The cost of ‘fracking’ or shale gas extraction in the Banburyshire area will be high in terms of visual interference and pollution, a public meeting heard.
Paul Mobbs, an environmental consultant and shale extraction (fracking) expert, joined Green MEP Keith Taylor last Wednesday to tell people gathered at the The Friends Meeting House in Banbury what could lie in store if the controversial gas extraction is licenced in the region. They said water rates payers will have to bear the cost of filtering and cleaning water used in the high-pressure process of chemicals and pollutants before it can be returned to the district’s water courses.
Continuous movement of lorries, noise from heavy machinery drilling and poisoning of underground aquifers were all cited as other possible dangers.
Mr Mobbs claimed air could be contaminated by silica used in the process and the country scene will be destroyed by pipes crossing rivers and hedgerows.
He added: “It was a positive meeting. People came along to learn about fracking.
“Most didn’t know what to believe because of the way it has been portrayed in the media.”
Mr Mobbs said that a major fracking licence covering an area from Banbury to Aylesbury has already been agreed. And he said certain scientific uncertainties had been omitted from the licence consultation which ended last month.
“The experience of the USA shows plenty of evidence about the environmental impact.” said Mr Mobbs. The expert praised Green MEP Keith Taylor for his work in tackling the official areas of the ‘dash for gas’ through fracking.
“It is good that at least one politician is tackling this.
“Most politicians are accepting it because they have been told there will be cheap and plentiful gas. But the evidence shows this is not true.
“In the US, half wells lose money and the cheap gas there is to do with the recession, not shale gas.
“The economics don’t work and never will. Britain will always have to import oil and gas,” he said.
Keith Taylor said he had visited Pennsylvania where fracking is in full swing and was appalled by the continual noise of the drilling rigs.
He said water utilities have a duty to provide water for companies who request it, but it would be at an environmental and financial cost to the public. He emphasised the danger of air pollution with silica that is used in the toxic mix of chemicals and water needed to fracture the rocks underground.
Anti fracking campaigner Lorraine Newman of Hook Norton attended last Wednesday’s public meeting.
She said: “ We already have the dirtiest air in Europe; do we want to make it worse and endanger our children’s health further? Large swathes of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire are earmarked for comprehensive shale gas extraction coal-bed methane and coal gasification, which all have considerable risks to public health and the environment.”