‘Purbeck’s AONB, wildlife and coastline could be at risk from fracking’

April 30, 2017

GORGEOUS COASTLINE: This is a stretch of coastline along the Purbeck part of the World Heritage Jurassic coastal path. Could this be jeopardised through having a series of shale gas rigs to extract oil and gas?

 

WILDLIFE HAVEN: Durlston Country Park’s cliffs is a part of a migratory route for seabirds. The Council-run reserve has the only dolphin-watching hide in Dorset and the cliffs are home to puffins, guillemots, cormorants and shags. The site lies metres away from the site that is making exploratory efforts to find oil and gas under the Purbecks.

STEALTH STRATEGY: Andy Kirkwood for the Movement for Active Democracy: “There was no environmental assessment done. There was no testing of the ground soil and no protection for the water and all these things were side-stepped. All the government agencies said because this is temporary, we don’t need to take this seriously. This is drilling by stealth. They avoided at all costs about talking about fracking.”

 

 

AN anti-fracking group claims Purbeck planners enabled shale gas companies to bi-pass stringent environmental protection measures to carry out temporary investigations to find out if there is shale gas and oil in the district.

Stop the Swanage Gas Rig Group has been formed in response to an application for fracking this companies to search the Isle of Purbeck for oil and shale gas to increase the UK’s domestic energy supply.

Fracking or hydraulic fracking is the process whereby used to extract gas and oil and from shale rock. It involves drilling down into the earth before water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure, which leads to the gas flowing to the head of the well. Another description is can be viewed here.

Proponents of the technology like Shale Gas, an industry-funded body suggest that there are decades of supplies of gas underground and that it could create thousands of jobs. They also say that in the United States, where there is more widespread use of fracking, it has led to increased domestic gas production and driven down gas prices.

Andy Kirkwood is an independent candidate for the parliamentary seat of South Dorset and will be taking on incumbent Tory MP Richard Drax, and is a prominent critic of the technology. He also founded the Movement for Active Democracy that is a new political movement whose raison d’etre is get political decisions made from the bottom up, not the top down.

He lays out the case for opposing the technology in a video that is on-line and has been accessible for the past six months.

Mr Kirkwood said: “Our aim is to inform the public of the disaster that is happening within this town.”

Purbeck is a part of Dorset that has extraordinary geology with a wide variety of habitats from sandy beaches backing on to dunes, heathland and moorland and limestone cliffs.

The Purbeck coast part of an UNESCO heritage site because it’s geology is so special and is an “outdoor walkers’ paradise,” according to Mr Kirkwood.

The exploratory site, he claims, is on a site of nature conservation value adjacent to the World Heritage Jurassic Coastal path and is a protected area of wildlife and access to it is unsuitable as low-loading lorries would have negotiate very narrow lanes through small villages across the Purbecks.

Questions have to be raised as to why this site was plonked metres from Durlston Country Park, a nature conservation paradise that is home to puffins, razorbills, shags, cormorants and is a natural wildlife door for other birds too, and it is also alleged that there will be three bus-size generators operating 24 hours a day along with permanent floodlighting.

Mr Kirkwood said: “This world heritage site is only one in the UK designated for its geology and beauty and it is the most gorgeous piece of coastline you can find anywhere in the world and the gas refinery to would stick out of the Purbeck cliffs like a sore thumb.

“The whole area is a special conservation area where every species is logged, charted and allocated to ensure that it is not in decline. Right next door to that and downwind from the drilling, two metres away is Durlston Country Park.”

Employment opportunities for this site are limited as operating shale gas rigs is a specialist occupation and Mr Kirkwood says it is unlikely that adverts would receive responses asking for these skills, so the labour has to be bussed in.

“Should they find gas and oil in the quantities they believe are there, the first thing they need to do would be to build an oil and gas refinery, the company has rented an area of land that is six times the site of the current drilling site.

“The next thing they will need to is to put a pipeline to connect the gas through to the main pipeline, which would drive it through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The 400-page Purbeck Plan has been designed to protect the area but this exploratory application went through – largely impeded – in six weeks yet most local residents trying to replace a front porch or a chimney pot would hit a wall of resistance from planners.

Mr Kirkwood said: “There was no environmental assessment done. There was no testing of the ground soil and no protection for the water and all these things were side-stepped. All the government agencies said because this is temporary, we don’t need to take this seriously. This is drilling by stealth. They avoided at all costs about talking about fracking.”

 

 

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