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» » » 'We could be sitting on a Mendip volcano' says Somerset expert

Does a great and terrible fate await us if drilling starts below the Mendip hills to extract gas?

A Mendip hills expert says it might. Nigel Taylor, caver, wildlife and nature campaigner, explosives expert and Mendip district councillor, has carried out a study of the Mendip Hills and has discovered that there is a volcanic plug that could be holding back a river of lava ready to erupt if disturbed.

"It may sound ridiculous," said Mr Taylor, "but it is no more ridiculous than drilling deep into the earth's crust and setting off explosions to release trapped gas without knowing all of the potential consequences.

"We could be sitting on a Mendip volcano."

Mr Taylor says that Moons Hill Quarry, which is situated at the heart of the Mendip Plateau near Stoke St Michael, is a massive Silurian Volcanic plug of Basalt rock.

He said: "The rain falling onto the Mendips soaks down, and are superheated on their journey to the Roman Baths at Bath by volcanic activity deep in the earth's surface under that volcanic plug, long thought extinct."

"But what could happen if the exploration company is allowed to carry out 'Fracking activities' on the Mendips?"

Fracking is the process of pumping water underground until the gas bearing shale fractures and releases the pressurised gas it contains.

In the United States fracking has been blamed for widespread pollution – with its release in the water supply causing tap water to catch fire.

The energy industry says the process is safe and an essential source of energy for the future.

Mr Taylor said: "I am keeping an open mind about all of this, but have more than a pressing concern about a risk that nobody appears to have either realised or considered.

"We could either end up diverting the hot waters from Bath into ruptured rocks deep below us, pollute them with shale oils and gases, or the doomsday nightmare scenario – destabilise our geology and awake a sleeping giant."

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