Councillor Adam Boyden

Somerset County Councillor for Frome North and Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward (Lib Dem) Learn more

Mendip Fracking Motion – links and next steps

by adamboyden on 3 October, 2013

Next steps: A cross-party working group of Mendip Councillors is being set up to implement the resolution of the Motion, with the first meeting in early December.


– Text of agreed motion: Mendip District Council, 30 September 2013 meeting: see ‘Updating – Motion on Fracking’:

Somerset County Council Minerals Topic Paper on oil and gas (published late August 2013):

BBC Somerset radio interview on Matt Faulkner’s Drive time show, with cllrs Harvey Siggs (Conservative leader of Mendip) and Adam Boyden, Tues 1st October, (interview starts 1 hr 15 mins into the programme):

– Frome Times article:

Frack Free Somerset’s article:–  thanks for the mention!

– Gas Field Free Mendip’s article: “Members of the public, applied geologist Gareth Thomas from Integrale, representatives of Gas Field Free Mendip and Frack Free Somerset spoke at the meeting on the unsuitability of the local geology for the fracking process, alternative sources of energy, the dangers to our environment and our health from methane and fracking pollutants, the vast amounts of water used in the process, the adverse impacts on communities where fracking has already taken place and how Mendip’s caves might act as a means of dispersing pollutants from drilling, fracking fluid storage and transportation further afield and into our springs and reservoirs.

Our Mendip District Councillors should be congratulated on the admirable way in which they put their political differences aside to rally behind their worthy motion. Together with the similar motion passed by BANES a few weeks ago this sends a strong message to the Government on the need to consider local geology, infrastructure and views on this contentious subject.”

Frack Free Chew Valley:

– Gareth Thomas’ statement to Mendip District Council, read out at the meeting, is repeated below:

“I am a chartered geologist with 40 years experience.  I have read widely about onshore exploitation of shale gas, coal bed methane and hydraulic fracturing techniques.

This year I gave 10 talks in Somerset community halls, explaining these topics from an independent technical viewpoint.  The polarised political arguments the subject engenders are not of interest to me.  First and foremost, I am an applied scientist, born and educated in Somerset.  For much of my professional career I have studied the local geology, and have also worked widely overseas.

The specific geotechnical and hydrogeological concerns I have with proposals for unconventional gas in Mendip and nearby, include:

  1. Claims that enhanced coal bed methane exploitation and high intensity hydraulic fracturing have been successfully carried out for decades without adverse environmental and human impact.  That is not the case.  Increasingly health and pollution incidents are reported from America and Australia, where most drilling has taken place.
  2. There is no realistic comparison between sparsely populated America and Australian gasfields, and the market towns and rural settlements around Mendip. Meaningful comparison of the simple, predictable deep geology of shale gas areas overseas, with the complex geology that characterises the Bristol & Somerset coalfield and Mendip are not valid.
  3. This district has the most disturbed and geologically complex Coal Measures in the UK.  It is a zone of intense fracturing, overfolding and displacement.  Mendip and Chew Valley are criss-crossed by thrust faults, low-angled slides, and high-angled tear faults. That is the complex truth of our local geology.  Exploration licence holders claim they will simply look for methane in coal beds, without hydraulic fracturing.  But coals occur within thick shales, and given approval to drill, they will investigate the shales, and convert to ‘fracking’.
  4. Historic boreholes show the critical strata at only a few 100m’s depth, not 1 to 2 kms quoted by exploration companies.  Shallow groundwater in younger Jurassic rocks, provides livestock watering for our farms, and base flow to rivers.  Groundwater in Coal Measures is saline, metalliferous and with Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM).  Intimate relationships between the Carboniferous Limestone aquifer and these adjacent waters cannot be predicted, given the complex geology.
  5. Radon, an inert, carcinogenic gas, will be flushed out of the Coal Measures to ground level in Flow Back Water during coal bed methane and shale gas recovery.  Due to its half life, the gas mixture must be stored for many months before safe onward transit.  There has been no research on the increased radon risk near drilling sites.
  6. The World Heritage Hot Springs make Bath and Mendip unique. Researchers agree the thermal water originates from Mendip rainfall.  The Carboniferous Limestone provides a variety of unknown flow paths for thermal water travelling to Bath.

I welcome the Energy Minerals Topic Paper prepared by Somerset County Council and the other working group members, as an initial assessment, and I also welcome the combined Motion being discussed this evening I confirm I support the Motion.

GG Thomas, 30th September 2013″

– ThisisSomerset/ Frome Standard article:



2 Responses

  1. […] here for next steps and links to more […]

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