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Shale gas

NCC Shale Gas Event – 6 July 2016

Much of Nottinghamshire, including the area around Willoughby-on-the Wolds, has recently been licensed for shale gas exploration.

Shale gas has much the same composition as other types of natural gas, but unlike North Sea gas (for example), it is ‘locked-up’ within certain fine-grained mudrocks, including some shales. It can be released by hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, of the host rock.

Anticipating the many questions that would follow applications for exploratory drilling in the licensed areas, Notts County Council organised a seminar at which representatives of all the regulatory agencies addressed councillors and other interested parties, explaining in detail how shale gas exploration and development will be controlled in the UK.

Copies of the presentations have been made available by NCC, together with a summary of the lengthy question and answer session that followed. (see links at the bottom of this article).

The seminar was attended by Don Aldiss, on behalf of WoW PC. His report to the Parish Council finds that although the regulatory regime controlling shale gas development in the UK is as comprehensive, complex and onerous as it needs to be, and there could be financial benefits to central and local government, and possibly to local residents, there are also some concerns:

  • The number of potential shale gas drilling sites is unknown – but prospective shales are far more widespread in Nottinghamshire than are the existing oil fields.
  • No-one can state with certainty that nothing will go wrong during shale gas development, in spite of all the precautions that would be taken. Several countries, including Scotland, France and Germany, have made an assessment of the residual risk and imposed a moratorium or a complete ban on shale gas exploration.
  • UK shale gas would add to the global inventory of hydrocarbon reserves, not all of which can be safely burnt if the aims of the Paris Agreement on climate change are to be met.

The report to the WoW PC concludes that the development of the shale gas industry in any part of the UK should be resisted.

Shale gas seminar Q & A

Reports:

Public Health England

Oil & Gas Authority

Notts County Council

Health & Safety Executive

Environment Agency

Dept of Energy & Climate Change