Emotions run high over fracking plan

Emotions ran high at a two-day public consultation attended by around 300 villagers and run by Celtique Energie on their proposal to drill for oil and gas in the Fernhurst area.

And as the Observer went to press on Wednesday Fernhurst parish councillors were due to discuss the plan and on Tuesday had villagers flocked to the village hall for a public meeting.

At their consultation Celtique Energie staff explained they have held the fracking license for several years but now they were intending to apply for planning permission for the well head at Nine Acre Copse about one mile from the centre of the village.

There they propose to drill to 8,600 feet, about 2.6km, underground with the potential for drilling another two miles horizontally which could take the exploration well the other side of the village.

Although there was no proof the drilling would prove viable, a seismic study had identified the site as having a geological structure that was probably suitable.

Environmental impact studies, traffic studies, light and noise pollution impact studies, screening plans, plans to work with schools and the community did little to soften the detrimental effect most residents felt the fracking would have on the area. The nearer people lived the greater the impact and the greater the reaction against the company and its plans.

They were concerned that if the discovery was big, commercial fracking could take place with the associated worries of chemical contamination of the water table, and significant emissions of methane and even earthquakes.

Those living nearby said they were ‘appalled at the prospect of non-stop drilling, associated light and traffic.

Villagers from further away tended to accept the need to find energy sources, although many wished a wellhead site could be found in a more suitable place.

Visitors were asked to answer a questionnaire to be collated into the planning application and submitted to the national park authority by September. If approved, work could start some six weeks later.