A nuclear meltdown at Hinckley Point or contamination of Bristol’s water supply would be major emergencies for the city of Bristol – and both could be triggered by fracking. The Greater Bristol Alliance is challenging the Mayoral candidates to state publicly before the election on 5th May whether they are willing to confront the Government to demand protection for people living in Bristol.
Hilary Saunders, speaking for the Great Bristol Alliance, commented: “We know that fracking can cause minor earthquakes, but the Government is planning to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinckley Point, which is situated in an area recently designated for potential fracking!
“The threat to our water supply comes from Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence PEDL 226, which covers the area from Parson Street in Bedminster down to the reservoirs in the Chew Valley. There is also the danger that drilling at Keynsham in the licence area PEDL 228 could contaminate the River Avon which flows into Bristol.
Living close to a fracking well carries health risks because of the highly toxic chemicals used to fracture shale rock and release natural gas. Coal Bed Methane extraction, another technique for releasing gas, involves drilling into coal seams closer to the surface and there is the risk of methane leaking from the well into the ground water. Health risks identified by research in the US include headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties and breast cancer.
As fracking involves drilling a well vertically or at an angle for 1 or 2 miles and then drilling horizontally for 1 mile or more, this process could be taking place under homes in South Bristol. Local homeowners may have difficulty in obtaining buildings insurance. They may also find it difficult to sell their home or may have to accept a substantial drop in price. This is already happening in Lancashire.”
At present we have an opportunity to protect Bristol from fracking. The company, UK Methane, has relinquished the licences PEDL 226 and 228, but these licences could be awarded again, most likely when the oil price goes up.
The question for each Mayoral candidate is: Would you be willing to use your influence as Mayor of Bristol to demand publicly that the Government permanently removes PEDL 226 and PEDL 228 from any future licensing round?