National Geological Screening for a GDF - Wealden District region
The screening report hosted on this site is a technical exercise across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. No specific location in England, Wales or Northern Ireland has been identified as a potential GDF site. Any future decision on geological disposal would be subject to community agreement and planning and environmental consents.
Our work shows that we may find a suitable geological setting for a GDF in most of this subregion.
Rock can be seen at the surface in some parts of the subregion including the extensive sea cliffs, inland cliffs around Tunbridge Wells and in man-made excavations such as quarries or road cuttings. Combined with numerous deep boreholes and geophysical investigations, this gives us an understanding of the rocks present and their distribution.
There are clay-rich rock layers under the whole of the subregion in which we may be able to site a GDF. There are also slates and similar strong rocks between Maidstone, Rye and Hythe and extending under the English Channel, in which we may be able to site a facility. We would need to do more work to find out whether these rocks have suitable properties and thicknesses.
Even where individual clay-rich rock layers are found not to be thick enough to host a GDF they may support the siting of a GDF in deeper rocks as they could act as a barrier to groundwater flow from depth. This is important because movement of groundwater is one of the ways in which radioactive material could be carried back to the surface.
There are known oil and gas resources in the north and centre of the subregion, in particular to the south of Guildford, east of Redhill and north of Chichester and Worthing. In these areas the drilling is likely to have affected the way in which water moves through the rock. Also possible exploration in the future in these areas means that it is more likely that future generations may disturb a facility.
Parts of the west of this subregion have Petroleum Exploration & Development Licences to allow companies to explore for oil and gas. This exploration is currently at an early stage and it is not known whether oil or gas in these licence areas will be exploited. RWM will continue to monitor how this exploration programme progresses.
Parts of this area, in the Thames Estuary north of Sheerness and between Canterbury and Hythe, are Coal Authority Licence Areas allowing companies to explore for coal. It is not known whether coal in these licence areas will be exploited. RWM will also continue to monitor how this exploration programme progresses.
Parts of the subregion which have been mined for gypsum, in the Brightling and Robertsbridge areas of east Sussex, would also need to be taken into account in the siting of a GDF, although the nature of mining in evaporites does not affect the movement of groundwater in the surrounding rocks in the same way as other mining.
For further information, read the report below.
We have also produced a summary of the geological attributes of the Wealden District Region.