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Fracking is 'insane' - Somerset campaign film health warning

By WMN_PGoodwin  |  Posted: February 18, 2014


The unique beach at Kilve on the West Somerset coast where oil shale is present in vast amounts and sometimes burns on after picnic fires. Photo: Richard Austin

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A campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of fracking is to target the heart of the flood-hit Somerset Levels disaster zone with a stark warning about health and climate change.

Geologists and experts in oil exploration have ruled out companies using hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas from Cornwall and most of Devon as the underground conditions are thought to be unsuitable.

But there are still serious concerns that pumping water, sand and chemicals into rock to force out the gas, could lead to earth tremors or affect water supplies.

The Government has already issued four petroleum exploration and development licences (PEDL) covering 250 square miles of Somerset, including the Mendip hills.

A second round of licences could extend to other potentially oil-shale rich areas deeper in the Westcountry such and West Dorset and in the Quantock Hills, where the sight of beach rocks catching fire at Kilve provides startling evidence of fossil fuel below the surface.

Dr Robin Shail, a geologist at the Camborne School of Mines, said rocks in the South West had largely been “cooked”. “The prospect of getting oil gas out is pretty remote,” he added.

Industry experts agree, according to Chris Cornford, a consultant at Bideford-based Integrated Geochemical Interpretation Ltd (IGI).

Mr Cornford is dismissive of campaigns in the region, which in his opinion simply does not contain sufficient “organic rich shale” to justify investment in preliminary exploration.

Despite this opponents have gathered together to form Frack Free Somerset (FFS).

The organisation has been touring the county this month showing a film by a Glastonbury film maker which documents the serious health problems suffered by people close to fracking sites.

Helen Moore, FFS spokesman, said nowhere was “safe” from the effects of fracking.

“It is absolutely insane that we are pursuing fossil fuels with the threat of climate change,” she added.

A showing of The Truth Behind the Dash for Gas and a talk will take place at Langport Sports and Social Club on Friday at 7pm.

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