Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth object to gas drilling plans « Shropshire Star

Group members have urged Shropshire Council’s north planning committee to reject Dart Energy’s plans for an exploratory borehole to extract coal bed methane on land north of The Brooklands at Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere.

The planning committee will announce its final decision at a specially-convened meeting on Friday, and the eco-campaign group has raised its concerns in the hope it might influence the outcome.

It comes after Shropshire Council planning officers recommended that the plans are approved ahead of the meeting.

Frank Oldaker, joint coordinator for the group said: “This is one of the most serious environmental issues to arise for some time.

“The whole idea of taking this first step that could lead to the desecration of a large area of attractive countryside is outrageous.

“Dart Energy is playing down what the future may bring, with their emphasis on the application being for one short-lived borehole only.

“Even this has its risks of water pollution, both surface and of aquifers, and what is certain is that heavy vehicles will be travelling to and from the site along narrow country roads and past houses.

“The work will be continuous, night and day, so disruption to local people’s lives is inevitable.”

The plans have caused concern from local people who fear it could increase pollution, cause noise and have a serious impact on the local community.

Many also fear it could pave the way for energy companies to begin the highly controversial method of shale gas extraction, fracking – using high pressured jets of water to extract gas from shale rock.

But Dart Energy has insisted it is only interested in coal bed methane, despite the knowledge that north Shropshire sits on both coal and shale deposits.

Mr Oldaker said: “This proposal is likely to be the first of many. At this time the Government is asking companies to bid for licences to explore new areas.

“In Shropshire an area stretching from the north down to south of Church Stretton is up for grabs.

“This is all part of a nationwide strategy to produce our own gas and wild claims have been made which even the energy companies themselves don’t support.

“Gas from coal bed methane and fracking shale won’t make us anything like independent from having to import most of our needs, nor will it lower prices. What this approach does do is contribute to climate change and reduce efforts to come up with clean energy options instead.”

Mr Oldaker said that councillors have “obligations to look after their residents’ well being” and that they should refuse permission for the borehole.

But the plans have been recommended for approval by council planning officers, who say that the impact on the local community could be “minimised” with the right conditions imposed.

The plans will be discussed at a special meeting on Friday at Shirehall in Shrewsbury at 2.30pm.

via Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth object to gas drilling plans « Shropshire Star.