Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

Ecotricity      Britain's leading green energy supplier     

Ecotricity promises 100% green electricity and Britain’s greenest gas, complete with a Frack Free promise – that it will never use shale gas as part of its energy mix. It offers one tariff and one price for all of its customers.

If you are considering switching to a greener energy supplier then please choose Ecotricity. Please go to the Ecotricity web site here and select RAFF  on the right hand side of the page. For each new customer RAFF will receive a £60 donation from Ecotricity, which will help us fight fracking in the Fylde and beyond. Thank you.                                                 

iGas in the Doldrums

iGas shares are continuing on a downward spiral, having lost about 45% of their original value since the beginning of the year.

ScreenShotRAFF025 (2)

 

iGas is currently active in Ellesmere Port where it is to drill an exploratory well. The company is also responsible for the exploratory drilling at Barton Moss in Salford. Earlier this year the company acquired Dart Energy in a £117million takeover making it the UK’s largest gas explorer.

EA isn’t even capable of issuing a notice of public consultation correctly, let alone regulate fracking

Any discussion on the pros and cons of fracking will inevitably include the topic of regulations. Time and again you will hear the pro-frackers argue that we have the best regulations in the world; terms like ‘gold standard’ and ‘robust’ will pepper the conversation.

One of the regulatory bodies is, of course, the Environment Agency. A week or so ago the EA opened its consultation period on the Environmental Permit for the management of mining waste involving waste facilities, flaring of gas in plant with a capacity of over 10 tonnes per day and a groundwater activity for the Preston New Road site, on the Fylde. The public is able to have a say and we have been busy responding to this. Today we received this alert:

 Dear Sir and/or Madam,

 We would like to advise that as a result of an administrative error an early unfinished draft version of the ‘draft decision document for radioactive substances activity’ was published on our website. We have also identified that the published version of the draft decision document for the second draft permit was missing references to the Health Impact Assessment review that Lancashire County Council has carried out. We have updated the online versions of both documents.

We would like to apologise for these errors and any confusion they may have caused. As a result of this we will now be accepting submissions to the consultation until Monday 15 December 2014 rather than the previously stated date of Monday 8 December.

 The full details of the draft decision are available here.

The phrase ‘don’t know their **** from their elbow comes to mind. We and everyone else who has responded have been working with out-of-date and incomplete information – but, hey, they’ve given us another week to respond so that’s OK. And oops let’s just leave out the rather important Health Assessment review and see if anyone notices.

It doesn’t inspire much confidence does it? Our MPs, councillors, etc tell us that fracking is safe because we have bodies such as the EA looking after our best interests. It seems that the EA is not even capable of issuing a notice of public consultation correctly, so how can we have any confidence and faith that they will protect us and our environment. Is this the type of ‘gold standard’ regulation that we have to look forward to?

 

Prof. David Smythe contacts LCC on environmental concerns regarding Cuadrilla’s test drilling applications

David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow, has contacted Lancashire County Council with the following message and presentation.

Click here to download the presentation.

 

Dear LCC Councillors

I would be very grateful if you would take five minutes to look at the attached short slideshow (just 10 slides!). It summarises my earlier technical objections to Cuadrilla’s applications to drill at Preston New Road and at Roseacre Wood, which I submitted as objections at the consultation. I have made the slideshow as non-technical as possible, while retaining scientific accuracy.

I am also very concerned that the Environment Agency does not seem to have grasped the points I am making, in fact, the EA simply does not seem to be up to the job of properly scrutinising such applications.

I welcome comments or questions from any or all of you, and would be more than happy to appear in person at the Planning Committee meeting which will determine these applications. I have appeared before West Sussex’s planning committee, and had success in persuading them to reject unconventional drilling there.

Yours sincerely,
David Smythe

Private Eye – Cameron is trying to develop shale gas on the cheap with no regard to safety

It’s great to see that Private Eye is taking seriously the issue of the allegedly leaking well at Preese Hall on the Fylde, when most of the media, including the national press, is ignoring it. Private Eye draws attention to the fact that Cameron has plenty of money to throw at the nuclear industry but is trying to develop shale gas on the cheap with no regulatory system in place

You can read the item here.

