By Chris Marchington
Beyond NIMBY (‘not in my backyard’ ) arguments and the fact fracking would impact local house prices – fracking in Surrey presents serious concerns for all of us.
Within the limestone and clay deep under The Surrey Hills and The Weald, running from Kent to Hampshire, is a bed of oil, right up against one of the largest aquifers in the country. This natural underground reservoir held within green sand or chalk, supplies vast quantities of pure water to homes across London and the South East.
It’s not just the grim threat of bulldozers, trucks and urban mess affecting the physical, iconic beauty of lovely areas such as Leith Hill, but a potential environmental catastrophe should the drilling process and related chemicals contaminate the aquifer. One mistake, and the water supply for the whole area, could be destroyed for ever.
Engineer, novelist, and one-time oil rig worker Dennis McKay is in a position to shed some light on developments in Surrey.
‘Any drilling in this area is potentially hazardous, whatever the likes of Europa and Cuadrilla may say. It’s mainly sandy, and not a question of drilling into a stable formation of rock. And there’s the issue of chemical pollution of the water table. On the North Sea oil rigs, any chemicals used had to be logged. With fracking, there’s no equivalent monitoring and control. If a toxic mixture of chemicals used in drilling gets into the water table, it’s goodbye aquifer, and a key resource for millions of locals. For ever”
The locals are rightly alarmed, especially as they are being harassed and arrested. This has happened to local resident Amanda Wheatland. Says Amanda:
“We were promised environmental safeguards. We have seen the promises made to the people of Fylde in Lancashire by the Lancashire County council ripped up by Communities Secretary Javid, who clearly has no respect for local democracy. And now innocent protesters here in Surrey are being arrested.
We are not eco-warriors – I was one of three local ladies all over the age of 50 to be arrested. Apart from the immediate shock I was appalled that my right to peaceful protest is not being upheld by the law: it is being prevented, as my bail conditions prevent myself and others from returning to that site to continue with the peaceful protest or to attend as a legal observer. Democracy is being ripped up by this government”.
McKay notes drily that when he wrote his book ‘What the Frack?’ and set part of the story in Hampshire, he didn’t expect it to turn out to be true. Maybe his comedy set in the near future will turn out to be alarmingly accurate. For determined local residents and the rapidly organizing and highly-motivated national anti-fracking movement the fight is just beginning.
There have been many arrests at Brockham Protection Camp including that of Jacqui. Police are acting on behalf of big polluting energy corporations – not the local people
Jacqui’s arrest at Brockham has to be the most emotional thing I have filmed, she had only been there 10 mins and was not involved in the previous lock on or slow walking. She was almost in tears as she said she had made sure her mother was ok and fed the cat before coming to Brockham. What a beautiful soul who even thanked the police ” This is far too important so you had better arrest me ” she said whilst being handcuffed and body searched in the road . Appalling policing , I walked alongside lorries but because I was filming I didn’t even get a warning . I am so sad that it comes to the point where this can happen to such an obviously worried lady who cares about the wellbeing of everyone. Another pointless arrest in order to scare local people.