Alarm as fracking bid looms in Doncaster

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The prospect of fracking has set alarm bells ringing for residents and civic leaders of a Doncaster town.

An international energy firm’s bid to drill for shale gas is ‘a cause for concern’ in Bawtry and is set to meet opposition from people living on the border of South Yorkshire and north Nottinghamshire.

But it could be up to three years before any drilling rigs appear on the skyline around Bawtry, even if planning consent is given.

Dart Energy, who own 15 licences for shale gas exploration in the East Midlands, are the company behind the plan.

They are said to be preparing a planning application for an unspecified site near Bawtry, which is expected to be submitted before the end of 2014.

The Singapore-based company has a British office in Scotland and is working to explore and develop domestic unconventional gas resources across a number of areas in the UK.

Dart Energy says it wants to carry out exploratory drilling at sites near Bawtry and York to investigate the potential for extracting shale gas from rock.

Other firms exploring the possibility of fracking in Lancashire and Sussex have already met tremendous opposition, including protest camps being set up near sites, because of fears about potential damage to the local geology, earth tremors, and water contamination.

Mayor of Bawtry Coun George Spencer said the town council was trying to find out more about any application before next month’s meeting.

He believes drilling is more likely to be on the Nottinghamshire side of the border but would still affect the town of Bawtry, which lies right on the county boundary.

“I would imagine the Town Council will be concerned, although we don’t know the full facts yet.

“Based on what you hear and see in other parts of the country, if it is close to Bawtry I think there would be some concern among the residents who might feel it is not right for the area.

“As soon as we find out more we will be letting people know. I’m sure it will be on the agenda for the next meeting.”

Doncaster Council has so far received no official approach from the energy firm and Lisa Bell, Team Manager for Planning Policy, said Nottinghamshire County Council ‘has not been engaged in any pre-application advice with Dart Energy.

She said: “We would be happy to engage with any operator in advance of a planning application of this nature.”

Dart believes at least seven of its licence sites in the East Midlands have the potential for shale gas extraction

A spokesman said: “Dart Energy is in the process of identifying potential shale gas drilling sites across the North East and North West of England.

“Once a decision is made on drilling locations, based on shale potential and availability of suitable land access, planning applications will be submitted to the appropriate authorities.

“There will of course be opportunities for local communities and other interested parties to find out more about the plans and what is involved in drilling shale exploration wells. Dart Energy does not expect to be drilling for shale gas until 2015-16.”

Dart says the UK has gone from being a net gas exporter in 2003 to being dependent on imports for 40 per cent of its needs in 2010, with the shortfall made up by imports of piped gas, particularly from Norway, and supplemented with liquified gas, primarily from Qatar.