Meeting over Keynsham gas extraction plan by UK Methane

Plans by a UK energy company to test whether gas can be extracted from coal beds near Keynsham has prompted residents to hold a public meeting.

Opponents fear UK Methane will use hydraulic fracking to extract gas which they say could pollute water supplies.

The firm has said other technologies can be used and hydraulic fracking was more suitable for extracting shale gas.

Fracking involves drilling a bore hole and using explosives or water to fill a cavity and force gas to the surface.

'Shallow drilling'

Campaigners believe fracking and other similar methods of gas extractions pose risks to the public and could pollute the Bath hot springs.

Campaigner Dr Clarice Corfield said: "They drill between 300m - 1,000m which is relatively shallow.

"Methane could escape to the surface and methane is a polluter of the air as it is a greenhouse gas.

"Because of the huge amount of water and the shallow drilling, the soil will become unstable and there will be a problem of subsidence."

UK Methane has applied for planning permission to drill on and test if land near the Hicks Gate roundabout is suitable for coal bed methane extraction.

The test will involve taking out coal samples and testing its gas content.

'Long way off'

Gerwyn Williams, from UK Methane, said: "Coal bed methane extraction is about exposing as much of the coal as you can in the bore hole.

"We would drill a vertical hole and then we would drill at 90 degrees to get a coal seam and gas would flow directly to the bore hole."

He added that shale gas extraction, which could involve using the fracking method, was a "long way off".

Bath and North East Somerset Council has said a decision is expected on the planning application by early December.

The public consultation on the application ends on 12 November.

A public meeting will be held at Royal British Legion branch at 19:30 BST on Tuesday evening to discuss the application.

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