Oxfordshire on Government's list as potential fracking sites

Oxfordshire on Government's list as potential fracking sites

A fracking plant in operation near the village of Hesketh Bank in Lancashire

MEP Keith Taylor

First published in News
Last updated
Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

THE Government is to decide whether ‘fracking’ – the controversial form of gas extraction – should be allowed in Oxfordshire.

A 347sq mile expanse in the north of the county has been identified as a possible source of shale gas by the British Geological Survey.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is currently deciding whether to grant a licence that would allow firms to tap an area between Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington for gas.

But campaigners are concerned the technique can cause damage to the environment. Keith Taylor, Green MEP for Oxfordshire, is touring the county with a film about fracking this month. He said: “Residents of Oxfordshire are right to be concerned about shale gas extraction. “Fracking has serious environmental consequences.

“Only last week a study has shown that the drinking water near homes around fracking sites in Pennsylvania has been contaminated by methane, ethane and propane.”

Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into underground rock to fracture it and release trapped gas.

The area in Oxfordshire is being considered for a licence because of the types of natural material beneath the ground. Prof Stephen Hesselbo, of Oxford University’s Earth Sciences department, said: “It has been known for more than 100 years that the Oxfordshire-Buckinghamshire region is underlain by a variety of sedimentary rocks types, including shale, and locally they have generated gas.

Related links

“It is another question whether these strata have the attributes to be commercially viable for gas exploitation or not.”

Licensing is being undertaken in rounds. The Department of Energy and Climate Change says the results for the 14th round, of which North Oxfordshire will be a part, should be released next year.

So far 176 licences for onshore oil and gas exploration have been issued across the UK and the Government says it expects “considerable interest from developers” in the 14th round.

Environmentalists have warned that drilling could scar the countryside, pollute water supplies, hit house prices and lead to roads clogged with lorries transporting equipment.

Two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude have hit the Blackpool area following fracking, in the only investigative dig to have taken place in the UK.

According to energy expert Nicholas Newman, if an oil or gas company takes an interest in the gas reserves it is possible that shale gas production could come to Oxfordshire in the next decade.

He said: “There is a lot of hype surrounding the issue because it is new. “If it is done to EU standards and regulations it is no different in terms of safety from oil drilling.

“An expansion in production of shale gas will reduce the UK’s need to import and improve its position at future negotiating tables. It could be commercially viable in Oxfordshire in 10 years.”

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said the authority was aware of potential shale gas reserves. It would consider any planning application against relevant national and local policy.

He said: “We are not in discussion with any energy companies or other organisations about proposals for gas exploration or fracking in Oxfordshire.”

Last month the Government announced measures to enable shale gas drilling as part of its infrastructure plans. With shale gas resources far greater than previously thought, it described shale gas as “an exciting energy resource” which could revolutionise Britain’s energy supply.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the Government recognised the concerns of residents, but new conditions would cut risk from seismic activity.

What is it?

  • FRACKING is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing to extract gas from rock.
  • The process involves drilling thousands of feet into the earth before a high pressure water mixture is directed at the rock, causing gas to flow out to the head of the well.
  • It is not conventional natural gas, but gas that has been trapped in shale and clay.
  • It is extensively used in America where it revolutionised the energy industry and sent energy prices tumbling.
  • There were worries in this country in 2011 when an area near Blackpool was hit by earth tremors following fracking.
  • Large areas of the UK are now being assessed for possible exploitation.
  • Experts say Oxfordshire-Buckinghamshire region is underlain by a variety of sedimentary rock types, including shale that would generate gas.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:35am Thu 4 Jul 13

to ny w says...

Bicester says 'bring it on'. We are surely due a nuclear power station as well, we have got everything else that's going!!!

No point valuing your house, you wont sell it, what with the school situation, waste incinerators, eco town, HS2 etc, fracking is nothing!
Bicester says 'bring it on'. We are surely due a nuclear power station as well, we have got everything else that's going!!! No point valuing your house, you wont sell it, what with the school situation, waste incinerators, eco town, HS2 etc, fracking is nothing! to ny w
  • Score: 2

2:03pm Thu 4 Jul 13

Andrew:Oxford says...

Should distract the CPRE for months!
Should distract the CPRE for months! Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -1

5:20pm Thu 4 Jul 13

sablond oxford says...

Fracking shouldn't be done anywhere until it can be proven that there is no harm, which won't ever happen as the only place its been trialed has had earthquakes! some government cronies must be involved somewhere or it would be ruled out straight away.
Do residents get a say in this, if we do we'll be accused of being NIMBY.
this is just my opinion but i think most people in the UK as a whole are against Fracking as i've never met anyone who supports it!
Fracking shouldn't be done anywhere until it can be proven that there is no harm, which won't ever happen as the only place its been trialed has had earthquakes! some government cronies must be involved somewhere or it would be ruled out straight away. Do residents get a say in this, if we do we'll be accused of being NIMBY. this is just my opinion but i think most people in the UK as a whole are against Fracking as i've never met anyone who supports it! sablond oxford
  • Score: 6

4:57am Fri 5 Jul 13

caversfield says...

I can't wait to light my water and watch it burn. it's just the chemicals leaching into my water I'm not too sure about. says mountains that US companies refuse to disclose the chemicals used.
I can't wait to light my water and watch it burn. it's just the chemicals leaching into my water I'm not too sure about. says mountains that US companies refuse to disclose the chemicals used. caversfield
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree