Bitesize Geology: Can a GDF be built in your region?

i Apr 15th No Comments by

Want to find out whether your region, geologically, could host a GDF?  Then check out this information from RWM, the public body responsible for overseeing the GDF process.

I’d suggest watching the video for your area before reading the pamphlet.  The videos, in a weather-forecast format, present the same information as the associated leaflet, but in a much more understandable way.  The more detailed text in the leaflets can be a little daunting (even off-putting) for the non-geologists amongst us (in whom I include myself).  But the videos will help you grasp the overall picture and key issues for your area.

Anyone expecting to determine whether a GDF could be built under their garden, village or town are going to be disappointed.  But that has been the case from the very start.  RWM and the wider expert geological community have been at pains over the past 4 years of consultation and data collection to make clear that there is insufficient geological information to provide detailed location-specific analyses at this time.

The videos provide simple summaries which indicate the likelihood and ease of finding a suitable GDF location in your area.  In some places, like South Wales, RWM make clear it is less likely that a suitable geology can be found — in part because previous coal mining allows groundwater to move more easily through the rock, in part because some areas in the region have mineral resources that might be commercially exploitable, and the presence of thermal springs indicates water flowing from depth.  Conversely, there is a broad band of rock running right across southern-central England, from the Severn Estuary to the coasts of Suffolk and Essex, which looks more promising in terms of being able to host a GDF.

Essentially, with the information currently available, most parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland could host a GDF, geologically-speaking.  But as RWM make clear, a lot more detailed localised investigation will be required wherever a site is proposed.  What looks like good geology now may prove to be unsuitable.

From a community perspective, the information is most useful in starting a conversation with RWM about the implications and impact of prolonged, detailed geological investigations in your area.  In some areas the physical intrusion of deep borehole drilling rigs, and securing the required planning permissions, may be easier to do compared with another place.  In other areas, the presence of National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) may complicate investigations.  Coastal communities can look to potential undersea sites for the GDF, easing the need for intrusive land-based local geological investigations in populated areas.

There will be those who question the validity and truthfulness of the geological information.  But the data has been collated and prepared by Britain’s world-leading expert institution, the British Geological Survey (BGS); the issues have been extensively debated by the Geological Society learned society; and the process has been overseen and interrogated by an independent international expert panel of geologists — some of whose work was conducted in public and streamed live.

If you go to the RWM website, you will find all the regional summaries and videos.  From the maps provided, select your region (based on the BGS’s geological regions of the UK), which will then take you to the sub-regions within each region.  This is where you will find information most relevant (but not specific) to your village or town.  RWM have said they are planning to update the webpages, so that it is easier for you to find the sub-region video and summary which interests you.

There are many sources of additional information and advice to help you make sense of these analyses.  Contact GDFWatch at  for assistance in sourcing further information.


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