Residents upset over potential fracking of gas

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 July 2011 | UPDATED: 13:22 01 July 2011

Axbridge

Axbridge

Copyright Archant Ltd

THERE are fears and confusion over mineral drilling in the Mendip Hills.

An Axbridge resident and a town councillor have both expressed concern following the planned extraction of mineral cores in the Mendips.

Although the tests if proved positive could lead to the ‘fracking’ of shale gas, UK Methane director Gerwyn Williams says there are no plans for it at this stage.

Eden Energy and UK Methane have had Government licenses to test drill on the Mendip Hills since 2008. Currently they are taking mineral cores for laboratory tests.

The process of fracking involves drilling a hole deep into an area of ground that contains natural gas and pumping high pressured water into it. This can release gas which is trapped and brought to the surface where it can be pumped.

Axbridge town councillor Dan Wookey is disappointed the council was unaware of the tests.

He said: “There has been no information and I would have expected to pick something up.

“We are in an area of outstanding natural beauty which is one of the concerns.

“Maybe they plan to give us information when they know it is viable.

“I am disappointed that we didn’t know and if this is going to effect us then I would have preferred to have found out about it before I read it in the news.”

Resident John Ryves raised concerns at the beginning of Axbridge Town Council’s meeting this week about the drilling.

John, aged 54, said: “The thing I am concerned about is the process of extracting methane is quite brutal.

“When you are drilling a few thousand feet underground and pumping in chemicals , it is rather hit and miss.

“In areas where people are living there is a risk environmentally and physically to people who live in the area.

“What is left at the end of the day is for local people to cope with it.

“There are four big reservoirs in the Mendips and they all feed from lakes underground.

“But this process is drilling under the hills to what is underneath and then pumping in chemicals.

“But are they going to contaminate the water?”

Paul Kelson, spokesman for Bristol Water said: “Until they ask for planning permission then it will not have any impact on us, and at the moment they are just drilling.”

Speaking to the BBC, Gerwyn Williams, UK Methane director explained the process is very strictly governed and the company wouldn’t be allowed to do anything that wasn’t safe.

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