This is how ‘democracy’ works in the Fylde

On Wednesday 12 November Energy Minister Matthew Hancock visited Blackpool and the Fylde. The Blackpool visit was well publicised -all the major newspapers and some TV channels covered his opening of what the Government calls the UK’s ‘first national UK onshore oil and gas college’. His visit to the Fylde wasn’t quite so well covered; in fact it seems to have been shrouded in secrecy.

It seems that Hancock met with Fylde MP Mark Menzies and FBC councillors to discuss what? We don’t know but we don’t need three guesses to believe it was shale gas. Nothing wrong with that you might say  - but we were alerted later that day by a Fylde Councillor to say that there had been a secret meeting and that she hadn’t been invited. A little digging around soon revealed that there had indeed been a meeting and that the merry band of select councillors included the likes of Fiddler and Threlfall but not Liz Oades or Heather Speak – the elected local and county councillors who represent the very people living close to the two proposed fracking sites in Roseacre and Preston New Road. In fact neither of them even knew that the meeting was taking place. Hancock didn’t make any effort to speak with these two councillors. By ignoring them our Energy Minister has shown a complete disregard and contempt for the electorate as well as a lack of respect and empathy. Well done to Gayzer from Frack Free Fylde who not only had a go at Hancock and Menzies at the FBC Town Hall, St Annes, but also filmed the encounter. You can watch it here 

There is something very unsavory about Fylde Borough Council. A Council that shows such arrogance and indifference to its constituents deserves everything it has coming to it. Our MP and Councillors should be aware that groups like RAFF and all the other local anti-fracking groups are in constant contact with local residents and they are not happy. With an election only six months away, we’d have thought they might be showing a little more consideration.

This isn’t the first time Matthew Hancock has shown a lack of interest in Fylde residents. Barabara Richardson, Chair of the Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) contacted him in August and September to invite him to meet residents in Roseacre, Little Plumpton and surrounds. You can read the email exchange below:

 

Dear Rosie

I have just found out that the Minister has indeed visited the NW today, with much publicity, yet extremely disappointed that he did not find time to come and speak to those residents who are likely to be directly affected by plans to frack in Lancashire. I find this discourteous and alarming.

The Minister can find time to visit local colleges so why not take time out to me with us as we kindly offered in September. Is he afraid of what we will have to say?

Can you please pass this on to the Minister and let him know our invitation is still open to him, and that next time he is in the NW, we hope he will find time to come visit us.

Regards
Barbara Richardson
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group

 

From: PS Matt Hancock (DECC) <ps.matt.hancock@decc.gsi.gov.uk>
MarkMenzies <mark.menzies.mp@parliament.uk>
Sent: Friday, 19 September 2014, 15:02
Subject: RE: Fracking – Invitation to Roseacre Wood proposed fracking site

Dear Ms Richardson,

Apologies in the delay in responding to this email.

The Minister is grateful for your kind invitation to visit Roseacre and other local villages. Unfortunately, due to diary pressure, he is unable to meet with you at this time. We will be in touch if a visit to the North West is planned in the near future, to discuss whether it would be possible to arrange a meeting.

Kind regards,
Rosie Birchall
Private Secretary to Matt Hancock MP

 

From: Barbara Richardson
Sent: 02 September 2014 11:30
To: PS Matt Hancock (DECC); MarkMenzies
Subject: Fw: Fracking – Invitation to Roseacre Wood proposed fracking site

Dear Sir/Madam

We have not had an acknowledgement to our email below sent to the Rt Hon Matthew Hancock, on 27th August regarding fracking in Lancashire. This is not just a generic letter regarding the issue but a serious invite from the two communities who may well be the first to experience full blown fracking in the UK since the earthquakes of 2011.

