South Yorkshire environmentalists set to voice fears over fracking proposals

Drilling at a Cuadrilla rig.
Drilling at a Cuadrilla rig.
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Environmentalists are holding a public meeting to discuss their concerns over fracking after a licence was granted for the controversial practice in the Dearne Valley.

The Frack Free Dearne Valley and No Fracking in Barnsley groups are to hold a public meeting at Jump Working Men’s Club on Monday, July 18, at 7.30pm to discuss their concerns after the Government granted an exploratory fracking license to energy firm Cuadrilla.

Dave Burley, a member of another anti-fracking group called Frack Free South Yorkshire, is due to give a slideshow presentation on the dangers of fracking.

Campaigners will discuss their beliefs that fracking - which involves drilling into the earth to pump in high-pressure water to release shale gas - can be ‘extremely damaging to the environment and the communities’.

Mave Watson, a spokesperson for Frack Free Dearne Valley, said: “The only fracking so far in this country outside Blackpool caused two earthquakes.

“The ground under our feet here is honeycombed with old mine workings.

“Fracking is bound to cause instability with dangers of gas releases, pollution of underground water and threats to houses of subsidence.”

Campaigners also say the industrial operation can cause pollution to the air, land and water, devalue house prices and increase insurance premiums.

A spokesperson for No Fracking in Barnsley said: “We think it is important the people of Barnsley are at least aware of what could soon be heading their way.

“The industry claims fracking can be done safely and will bring jobs and prosperity to the area, but the truth is that the few jobs on offer will not go to local people, the profits will go to companies based off-shore and the regulations are inadequate.

“It is us that will pay for the clean-up costs if things go wrong. Barnsley has suffered terribly since the coal industry was decimated. Jobs and communities will not spring up around short-term fracking wells.”

The Government granted an exploratory fracking license in August last year to energy firm Cuadrilla for an area known as the ‘Gainsborough Trough’, which covers a square area including Darfield, Great Houghton, Grimethorpe, Thurnscoe, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe, Wath, West Melton, Brampton and Mexborough.

At that time the company said that it would spend the next year completing desktop studies and seismic surveys that will give the company detailed data on the geology deep underneath the region and help to assess where exploration sites could potentially be located.

Despite widespread concerns from anti-fracking groups, Cuadrilla says fracking will provide energy, bring down bills, boost the economy and create up to 64, 000 jobs.

Francis Egan, chief executive officer of Cuadrilla, said last year: “Whilst we continue to progress our shale gas exploration work in Lancashire, we welcome the potential for exploration in Yorkshire along with the associated benefits of new jobs and economic growth we believe it will bring.

“Our first priority will be to talk with local communities. We recognise that some members of the public will have concerns and there continues to be a good deal of misinformation circulated regarding onshore shale exploration.

“We have a responsibility to ensure people understand the facts and are not misled by harmful scaremongering. Onshore exploration and fracking can and will be done safely, securely and in an environmentally responsible way.”