Bath could lose its spa-water ‘life-blood’ if fracking is allowed around the city – according to the leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Councillor Paul Crossley.
Addressing the Shale Gas Environmental Summit in London, he warned that shale gas operations and hydro fracturing – commonly known as ‘fracking’ – could damage the supply of water to the Hot Springs.
“The World Heritage City of Bath is home to the UK’s only natural Hot Springs. I have deep concerns about the fracking process and the possible damage to the supply of water the springs and the knock-on impact on the city as a major tourist attraction,” says Cllr Crossley.
“The springs are the life blood of this city, which is cherished worldwide. In economic terms, the city and region rely heavily on a tourist industry which is worth an estimated £380m annually to Bath alone and which employs 10,000 people.”
He will tell the conference that:
· The value of Roman Baths alone to the local economy is £92m per annum (based on a Bath University – 2010 Economic Impact Assessment)
· Bath Spa attracted 260,000 visitors in 2013 generating an additional £14m to the local economy
· 61% of visitors to the Spa said it was their main reason for visiting Bath
Independent research carried out by the British Geological Survey has concluded that extraction of unconventional gas within the zone of influence of the Hot Springs of Bath has the potential to damage the delicate fracture-led delivery system of the hot water.
Cllr Crossley emphasised that Bath & North East Somerset Council is not opposed to the concept of shale gas extraction: “Our concern is wholly focussed on the potential damage to the Hot Springs and is backed by research findings.
“As such, we are not asking that Bath is made an exception in policy terms, but rather that a policy of pursuing shale gas extraction in appropriate areas recognises that for technical reasons it is wholly inappropriate to issue licences within the Bath Hot Springs catchment area.”
The Shale Gas Environmental Summit provides a platform for various industry representatives including operators, environmentalists, campaigners, NGOs, academics and researchers to come together and discuss the environmental aspects of shale gas extraction and production.