I am sure you would want to hear our views and this is a sincere invitation to come and meet us face to face so you can hear for yourself the views of local residents and, hopefully, reassure us the Conservative Party have our best interests at heart.

I have also invited our MP Mark Menzies to join us if we can agree a suitable date. If this is the wrong email address I apologise and I hope Mark will forward to you or speak to you directly.

Kind regards
Barbara Richardson
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group

 

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: Barbara Richardson
To: MatthewHancock <ps.matt.hancock@decc.gsi.gov.uk>
Cc: MarkMenzies <mark.menzies.mp@parliament.uk>
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 15:00
Subject: Fracking – Invitation to Roseacre Wood proposed fracking site

The Rt Hon Matthew Hancock

We are writing to you as our new Energy Minister. We are the chairs of the Roseacre Awareness and Preston New Road residents Groups (representing two groups of over 200 residents) who will be directly affected by Cuadrilla’s two recent planning applications to drill and hydraulically fracture for shale gas here at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton in the heart of rural Fylde, Lancashire. If permission is granted (determination due November) these will be the very first wells to be high volume, intensively ‘fracked’ in the UK since the earthquakes at Preese Hall in 2011, just 6km from here.

We would like to invite you, and your representatives, to come and personally speak to our residents, from the villages of Roseacre, Wharles, Treales, Little Plumpton and Westby, i.e. those people who will be directly affected should these plans go ahead. We have had several meetings with our MP Mark Menzies on this issue, plus numerous discussions with local councillors, but there are still matters to be addressed. In view of the intense media attention (we have already been the subject of several press and media reports), we feel it would be a politically astute, and beneficial, move for you to come and speak to the people first hand about their concerns rather than hearing from government departments, industry experts and the actual operators. So far, we feel we are not being listened to despite months of effort to try and make our voices heard and we implore you to come and see us for yourself.

We appreciate you are a very busy man which is why we are inviting you now so we can set a date possibly to coincide with another NW visit. We previously invited the Prime Minister but he passed onto Michael Fallon, the then Energy Minister, and we heard nothing more. This was a missed opportunity considering fracking is such a major issue at present and will continue to be so for some time to come.

If you agree we would also invite our local parish councils and local press. We can assure you we are not a bunch on uneducated ‘nimbys’ but a well educated cross section of society. Peviously most of us were life long conservative voters but unfortunately this is no longer the case.

There are specific issues we would want to discuss including the DEFRA report, socio-economic benefits as well as the potential impacts on our health and environment. We could agree these, and Agenda, before hand.

Please, please consider this invitation seriously. You would be most welcome here and we are sure you would appreciate seeing first hand that this is not the desolate North!

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards
Barbara Richardson Pat Davies
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group Chair of Preston New Road Residents Group

 

Time to ask our MP and Fylde Borough Councillors what’s going on. You can contact Menzies on mark.menzies.mp@parliament.uk. Your Fylde councillors can be found here. As residents of the Fylde we deserve better than this. Our Energy Minister can be contacted at ps.matt.hancock@decc.gsi.gov.uk

 

 

Blackpool & Fylde College accepts funding from shale industry despite most residents saying ‘NO’ to fracking

Blackpool & Fylde College has accepted development funding to become what it calls the UK’s ‘first national UK onshore oil and gas college’. The facility was announced and opened today by business and energy minister Matthew Hancock. Apparently the £1.5 million funding will be jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DfB) and the onshore oil and gas industry.

Hancock regurgitated the same old PR spin and numbers we have heard before. All his data is based on industry-funded reports. He claims that,“Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs” and that it will create “a world-class cluster of expertise in the North West of England, just as Aberdeen is a world class cluster of expertise for offshore oil and gas.” Needless to say the press and other media have largely fallen for the spin.

