Serving parts of North West London and the Home Counties.

Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing information

Are the plans for gas extraction in Affinity Water’s operating area?

There are no current planning applications for gas extraction in Affinity Water’s operating area. Previously in the summer of 2013 Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd submitted three planning applications to Kent County Council for exploratory boreholes at Shepherdswell, Tilmanstone and Guston Court Farm. However, subsequently in early November 2013 Coastal Oil and Gas withdrew these applications.

 

Will the planning applications in East Kent be resubmitted?

That is a matter for Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd to comment on. Kent County Council will, of course, announce the receipt of any new applications.

 

What is Coal Bed Methane?

Coal bed methane (CBM) is extracted by releasing pressure in coal seams, usually by natural gas production or by pumping water from the coal bed. As the pressure is reduced, gas is released and can be extracted.

Further information is available on the following website:

 

Was Fracking being proposed in the former East Kent Coalfield?

No. Shale gas fracking was not proposed in the former East Kent Coalfield. Planning applications were made for test boreholes to assess the viability of the recovery of coal bed methane.

 

How are the environmental impacts assessed?

The statutory consultee on applications for test drilling or abstraction is the Environment Agency which would review possible impacts including:

  • Potential pollution to groundwater

  • Water availability/scarcity

  • How and where waste material will be stored, treated and processed

The Environment Agency would provide recommendations to the planning authorities determining applications. Subsequently if planning permission is given then applicants would need to seek one or more specific permits from the Environment Agency to operate. The Environment Agency would only issue such permits if it was confident that people or the environment would not be put at risk. The Environment Agency can be contacted by e-mail ksl-uge@environment-agency.gov.uk or call 03708 506506.

 

Could Methane Gas Extraction affect the quality of our water?

Customers can continue to be confident in the high quality of the water which we supply.

We continually review risks in the environment, our treatment processes and our distribution network to ensure that we provide water of the highest quality. Any changes in risk are considered and mitigation and contingencies are prepared in the event that these risks materialise. The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), as an industry regulator, independently checks the monitoring process and in its annual reports it has confirmed the consistently high quality of water supplied by Affinity Water.

 

What was Affinity Water’s position on the applications in East Kent?

After careful consideration Affinity Water submitted objections to Kent County Council in respect of all three Coastal Oil and Gas applications. We said that the applications did not contain sufficient information to allow us to identify and address the possible risks to groundwater. Affinity Water was not a statutory consultee and our written views were submitted to Kent County Council through the public consultation process. We worked closely with both the Environment Agency and other water companies when reviewing the applications.

 

What is Affinity Water’s view on fracking and other gas extraction proposals?

Maintaining a high quality water supply for our customers is our principal concern and working closely with the Environment Agency and other water companies we will review carefully any proposals for gas recovery. Our focus is on ensuring that a long term sustainable and high quality water supply can be maintained at all times.

 

Do you think that water companies should be statutory consultees on planning applications for gas extraction?

Affinity Water is working with Water UK, the industry trade body which represents water companies across the UK, to investigate opportunities for water companies to be included as statutory consultees for applications of this kind. We will continue to work closely with the Environment Agency, which is ultimately responsible for protecting groundwater sources.

 

Can you refuse to supply water to companies extracting gas?

If Affinity Water was asked to supply water for gas extraction this would be classed as usage for a non-domestic purpose and our normal tariffs would apply. We do not have an absolute duty to supply water for non-domestic purposes and if approached we would need to agree terms with the applicant.

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