Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Letter to East Riding of Yorkshire Council / Beverley Guardian from Beverley Friends of the Earth

I wrote to the Council in April, sharing concerns about the drilling process which has begun in the area, and the Beverley Guardian published a copy. No reply has been received, yet the matter has become more serious.

The Environment Agency has given permission to the Canadian owned company, Rathlin Energy, for another bout of exploration at two local sites: one between Bishop Burton and Walkington (Crawberry Hill), and West Newton, near Sproatley.

In their EA Permit Application Rathlin explains they are testing for possible high volume fracking in future. Rathlin has stated that it has no plans to frack, but always qualify this as no immediate plans to frack, or no plans to frack these wells, or not by them. When pressed they refuse to rule out fracking in future, and admit that if the conventional reserves aren't viable, but the shale is, there could be fracking.

Despite claiming to be interested only in conventional reserves Rathlin actually drilled far deeper, right down to the Bowland shale formation. They will have taken samples of shale rock when they drilled the wells, and tested the samples in the lab. We can assume the tests were promising as they are due to return to site to conduct a minifrac test on the shale rock in the next few days
Gas can only be extracted from shale by fracking.

The Application describes a 'mini fall off test', aka a mini-frac, which Rathlin describes as injecting liquid in to shale rock "pressured up to the point where the rock would begin to fracture". 

This test is therefore in breach of the Council's Crawberry Hill Planning Condition 15 - no fracking.

Rathlin admit they plan to inject liquid at pressure into the shale rock. However, they claim it is not fracking simply because they are not injecting sand to hold the fractures open.

My most recent letter to the Council calls their attention to two things
  • Rathlin is about to conduct a drilling process which will be a direct contravention of the planning restrictions placed on its work by the Council. To argue that the “mini fall-off test” is not fracking is pure sophistry, and the Planning Committee should be aware of that.
  • The successors to Rathlin, should their findings be ‘positive’, will be setting up well-heads every few hundred yards apart across the whole County. Is ERYC making the community at large aware of this, with the damaging impact on the rural heritage in their charge, or is the Council able to give cast iron assurances that such developments will never take place?
I await a reply from the Council, and hope they can reassure the community on these matters

Yours sincerely,
W J Rigby
coordinator Beverley Friends of the Earth

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