UK project faces fears by residents of drilling noise

Snapshot of Geothermal Engineering Ltd. website
Alexander Richter 10 May 2010

UK based Geothermal Engineering is facing residents fears of drilling noise on project site in Cornwall in the UK.

In news from the UK, it is said that Geothermal Engineering Ltd, that is planning a geothermal project in Cornwall, UK,  “is facing a battle with local residents over its £40 million project to tap into geothermal heat energy, because of fears about noise levels.

People living near United Downs at St Day in Cornwall say they are in favour of renewable energy but are concerned about the pioneering project which will require months of round-the-clock drilling before it is complete.

Residents attending a site visit with Geothermal Engineering Ltd on Friday night said a dummy run used to demonstrate the loudness of the drilling only confirms their gravest fears over noise pollution.

However, the company says the few residents who live within 200 metres of the site will only experience noise levels of about 45 decibels — “slightly quieter than a telephone conversation”. Local resident and engineering expert Graham Davis described Friday’s site meeting as “amateurish” and has called on the company to provide specific details about the length of drilling time and the equipment used.

“The company demonstrated the noise levels by running a machine in the back of a van, but that doesn’t demonstrate the noise levels back at the homes, which I would have liked to have found out.

Ryan Law, Geothermal’s managing director, said many details about the project were spelt out at the sound demonstration, which he said seemed to get a positive reaction from many residents.

Wells will be drilled to a depth of around 5km (3.1 miles), where temperatures are expected to exceed 170C (338F).

Water will be pumped down into the rock where it is naturally superheated, before being pumped back to the surface as hot water or steam. The heated water will be used to power turbines to generate electricity and as a source of heat.

A planning application was submitted to Cornwall Council last year, but has yet to go before the planning committee. If it wins approval, Mr Law said the firm could begin drilling in January.

He said: “The drilling will be timed to create as minimal disruption to people as possible.”

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Source: Western Morning News