Anti-fracking campaigners bouyed by Environment Agency backing
Controversial plans to drill for gas at three sites in east Kent pose a pollution risk to water supplies which could lead to contamination, according to the Environment Agency (EA).
The agency says the company behind the applications, Coastal Oil and Gas, has failed to indicate how it intends to deal with the risk and says county planners refuse to grant licences.
Kent County Council has already announced it wants more time to consider the three applications at Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone, all near Dover.
Ian Driver with fellow campaigners at the site in Tilmanstone
The three applications are for test drilling for methane gas, rather than shale gas but a similar facking technique is used. In submissions to the county council, the EA says the proposals as they stand could pollute the chalk aquifers that provide thousands of homes with their water.
The submission states: “Groundwater in principal aquifers provides significant quantities of water for people and may also sustain rivers and wetlands. The proposals represent a risk to this aquifer by potentially introducing pollutants, creating turbidity (fine particles of chalk) and making preferential pathways for pollutant transport.”
It goes on to state: “There are a number of risks to groundwater quality associated with any activity that causes a physical disturbance within the aquifer. It is therefore essential to protect the aquifer from pollution during the drilling of this borehole.”
The EA also raises concerns about the drilling platforms, saying that the company has not set out “additional precautions” that would be needed to safeguard groundwater and abstractions.
The intervention of the EA follows KCC’s announcement last week that it too needed more information from the company before planners could recommend whether licences should be granted.
'Ever since these applications were submitted we have warned about the danger to the water supply'
Thanet Green Party Councillor and anti-fracking campaigner, Ian Driver, said: “Ever since these applications were submitted we have warned about the danger to the water supply.
"The Environment Agency’s objections support our concerns and demonstrate that exploratory drilling for shale and coal bed methane is incredibly dangerous and should not be allowed."
Four parish councils in the area that would be affected have voiced their opposition to the applications.
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has also voiced concern about the risk to water supplies caused by drilling.
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