Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Fracking in Somerset 

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At the moment the Government is consulting the public about making Fracking - exploratory drilling for shale gas - ‘Permitted Development’. Please have your say on these plans by 25th October!  

    Fracking presents a number of environmental risks to wildlife and society. In the dash for shale gas, we have particular concerns that this is running ahead of effective regulations to minimise and eliminate the serious risks. The Wildlife Trusts are particularly concerned about the impact on:
    • - water quality (surface and ground water contamination) and quantity (water stress and availability);
    • - habitats, species and ecosystems (disturbance, damage, loss and fragmentation)
    • - Climate Change (through increased greenhouse gas emissions)
    Climate change is presenting a significant and serious long-term threat to biodiversity and people across the world.
    All forms of energy generation will entail some environmental costs and we believe that the risks and benefits associated with each need to be weighed against each other and considered in the context of location and scale.

    Somerset Wildlife Trust believes we need:

    • - a reduction in energy demand and for energy efficiency measures to provide the central focus of the Government’s approach to sustainable energy policy;
    • - a reduction in dependency on fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil);
    • - Government funding prioritised on the development and implementation of renewable technologies;
    • - the restoration of ecosystems, such as peatlands to absorb carbon (and a range of other natural services) to help mitigate and adapt to human induced climate change. 

    At the moment the Government is consulting the public about making exploratory drilling for shale gas ‘Permitted Development’. Exploratory drilling would not involve fracking (hydraulic fracturing) but is a vital first step towards a gas shale well being developed which would include fracking. This is the same category of planning that covers conservatories or a small shed in the back garden.’
    We feel the risk of damage to our precious environment could potentially be far greater than a backyard shed and we hope you will join us in making this known to the Government. You can access the consultation by clicking here - deadline for comments is October 25th 
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    In 2014, in partnership with the Angling Trust, The National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon & Trout Association, and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, The Wildlife Trusts published Are We Fit To Frack? The report made ten recommendations to make the regulatory framework for the shale gas industry, fit for purpose.

    One recommendation was to ‘avoid sensitive areas for wildlife by creating shale gas extraction exclusion zones’. In January 2015, the UK Government took steps towards this recommendation by committing to ‘an outright ban on fracking in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)’ alongside National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)'. But just eight months later, following a general election, a major U-turn on this commitment has placed some of the country’s most sensitive and precious wildlife sites at risk by excluding SSSI’s from the ban.

    In August 2015, the Government announced 7 new licence areas for shale gas exploration and extraction on the Somerset coast, stretching from Minehead to Clevedon. These licence areas include Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Local Wildlife Sites, National Nature Reserves such as Bridgwater Bay and the Huntspill River and some of our Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves – all of these areas are at risk from fracking.

    The Somerset Wildlife Trust along with The Wildlife Trusts, and other conservation organisations want to see fracking ruled out from in and around all Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Ramsar (wetland) sites, Local Wildlife Sites and Nature Reserves. These wild refuges are recognised and valued at an international, national and a local level, and must be protected.

    To find out more about fracking in Somerset, please click here