Don Foster MP

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Don urges Govt to protect Bath from dangers of “fracking”

Following a meeting with the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Ed Davey MP, Don has written to the Energy Secretary urging the Government to protect Bath from the potential dangers of fracking.

Dear Ed

Further to our meeting on Monday 21st May I am writing to give further details about the concerns that the Council and I have in relation to possible hydro-fracturing operations surrounding Bath.

Both Bath and North East Somerset Council and I are extremely concerned about the potentially damaging impact that proposals to extract shale gas or coal bed methane may have upon the continued flow of the Bath Hot Springs. Attached, as an appendix to this letter, is a summary of the issues which I consider to be of concern here.

It is my understanding that both Reservoir Resources Ltd. and UK Methane Ltd. have been given licenses to explore by your Department within the catchment area of the hot springs. The Council has recently commissioned a study by the British Geological Survey in which they confirm that shale gas operations within the catchment area could have a damaging effect upon them.

I feel the Council has employed the very best advice on this matter and has up until now been unable to gain any assurance that gas extraction operations will not damage the deep water sources supplying the hot springs in Bath. In point of fact the very nature of the Hydro-fracturing process is designed to fracture the underground structures that result in the thermal waters arising in Bath. The greatest concern is that once damage is done it will be permanent and irretrievable.

As a signatory to the 1971 UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the UK Government has committed to ‘identify, protect, conserve, present and transmit’ such places to future generations. Whilst daily management is delegated to local authorities, this overall commitment remains the responsibility of Government as the ‘state party’.

Additionally, should the springs be affected this could have a lowering effect on the ground water levels and pressures in and around the springs, which would potentially cause disastrous subsidence in the historic buildings in their vicinity, particularly the Roman Baths.

I hope I can rely upon you to take account of these concerns and apply appropriate controls upon this process. Further, when licencing this kind of exploration in future I hope that special regard will be given to the unique circumstances of Bath to ensure the protection of this special asset for the country.

Yours sincerely

The Rt Hon Don Foster MP

 

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