somerset has compiled a survey to find out whether people support fracking.

It hopes the evidence it gathers can be used as proof fracking is not supported in North Somerset, in the event an energy company applies for permission to drill.

Fracking involves drilling a well and forcing water down at high pressure. This creates cracks in the rocks, releasing shale gas.

As it stands, only one company could apply for permission to frack in North Somerset. South Western Energy Limited has exclusive access to licences which would allow it to explore for gas in parts of the district to see if fracking is viable.

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Frack Free North Somerset chairman Richard Lawson said: “It’s been trying to raise money on the stock exchange.

“We are under threat from the possibility of fracking.

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“What we are doing is going to Hutton, and asking people ‘do you give consent for fracking in the area?’”

The responses, which the group expect to be largely opposed to fracking, can be used as evidence should South Western apply for permission for exploratory drilling.

Mr Lawson believes the case against fracking is ‘winnable’.

He said: “Our area is geologically, in all sorts of ways, very unpromising. The shale gas is very close to the surface, and they are obliged to dig very deep.

“It is also madness to go near Hinkley Point nuclear power station, because of the risk of earthquakes, and Somerset Wetlands because of the danger of releasing gas into the water.

“I think it is winnable, but we want to give it a push first.”

Campaigners will be in Hutton today (Thursday) at 6pm, and every Thursday until the survey is complete. They will then move on elsewhere.

Mr Lawson added: “There are a slew of reasons not to frack, including the industrialisation of the countryside, with drilling rigs, big gas flames, and health risks.”

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