Fracking and Energy Update

This is my first post for BEAG – a ‘grass roots’ alliance of residents living in Bidborough, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge areas who are concerned about the local environment.

My name is Kealey Castle and I am the Coordinator for BEAG. I’ve been writing to people on an email list for a year and the list has been growing larger. In response to requests I will now be putting the collated local information in the form of a blog to widen our outreach.

Without further ado, the first subject of this blog is fracking and energy- 

Of the two exploratory boreholes given the go ahead for fracking near us, the one in Cowden near Edenbridge owned by Cuadrilla has finished exploratory drilling. They are now restoring it for agricultural use as they do not appear to have found what they were looking for.

The other is owned by Midmar Energy, who plan to drill in Bidborough soon at the Judd Farm site, details via links copied below. Fracking involves horizontal drilling that can extend two miles from the actual drill site, which means in the event of fracking, Bidborough, most of Southborough and south Tonbridge areas could be effected. Apart from general environmental issues such as increased traffic loads, concerns remain over contamination of ground water, tremors and methane release from the fracking process.

Other local energy news is that West Coast Energy is applying to build a Solar Park on farmland at Five Oak Green. It would be on a 25 year lease and electricity pylons already pass through the site, which would be screened by trees.  West Coast Energy is proposing to increase biodiversity by planting pollinator friendly flowers with grass and grazing sheep around the panels to be maintained by the farm owner. There are also proposals to model parts of the site with a pond and other enhancements to further encourage wildlife and improve biodiversity. At present, the land is farmed intensively for fruit for supermarkets and sprayed with insecticide up to twenty times per year. The development is supported by Friends of the Earth, and the planning application is online at , where there is an option for leaving comments.

In relation to the above it’s interesting to note that figures out this week clearly show the increasing difficulty of obtaining oil by traditional means, for example see

Bidborough Drill hole info:

TW/10/33 (TW/10/33) – Applicant – Midmar Energy UK Limited – Construct a temporary drilling site with temporary road access. Drill well bores to evaluate hydrocarbon potential. Conduct well test to establish performance. At termination the site will be returned to agricultural,
Bidborough Well Site, Judd Wood Farm, Gate Farm Road, Bidborough, Kent. Permission granted 30/7/12

It is unclear at present whether Midmar will need an Environmental Permit (like Coastal Oil and Gas) before starting drilling. In any case it’s worth remembering that a freedom of information request showed that Kent County Council have shares in fracking companies, which throws doubt on their impartiality when it comes to approving possible developments at sites like this. What’s more, the Government have now of course given cash incentives to local councils to encourage fracking

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