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Is Formby going to be Fracked? Public meeting on Wednesday March 15th

Aurora Energy Resources has confirmed its intention to submit a Planning Application during 2017 to commence exploratory drilling for shale gas (methane) near Formby.

To discuss the implications with Formby residents, Frack Free Formby are holding a public meeting at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 15th March at the Formby Cricket Club. Formby residents are also welcome to email us any questions they have before the event. You can email your questions to

A spokesperson from Frack Free Formby said: "We believe that the most likely location for drilling is the site of the old Formby Oilfield, (about half a mile east of the Formby by-pass). As fracking operators can then drill up to 2 miles underground, drilling at this site could potentially threaten up to 85% of the homes, schools, and business premises in Formby. The map shows how many Formby properties are within a one mile and two mile radius of the likely drill site."

They went on to say: "Charts obtained from government agencies show faults in the local sandstone at surface level and underground right across the Formby basin. This means that fracking in this area has the potential to cause earth tremors, and cause gas to be released straight into the local atmosphere."

"Frack Free Formby are therefore urging Lancashire County Council and Sefton Council to refuse Aurora’s planning application, and we hope to get a substantial number of local groups and residents to object to the proposal. If approval is given for an exploratory site, it will almost certainly lead to many more fracking wells being drilled across the Moss. Ultimately, this could even lead to drilling under Formby’s pinewoods and sand dunes." Managing Director of Aurora Energy Resources, Ian Roche, said: “Prior to any planning application being submitted, we will hold a public information event about the proposed development, the feedback from which will inform our application.2

“Members of the public will also be able to comment on any planning application during the consultation period prior to it being determined.Aurora previously drilled a couple of wells at the Formby site in 2012, on land owned by the Church Commissioners for England. These sites have since been restored to agricultural use.“

In 2011, the BBC reported on a study which found it to be “highly probable” that shale gas test drilling triggered earth tremors in Lancashire. However, the report, commissioned by energy firm Cuadrilla, also said the quakes were due to an “unusual combination of geology at the well site”. It said conditions which caused the minor earthquakes were “unlikely to occur again”.

To discuss the implications of any potential planning application with Formby residents, Frack Free Formby are holding a public meeting at 7.30pm on Wednesday March 15th at Formby Cricket Club. To find out more, go to:

What is Fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, is a drilling technique used for extracting oil or natural gas from deep underground. Fracking is a hotly debated environmental and political issue. Advocates insist it is a safe and economical source of clean energy; critics, however, claim fracking can destroy drinking water supplies, pollute the air and contribute to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

How fracking works

Most fracking wells in use today rely on two technologies: hydraulic fracturing, which has been in use since the 1940s, and horizontal drilling, a technique that first became widespread in the 1990s.

In simplified terms, the fracking process starts with a well that is drilled vertically or at an angle from the surface to a depth of 1 to 2 miles (1.6 to 3.2 kilometers) or more.

Once the vertical well reaches the deep layer of rock where natural gas or oil exists, the well curves about 90 degrees and begins drilling horizontally along that rock layer. Horizontal drilling can extend more than 1 mile (1.6 km) from the vertical well bore.

After the fracking well is fully drilled and encased, fracking fluid is pumped down into the well at extremely high pressure, in some cases exceeding 9,000 pounds per square inch (62,050 kilopascals). The pressure is powerful enough to fracture the surrounding rock, creating fissures and cracks through which oil and gas can flow.

The fluid that is pumped into the well to fracture the rock is called slickwater. It is mostly water, though it also can contain a wide range of additives and chemicals that serve an engineering purpose. Additives can include detergents, salts, acids, alcohols, lubricants and disinfectants. These chemical additives usually make up 0.5 to 2 percent of the slickwater, with the remaining 98 to 99.5 percent consisting of plain water.

In addition to the water and chemical additives, "proppants" such as sand and ceramic particles are also pumped into the fracking well. These proppants are added to prop open the fractures that form under pressure, thereby ensuring that gas and oil can continue to flow freely out of rock fractures even after pumping pressure is released, according to the EPA.

Once the underground rock is shattered and proppants are pumped into place, trapped reservoirs of gas and oil are released and pumped back to the surface, along with millions of gallons of "flowback" liquid, according to the EPA.

The flowback liquid contains water and a number of contaminants, including radioactive material, heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other toxins. This wastewater is stored on the fracking site in pits, injected into deep underground wells or disposed of off-site at a wastewater treatment facility.

"Formation water" is the briny water that was in the pore spaces of the rocks. "The formation water is usually very salty and can have high levels of radon, a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of uranium in the subsurface," Marcia Bjornerud, a structural geologist said:

"Flowback water can be treated, but there are large volumes of it and so dealing with it is expensive, and beyond what many small-town water treatment plants can handle."

Read more about Fracking HERE

Fracking in the North West has been in the news before.....

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