Fighting shale gas plans in the Lot
Websites Say No to Shale Gas and Schiste Happens are warning that if drilling begins then the environmental damage from the activity could poison water courses, see drills dotted across the countryside and ruin the lives of many.
The exploratory plans are titled the Permis de Cahors and covers a region that extends from north of Montauban, past Cahors and towards Brive la Gaillarde.
The permit is held by a company called 3 Legs Oil and Gas, which is a subsidiary of 3Legs Resources, who have offices in the Isle of Man and Poland, where they have undertaken shale gas extraction.
Belinda Berry, who lives near Montcuq, created the Say No to Shale Gas website to keep people up to date with the latest developments and highlight the impact that the drilling process has on the environment.
"It’s not that I’m totally against the whole idea of drilling for fossil fuels," Belinda said.
"The technology to retrieve it is relatively recent, and whilst there is a good deal of experience at using it the United States, it has not been without its problems.
"There are complaints of tainted ground water, health problems and environmental damage that have not yet been satisfactorily responded to.
"The process of extraction uses a technique called hydraulic fracturation (fracking), which uses huge quantities of water and sand mixed with a cocktail of proprietary chemicals.
"Some of the water is recovered, treated and may be re-used for further fracking or perhaps returned to the water supply if it meets the standards required but much of it will remain underground. No-one really seems to know what will happen in the long term as a result."
And it is this uncertainty, as well as growing opposition to similar proposals across France, that has seen prime minister Francois Fillon call a halt to shale gas drilling until a report is published in June.
But Belinda and others are working to ensure the pressure remains on the government as a protest march is planned to take place in Cahors on Sunday, April 17 meeting at 3pm at the pont Valentré, as well as open events in towns and villages in the region.
The map image (click to expand) shows area covered by the Permis de Cahors and comes from the July/August 2010 bulletin from BEPH (Bureau exploration-production des hydrocarbures).