Locals uneasy over Formby fracking plans

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Formby residents fear fracking plans in the area. Pic © Jordan Reais JMU Journalism

More than 4,000 signatures have been handed into Sefton Council in a petition to stop fracking in Formby, with locals mobilising at a protest meeting this week.

Residents say they want to make Sefton a ‘frack free’ zone, after Aurora Energy Resources began a process which could lead to them drilling for shale gas near Formby.

The energy company has recently submitted a scoping request to Lancashire Council, and is hoping to drill to exploratory wells in the Great Altcar region.

The ‘Frack-Free Formby’ group is claiming that the process is untried and potentially unsafe, which could disturb the surrounding area over a three-mile radius.

The proposals would be for around half a mile away from the nearest residents, and several areas have been notified.

A public awareness meeting was held on Tuesday with around 150 residents in attendance voicing their concerns.

YouTube: Jordan Reais

Speaking to JMU Journalism, John Wilkinson, a member of Frack-Free Formby, said: “This will really cause disruption to our beautiful countryside. We cannot let this happen as it already has across Lancashire. It is very rare that fracking happens this close to residential areas and unless we stick together it will.

“Releasing harmful gases, disturbing the ground beneath our feet, health risks and plummeting house prices are just a few of the implications it will have.”

Formby resident, Donna Healey, 54, told JMU Journalism: “I live within two miles of the region that they have requested to start drilling and the thought of it making the ground unstable worries me. I don’t know much about fracking, but I do know that Formby is a rural area that prides itself on its quiet surroundings. This is somewhere I personally walk regularly.”

Meeting in Formby to protest against fracking plans. Pic © Jordan Reais JMU Journalism

The British Geological Survey report on the shale gas potential of northern England carried a gas resource of over 1,300 trillion cubic feet.  If 10% of this gas could be recovered, it is claimed that it would satisfy UK gas requirement for 50 years.

Aurora’s drilling sites are chosen with a regard to both surface and subsurface considerations.

Ian Roche, Managing Director, Aurora Energy Resources told JMU Journalism: “The discovery of shale gas has opened a new chapter in the hydrocarbon story of North West England that stretches back to the discovery of the Formby oil field, almost 80 years ago.

“The UK will require gas for decades to come and the potential to develop a new source of indigenous supply will bring benefits, both nationally and locally, though the provision of tax revenues, skilled jobs and opportunities for local businesses in the supply chain.

“The UK has a long and exemplary record in the regulation of oil and gas activities, both onshore and offshore, and residents can be reassured that the proposed activities will be conducted safely and with minimal impact on people or the environment.”

About Jordan Reais, JMU Journalism