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Monday, 22 December 2014

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South Cumbria fracking licences up for grabs

Fracking licences are up for grabs across South Cumbria, after a massive expansion of drilling was given the go-ahead.

The government is inviting firms to bid for onshore oil and gas licences, with Barrow, Walney and Millom all highlighted as possible sites for fracking.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change published a map of the areas where land will be available for licence yesterday, with almost half of the country covered.

Land across Furness has been identified as a possible host for fracking, meaning sites could be built locally to extract shale gas from underground.

However, gaining a licence is just the first step towards drilling. Planning permission is also needed along with permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive.

Harry Knowles, executive director of Furness Enterprise, said there would be economic benefits if fracking was carried out locally, but he believes this is unlikely due to companies preferring higher concentrations of shale gas elsewhere in the North West.

He said: “Provided that the appropriate safeguards were in place, I would be in favour of fracking here. Cumbria is known to be rich in energy resources so fracking would be an another area to use our expertise.”

Under guidance, applications in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites and the Broads will be refused unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

Richard Leafe, chief executive of the Lake District National Park, welcomed the stance.

He said: “Having this included in the newest round of licensing is very helpful as it is clear from the outset to developers looking to operate within these areas.”

Mr Leafe said he was unaware of any interest in future fracking within the Lake District because of its geology. “The Lake District is primarily made up of hard volcanic rock which provides its mountains and lakes so it is unlikely to contain much shale gas. There could be small pockets, but not significant amounts.”

What it means for South Cumbria

ACCORDING to a map (above) by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, licences will be available across the Furness peninsula and cover Barrow, Walney and Ulverston. Permits will also be available around Millom.

However, Harry Knowles, executive director of Furness Enterprise, believes fracking companies will be more interested in sites in Lancashire with higher concentrations of shale gas.

He said: “I’m not sure that Furness will have much participation in fracking.

“From what I have seen there are not many areas in Furness with high reservoirs of shale gas. My understanding is the Trough of Bowland has the biggest supply in the North West.

“The Furness area may be able to participate in providing expertise as we have talented engineers and engineering companies.

“I think fracking can make a significant contribution to improving Britain’s security of energy and driving down the costs as has happened quite extensively in the US.”

What it means for the Lake District

UNDER the guidelines, the Lake District National Park will be protected from fracking unless there are “special circumstances” and it must be shown to be in the public interest to carry out the extraction.

If a developer wanted to drill on the land and it was refused then they will need to appeal to the communities secretary who will ultimately decide.

Kate Willshaw, planning officer at Friends of the Lake District, believes fracking would not be suitable in the national park due to the extra infrastructure, transport and equipment required for the site.

Speaking about yesterday’s ruling, she said: “We are happy as long as the protection is applied for the Lake District.

“We would be extremely against any national park even being looked at for fracking. They are special landscapes for a reason.”

“Obviously it has to be done on a case by case basis, but we are pleased the special qualities of national parks have been recognised.”

Philip Johnston, managing director of Coniston Coppermines Cottages, believes the perceived sceptical view of fracking could affect tourism if the Lake District was chosen as a site for fracking.

He said: “I think we have to be very careful about the visitor perception of our beautiful area. We want to try and avoid industrial connotations if at all possible.

“I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing but there could be some resistance against it. “Whether rightly or wrongly, it might hurt the local economy.”

Have your say

Phil,

Provided there isn't massive market distortion by the Government, ordinary people are bound to benefit massively. There are all kinds of scare stories out there, as there are for all things which fall foul of the environmental lobby, which is almost as big as any other lobby nowadays. Take your pick and believe what you like. Scratch under the surface and you'll find none of it adds up to much if anything. As to whether there'll be fracking in the Home Counties, licenses to drill have been granted in Hampshire, Kent, East & West Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire and Greater London. None have been granted in Oxfordshire (where the P.M.'s constituency is), however, there is an SEA area which falls within the county, which means it is a prospect for the future.

p.s. google is your friend ;)

Posted by Rick on 1 August 2014 at 11:33

Rick,

The crux of the matter, however it is dressed up, is that The Government will benefit directly or indirectly from fracking, hand in hand with the big corporations, whereas it is highly unlikely that the public, once again, will see any benefit. For this reason and the fact there is substantial evidence of adverse effects on the wildlife and human population, they can stick their drills where the sun don't shine. Wonder if they'll be fracking in the home counties, Cameron's constituency etc...

Posted by Phil on 1 August 2014 at 10:45

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