Blackpool and Fylde residents, however, are a tad more savy and RAFF has been inundated with comments and questions about the College today. These are typical of the comments we have received:

  • “It’s almost like it’s a done deal. It hasn’t even been passed yet.”
  • “It beggars belief that Fylde Borough Council voted against Cuadrilla’s planning proposals, and the county council is delaying while the college just forges ahead as if they know it’s going to happen.”
  • “I am disgusted with Blackpool & Fylde College for accepting money from a dirty industry that will have a detrimental effect on people’s health and environment.”
  • “The College is publicly funded and should firstly answer to the local public and not to a bribe from the industry.”
  • “Do they realise the majority of people are against fracking? Who’s supporting the people who don’t want fracking to poison our families and destroy our villages? The average person is not getting a say on this issue.”

People are generally disgusted that this has been announced before Lancashire County Council has passed/rejected Cuadrilla’s planning applications.  Two petitions have already been created here and here. Please sign and share.

What do the experts think? Fylde resident Mike Hill, who as an engineer works in the oil and gas industry, says the job creation opportunities for engineers have been greatly overstated, and that the process is largely automated.

He said, “If job benefits in the Fylde are claimed to be in the region of 1,500 to 2,000 at the height of drilling, this is based on a level of development which is unacceptable for the rural Fylde. Any jobs gained would be at the expense of a devastating effect of full-on fracking on the area, its agricultural and tourism industry.” Mike Hill predicts that this could be at the expense of up to 10,000 jobs lost. After the drilling surge, only some 100-200 jobs would remain including those at the college and on the ground.

He believes that Blackpool and The Fylde College may profit in the short term – it has already benefited from fracking companies Cuadrilla and Centrica who gave £24,000 to fund a science competition. But any fracking boom in the UK would be very short-lived. “The number of jobs that may come to the area from fracking will almost certainly be offset by the number of jobs lost in the tourism and agriculture sectors.

“Matthew Hancock has totally ignored the destruction of local lifestyle, reduction in property values and the very real potential health impacts. No amount of training will make the fracking risk acceptable in the Fylde, especially when the government has totally failed to act on effective safety regulation recommendations by its own committees and commissioned scientific reports.

“Only today a new report from the government-funded UK Energy Research Centre says that there will be no reduction in gas bills from fracking. Matthew Hancock is guilty of exactly the over-hyping of shale gas that the UKERC criticises today.”

The full text of Mike Hill’s press release can be read here.

We will be commenting on the UKERC Report in a later post.

Lancashire Association of Local Councils pass resolution to urge individual Parish & Town Councils to oppose applications for fracking

Yesterday (08/11/14), at the Lancashire Association of Local Councils’ AGM, (LALC is the professional association representing 187 out of 215 Town & Parish Council’s in Lancashire and is also a member of the National Association of Local Council’s, NALC) the following robust debate, the following resolution was overwhelmingly approved:

‘That LALC and NALC urge individual Parish & Town Councils to oppose applications for fracking in their areas, in recognition that the potential damage to the environment is irreversible and no payment from fracking companies can compensate for any such damage.’

Thank you to all those involved in getting this Resolution approved.

 

Ecotricity launch #nothinghappened ad highlighting the importance of wind energy

Below is the text of a two page Ecotricity ad published in today’s (07/11/14) Guardian.

 

NOTHING HAPPENED

nothing-happened-text

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince explains the  #nothinghappened campaign.

Wind energy is vital to our efforts to become energy independent as a nation and to the fight against climate change.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is about as clear as any warning could be: climate change is real, it’s man made and if we fail to get to grips with it, we face extreme weather, rising sea levels and species extinction – for hundreds, even thousands of years to come. Changing the way we make electricity is one of the biggest steps we need to take.

This is where wind comes in – Britain has 40% of all the wind energy in Europe, enough to power our country many times over. A recent European report makes it clear that wind energy is the cheapest form of energy available to us, bar none. And the IPCC report also makes clear that taking action to fight climate change will not impact economic growth, but could in fact boost it.

And yet, wind power has been under attack and regularly faces criticism and misinformation from this current government and much of the media. It’s an ideological divide we’ve seen open up in the last few months.

