Fracking in London – no chance!

London Borough of Brent is the only Frack Free Zone in London

London Borough of Brent is the only Frack Free Zone in London

As the Prime Minister attempts to induce councils into fracking by letting them keep more tax revenue if they let energy giants drill for shale gas, it is worth wondering if fracking is possible in London at all.

There have been media reports that a company has been given permission to frack in Croydon. The company has been granted a petroleum exploration development license (PEDL) covering 400 square kilometres of south London, Surrey and Kent. The area covered under the license is 10km north to south and 40km east to west, and within greater London covers the Malden area of Kingston Upon Thames, the southern part of the borough of Merton, and large parts of Sutton, Croydon and Bromley. The company is currently exploring in Kent, with a site at Knockholt, inside the M25 near Sevenoaks, the closest to the capital.  The PEDL started in 2008 and runs until July 2014. Northdown Energy Limited is the said company, a small Wimbledon-based company, holds the licence and works in partnership with an American drilling company with fracking operations in America.

Any specific exploration works in any given location also require planning permission from the local minerals planning authority, which in London is the relevant borough.  It does not appear that any London boroughs have been approached for permission.  Permission for each site is also required from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which consults the Environment Agency (EA) and the Health and Safety Executive.  Additional assessments and monitoring are required if the exploratory work is to include fracking.

If the exploration were to indicate that gas or oil production was possible, further permissions from the local authority, DECC and EA would be required for the necessary drilling, fracking or other works. Indications from Sutton council are that London’s geology is not thought to be suitable for fracking.

More generally, the Mayor has been reported as supporting fracking in London in principle.  He told the Times in July  ‘if reserves of shale can be exploited in London we should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on’. However the 2020 Vision document expresses the belief that there is no oil or shale gas in London.

Furthermore, Thames Water when in front of the Environment Committee of the London Assembly  and asked about it all given the industrial process of fracking would involve a lot of water has stated;

“We are not taking a position in terms of pro- or anti-but we do have very serious concerns and therefore we would want to have an acknowledged part in the planning process. “

A cautionary note if ever l heard one!

So as the Prime Minister attempts to bribe local authorities to undertake exploration of shale gas and the great disappointment of the Mayor, Greater London is virtually a fracking free zone and the London Borough of Brent have shown us the way. Well done Brent!



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