Dear BOW Followers,
Back in May, we have discovered that Brockham was operating under an old environmental permit that did not regulate or require monitoring of many risky activities, including: waste water reinjection (from Brockham and Lidsey), injection of acid and chemicals, gas flaring or burning in a generator, etc. This was particularly concerning given the plans of Angus Energy to start production from unconventional shale rock, which is likely to require stimulation with acid to flow hydrocarbons, producing significant amounts of associated gas.
We have been campaigning about this issue since, through various avenues including a petition signed by over 27,000 people, to bring pressure onto the Environment Agency to close this loophole. We also held a meeting with the EA and local councillors and other representatives of the local community on 13 November. We have a partial success to report. The Environment Agency have accepted that the old permit didn’t offer sufficient control and have moved to issue a new permit. Crucially, this new permit doesn’t allow acid stimulation or reinjection of contaminated waste water.
Whilst we are relieved that reinjection of water produced at Brockham and Lidsey is no longer allowed to take place it is very unsettling that this process has been taking place virtually unregulated over the years at Brockham and other sites. There is still no requirement for groundwater monitoring at Brockham under the new permit. In addition, the long anticipated public consultation was done away with because the EA was forced to act quickly to impose more controls on Angus Energy who were proceeding with operations on new geology under the old permit. Local people and independent experts have thereby been denied the opportunity to properly scrutinise and comment on the proposals.
There are a number of detailed conditions in the new permit that the operator needs to fulfil before they can start the new work. We will be following this process closely. This also means that Angus have been slowed down somewhat with the new type of extraction, which they had been planning to start before the end of the year.
We remain very concerned about the loophole in the national regulatory regime with respect to the regulation of acid based stimulations. This issue affects Brockham (even under the new permit) as well as other sites in the Weald Basin, and beyond. Now, that the old environmental permit loophole was closed, and the planning permission was granted despite the many objections, we are shifting our focus onto this issue. You can read about it in more detail here.
In the meantime, we have started our own air monitoring regime and collected surface and groundwater samples to establish baseline environmental data before work on the unconventional Kimmeridge shale and micrite layers begins.
If you would like to donate to our crowdfunder to help with our independent monitoring work, you can do so here. Any contributions gratefully received.
Thanks so much for your support – it’s making a difference!