July 2016 – Our region is under threat from Fracking with licences granted in Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire
The licences covering parts of Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire include some highly environmentally sensitive areas including Special Conservation Areas, Special Protection Areas, RAMSAR Sites and an AONB.
Do you live in one of these licence areas?
Click here to Download detailed maps of each local licence area shown above.
Click here to Download completed government habitats assessments for each local licence area.
Click here to Download the latest OGA map showing all current and potential UK licence blocks.
If you would like to get involved with resisting this potentially damaging form of fossil fuel extraction taking place in your local area then here’s a list of groups operating in or very near the licence areas shown above:
Forest of Dean – Frack off our Forest
Somerset – Frack Free Somerset
Exmoor, Quantocks, Sedgemoor – Frack Free EQS
Banwell & Weston – Frack Free Banwell & Weston-Super-Mare
Frome – Frome Anti-Fracking
Wiltshire – Keep Wiltshire Frack Free
Westbury – Frack Free Westbury
Trowbridge – Trowbridge Area Frack Free
Bradford on Avon – BoA Frack Free
Devizes – Frack Free Devizes
Box – Box Against Fracking
Other local groups:
Chew valley – Frack Free Chew Valley
Midsomer Norton – Frack Free Somer Valley
Bruton – Gas Field Free Bruton
Yeovil – Frack Free Yeovil
Mendip Hills – Gas Field Free Mendip
Bristol – Frack Free Bristol
June 2015 – PEDL 227 Now relinquished by UK Methane
We have confirmation that PEDL 227 which covers part of the Mendip Hills between Bath and Shepton Mallet has now been relinquished by the licence holder UK Methane. This is excellent news for our area as it now means there are no active oil and gas companies seeking to explore possible reserves in Mendip! We are Frack Free!
This follows the relinquishment last June of the 3 previously held licence areas in Somerset. So for the time being the threat of immediate unconventional gas exploration has been removed.
We feel this move by UK Methane is at least in part due to the amazing efforts of local people and groups to make Somerset an unwelcome place for oil and gas exploration, showing that any moves to explore in Somerset will be strongly resisted.
A word of caution here though as we are soon expecting the government to announce the results of the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licencing Round, which could mean that another oil and gas company could have bid for any of the licence blocks in our area and attempt to commence exploration.
Click Here to Download the latest map from the Oil and Gas Authority showing the UK areas currently under active licence (June 2015)
Click Here to Download the DECC 14th Round Licence Area Offer Map (July 2014) showing all the licence blocks available to exploration companies.
Residents will increasingly be aware of controversial plans to test drill for Coal Bed Methane or Fracking for Shale Gas under the Mendips.
Click the links below for more information on these unconventional gas extraction methods:-
For companies to be able to conduct exploration for Coal Bed Methane or Shale Gas, three things need to be in place:
1) The Government needs to sell a PEDL license (Petroleum Exploration and Development License) to the company (s) wishing to frack.
2) The land needs to be leased by a public or private landowner.
3) The council have to award planning permission.
Landowners do not own the mineral rights beneath their land, they are owned by the state. Landowners are only likely to receive a very small financial benefit for allowing drilling on their land.
This is in contrast to the huge risk of detrimental impact to their local environment and health, which would be very costly to clean up and could significantly damage their livelihood.
In Somerset four PEDL licenses had previously been granted, however recently (June 2014) three licences have be relinquished, leaving one (PEDL 227), which is owned by UK Methane and has been extended for one year. This can be seen on the map below.
Towns and villages PEDL 227 covers include:
Clutton, Temple Cloud, Farrington Gurney, Ston Easton, Clapton, Chilcompton, Gurney Slade, Midsomer Norton, Radstock,
PEDL 227 also includes a large number of other villages, farms and water catchments for several areas, including the city of Bristol and water for areas in the Mendip such as Glastonbury & Street.
On the map above the green area and the relinquished licence areas (PEDL 225, 226, 228) are now available to other exploration companies under the Governments latest licencing round. More info below.
Unlike much of North America and Australia where ‘simpler’ rock strata occur, the Carboniferous Coal Measures of the Bristol-Bath Basin form the most tectonically complex area of the UK (ie the rocks are highly fractured, folded, contorted and faulted).
Very little data on likely gas contents or strata continuity exists. So gasfield exploration and exploitation in this district will be commercially and technically ‘high risk’.
The Mendips Hills are also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with numerous Nature Reserves and SSSI’s on the plateau and in the surrounding area.
Water for the World Heritage Site of Bath’s Hot Springs is thought to come from the Mendip area and could be affected in several ways putting at risk one of the West’s most popular destinations and landmarks. Click here to read about the potential impacts.
The licence holder (PEDL 227) UK Methane holds a 50% share of the licence with Shale Energy plc, although it is understood that full ownership may soon pass to UK Onshore Gas Ltd which intends to list on the London Stock Exchange in the near future.
UK Methane confirmed that they have been working on plans in the Ston Easton area as a potential next test drilling site. They have also said that they intended to apply for permission for full production in Keynsham towards the end of 2013.
DECC 14th Oil and Gas Onshore Licencing Round (July 2014)
Vast swathes of the UK are now open to exploration, including the whole of Mendip and wider Somerset area. On 28th July DECC launched the 14th onshore oil and gas exploration licencing round. Exploration companies are invited to apply for licences up 28th October 2014. For more info Click Here and see map below.
Where applications represent major development, planning permission should be refused in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.