In a report, ”Fracking and Historic Coal Mining: Their relationship and should they coincide?” issued yesterday Professor Emeritus Peter Styles a former advisor to the government raised concerns over the safety of fracking in mining areas in the Bowland Shale.
Professor Styles describes how the Bowland Shale, targeted by fracking companies lies in close proximity in some areas to worked underground coal workings and that on fracking the shale there might be an interaction that gives rise to seismic events (earthquakes). Styles makes the point that it is crucial that there is an understanding of the inherent faulting of an area targeted for unconventional gas extraction before activity takes place.
Much of the mapping information of faulting in the coal mining areas comes not unsurprisingly from the coal industry itself. This information is reckoned to be very accurate indeed and identifies much of the faulting that would otherwise be a problem if fracked. Many areas currently earmarked for exploratory drilling are in areas beneath which are old coal workings that have already experienced subsidence and fault rejuvenation.
To add to the government’s woes it appears that the much vaunted traffic light system is unfit for purpose, another factor that the gas companies might have been relying on.
The point here is that Styles was (but probably never again!) an advisor to the government and therefore the government knew, or should have known, when they sold the Petroleum Development licences that there were potential issues with the licences (the goods) they were selling. Thus goods were sold to the gas industry that were known by government to be of unsatisfactory quality and not fit for the purpose of fracking. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Sale of Goods Act) the gas companies might therefore return the faulty items (licences) and claim a refund. If I were in that situation my claim would already be on it’s way.