Huntingdonshire and South Cambs could be part of cheaper energy solution

Energy firms set for gas exploration

Energy firms set for gas exploration - Credit: Archant

ENERGY firms could explore Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire in the search for new gas resources as the Government looks to cheapen bills.

An area spanning four counties, which includes Abbotsley, Eltisley and Great Gransden at its north western extremity, has been included in a consultation on a Strategic Environmental Assessment for onshore gas and oil resources ahead of the 14th drilling licensing round next year.

The drilling licence would open the area, one of two in East Anglia proposed in next year’s round, to the winning energy company to look for possible sites for gas production.

The only hints to possible gas stores in the region are in Ashwell, Hertfordshire, and Little Chrishill, Essex – sites that were drilled in 1965, although it is unclear whether they discovered gas.

Since the last round of licensing in 2008, which this area was not part of, American shale gas extraction through fracking has been at the forefront of the Government’s mind as it has meant huge reductions in energy bills on the other side of the Atlantic, at a time when UK imports of gas have hit an all time high.

The Hunts Post understands the area is not believed to be rich in shale gas, so the controversial fracking, which this week Prime Minister David Cameron asked the country to embrace, is unlikely. However, some parts of Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire have the same characteristics as the Weald Basin, in East Sussex, where large gas deposits have been found.

The process between buying a licence from the Government and actually drilling is lengthy – a company will have to buy land or approach landowners, choose a drill and apply for a long list of permissions, including planning permission and permission from the Environment Agency.

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Michael Monk, chairman of the Cambridgeshire Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) told The Hunts Post the group would monitor the situation to see if there was any likely future impact on the county.

“We like to keep an open mind because obviously we recognise the country does require regular energy,” said Mr Monk.

“Our primary concerns would be about the impact of traffic for constructing and servicing the drill, and the impact of HGVs coming through the villages as we want to protect our rural communities.”

He added: “With fracking, we have different concerns as it could cause tremors and the pollution of ground water supplies.”