5,000 signatures reached
To: Somerset County Council and Tessa Munt MP
Stop Fracking in Somerset
We call on Somerset County Council to reject all planning applications for exploration, appraisal or production of shale gas and other unconventional gas. This is the only opportunity for local people to have any say in whether their area gets fracked. Once planning permission is granted all decisions about the exploitation of our area will be taken by central bodies in London (the Environment Agency/DECC/HSE).
Fracking companies do not have to disclose exact details of the chemicals they will inject into our land (25-75% of which will remain there), because they are "commercially confidential". It will be impossible for local people to make proper representations about the planning application if they don't know what the chemicals are, so it will be impossible for the planning application process to be carried out fairly and in accordance with natural justice. It will necessarily be procedurally unfair and unreasonable (and perhaps also an infringement of the Human Rights Act).
Why is this important?
England is a democratic country. People should have a say in their local affairs.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has granted 4 Fracking licences for Somerset, for a large area including the Mendips, Wells, Shepton Mallet, Pilton, Bruton. PEDL 225 (Wells, Shepton etc) runs from 1 July 2008 until 30 June 2039! It's quite surprising that a licence with such long-term and potentially devastating effects could be granted quietly without local people being informed or having any say in it.
In order to be able to start fracking, the fracking company needs to get a PEDL licence, a lease from the local landowner and planning permission from the local authority (Somerset County Council). That's the situation at the moment, but the government is already taking steps to change the process to cut out the local authority's involvement so that the Secretary of State can give permission using the "streamlined planning regime" set out in the Planning Act 2008.
The government has also just changed the planning laws (in January) so that fracking companies no longer have to notify landowners or homeowners that they are going to frack under their property - all they have to do is put a notice in the paper.
In order to make enough money/find enough gas, there will have to be 2000 wells across the Mendips. A huge amount of infrastructure will be required to make the whole thing work. Hundreds of lorries will have to travel to and from the area during the whole time the wells are being prepared and used. An enormous amount of water (from local water sources) will be used, polluted and then required to be dealt with. There will be 3000-19000 cubic metres of "flowback" (the fracturing fluid injected into the shale with chemicals during fracking) per well. This "wastewater" returns to the surface and needs to be treated, so additional infrastructure will be required for this and extra vehicle movements to take it away.
After the area has been fracked for a period of years with the accompanying industrialisation/devastation of the area the fracking company will leave. They will then come back and refrack it about 10 years later. This may be done several times for each well.
There are huge concerns over the safety of fracking. Chemicals are injected into the land during the process and 25-75% of them remain in the land afterwards, having the potential to get into our water, air and land. Fracking companies are allowed to keep the exact details about which chemicals they are using secret.
There is no duty on the fracking companies to take out insurance against the risk of contamination because the government considered this would "add to existing regulation".
The government clearly hopes to get fracking started in this country whether or not people want it, and in the quietest way possible. This is undemocratic.
A fracking company already wants to start exploring areas of the Mendips (including Ston Easton) and they are applying for planning permission to start production in Keynsham this year.
People who live in Somerset should be kept informed about these proposals which are going to have a huge and long lasting effect on the area. We need to get together and make sure we can make our voices heard about this before it is too late. Please sign this petition and pass it on to anyone you know who will be interested.
My aims in starting this petition are firstly to raise awareness of the reality of the situation and secondly to make a database of interested people so that we can keep in touch with each other about fracking developments and get together to speak out/protest if and when it becomes necessary. Please email me if you would like to get involved in this campaign.
How it will be delivered
In person as well as by email.