Anti-fracking campaigners say the Ryedale area of North Yorkshire could see up to 950 fracking wells.
Their comments follow evidence by the drilling company, Third Energy, to the House of Commons Environment Committee yesterday.
The company’s director of operations, John Dewar, was asked by the committee chair, Anne McIntosh, how many well heads the company would require in Ryedale to make the operation commercially-viable.
He said Third Energy already has nine sites in the area, including Ebberston Moor and the Vale of Pickering. It was “very hard, very speculative” to say what the total number of wells would be. But he said: “To allay people’s fears we’ve said that we do not foresee the need for more than 10 more sites”.
“And how many wells we would put on those sites, we have provided numbers between 10 and depending on the size of the site, it could be 10 to 20, if it was a bigger site it could be 20-50.”
Miss McIntosh later told the Yorkshire Post Ryedale faced fracking on an “industrial scale” operation. “There needs to be a lot more clarity about what that will involve”, she said.
Chris Redston, of Frack Free Ryedale, said: “Finally, after months of dodging questions on the company’s plans, Mr Dewar has now confirmed that the company is aiming to construct at least 19 well-heads, each housing up to 50 individual wells.
“This would mean up to 950 fracking wells across the area in the next few years, each of which would be drilled horizontally for up to 2 km. The infrastructure and HGV movements required to construct, drill, maintain and service this number of wells would be enormous, and would signal nothing less than the irreversible industrialisation of the countryside.”
Local resident Jo White, from Great Edstone, added, “If this kind of development is allowed to go ahead, it will have devastating consequences for the whole of the area, and in particular the tourism and farming industries. The application at Kirby Misperton is for just a short test-frac at just one well. Imagine what this area would be like to live in if this well-site grew to accommodate 50 wells in full production.”
‘Site choice is crucial’
Mr Dewar told the committee Third Energy was focussing on testing a well it drilled last year at Kirby Misperton. The company is to apply for planning permission to frack the well, near the Flamingo Land theme park.
Mr Dewar told the committee his company would think “very carefully” about where it put sites to avoid “causing any disruption to local residents”.
He said: “We have been there for 20 years. We’ve got lots of sites. We have drilled lots of wells. We’ve done frack jobs. We’ve even done a frack job in this same site where we’re planning to do another one.
“We’ve operated quietly, safely, causing minimum disruption to the local population, we’ve won their trust, built their trust and we have good relations with the local regulators. So it is not as if we’ve blown in with the wind and we’re now talking about fracking.”
Fracking ‘another tool in the box’
Mr Dewar said shale gas fracking was not much different from his company’s current operations. “This is an extension to our natural business. It’s another tool in our tool box.” “It involves the same equipment the same people, the same pressures the same procedures, as just fracking but 1,000-2,000ft deeper. The only difference I can see is the volume of fluid that we are talking about. Everything else is very similar.”
- Francis Egan, ceo of Cuadrilla, also gave evidence to the committee. He told MPs nothing would get done if companies had regulators looking over their shoulders. Our report on Mr Egan’s evidence
[Updated on 24/3/15 to include comments by Frack Free Ryedale]