Fracking licences for Somerset coast awarded: Labour calls for close scrutiny

the latest OGA UK map showing all current and potential licence blocks
the latest OGA UK map showing all current and potential licence blocks

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.

Somerset Labour's Andy Lewis (Councillor for Minehead) meets Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn in Bristol
Somerset Labour’s Andy Lewis (Councillor for Minehead) meets Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn in Bristol

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.”

More information and maps of the affected areas can be found here:
and here:

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Tom Kay
8 years ago

The timing of the granting of licences combined with the fact that fracking companies feel the need to employ the extensive services of PR companies (seven in the case of Cuadrilla, according to Refracktion) would seem to suggest that the public (quite rightly) are not on board with the idea of fracking, especially in these areas. And that the government knows this.

Is there a suitable liability and safety framework within which these firms operate that ensures that the firms are held to account legally and financially for any damage that is done to public health or to quality of life?

Shouldn’t these firms be legally compelled to pay regular sums into a government insurance account so that the funds can then be available to undo (if that is even possible!) any of the damage done by fracking? If these firms are so convinced of the benign nature of fracking, then they should put their money where their mouths are and pay into this type of fund. Interest payments could be used for local projects. Just a thought.

Maureen Smith
Maureen Smith
8 years ago

The fact that to licences to frack near nuclear reactors are being offered proves that the government and presumably , their civil servants, have lost their senses. This will not only endanger the power station itself, but damage the very fragile coastline. The increased heavy traffic, added to the expected traffic for Hinkley C construction, will create impossible and dangerous conditions. Have these people seen our roads ?
The only explanation is greed for cheap, polluting energy, but, in fact it takes almost as much energy to extract the shale oil as it gains and the entire industry is a giant Ponzi scheme to attract investment which will never pay back. In the US the revenue from fracking is barely paying the interest on development loans. Any available investment should be spent on clean renewable energy production and energy efficiency instead of this high risk production of climate changing fuel

Jane grenfell
Jane grenfell
8 years ago

Wil the labour party organise a debate or forum on these licences?

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