Fracking moratorium should cover extreme oil and gas sites in South East

The new ban on fracking should be extended to cover all fossil fuel sites using extreme techniques, like acidisation and matrix acidising, says the Weald Action Group.

Local campaign group, Brockham Oil Watch, launched an open letter today to regulators calling for an extension of the definition of fracking

The letter says: “Many of the acids and other chemicals used in well stimulation are potentially hazardous for the environment and human health and, while there are few UK studies examining the risks and impacts of their use, studies conducted abroad suggest that many of the risks and concerns surrounding hydraulic fracturing are the same as for acid stimulation, namely induced seismicity, air and noise pollution and groundwater contamination.’

“Oil companies are set on a massive expansion of extraction with back to back wells using acid stimulation across the South East,’ said Sarah Finch of the Weald Action Group. “This is already implicated in causing earthquakes in Surrey, and the environmental impacts will be unacceptable. The Tories should include that in their manifesto alongside the fracking moratorium.’

Fracking has been narrowly defined in legislation in the Infrastructure Act 2015, with operations that would qualify as fracking in other countries excluded in the UK. The Weald Action Group has been campaigning for the definition to be expanded to ensure tighter regulation of the current expansion of onshore oil and gas.

Surrey County Council recently approved a 20 year extension of oil production at Horse Hill, where a horizontal well is already being drilled with planned stimulation techniques. The Weald Action Group is mounting a legal challenge against that because of the failings to take climate and earthquake risks properly into account – the same reasons now set out as behind the fracking ban. At Brockham, which is near Horse Hill, Angus Energy withdrew after revealing that it would need to use extreme techniques for commercial production. It has now submitted plans for flow testing at Balcombe.

“It’s time for a ban on all forms of extreme oil and gas extraction’, said Sarah Finch. ‘The environmental risks are too high and are unacceptable to local communities.’

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