Exploratory Fracking Licenses Granted in Epsom and Ewell
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
According to information from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) licenses have been granted for exploratory oil and gas drilling in parts of Epsom and Ewell, to Northdown Energy Limited. These licenses could be used to test the viability of a process called fracking, which is a process of drilling deep shafts into the ground vertically before blasting the shale rock horizontally with high pressure fluid injection, which then releases the natural gasses stored underground.
Epsom and Ewell MP Chris Grayling has stated that any proposed drilling in the borough would be carefully evaluated as fracking is a potential supply of energy that is significant and can therefore not be overlooked. He said that impact studies would be needed to ascertain what this process may involve, but that they had to be explored as people battle to afford their ever-increasing energy bills, and that a new source of gas could mean a considerable reduction in gas costs to general households. He went on to add that such possibilities needed to be looked at seriously.
The DECC clarified this granting of licenses by saying that on-shore drilling has been taking place in the UK for many years. The licenses granted are not licenses to commence fracking in the given areas, but that further licenses would be needed as well as planning permission from local authorities before any such drilling could occur, and that approval to do so would have to be sought from the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive. Having a license to explore does not inevitably mean that permission has been granted to go ahead with fracking.
The Government has been very clear as far as fracking is concerned and would have to ensure that it would be conducted in a safe as well as environmentally friendly way. There are a set of criteria which would have to be met with regard to water safety, as well as on-site safety. Air and water pollution would have to be carefully monitored and any risks of earthquakes or radiation released by radon in the shale would be carefully assessed. The Surrey County Council would like to make it known that no planning applications have to date been received for any form of exploratory drilling in Surrey, and that such applications would be looked at individually according to the law.
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