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Daneshill protectors delay frackers in North Notts (Mar 2014)

Exploratory drilling for coal bed methane near Retford has been delayed, but not stopped.

A small subsidiary of an Australian company, Dart Energy (East England) Ltd, has permission to drill in Daneshill Energy Forest, four miles north of Retford. That will mean drilling through an aquifer close to Daneshill Lakes which is a wildlife site.

So far, local people have spotted a number of breaches of planning conditions, including a failure to build an adequate roadway into the site. (Notts County Council acted to enforce this condition only when others pointed it out.)

It also took local people to know that the site used to be part of a munitions factory. The Environment Agency did not know that when giving an environmental permit, but has now requested Dart to do additional soil testing before drilling commences.

 (for original photo see Frack Free South Yorkshire

A protest camp has been set up opposite the entrance to the site to monitor activity and work with local people to organise public opposition. The camp is on Daneshill Road DN22 8RB, and has a website.

Background

The whole of Nottinghamshire is sitting on layers of coal. While much of the coal down the west of the county has been mined, seams down the eastern side are deeper and suitable for extraction of methane, according to the County Council. That would require 'dewatering' to release the gas. In other words, large quantities of polluted water would be pumped out, and this could also drain the aquifers above the coal.

Deeper still is a thick layer of shale which could be hydraulically fractured to release methane. That covers large parts of North Notts as well as Yorkshire and parts of Lincolnshire. Dart is part of a consortium of companies which want to frack the whole area. That would require large volumes of water which would become polluted and require disposal. Fracking in this sense has been tried only once so far in the UK, by Cuadrilla in Lancashire. This caused minor earthquakes which damaged the well so it had to be abandoned. (Nottinghamshire is already an earthquake zone due to past mining activity.) And Cuadrilla has been delayed futher because it doesn't know how to dispose of radioactivity in the returned frack water.

For further details see our previous news page 'Will they frack Nottinghamshire?' and campaign page 'Could fracking come to a gas well near Nottingham?' And Frack Free Notts website.