Environmental activists and Green party members, worried that engineers may soon be conducting experimental drilling for oil in Croydon, have formed the Frack Free Surrey campaign to co-ordinate and lead opposition to fracking.
As Inside Croydon was first to report earlier this month, the government has already granted licences granted for oil and gas exploration in Sutton, Croydon and elsewhere in Surrey.
This is despite fracking in the United States and Australia having caused demonstrable air and water pollution, and subsidence to land and properties, and is deeply unpopular with the communities it has damaged.
In southern England, the anti-fracking campaign has grabbed national headlines at exploratory works at Balcombe, in Sussex, where Green party MP Caroline Lucas was arrested during a peaceful demonstration earlier this month. The Balcombe drilling site is close to a large reservoir which supplies water to thousands of homes in the area.
According to Frack Free Surrey, “Fracking requires large amounts of energy and water to extract gas and oil from the ground, is unsustainable, and gives a false sense of energy security. The only people who want fracking are the oil companies that will profit from it.”
The practice has been banned in France and Germany until the governments there can be satisfied that the technology is safe. But the British government is allowing exploratory drilling to continue, with very little in the way of local planning restrictions.
In 2008, a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence, or PEDL, was granted to drill in Croydon. The area covered by PEDL licence 245 also encompasses Bromley, Sutton, Mitcham and Epsom. The licence is majority owned by Northdown Energy Limited.
Seismic tests were conducted in the area around Croydon earlier this year to assess the amount of “frackable” oil under the ground.
At present, Northdown Energy is focusing on the villages of Otford, Dunton Green, Shoreham, Eynsford and Knockholt for exploration.
Knockholt, located within the M25, is the closest site to Croydon.
Northdown’s exploration licence expires in July 2014, so they may need to take a look at sites closer to Croydon very soon.
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- Balcombe residents complain about continuing fracking protests (theguardian.com)
- Fracking firms warned to ‘keep off’ after huge gas reserves find (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)