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Fracking in Kent too risky according to countryside charity

PUBLISHED: 12:46 23 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:46 23 December 2014

Fracking

Fracking

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CPRE Kent say the county’s water supply would be under too much threat

Rural campaign group, CPRE Kent (Campaign to Protect Rural England), has today (December 23) told the Government that the danger from fracking to Kent’s water supplies is too great.

It has submitted its evidence on the danger of fracking in parts of Kent to a Commons Select Committee. The Environmental Audit Committee is undertaking an inquiry looking at the potential risks to water supplies and water quality, emissions, habitats and geological integrity.

CPRE Kent fears fracking could damage the aquifer which supplies 70 per cent of the county’s water. The gas and oil deposits are no more than 600-700 metres below the aquifer, the Chalk of the North Downs.

The charity states that there is a risk that geological faults in the area would be re-activated allowing gases and fracking fluids to leak into the chalk and so contaminate the water supply.

It has produced a detailed report on the water resource implications of shale gas and oil exploration and development in East Kent and the Weald. This has formed the basis of the submission to the Audit Committee.

CPRE Kent argues that planes of structural weakness which have developed along fractures in the rocks allow vertical slippages of up to 100 metres. The charity says that these are the sites of earthquakes which took place over a period of more than 200 million years but are still regarded as active, as evidenced by the Folkestone earthquake in 2007. There were also notable earthquakes in 1382, 1500 (when six people were killed), 1776 and 1950.

The licensed area, Woodnesborough, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell, also features up to 10 public supply boreholes. The charity says that these boreholes would be at risk if any of the fluid used to frack areas escaped.

The hydraulic fracturing process involves the injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemicals known as ‘slick water’. It is pumped into boreholes under high pressure in order to fracture the shale rock and release the trapped gases.

CPRE Kent director, Hilary Newport, said: “We have submitted strong arguments backed by scientific evidence to the Environmental Audit Commission detailing our very serious concerns about fracking. We fear the potential danger to Kent’s water supply is too big a risk.

“We await with interest the committee’s report and the Government’s response to it.”

2 comments

  • Well, its hard to say isn't it because they haven't had the balls to put the report out to everyone so people can see their arguments. They have told the public that the gas and oil deposits are 600-700m below the aquifer, but from memory I think they are referring to the top of formations, not the zones inside those formations. However, I cannot check because I cannot see the report. As for the argument about fault injection it has some merit, but at 600-700m only limited. It is possible to watch the fluid injection underground using micro-seismicity so a company hydraulically fracturing is not blind, they can see where the fluid is going in real time. In the US the largest known micro fracture network formation was around 400m. That is used as an upper bound, though it is a function of fluid injection time and rock mechanics. You cannot create a 400m micro fracture system if you pump half a meter cubed of fluid so exceeding that 600-700m is not possible by accident. The journalistarticle doesn't say anything about what formations are between this oilgas producing zone and the aquifer either. Hard formation will limit fracture growth to horizontal planes instead of vertical. This is physics after all, so the equations that handle formation fracture gradients are not just about distance, rock strength is just as important and in affect creates virtual distance. I.e in a lab you could have 50cm of vertical distance and a slab of titanium on top and that very hard material will stop fracture growth becoming mathematically an infinite vertical separation. None of this is discussed here. I hope that the CPRE report actually looked at all this and hasn't just declared that the separation is 600-700m and there are faults there and it doesn't like the sound of it so is opposed to it. That would be pretty meaningless. Also, experts are only experts if they are experts in the related field. A geologist can be an expert in metamorphic Migmatites, geologists tend to specialise (I am a geologist and I can't remember much about migmatites). Just like someone cannot say they are an expert 'engineer' because there are different specialisations a geologist is not an automatic expert in all fields of geology. Yet that is what we see presented to the public. So, with this report we can't see whats in it, or who is behind it. It has just been put together and sent to the government. It is a none story until we can see what is in it.

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    Garry Scales

    Wednesday, December 24, 2014

  • I do wish some journalist, CPRE or someone, would check their facts. There is no shale lying below Woodnesborough, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell, so there could be no shale gas in this non-existent shale. Accordingly there is little point or accuracy in hyperventilating about "Fraccing for shale gas in East Kent".

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    Michael G T Baker

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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