Farmers are custodians of the countryside but predominately they are the food producers of our country.
We have to deal with volatile markets, rules and regulations and of course the weather.
Over the last couple of years some farmers in Yorkshire have been researching and learning about an unconventional gas extraction technique called fracking.
Fracking is an intensive gas-production process that requires a large number of drillings sites with between 10 and 50 wells per site compared to conventional gas extraction that needs few sites with between 1 and 3 wells per site. Boreholes are drilled down to 3000m, then horizontally for up to 2km.
The well is then fracked using small explosives that are detonated to release gas from the rock with water, sand and chemicals being pumped into the ground at high pressure.
Our research has raised some concerns:
- Risk of ground water contamination. Water extraction – providing drinking water for livestock and water for crop irrigation from boreholes – is at risk. Surface spills from fracking can lead to contamination along with well integrity issues. According to a report published in 2003 by oil services company Schlumberger, 6% of wells have integrity problems within a year, rising to over 50% in wells aged 15 years or more.
- A lack of available first party Insurance for farmers who do not allow fracking on their land but who are at risk from fracking on a neighbour’s land
- Methane leaks and toxic emissions from well sites
- 24/7 operation and industrialisation . The gas industry requires dehydration units, compressor stations, processing plants and pipelines, along with multiple drill pads.
- Pipeline laying and impact on topsoil. Numerous well pads are required (perhaps 10 or more in each 10km-by-10km block), and each needs to be connected to a gathering network by sub-surface pipeline. The removal of topsoil for construction across multiple pipeline corridors could impact soil productivity.
- Increased HGV traffic on country roads.
- Farming and tourism. Farmers who have a subsidiary tourist business may experience declining visitor numbers if fracking is seen to impact the tranquil and scenic nature of an area.
We decided that our research would be far more useful if it could be easily found in one place for farmers. Use the resources on our website and do your own research to come to your own decision on fracking in the UK.