Fracking (shale gas extraction)


So Fracking (Shale type gas exploration/extraction) is back on the agenda in parts of the UK it seems and in this short update article we provide some background and useful resources.  So what is ‘Fracking’?

The term Fracking is also referred to in more technical terms i.e. hydraulic fracturing and refers to a method of gas or oil extraction from underground rock i.e. Shale rock.  The oil/gas is released from where it is trapped within the geological structure by extraction companies injecting large volumes of water into the rock under high pressure, this water can also include additives including sand and/or lubricating fluids.  The process has been ongoing for some years now in various parts of the world, notably USA and Canada, albeit there has been some smaller scale extraction/exploration in Northern parts of England too.

Unlike the more conventional naturally occurring gas deposits we’ve been extracting for decades in places like the North Sea, the oil/gas is extracted in this process by fracturing the rock that holds the deposits to enable them to be extracted.

This process can involve drilling relatively deep vertically, over 2km may be required, along with drilling horizontally and again this can be for several kilometres.   The fluid is pumped into the rock at high pressure and a typical well may use millions of litres of water to produce the required result.  The additives can, some believe, result in water contamination and the whole process can be best described as land based mining.

The effects of the process can result in local disturbance to the existing rock formations and some believe contamination of the local ground water systems, along with earth tremors are caused.  This latter has not been confirmed by us, merely using anecdotal information.

Gas Pipes

From a property owner’s perspective, i.e. one situated within an influencing distance of such activities, some general disturbance should be anticipated as would be the case with most types of industrial/mining type operation.  This disturbance could, in theory, include light, noise, fumes, vibration and/or other impacts such as heavy traffic in an area.

Could fracking impact the potential saleability and/or price of a property?  That would require specific consideration and would be dependent upon various factors, if you are concerned about the potential impact upon a property purchase resulting from such activities, you should undertake sufficient research and/or employ a suitably qualified Chartered Surveyor to provide further guidance/information.

Is the property you are considering situated in an area where the risk of such mining is potentially higher?  It’s worth asking your legal advisers to thoroughly consider this as part of your pre-purchasing planning and legal enquiries so you are informed in advance of your purchase.

You can also find a wealth of information online in respect of such activities, including a map provided by Friends of the Earth using this link:

Castle Surveyors Limited are a firm of Chartered Surveyors in Dorset, undertaking property surveys in the Hampshire and Dorset areas. We’d be pleased to provide you with further advice in respect of such matters and should you require this please let us know via our website at