Licences have been issued by the government that could bring fracking for gas to areas along the Somerset coast from Blue Anchor to Clevedon. Labour says tight scrutiny is needed to protect the environment.
The latest round of fracking licences was revealed a few days before Christmas and received little attention. There’s likely to be fierce opposition to the idea of fracking in sensitive areas of natural beauty – and near to Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
Among the areas where licences have been issued are:
• A stretch of the coastal area from Blue Anchor to Watchet, including Williton and Washford
• An area from West Quantoxhead to Kilve
• Stogursey and a part of the Severn estuary
• An area including Puriton, Woolavington and Huntspill
Fracking is the process of pumping water and chemicals into rocks underground and collecting the material trapped within them. Opponents say it generates high emissions, can pollute the water table and can even cause earth tremors. Companies would have to get planning permission before any drilling could start.
West Somerset Labour Party secretary Andy Lewis said:
“The news that these licenses have been issued will come as a surprise to many people. A consultation process took place last year but was not widely publicised.
“Labour policy is that any fracking which is allowed must be subject to a robust regime of regulation and environmental protection. The fact that licenses have been issued does not mean that fracking will go ahead. We believe any application to take this further must be subject to very close scrutiny.”