Scientists to launch fracking monitor on Fylde

BGS Water monitoring
BGS Water monitoring
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New independent monitoring of potential pollution and seismic activity related to fracking is to take place if gas extraction starts on the Fylde.

The British Geological Survey is to carry out a study on the Fylde if Lancashire County Council gives energy company Cuadrilla planning permission to frack at two sites near Little Plumpton and Roaseacre at the end of this month.

It will be the first independent monitoring of fracking in the UK as it happens.

The British Geological Survey plans to publish all results of its research and make them freely available to the public.

It has existing national environmental research programmes that include seismic and groundwater monitoring.

This research will be enhanced in selected areas where shale gas resources have been identified to gain vital ‘baseline’ information.

This research will provide the UK scientific community, with real time data from a shale gas operation over its whole life cycle – before, during and after hydraulic fracturing has taken place.

Together with partners from Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Loughborough and Manchester universities, it will look at groundwater, regional air quality, seismicity and ground movements.

The work will be separate from that done by the regulator the Environment Agency and that carried out by Cuadrilla itself.

Prof John Ludden, executive director of the BGS, said: “This ground breaking research will provide new scientific insight and innovative ways of monitoring the environment impact of shale gas development.”

Prof Rob Ward, director of groundwater science at the BGS, said “Hydraulic fracturing of shale rock is a new 
activity within the UK which, as with any subsurface industrial activity, will induce changes.

“A programme of research that will involve monitoring before, during and after the operations will provide valuable scientific information.”

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We welcome the BGS’s announcement regarding its planned independent environmental monitoring of shale gas exploration and are pleased to give them access to our proposed sites.

“While we will of course continue with our own monitoring which is required by law, this extra level of transparency that the BGS data and assessment will provide gives further reassurance.”

However Lytham based oil and gas engineer Mike Hill said the measures were not thorough enough.

He said: “I wrote briefing note on monitoring and this below goes nowhere near what is required as it leaves out abandonment. That’s already a crucial factor as PH-1 about to be abandoned. Princeton just released a study on such wells. They found every single one to be leaking.”

He added that details of how the various aspects are to be monitored and to what calibration should be published.