14th Onshore Licensing Round – Relinquished PEDLs back in the pot

Today (28th July 2014) the Department for Energy and Climate Change has launched the 14th onshore licensing round for unconventional oil and gas with the headlines saying that fracking will not be allowed in national parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty other than in exceptional circumstances – to be decided by the Minister for Communities.

The National picture is shown here, click to enlarge:

14th Licensing Round, England, Scotland, Wales. Green = national parks, Cyan = AONB, Red = current licenses, Pink = new areas being offered for licence. Copyright 2014, DECC, Ordnance Survey.

14th Licensing Round, England, Scotland, Wales. Green = national parks, Cyan = AONB, Red = current licenses, Pink = new areas being offered for licence. Copyright 2014, DECC, Ordnance Survey.

The situation in the Chew Valley and Somerset is that the previously relinquished areas are back in the pot:

14th Licensing Round, England, Scotland, Wales. Green = national parks, Cyan = AONB, Red = current licenses, Pink = new areas being offered for licence. Copyright 2014, DECC, Ordnance Survey.

14th Licensing Round, England, Scotland, Wales. Green = national parks, Cyan = AONB, Red = current licenses, Pink = new areas being offered for licence. Copyright 2014, DECC, Ordnance Survey.

What does this mean for the Chew Valley and surrounding area?

  • Parts of the valley may be protected by the AONB
  • Parts of the valley should be protected through the water source protection zones but this is patchy
  • PEDL 227 around Ston Easton remains. This area is neither within the AONB or water source protection zones. UK Methane’s licence contains a firm commitment to “obtain 19km of 2D seismic data on Block ST65” (the upper portion), “obtain 1.5km of 2D seismic data on Block ST64”, “drill one well to a depth of 800m”.
  • Parts of the Chew Valley are neither within the AONB or the water source protection zones which only cover ground water aquifers. Having been both evaluated and relinquished at least twice these areas are again been offered to gas companies for exploration in the full knowledge of previous evaluations.

The new Energy Minister Matthew Hancock adds:

“As one of the cleanest fossil fuels, shale gas can be a key part of the UK’s answer to climate change and a bridge to a much greener future.”

Rather than “one of the cleanest fossil fuels” the Minister presumably means “one of the least dirty”. His view of unconventional gas as a bridging fuel is not shared by DECC’s outgoing Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor David MacKay of Cambridge University, who recently advised DECC that in the absence of a globally binding agreement to control carbon dioxide emissions that any new fossil fuel would lead to increased cumulative greenhouse gas emissions leading to further global warming. Ministers have collective amnesia when it comes to this inconvenient truth.

MacKay and Stone, DECC 2013, said:

“The view of the authors is that without global climate policies (of the sort already advocated by the UK) new fossil fuel exploitation is likely to lead to an increase in cumulative carbon emissions and the risk of climate change. We would strongly encourage continued efforts from the UK and internationally to address this issue, proportionate to the emissions involved.”

In response to Cuadrilla’s position FFCV says: Why Cuadrilla is Wrong About Shale Gas Carbon Emissions

On the same subject Professor Kenvin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research says:

 

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One thought on “14th Onshore Licensing Round – Relinquished PEDLs back in the pot

  1. I really, really don’t trust the government or the new energy minister. By saying there will only be drilling in exceptional circumstances in National Parks or AONB gives absolutely no guarantee that it won’t happen. As we speak, the government are trying to legislate away the rights of landowners (through the trespass laws) and they are prepared to override local council planning decisions (where councils decline planning permission for fracking) by sending decisions they don’t agree with to the Secretary of State. Why is the government going ‘all out for shale’ when countries like France, Bulgaria and Germany have banned it because of environmental, health and safety concerns? Why has the government announced this at the same time as launching the 14th round of PEDL licences? Because it is attempting to pacify the 75% of the population who think fracking/ unconventional gas is a bad idea. They are trying to lull us into a false sense of security. I am not reassured.

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