Woodnesborough underground gas exploitation tests backed

A core of shale rock The company has not ruled out shale extraction in east Kent in the future

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Testing for underground gas exploitation near Sandwich in Kent has been approved by the county council.

Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, based in Mid Glamorgan, has got permission to dig a borehole to test for energy reserves below farmland at Woodnesborough.

Ahead of the county council decision, opponents protested outside County Hall in Maidstone.

They claim, if gas is found, a mining method known as fracking could be used that may lead to minor earthquakes.

The process involves shattering hard shale rocks underground to release gas using either hydraulic pressure or tiny explosions.

Fracking in Lancashire was suspended in May after two minor earthquakes in two months.

A Kent County Council spokesman said permission had been granted to dig a borehole to test coal and shale for gas.

"If the company want to try fracking they must seek an entirely new application," he said.

The company said it principally wanted to extract methane from coal, but did not rule out shale extraction in future.

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