Large areas surrounding Lincoln have been opened up to firms to explore for oil and gas, including fracking. Residents are expressing concerns about the impact, while councillors say it’s unlikely.
An announcement by the Oil and Gas Authority has highlighted 27 locations in England where licenses to frack for shale oil and gas will be offered.
Among them is a number of sites across Lincolnshire (typically blocks of 100 sq-km) and areas around Lincoln.
Some 12 firms, including Cuadrilla and Ineos have been given the right to explore the sites.
Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as ‘fracking’, is a process to extract natural gas from shale rock.
The method had proved controversial, prompting environmental concerns from people living near sites and campaigners raising awareness of climate change and dangers.
One Lincoln resident spoke to The Lincolnite about her concerns following the announcement. She said:
“I strongly oppose fracking and the search for shale gas. It’s a disastrous process that kills wildlife & poisons our water supplies.
“We need to be investing in renewable energy. We need to stop feeding the oil barons and feed the renewable industry. Not just for our sake but for the sake of our children and our environment.”
Last year, anti-fracking protestors gathered near Gainsborough as Prime Minister David Cameron visited a gas extraction site on the edge of town.
The new sites announcement on August 18 paves the way for a further round of 132 blocks which will be subject to detailed assessments and consultations.
UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said: “As part of our long-term plan to build a more resilient economy, create jobs and deliver secure energy supplies, we continue to back our onshore oil and gas industry and the safe development of shale gas in the UK.
“It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls. Investment in shale could reach £33 billion and support 64,000 jobs creating financial security for hardworking people and their families, whilst providing a cost-efficient bridge to lower-carbon energy use.”
As the local Minerals Planning Authority, Lincolnshire County Council is responsible for determining planning applications for oil and gas extraction in the county.
The council said that firms will have to apply for planning permission to explore sites, and further exploration will also be subject to planning and consultations.
Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Planning, said: “Yesterday’s announcement is not a green light for fracking in Lincolnshire.
“Any developer wishing to explore for oil or gas will still need to apply for planning permission and environmental permits. Local communities will have a chance to have their say as part of that planning process.
“If gas or oil deposits are found, the developer would then need to apply for planning permission again both for further appraisal and extraction, which may be done using conventional methods as opposed to fracking.
“In addition, the geology of the areas where licences have been granted today suggests that they are unlikely to have shale gas deposits, so fracking seems unlikely.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has produced a document on ‘Facts about Fracking’ which gives guidance and answers to frequently asked questions about shale oil and gas and fracking.