Dwr Cymru are quite justified in saying their current water supplies are hardly touched by the proposed fracking (Gem 8th March), as their only local source is the Schwyll aquifer with springs near Ewenny that used to supply Bridgend.
It’s the Vale Council that is responsible for the individual water sources, including those used for agriculture. Instead of relying on Dwr Cymru, they should be getting together a case, including expert evidence, that these may be at risk. The Council should argue that the relatively shallow strata for fracking – in this case only 650 metres, not the normal 2000metres – are more likely to pollute groundwater, as has been found in the USA.
It’s also the Environment Agency Wales (EAW) that is responsible for the groundwater directive, which covers all aquifers not just those currently drawn on for drinking water. Friends of the Earth established their responsibility at the Aberthaw quarry inquiry, when the EAW proposed to ignore the minor aquifer under the site.
The EAW’s John Harrison told the Council seminar that the EAW would consider aquifer pollution only when an application to extract gas was made. But they should argue that exploratory drilling is an integral part of fracking and that in the absence of other information fracking in shallow strata must be presumed to pollute local aquifers, which are given absolute protection under the groundwater directive.
So let’s not criticise and pressurise Dwr Cymru, but the Vale Council and EAW. They both have to prepare full cases and may now need to ask the Planning Inspectorate for extra time to do so.
Barry & Vale Friends of the Earth