Will ‘fracking’ put Bath’s hot springs at risk?

The King's Bath or Sacred Spring - fed by three-quarters of a million litres of natural water a day.

Conservative councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have called on the Council to look into measures to control the use of ‘fracking’ within the area.

Bath's Therma Spa © en.wikipedia.org
Bath’s Therma Spa
© en.wikipedia.org

They are concerned over the potential impact of new energy technologies such as Fracking and Geothermal Exploitation in an area which is over two-thirds covered by Greenbelt and includes two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage site.

They have also called for more information on the possible risks to Bath’s hot springs from fracking and particularly Geothermal Exploitation, which involves using hot spring water to produce energy.

Conservatives have tabled a motion for debate at a B&NES Full Council meeting next Thursday, July 11th, which calls on the authority to produce an evidence-based report on the potential impact and risks of Unconventional Gas exploration and Geothermal Exploitation within the area.

The motion also calls on the Council to report back to councillors on what measures the authority can use to control, and if appropriate prevent, the use of Fracking and Geothermal Exploitation within the area.

Conservative councillors have said they hope their motion will enable the Council to have an informed debate about an increasingly important issue.

B&NES Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Tim Warren, said:

“Unconventional gas exploration and extraction, including fracking, is an increasingly prominent issue both nationally and locally, so we feel it’s important for the Council to have full and informed debate about this issue.

“This isn’t about the pros or cons of fracking as a source of energy, but about raising concerns over its potential impact here locally.  B&NES is in a unique position due to the fact it has so much Greenbelt and AONB, not to mention Bath’s World Heritage status and spa waters.

“We’re therefore asking the Council to publish an evidence-based report on the potential risks of fracking, as well as other energy technologies such as Geothermal Exploitation, in our area, and report back on what steps the authority can take to control the use of this technology in B&NES.”IMG_3202

Conservative Group Deputy Leader for the Bath area, Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones (Cons, Lansdown), added:

“Bath’s hot springs are a crucial part of our local economy and the city’s identity, and nothing must put these at risk.  There are already protections set out in the County of Avon Act, limiting the depth of boreholes within the city area, but we would like the Council to look into what further steps can be taken to protect Bath’s spa water.  It’s not just about fracking; we also understand that any local use of Geothermal energy exploitation could pose a risk to the supply of spa water.  Our motion will help B&NES to present the best possible case to Government on the need for controls in areas with as unique and sensitive geology such as Bath.”

Cllr Vic Pritchard (Cons, Chew Valley South) added:

“Residents are understandably concerned about the potential impact of fracking and other Unconventional Gas exploration on our local countryside.  We know that the Government has put controls in place through the planning process, but we feel it’s important for the Council to spell out exactly what these controls are and how B&NES can exercise them.  Local people also have understandable concerns over the supply of water to Chew Valley Lake, so it is right that any risks are properly understood.”