The Green Party has raised concerns over three applications for gas drilling in the former east Kent coal field, saying it could lead to “full-blown” fracking.
The three applications being dealt with by Kent County Council are in east Kent for methane gas exploration, rather than shale gas. They are for one-year licences to drill exploratory boreholes.
The company behind them is Coastal Oil and Gas and relate to sites at Shepherdswell, Tilmanstone and Guston in east Kent.
Deal With It's Rosemary Rechter and Stuart Cox protesting at Balcombe
It already has planning permission to conduct exploratory gas drilling at a site near Woodnesborough, also in east Kent.
Thanet Green councillor, Ian Driver said that if the exploratory drilling led to searching for shale gas, “east Kent could become the next Balcombe.”
Cllr Martin Whybrow, KCC Green Party councillor
“We totally oppose these plans. Exploratory drilling, possibly leading to full-blown fracking is a serious threat to the Kentish Stour aquifer, which supplies water to tens of thousands of homes in Ashford, Dover, Deal, Canterbury and Thanet.”
Green county councillor Martin Whybrow said: “I am disappointed by KCC’s plans to rush through these applications. There are very complex associated issues.
"People, including KCC’s own councillors and officers, need time to find out more, as reflected in some of the early optimistic and naive pronouncements from the county council.”
Kent County Council has emphasised the three applications are unrelated to drilling for shale gas.
However, some critics believe companies are masking their real intentions by submitting drilling applications for methane gas when they hope to discover shale gas.
Consultation on the three applications runs until October 7 and Kent County Council is expected to decide whether to give the go-ahead in late November.