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Frack Free South Yorkshire

David Burley from Frack Free South Yorkshire gives his views on fracking in the UK

What's the current status with applications to test in South Yorkshire, have any of the companies started drilling or extracting (fracking)?

There are several licences to the north, east and south of Doncaster, but no planning applications for unconventional gas have been made yet.

The licenses are predominantly owned by

  • Alkane Energy or
  • A consortium comprising Total (French company that has bought into UK licences because fracking is banned in France), IGas (who drilled at Barton Moss, Manchester), Egdon Resources (who have just bought Alkane Energy’s shale gas assets), and Ecorp.

One license, PEDL139, owned by the consortium, covers an area from New Rossington and Finningley in South Yorkshire down to villages in North East Bassetlaw. The consortium has stated that it will conduct an exploratory vertical drill in 2014.  They have carried out 3D Seismic testing already.
We expect an imminent planning application.

In July 2014 our government will be opening up the 14th round of onshore oil and gas licensing. 67% of the UK is available to companies, including the whole of South Yorkshire.

If companies get the green light to frack in areas of South Yorkshire, what can residents expect?

A well pad about 5 acres in size serviced by many HGV movements during exploration. When they enter the production phase hundreds of truck movements will bring clean water to and take contaminated water out of the site. Millions of gallons of water will require treatment.

It will be necessary to drill large numbers of wells at regular intervals. To produce as much gas as a conventional gas field with a dozen or so wells, would require hundreds or thousands of shale gas wells.

Because of the much more intense nature of the shale gas extraction process it is associated with much more negative impacts than conventional drilling. These include leaking methane, water contamination, air pollution, radioactive contamination, massive industrialisation of the landscape, worsening climate change and earthquakes. Severe health effects in people and animals are beginning to mount areas where shale gas extraction is widespread. Shale gas extraction also leaks large amounts of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas) and makes available fossil fuels that would not otherwise be burnt, both significantly worsening climate change.

The only frack in the UK so far caused two seismic shocks. Although these were relatively small in magnitude, far greater ones have been experienced in the USA.   The US state of Oklahoma has seen an increase in earthquakes, of magnitude 3.0 or greater, from zero in 2000 (before fracking) to over 200 in the first 6 months of 2014.

How do the local community benefit?

The companies have signed a Shale Community Engagement Charter.

If a company explores for gas in shale, it will pay £100,000 to the local community. This will be in the form of donations to local causes and projects.  In a typical community of, say, 20,000 people, this equates to around £5 per person.

If a company then extracts gas from shale the company will pay 1% of the revenue to residents who live nearby. The Department of Energy and Climate Change sponsored report from AMEC in December 2013 stated that this could be £2.4 to £4.8 million per site. Sadly one third will go to the straight to the county council leaving only two thirds to residents. In a community of 20,000 residents this would be only £80 to £160 each.

Unfortunately there has been no indication of how nearby residents have to be to the fracking to qualify. And if gas is found in rock that is not shale, we get nothing.

How will it affect house prices?

Evidence from USA shows that house prices all. The University of Denver carried out a study which revealed 5% to 15% drops in house prices near fracking sites.

Also, the UK insurance industry is still to decide on house insurances. But Blackfriars Group Insurance said in August 2013 that in an insurer is concerned about the potential threat from fracking then they will use postcode data to either:

  • not offering insurance in those areas
  • increase insurance rates to deter any policyholder

Are there associated health risks?

A United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce issued a list of chemicals used.  It listed many chemicals hazardous air pollutants, carcinogenic and even toxic in USA’s Safe Drinking Water Act.

A recent court case in USA found that a family’s health had been harmed by nearby fracking. The family was awarded $2.9m.

Finally, what sustainable alternatives are there to fracking? 

There are many. In the UK we have hydroelectric power in mountainous regions already. As we are a windy island there is great potential for much more solar, wind (onshore an offshore), tidal and wave power and biomass. The technology already exists to store this energy.

We note that energy from renewables is 43% up on 2013. Investment in renewable energy creates more jobs than fossil fuels.

Comments (3)


about 4 years ago

Another source of energy for the UK could be Coal bed methane (CBM) is natural gas, just like gas from the North Sea, but extracted from coal seams rather than from sandstone reservoirs. The world’s primary CBM reserves are generally believed to be in Western Canada, USA, Australia, Eastern Europe, China and the UK. The first Coal Bed Methane well in the UK was drilled in 1992 and there have since been several pilot drilling schemes across the country. Despite this, there are no large scale operational developments yet. In a handful of areas commercial operators appear close to achieving commercial-scale drilling with the help of directional drilling techniques, adopted from the oil industry. Coal Bed Methane exploits natural gases from unworked coal seams. These coal seams are often found at depths well beyond conventionally mining capabilities. CBM is extracted by releasing pressure in coal seams, usually by natural gas production or by pumping water from the coal bed. As the pressure is reduced, gas is released and can be extracted. If CBM extraction is carefully controlled and monitored then methane gas should not escape into the atmosphere in any great quantity. Reply


about 4 years ago

This article contains false and erroneous information. There is no history of fracking in the UK and most of the 'evidence' against fracking is is anecdotal from Canada and the USA. Hydraulic Fracturing aka ‘Fracking’ was first used in the 1950’s so it is nothing new. In the Nottinghamshire village of Beckingham fields have been fracked for oil and gas for decades. The occasional passing tanker is one of the few clues that oil is being extracted from under the ground. Next to the fields is Beckingham Marshes, a wet grassland habitat managed by the RSPB. The charity has objected to fracking for shale gas in Lancashire and West Sussex but has not objected to fracking at Beckingham Marshes. Why not? Because Shale fracking and fracking are two different things. This is where the anti’s get their facts wrong, there is no history of shale fracking in Britain, consequently they protest about something none of us has knowledge or experience of. A distinction can be made between conventional or low-volume hydraulic fracturing used to stimulate high-permeability reservoirs to frack a single well, and unconventional or high-volume hydraulic fracturing, used in the completion of tight gas and shale gas wells as unconventional wells are deeper and require higher pressures than conventional vertical wells. In addition to hydraulic fracturing of vertical wells, it is also performed in horizontal wells. When done in already highly permeable reservoirs such as sandstone-based wells, the technique is known as “well stimulation”. So are the anti’s protesting about low volume or high volume fracking? Rock or Shale fracking? Do they have any solid evidence to validate their protests or do they rely on anecdotes and hearsay? (From the USA and Canada)


about 5 years ago

Fracking should be banned everywhere. It appears to offer no bonuses and only bad effects to health, the environment and contributes massively to climate change. By the way, although mostly well written, this article badly needs editing, have another read through!