For the first time the Government has named Nunney as one of the villages in a potential impact zone for controversial fracking plans.
Hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) is a technique designed to recover gas from hard-to-reach layers of shale rock deep under the countryside.
A mixture of water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock under high pressure in order to fracture the rock and release oil and gas reserves.
Industry experts, backed by the Government, believe that trillions of cubic feet of shale gas may be recoverable from underneath large areas of the English countryside.
Fracking is already used extensively in the United States. The fracking industry is keen to play down problems with earth tremors and groundwater pollution opponents say have made fracking highly controversial.
Many countries have banned fracking, although the UK and the European Union have decided to regulate the industry instead.
The British government has vowed to do everything it can to force through wide-scale fracking across the UK, including introducing legislation to speed up the planning process and financial rewards for councils that collaborate with fracking plans.
The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) – the UK’s oil and gas regulator – has just announced that 27 onshore licence blocks from the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round will be formally offered to companies.
A second group of 132 further blocks has been subjected to assessment under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the findings of which are now out for consultation, to which you can respond.
Subject to the outcome of that consultation, the OGA will announce offers for the second group of licence blocks later in the year.
The licences for all offered blocks will then be granted after the terms and conditions have been finalised. The names of all licence holding companies will then be made public.
Under the Petroleum Act 1998, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change may grant licences for a defined geographical area (ordnance survey “blocks”) and for a specified period of time.
These licences confer exclusive rights on the licensee to “search and bore for and get” petroleum but do not, in their own right, confer on the licensee any consent, permission or authorisation to carry out development activity.
They are, however, potentially a first step that could lead to 20 years of production in the countryside around Nunney and elsewhere.
If a company is granted a licence to extract shale gas, this licence potentially allows it 5 years of exploration, 5 years of research and development and 20 years of production.
Fracking Licences in Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire
Within the second group of 132 licence areas now under consultation 15 of them are within the Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire areas and cover some highly environmentally sensitive areas including Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas, RAMSAR Sites and an AONB.
These include the Longleat Estate, Mendip Woodlands SAC west of Nunney and Mendip Valley to the east. Beckington, Witham Friary, Trudoxhill, Frome and other communities are also placed within the impact zone.
Nunney is in the potential impact zone for zones ST84 and ST85. Mells Valley SAC is highlighted as a special area of conservation where Great Horseshoe Bat colonies are potentially at risk of fracking activities.
Click here to download the latest OGA UK map showing all current and potential licence blocks
Click here to download detailed maps of each potential local licence area
Click here to download completed assessments for each potential local licence area”
Click here to visit the main consultation page including all supporting documents
Click here to submit a response to the consultation online
Local action group Gas Field Free Mendip said, “We would encourage you to submit a response to this consultation by the deadline of 29 September 2015.”
“The areas highlighted in dark green above have not yet been granted as licences, this is your chance to have your say.”
“The consequences of any exploration and possible production of shale gas or coal bed methane, possibly involving fracking, could have significant adverse effects on your health, well-being, local environment and financial security.”