A student from Twyford is completing a research project on fracking in America, hoping her study will help provide an insight into the benefits and problems of the practice before the UK fully exploits the controversial mining method.
Emily Barnacle (22), a final year student at the Harper Adams University in Shropshire, is coming to the end of her project about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Texas and Oklahoma.
Having been to America twice, she wanted to investigate the industry’s agricultural impact and provide recommendations on the UK’s adoption of the industry.
Fracking is a technique which involves drilling deep into the ground and blasting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into shale rocks to release gas trapped inside.
Fracking is seen as a way of helping secure the UK’s future energy requirements but opponents warn it could significantly damage the environment.
Emily said: “I first because interested in the industry when I went out to work on a ranch for the summer in Texas and Oklahoma before studying at Harper Adams.
“I wanted to look further into the sector as it was so imposing. We don’t have it over here in the UK yet, but with the Government already granting dozens of licences for exploration in December, it won’t be long until we do.
“A lot of research has been done on the environmental and health implications of hydraulic fracturing but I didn’t understand, or see much work on, the impact on agriculture. That’s why I chose this topic for my dissertation and it’s received some great interest.”
Emily, who interviewed six ranchers to gather data, said: “I saw that the main issues surrounding fracking, from the farming perspective, are livestock and water contamination.
“I learned that there are regulations in place to protect the land but these aren’t always applied to the gas and oil fracking industry, which surprised me greatly.
“Therefore, one of my recommendations is that regulations are created and upheld. If there’s a dairy farmer who is relying on a borehole, their business could be devastated if the well is incorrectly sealed.
“However not everything is so easily comparable between the two countries. The ranches in America are so large that having a rig on their land does not affect them greatly as it’s land they might not visit for a proportion of the year. Farmers here in the UK have much less land so if there was a rig on their property it would be much more intrusive.”
Emily, who has nearly finished writing up her findings and recommendations, is set to join Shouler and Son as a graduate rural surveyor later this year.