Tuesday, 27 January 2015

And on the subject of fracking... and groundwater

Fracking may be geologically improbable in East Devon - Cllr Claire Wright’s blog gives more details - but this helpful map from Friends of the Earth shows the areas being offered up for licensing, including parts of Devon. What it also shows are the groundwater Source Protection Zones imposed by the Environment Agency - including those to protect private water supplies around Straitgate.

AI’s Scoping Request now has SLR claiming that because "...the intention is only to extract mineral from a “dry working option” (above the water table) at Straitgate Farm. It is considered, therefore, that the proposed development would not result in any significant effects on the water environment".

It’s a big claim, and it will be interesting to see if the Environment Agency agrees. Because removing soil, overburden and 1.2 million tonnes of unsaturated sand and gravel above the saturated zone would certainly appear to have the capacity to change the hydrological regime in some way - be it recharge characteristics, surface run-off, or response to pollution events.

Of course, the corollary of SLR's claim is that the future “wet working option”, the improbable 'Stage 2' of AI's plans, would result in significant effects on the water environment.