Opinion: Fracking fears allayed

Entrance to Third Energy site at West Knapton.
Entrance to Third Energy site at West Knapton.

Fracking is very much in the news at the moment. We all know our energy requirements are increasing rapidly and power stations are being closed far quicker than replacements are coming on stream. One source of power, of course, is natural gas. However, the normal wells, quite a few of which are in our area, are starting to become exhausted.

As chairman of Scarborough Probus Club, I arranged a visit to West Knapton Power Station which utilises natural gas to power the generator. The site (which I’m sure few people even know exists) is owned by Third Energy, one of the companies which wants to ‘frack’ to produce gas that is trapped in the rock formations below us.

The site is very well hidden off the main A64 road and surrounded by trees. The company has taken great pains to make the site as unobtrusive as possible. The actual generator is driven by an industrialised version of a 747 jet engine which produces in the region of 80,000 hp – an amazing level of power – and we were told it is capable of providing all the household requirements of York if the industrial areas were discounted.

We had a number of our members who have experience in civil engineering and other areas, which meant we put some deep and probing questions to the company rep after our tour of the site and during the company presentation. At last some real facts were learned and the scare stories we realised were just that!

The difference here from the American sites is that Third Energy are going to drill much, much, deeper than the American ones, as far down as 7,000 feet. This is way below our water table, which everyone was concerned might be contaminated. The actual ‘frack’ will only be a fraction of an inch in depth and it will only be done once or twice for each well.

We were all impressed by the presentation and many of our fears were allayed. The degree of regulation is far greater than the American model. We came away feeling the worries are minimal and this could be a real source of energy in future years.