What are seismic surveys?
With shale and coal formations under large areas of the UK, fracking companies need to undertake Seismic Surveys to get some idea of where best to drill. Once an area has been licensed, seismic surveys are the first step in the fracking process whereby a company will contact landowners to access their land.
The basic principle of the seismic survey is to create sound waves at the surface which travel down into the ground and reflect back revealing the rock formations beneath. In practice this means covering huge urban and rural areas with arrays of detectors connected by miles of cabling. In vehicle accessible areas (on or near roads) “thumper” trucks are used to create the vibrations, in non-accessible areas explosive charges are used.
Seismic surveys are by their very nature highly intrusive, requiring access to large areas of land, for which the companies do not want go to the trouble and cost of obtaining individual access rights. There is no specific legislation for Seismic Surveys, so companies exploit permitted development rights (p2) and scant good practice guidance (p9). They merely notify the council and highways department and assume blanket permission, only negotiating specific access with major landowners.
What is happening with seismic surveys in Nottinghamshire?
In early 2015 IGas carried out seismic surveys in North East Bassetlaw to identify a site, of which they chose a former missile base at Misson Springs however IGas failed to show the results of their seismic testing and how it came to be that the missile base was the correct site to use.
In August 2016, Fisher German Priestner sent out letters to householders in Nottinghamshire stating they are working on behalf of INEOS Upstream on seismic surveys. Read more about why Frack Free Notts are concerned about Fisher German’s involvement in seismic surveys.
What can YOU do if a seismic survey is starting in your area?
Visit our page on how you can resist seismic surveys.
Examples of seismic survey issues in the UK
When Cuadrilla carried out seismic surveys in Lancashire in 2012 many residents complained of contractors trespassing on their gardens and fields to lay cabling, or even to plant explosive charges.
In East Yorkshire, a landowner expressed serious concern when he noticed that seismic surveys had led to the drop in the water table at a nearby fishing lake. Rathlin Energy later offered compensation to people whose properties were damaged during seismic testing but that compensation was reportedly only being paid provided a confidentiality agreement was signed and that the house owner would no longer claim that the damage was actually caused as a result of Rathlin Energy.
In West Lancashire in July, 2016, residents felt the walls of their home shake, whilst others raised concerns for livestock and there were also reports of dogs bolting.
In Cheshire in August 2016, a family claimed that seismic testing caused cracks in the walls of their home and sent picture frames crashing to the floor.
Examples of communities fighting seismic surveys in the UK
- Chester Zoo and local farmers refused permission for seismic testing on their land in June 2015
- Also in Cheshire, campaigners blockaded vehicles belonging to seismic testing firm due to a dispute about an access track
- Local councillors started an anti-fracking campaign in West Lancashire as a result of seismic testing