Welsh based company Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd has Department of Energy and Climate Change licences to explore the area which used to be the East Kent coalfield for shale gas and coal bed methane gas. They are working in partnership with Eden Energy (UK) Ltd, which is a subsidiary of Eden Energy Australia. They seem to think there is quite a lot of gas to be had in East Kent http://www.edenenergy.com.au/wales.html.
Coastal Oil and Gas already have planning permission from Kent County Council to drill test boreholes at a site near Woodnesborough. They have now submitted planning applications to Kent County Council for 3 more test bore holes at Shepherdswell, Tilmanstone and Guston. The applications have yet to be verified by planning officers which might take another 2-3 weeks.
Once verified the applications, along with details of the precise locations of the boreholes, will be published on the Kent County Council planning website. Following verification people living near the sites and the local parish councils will be consulted by KCC. The consultation takes about 2 months following which the applications will be decided by Kent County Council Planning Applications Committee. So if things go smoothly KCC might make decisions about the 3 test boreholes by Xmas 2013.
My understanding is that Coastal Oil and Gas are mainly interested in finding Coal Bed Methane gas which is easier and cheaper to extract than shale gas. There are many ways to extract Coal Bed Methane Gas some involve fracking, some do not. But one thing which the extraction of Coal Bed Methane Gas has in common with fracking is the serious risk of polluting water supplies and this is precisely why the people of Thanet should be extremely concerned.
Because all 4 test drilling sites are located on top what is known as the East Kent Stour Aquifer which is where rainwater seeps into the chalk like a massive sponge. This water is then extracted by Southern Water (of Thanet beach pollution fame) and a lot of it is then piped into Thanet for domestic use. I have been in touch with the Environment Agency to ask how much water from the East Kent Stour Aquifer is piped into Thanet and will publish more on this when I get the answers. In the meantime its safe to say that if full blow gas extraction, or even fracking, takes place in the East Kent coalfield people living in Thanet will run the risk of having to drink, cook and wash with poisoned water.
There are also many other risks associated with extraction of Coal Bed Methane Gas. Like fracking, huge quantities of water are used, or removed, to free the gas from the coal seams. This water often becomes polluted as part of the extraction process and must be treated before it can be safely used. Coal Bed Methane Gas also escapes into the atmosphere during extraction, increasing the greenhouse effect, and last but least the old mine workings from where the gas is likely to be extracted are likely to collapse causing major subsidence problems. Here is a link to a webpage which explains more about the extraction the Coal Bed Methane Gas
So there you have it. We are at the beginning of a process which is very likely to result in some incredibly dangerous and polluting activities, which may even include fracking, taking place right on Thanet's doorstep.
The Thanet Green Party will be campaigning against this danger and we intend to hold a public meeting later in the year when developments have become much clearer. If you want to be kept up to date or become involved in our campaign please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a facebook group set up by people from Sandwich and Deal https://www.facebook.com/EastKentAgainstFracking