A campaign group’s Freedom of Information request has revealed that Kent County Council was aware of plans for three exploratory bore holes in east Kent since May 2012.
East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) obtained documents under a FOI request which also revealed that the plans to test drill for coal-bed methane gas could be just the first stage of an long extraction process.
EKAF vice-chairman Julie Wassmer said: “Correspondence began in general terms in May 2012 but became more specific in September 2012 when the company revealed plans for at least two pilot productions wells at each of the three sites.”
In an email dated May 16, 2012, between the principal planning officer Jim Wooldridge and director of Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd Gerwyn Williams, Mr Williams writes that he could win people’s confidence by taking a staged approach to drilling.
He suggests that he would take a “novel approach” and “if everything works as planned, we will be able to go on to the next stage without having to make numerous planning applications”.
This could mean that the company would not need to re-submit an application for fracking once exploratory drilling was accepted.
“If these wells are drilled, there will be no going back."
EKAF chairman Rosemary Rechter said: “In the email there is talk of being transparent with the public but this has not happened.
“There has been poor engagement with the communities involved and the one thing we can be sure of is the high risk of contamination to Kent water from even exploratory drilling.
“If these wells are drilled, there will be no going back. The whole of Kent must oppose this now.”
The three applications for exploratory bore holes at Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell have seen strong opposition from campaign groups, residents and MP for Deal and Dover, Charlie Elphicke.
There will be a public meeting hosted by East Kent Against Fracking on Wednesday, October 16, at 7.30pm to 9.30pm, Connaught Hall, Dover Town Hall, Biggin Street, Dover.
The speakers will include ex-oilfield executive Ian R. Crane, Balcombe villager Sue Taylor and CPRE hydrogeologist Graham Warren.
An online petition opposing the applications has gained over 1,500 signatures.
To sign the petition visit you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-oppose-exploratory-drilling-for-coal-bed-methane-in-east-kent-1
The county council had not commented as the Mercury had gone to press.