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When we arrived at the proposed drilling site last Saturday, we were welcomed by a security company SERVEST, who gave us handouts prepared by Dart Energy. This reads:

“Lound 1

In 2014, Dart energy will drill a coalbed methane (CBM) exploration well called Lound 1 at a site near Sutton Cum Lound to the west of the A638. The samples of coal will enable us to further understand the coalbed methane resource potential across the East Midlands region.

The well will be drilled on PEDL200 which was granted to Composite Energy by DECC in the 13th onshore licensing round and subsequently transfered to Dart following the acqusition of Composite Energy in 2011. The well has full planning permission (Ref:47/09/00006) as granted by Nottinghamshire County Council in 2009 and extended in 2012 (Ref: 1/12/01296/FUL).

The Lound 1 well will be the 1st coalbed methane well drilled on PEDL200 and aims to confirm coal continuity and properties for the primary target coal seams. The well will be similar to a CBM well previously drilled at Everton, a site which has been reinstated and returned to the landowner.

Some key facts about our work in Lound 1:

* We are drilling a vertical CBM exploration well to collect samples of coal for analysis.
* The site operations will take 8-12 weeks weeks.
* 24 hour drilling operations are expected to last 3-4 weeks in total.
* The site is approximately the size of half a football pitch and the rig is the same height as a set of standard rugby post.
* The well will be cased with steel and cement to a depth of 350 meters to protect aquifers in the Sherwood Sandstone.
* The well will be drilled using water based drilling fluid.
* The well will be drilled using a mobile drilling rig that will be removed from the site once we are finnished.
* On completion the well will be cemented up in line with relevant regualtions and industry best practice.
* The site will be fully restored to agricultural use as soon as practicable following completion of the drilling activities.
* We are not hydraulically fracturing (fracking), nor are we removing water.There will be no methane flowing during the drilling operations.
* Dart will carry out a program of post abandonment and restoration monitoring.

Dart Energy has drilled more than 20 CBM exploration wells over the last 6 years, safely without fuss, and we look forward to working in the local community in the coming months.

Closer to the time, we will meet with the local communities and discuss our plans in more detail, but in the meantime should anyone have an queries about the planned drilling operations they can contact us via our website (www.dartenergyscotland.co.uk) or by telephone on 01786 230200.”

So, apparently Dart will meet with the community, yet they have already started clearing the land ready for the drilling pad.  There was no consultation with the local community in the lead up to this. We contacted the Environment Agency yesterday about the status and they told us they approved the permit on the 27th January 2014, and didn’t think to tell anyone because it was of ‘not of high public interest’. The EA did not consult local residents about this.

Back to the letter – and note the ‘Lound 1’ – this suspects that this may not be the only well, but more like Dart are aiming to create a Gas FIELD – and the consultation that Dart have explained about may be about their plans to develop this gas field. In Airth in Scotland, Dart have long run plans to  develop 600 wells – which could involve 600km of pipelines and a gas processing facility. If the development emerging from Daneshill was on a comparable scale, then presumably, eventually there will be several hundred gas wells in the whole surrounding countryside too.

So Dart would have to answer where will all the contaminated water go that is pumped out of the wells? Will contaminated water be put in local holding ponds? Where will those ponds be? Or will it be discharged into local water courses and lakes? What will be the volume of the contaminated water generated? What will be the likely contaminants and how will it be dealt with? If, as in other places, the water has a high salt content, what are the implications for local agriculture? Will pumping water out from hundreds of wells create subsidence as the coal seams are de-watered since underground water in rock pores is an important part of the structure of underground geological formation? How will the companies stop uncontrolled methane migration with their fire and explosion risk as has happened in many other places? If there is a fire, will the Energy Forest go up in flames? How will they prevent failures in the bore holes in the cement casing given the usual failure rate is 6% in the first year? With 600 wells, that is 10 well failures in year one – with more in subsequent years – especially if wells are damaged when subsidence and local seismic activity occurs. How will gas pipes affect local farming? How will it affect the wildlife and animal park and local tourism? Will there be gas flaring?

ALL of these things out to be discussed BEFORE with the community, so that the community can get a sense of implications for them and therefore whether the community want this to happen to them or NOT!

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