Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fracking in the Test Valley

Licences have recently been granted to allow exploratory fracking for methane gas trapped in subterranean layers of shale in the Upper Test Valley. The process seeks to exploit reserves of methane gas by injecting a mixture of sand and water at high pressure into the shale to displace the gas. Concerns have long been held over the possibility of increased minor seismic activity associated with a period of fracking and over the threat of possible contamination of ground water. But for a unique river like the Test that relies on groundwater flow for the majority of its replenishment, concerns must be held over the source of the huge quantity of water required for the fracking process. A report produced by the Environment Agency almost a decade ago stated that the upper Test Valley was at the limit of possible groundwater abstraction and that no more could be pulled from the ground, but bar a bunch of bottles or a train of tankers there is no other obvious source of water in the area for the thirsty fracking process.

The potential for seismic activity may add a little “frisson” to the day and I know that in some parts of the world it is seen as a clean and bountiful source of energy, but the common link with all those parts where fracking is seen as a success is a plentiful supply of water.

The Test Valley does not have a plentiful supply of water, neither does most of the South East of England, so I am sure that somewhere in this proposal for exploratory fracking someone has got a really clever plan as to how the required water can be sourced from elsewhere.

But then again.......

There now follows a short film taken at 8.30pm on the 4th of June 2013 of a chalkstream full of water and, bar a bit of colour to the water, not far from its prime.

If there is no plan for an alternative source of water, and the water is to be abstracted from the surrounding aquifers of the Test Valley, we will be the last generation to see this river in this kind of condition.

Time to start taking the threat of over abstraction in the Upper Test Valley seriously perhaps?


Anonymous said...

I've fished the Test regularly for 40 years, most of those 40 for at least 30 days each year and not just a few hours in the evening but from dawn to gone dusk on most of them. I fell in love with it's movement and vitality at the age of 5 and over the brief period since I've witnessed it's slow death by a thousand cuts. The river is nothing like it was 40 years ago. I can remember when even the lower reaches ran full and clear in summer like the Anton in spring. When Salmon hovered around their Redds by way of mysterious means, when trout rose in the early evening and in bursts all day, when the dawn rise made a thrilling start to the day, and flows and fly-life were consistent. The "Oh, it'll be alright" and "It hasn't really changed in my time" attitude is destroying an environ that is unique in the World like the rainforests but just because the critters are smaller and the changes more subtle nobody that can effect change actually gives a flying Frack. It's so sad that the finest chalkstream, sparkling on the planet is now truly living up to or at least heading towards the local's quip as the longest stewpond in the world, not one that's full of fish but a sad muddy stodge denuded of colour, clarity and care. Fracking will be like an axe to a grand old tree t hat nourishes and protects everything around it, one that when it falls will be missed by millions, millions either to stupid or too stupefied by contemporary living to lend it the help it desperately needs and save themselves. And like an axe the wound may not result in it's immediate death, but die it will.

Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war, that this foul deed shall smell above the earth with carrion men, groaning for burial.

Chris, your writings here are very much enjoyed and appreciated!

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Couldn't agree more.

Thanks very much for your kind comments and for reading the rubbish that I write


Alice said...

There are so many factors that can change when something like fracking takes place. It is so important to make sure that we monitor water to see if there are any changes so we can ensure safety. Water is the life source of the planet so it is important that we take care of it.

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Again, couldn't agree more,

it's all about the water