North Sea gas extraction fears

A north Northumberland environmental group has raised concerns about plans for large-scale gas extraction off the region’s coastline.

Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth will be holding a public meeting on Tuesday, June 10, in the town’s St James’s Church Centre to debate the proposals for the extraction of unconventional gas from rocks deep below the North Sea by a Newcastle energy company.

Five-Quarter specialises in the infrastructure and processes needed for the extraction and use of unconventional gas from rocks deep below the North Sea using a technology called deep gas winning.

The meeting will be addressed by Five-Quarter board director Professor Paul Younger, a world–leading expert in hydrogeology and environmental engineering, and Simon Bowens, North East campaigner for National Friends of the Earth.

Simon will review the merits of unconventional fossil fuels like deep gas winning and how these compare against the renewable alternatives. Members of the public will be able to ask questions.

Professor Younger said: “Five-Quarter was established with a vision of sustaining the North East’s process industries which are the largest source of income to the region in the lowest-carbon manner possible.

“I spent twenty years successfully combatting pollution from the region’s abandoned coal mines and in the process realised that we could put all that learning to use, to devise a way of extracting the value from the remaining coal without anyone having to do dangerous work and without further exacerbating climate change. This way we call deep gas winning.”

But despite statements that this process is being developed to the highest environmental standards and will both protect and create manufacturing jobs in the region, environmental campaigners have concerns about this new ‘dash for gas’.

Martin Swinbank, of Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth, said: “Coal is traditionally the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Professor Younger tells us that we can extract energy from it offshore.

“We’ll be interested to understand how this can be done without exacerbating climate change and without having any impact on Northumberland’s priceless coastline.”