DRILLING for coal bed methane around areas of old coal mining operations could have a ‘roulette wheel’ effect on people’s health and safety, an anti-fracking group has said.
More than 300 people attended Frack Free Dudleston’s meeting to hear about test drilling for coal bed methane on a farm near Ellesmere.
The meeting at Criftins Village Hall last week attracted so much interest the venue was filled to capacity and a number of people were turned away.
Kevin Walsh, an expert geologist, gave a presentation of North Shropshire’s landscape and highlighted risks in drilling the area.
He said: “Methane has always been very dangerous in coal mines and there are many things that could go wrong when drilling so near to them.
“Methane is a source of carbon. It is not good for us. I think it is a ridiculous area to horizontally drill in.”
Chris Hesketh, founding member of Frack Free Dudleston, added: “The mines were flooded deliberately to prevent subsidence. If they pump millions of gallons of water out and drill below old coal workings the area could suffer from subsidence.”
Dudleston resident Mike Sampson said: “I’m frankly amazed with the information that we have been given.
“If it was safe I would have no problem with it, but it’s not. There are no benefits for anyone around here.”
But speaking after the meeting, Peter Reillyn, from Dart Energy, said: “We will avoid all mines. The seams we are looking to drill are deep, unmined seams.
“We know where the mines are. It is a basic requirement to check the mines and we will certainly be checking the maps.
“We are not producing any water. We will just take a sample of coal to test for gas content and go away.
“There is no point in drilling through the mines - it does not make commercial sense.”
Mr Hesketh is in talks with Shropshire Council to call for a moratorium of all drilling activity in the county.
Meeting moderator Charles Flint spoke on behalf of the site landowner. He said: “At the time the drilling companies came to landowners, there was not the knowledge that we have now. The landowner is very anxious to make it known that he would not have wanted to cause any damage, but he is not at liberty to say anything more.”
A planning application from Dart Energy is expected to be submitted to Shropshire Council in June.
l Frack Free Dudleston wants to hear from anyone who has experienced subsidence in the local area.
The group would like to know when and where incidents have happened to plot a map of landscape issues in the region.
To give information to the group you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
l Lecturer Paul Mobbs will be speaking at a public meeting on ‘Extreme Energy in the Pipeline’ on June 4 from 7.15pm at the Memorial Hall in Oswestry.