Flood risk

“Dear Aunty, are fracking sites vulnerable to flooding?”

Well, sweeties, this all depends on where they’re located. But it’s very unlikely.

With all the images of flooded fracking pads emerging from Colorado in the United States, it’s easy to worry about it happening here, darlings, and so I understand the concern.

We’re very fortunate in the UK to have such good and able regulators in the form of the Environment Agency who have helpfully compiled flood maps for the whole of England and Wales.

You can find them here.

Shall we take a look at what they tell us for proposed fracking sites?

Here, you’ll find the Cuadrilla’s Anna’s Road site near Peel and Westby on the Fylde. It’s at the junction of Peel Road and Anna’s Road.

According to the flood map, an area of land to the south (Lytham Moss) is within a flood risk area, but the Cuadrilla site is not. We can see this from the shading on the map, which is described by the Environment Agency as follows:

Dark blue shows the area that could be affected by flooding, either from rivers or the sea, if there were no flood defences. This area could be flooded:

– from the sea by a flood that has a 0.5 per cent (1 in 200) or greater chance of happening each year;
– or from a river by a flood that has a 1 per cent (1 in 100) or greater chance of happening each year.

Light blue shows the additional extent of an extreme flood from rivers or the sea. These outlying areas are likely to be affected by a major flood, with up to a 0.1 per cent (1 in 1000) chance of occurring each year.

These two colours show the extent of the natural floodplain if there were no flood defences or certain other manmade structures and channel improvements.

Clear shows the area where flooding from rivers and the sea is very unlikely. There is less than a 0.1 per cent (1 in 1000) chance of flooding occurring each year. The majority of England and Wales falls within this area.

The Cuadrilla site sits safely within the clear area.

What about their Grange Hill site here? It’s been said in the media that this is site most likely to be fracked any time soon. Again, safely in an area (clear on the map) not deemed to be at risk of flooding.

The reality, my dears, is that operators are very unlikely to choose sites that are at particular risk of flooding. Why? Well, it’s obvious pumpkins – they would rather not be distracted from the business of extracting gas and selling it to us! And they’ll want to avoid the potential for the costs associated with such conditions.

But even if a producing shale gas well were mistakenly located in an area prone to flooding, operators could be expected to stay ahead of the weather and shut in their wells as reported here, so that they wouldn’t be affected by rising flood waters.

So, my lovelies, whilst it’s tempting to fear the scenes from Colorado being repeated here, I don’t think we need worry unnecessarily.

Until next time xxx

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