Letter: Fracking gone on since 1980s

A fracking site
A fracking site

Fracking for oil and gas has been taking place in this country since the early 1980’s at the onshore oilfields in Nottinghamshire around Eakring, and in Dorset at Wytch Farm without any incident being reported.

In this area we have oil shales at considerable depth which may or may not contain workable deposits. This cannot be determined until boreholes have been drilled. These will tell whether any deposits exist and whether they can be fracked ecomically.

There are always hazards to be overcome in the extraction, transport and refining of highly flammable fluids. Some of us will remember the collapse of the Sea Gem rig in the North Sea in 1965, the explosion at the Flixborough refinery in 1974 and the Exxon Valdez sinking in 1989. Many lessons were learned in subsequent enquiries and these have been included into our increasingly demanding planning requirements which are much more stringent and more closely controlled than those in USA.

After triggering minor earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011 a report into the incidents concluded that earthquake risk was minimal, and recommended the process be given nationwide clearance.

Because fracking is done thousands of feet beneath the groundwater levels the potential for cracks to leak gas or fracturing fluids into groundwater is extremely low. Media coverage of problems in America show incidents caused by leakages from deposits situated at much less depth than those at which the fracking process takes place.

The environment will be disturbed for a few years, but when extraction is completed and the area involved is restored, then like opencast coal sites, the habitats will be much better than before. Most of the Wytch Farm site is protected by various conservation laws, including the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, a number of SSSIs, nature reserves, etc., Most of the well sites are small and easily screened by trees.

Currently, the only alternative to fracking is to import gas. Transportation is a big problem involving pipelines, or liquefying the gas for surface transportation. Both are extremely expensive.

BUT, we do still have millions of tons of coal beneath our feet

Ian Hardwick,

Nursery Hollow, Ilkeston