Fracking pressure group take their argument to the House of Lords

By Nigel Walrond   |   Sports Editor   |
Thursday 3rd March 2016 11:30 am
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The Frack off our Forest pressure group met with the energy minister, Lord Bourne, and other Government officials in the House of Lords on Wednesday, February 24th.

The meeting had been arranged on behalf of the pressure group by the Baroness of Blaison, Jan Royall, in order for the members of the group to put their argument across to ministers. The group brought along some environmental and engineering experts to back up their case - they say that the Forest of Dean is totally unsuitable and much too risky for coalbed methane exploration and extraction.

The Frack off our Forest pressure group was formed in August last year, after it was announced that areas in the Forest of Dean and Herefordshire were under consideration for fracking.

Many local towns and villages would be affected if fracking were permitted to happen in the area. Near to Ross-on-Wye, these villages include: Llangrove, Whitchurch, Welsh Newton, Ganarew, Goodrich, Welsh Bicknor, Symonds Yat, and Kerne Bridge, among several other local settlements which would fall inside a licence block boundary, outlined in plans on a government website.

In the Forest of Dean, areas around Lydbrook, Coleford, English Bicknor, Christchurch, Berry Hill Staunton, Redbrook, Clearwell, St Briavels and Brockweir, would also be included in one of these licence block boundaries.

The Frack off Our Forest Group has since been fighting to ensure that fracking does not come to the local area. During their meeting on Wednesday, the group demanded that the fracking licences be withdrawn from the area.

A member of the group, told the Ross Gazette:?“Lord Bourne, who attended with a half-dozen civil servants from the energy department and Oil and Gas Authority, showed understanding and was very attentive throughout our 30-minute-plus meeting, received our briefing, and confirmed he noted our concerns.”

“Our request is for licences to be withdrawn - as you might expect, this wasn’t agreed at our meeting. Instead officials told us the planning process would address our concerns.”

The group were told that South Western Energy has been determined by the Oil & Gas Authority as financially secure, with the resources necessary to do exploration work and clean up afterwards. South Western Energy still have to secure a site - which would be the size of two football pitches - in order to test drill for gas. This could be on Forestry (public) land or private land.

At the meeting Lord Bourne told the group he would look into arranging further meetings, including one between the Frack off our Forest group and SW Energy.

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