WWT concerned at fracking proposals

Proposed site: View of the Loughor Estuary from WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre
Proposed site: View of the Loughor Estuary from WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre

WWT is raising concerns about the effect ‘fracking’ could have on wetlands in the UK.

Induced Hydraulic Fracturing, or fracking, involves fracturing of rock using pressurised liquid to release gas for energy use.

Two of WWT’s wetland centres are in areas where applications relating to potential fracking have been submitted by commercial operators to local authorities. WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre is in an area where there are proposals for fracking underground, while WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre sits on the River Loughor where a similar technique is proposed underneath the estuary.

A third wetland centre, WWT Arundel Wetland Centre, borders another potential licensing area.

WWT will provide its own responses to individual application consultations on a case by case basis. But we have wider concerns for wetlands due to the lack of clarity around what safeguards for the environment will be in place in the UK.

WWT Head of Conservation Policy, Carrie Hume said:

"We’re concerned the chemicals used in fracking could pollute water and damage wetland habitats. Wetlands help to supply our drinking water as well as being home to more species of wildlife than any other habitat in the UK.

"Wetlands could also suffer water loss due to the high volume of high pressure water needed to fragment rock – one fragmentation can use more water than 1,000 people use in a year.

"To avoid this damage, fully consulted and developed safeguards would need to be in place before any further preparatory work to extract unconventional gas were to begin.

"Fracking seems to involve huge effort and risk to exhaust non-renewable energy while releasing vast quantities of harmful methane. A better solution might be to focus the effort on exploring renewable resources instead, which could help the UK meet its climate change targets and solve our long term energy needs."

There is also concern at the amount of land taken up to build fracking facilities - it’s estimated it would need 50 wells to achieve the same gas yield as one North Sea oil well.