With eight nuclear reactors down and Didcot B gas power station in flames, wind energy went about its business quietly last month, ensuring the lights didn’t go out. The distributed nature of wind energy, and all renewable energy sources, makes them naturally more resilient than large centralised fossil and nuclear stations. Something you won’t often hear about.

At Ecotricity we’re pushing hard for energy independence – turning our customers’ bills into mills. The more customers that join us, the more green energy sources we can build. And the more we build, the more insulated our customers are from the rising costs of fossil fuels. It’s a virtuous circle and a model that works for our customers, and will work for all Britons.

Our #nothinghappened campaign is about drawing attention to wind energy’s great achievements, and to its potential – the extent to which we already rely on it and can rely on it in the future. Clean, homemade wind energy is a significant part of our energy mix now and it has much more to offer – at a time when we literally can’t afford to keep burning fossil fuels.

 

RAFF thinks this is a stunning advert and provides a great riposte to those who argue that wind power is ineffective and that we should be exploiting fossil fuels such as shale gas. We are increasingly impressed with Ecotricity, who have promised to never ever supplement their supplies with shale gas. The company has been generous with its support for anti-fracking groups like RAFF. In fact, if you change to Ecotricity, from your current electricity/gas supplier, you can do so via RAFF and we collect £60 for each customer who changes. At least two of us on the RAFF Committee have recently changed to Ecotricity and can vouch for the company. Why don’t you? You can make a difference by going to the Ecotricity website and selecting RAFF  on the right hand side of the page. Thank you.

Please sign these petitions against changes to the Infrastructure Bill

A few days ago the House of Lords debated the Infrastructure Bill with a complete disregard for the safety of our homes, environment and health. Not only did they vote to allow the Government to alter the Bill to allow drilling companies to drill and frack under our homes and land without our permission, but they also updated the Bill to allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there. These ‘substances’ could include radioactive waste.  Additionally, the amendment would give fracking companies “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”.

The Government is changing the law to favour fracking, despite a public consultation which saw over 40,000 messages/letters from the public saying that the law must not be changed and fewer than 500 supporting it. This makes a mockery of democracy. There are a couple of petitions to sign telling our Government that we will not put up with laws being changed to suit the shale gas industry: one is an eGov petition and the other has been organised by Greenpeace.

The eGov petition is available here 

The other petition has been created by Greenpeace (see below).  Please sign both. Thank you.

Greenpeace UKGreenpeace UKGreenpeace UK

This is what Greenpeace has to say:

We already knew that fracking was a bad idea, but this is astonishing.

Last night, David Cameron’s plan to allow fracking firms to drill under our homes was rubber-stamped by the House of Lords.

But here’s where it gets even worse: At the very last moment, the draft of the law was updated to allow fracking firms to pump “any substance” under people’s homes and property — and leave it there! [1]

This makes a mockery of the prime minister’s claim that UK fracking regulations are some of the most stringent in the world. And it absolves fracking firms of any responsibility for clearing up the mess they create.

Our MPs are now the last defence before the laws are approved by Parliament. Can you sign the petition asking all MPs to strike down Cameron’s new fracking law?

The fracking industry has already been mired in accidents and mistakes. In April 2009, cattle were discovered dead near a drill site in Louisiana. An investigation later found fracking fluid had leaked from the well pad and run into an adjacent pasture. And in July 2013, US fracking firm XTO Energy was forced to shell out $100,000 in compensation after a spill of contaminated wastewater in Pennsylvania. [2]

Despite claiming that the UK has tough regulations to prevent disasters like this, the government is now rushing to remove obstacles, muddling through laws that will put the interests of shale drillers before the safety of our environment and our climate.

We don’t have long before MPs will get their final say on Cameron’s plan to allow drilling under our homes. If we can show them how unpopular his idea is, they’ll think twice before voting it through.
Please ask your MP to take a stand today: Sign here

1. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/14/uk-to-allow-fracking-companies-to-use-any-substance-under-homes
2. http://issuu.com/greenpeace/docs/case_against_fracking-withadditions/21

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