Bridgwater has become the latest local authority to declare it’s opposition to the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘Fracking’ that has incensed communities across the country. Now with the Government granting licences to companies to authorise fracking in the Somerset coastal region, already home to a massive nuclear power project, the Town Council has unanimously voted to declare Bridgwater a Frack Free Zone.
Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour, Bridgwater Westover) proposed the motion “This Council recognises that areas of Somerset have been licensed for onshore unconventional oil and gas development, which could include the process of fracking. Unless and until these activities can be shown to have a ‘social licence to operate’ and that the consensus of scientific peer-reviewed evidence indicates that they can be carried out without risk to public health, without risk to the environment, without risk to water contamination, without risk to our rural economy and further that the industry as a whole can meet the three tests set aside by the Government’s Committee on Climate Change, the Parish of Bridgwater is resolved to be a frack free zone.”
The motion was seconded by Cllr Adrian Moore (Labour,Hamp) and passed without dissent.
Frack Free Somerset
Cllr Smedley said “The Town Council is happy to add it’s name to the Frack Free Somerset campaign. Obviously people are concerned about this potentially damaging form of gas extraction which is expensive, leaves scarred countryside and communities in it’s wake, causes air pollution, uses toxic chemicals, tonnes of unusable waste water, possible seismic activity, hundreds of wells and HGV truck journeys through our already overclogged roads and all instead of prioritising the more reusable and greener positive energy solutions that we have in abundance in this part of the world. It’s a modest step to take to add our name to this growing list of concerned communities considering countries including France, Germany, Scotland along with parts of the USA and Canada have already banned or suspended fracking, and this includes Denton Texas where the whole process first began.”
The Case Against Fracking
On it’s website the Frack Free Somerset campaign lists the main causes for concern;-
- Contamination of water sources with radioactive materials, toxic chemicals and methane. According to research by oil services company Schlumberger, around 50% of wells leak within 15 years, which poses a massive threat to local people and the surrounding landscape.”
- Chemical pollution from the toxic (and often carcinogenic) substances used in the process or leached from the seams. Benzene, Ethylene Glycol, Methanol, 2-Butoxyethanol & radioactive elements (e.g. Radium 226) are a few examples of what may end up leaking into the land and its water supplies.
- Earthquakes have been linked with fracking. The fracking of the first shale gas well Lancashire, England, caused several earthquakes and much larger quakes have been linked to frack waste disposal wells in the US.
- Food supply contamination via contaminated water, as farmers commonly use boreholes that draw water from aquifers. In the US and Australia, water drawn from boreholes in fracked areas has often become contaminated and occasionally flammable.
Air pollution has been directly connected with Fracking, due to the production of ozone and leaks of volatile chemicals. Adverse health impacts have been recorded in the US and Australia.
- Industrialisation of the countryside would happen on a mass scale. Fracking will, for example, bring North Sea gas production into the rural heartlands of many European countries.
- Fracking is not a solution. The gas produced from fracking does not generally significantly reduce our dependency upon foreign gas, and will increase the amount of fossil fuels being burned at a time when we need to be drastically cutting back.