Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

Another energy company making false claims in the NW: time to contact the ASA

A few weeks ago, a petition was started on 38 Degrees urging David Cameron and the leaders of Europe to scrap plans for Moorside.  The petition site said: “The UK Government is planning to sell a vast area of Cumbria to the same companies responsible for the Fukushima disaster, so that they can build new nuclear reactors.   Please don’t risk the safety of Europe by turning Cumbria into a nuclear sacrifice zone. Why is this important? Cumbria already has Sellafield.  The Sellafield site has the biggest amount of radioactivity on the planet. A major accident involving the liquid high level waste tanks would have catastrophic consequences and make the area uninhabitable for many generations.”

Since then the developers NuGen have been placing adverts in Cumbrian newspapers containing false claims about how much energy nuclear reactors actually produce. Radiation Free Lakeland is asking that we write to the Advertising Standards Authority and complain about NuGen’s false and exaggerated information. The ASA takes this sort of complaint very seriously – remember Cuadrilla got its knuckles wrapped quite severely a couple of years ago resulting in the banning of its newsletter.

Below is the letter we received from Radiation Free Lakeland. Please do read it and use the information to send to the ASA. Thank you.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all the campaigning and letters sent to Stop Moorside.  NuGen the developers have put a double page advertorial in every  Cumbrian newspaper advertising the CONsultation which starts on 16th May. https://mariannewildart.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/moorside-consultation.jpg. On behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland I have lodged a complaint with  the Advertising Standards Authority regarding the fantastical claim  that the proposed Moorside nuclear plant would provide 7% of the UK’s energy.  It would be fantastic if the ASA recieved lots of complaints on this lie – that NuGen’s Moorside Project aims to provide approximately 7% of the UK’s current energy requirement. Government ministers, never mind the public, are genuinely confused about the scale of nuclear energy and this has been no accident. The  confusion between energy-power-electricity has been going on for  years, always in nuclear’s favour.

NuGen’s claim that Moorside will produce 7% of the UKs energy is what it is – a lie. Nuclear reactors have generated only about 3 .6 % of UK  energy demand over recent years. Nuclear reactors worldwide only produce 2.4 % of global energy.  These percentage energy figures do /  does not reach the media because the major energy organisations don’t want to give the game away.  Sometimes the energy content of uranium fuel is compared with renewable electricity output. However, this comparison is wrong, making nuclear look three times bigger than it is because nuclear power stations are only about 35% thermally efficient.

Independent Energy Consultant Neil Crumpton states that: “Nuclear supporters may be surprised, if not shocked, to hear that nuclear reactors produce such a small percentage of UK and global energy demand. Nuclear energy is widely portrayed as a significant and crucial technology in the battle against climate change. Yet it is just a dangerous, complex and unnecessary technology with a tiny 2.4 % energy output now and facing major limitations for even reaching 3 % in the future”. Neil Crumpton is a member of the DECC-NGO Nuclear Forum representing People Against Wylfa B.

Please send complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority  http://www.asa.org.uk/Consumers/How-to-complain.aspx

References: Advertising: Moorside Nuclear Power Plant
Media: Newspaper – Westmorland Gazette date 16th April – and other printed media in Cumbria
Company: NuGen

Here is some more info: Nuclear power only represents about 2.4 % of global ENERGY supply, officially termed ‘final energy demand’. Nuclear energy (mostly electricity) output was around 2,461 TWh/y in 2012 and global final energy demand was 104,400 TWh/y in 2012 (8,979 mega-tonnes of oil equivalent pr ‘mtoe’ x 11.63 TWh per mtoe) see pages 16 and page 30 in  IEA’s Key World Energy Stats 2014 :  http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/KeyWorld2014.pdf.

Nuclear output will not have changed much since then and has fallen from a high of around 2,700 TWh/y around 10 years ago.

With Best Wishes,
Marianne  https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-moorside-biggest-nuclear-development-in-europe>>

FoE advert a riposte to Soames “try it out in the North” suggestion

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This great ad was published in tonight’s Lancashire Evening Post (28:04:15) by Friends of the Earth. The guinea pig reference is particularly appropriate as it was only a couple of days ago that the newspaper carried the story about Sussex MP Nicholas Soames suggesting that fracking should be tested in the North West rather than the South East.

He told a public meeting that rural areas in the North would be the perfect place to try out the controversial drilling process to see if it is safe. Specifically, he suggested it should be tried out in the Trough of Bowland. He said, “Where do I think it should be? I would go and start in the Trough of Bowland in Lancashire which is a very underpopulated area. I think it would be a very good place to start.”

You can watch him making these remarks at hustings in Haywards Heath, Sussex, on 21 April, here.

Soames isn’t the first politician to suggest that fracking should start in the North. In 2013, former Energy Minister Lord Howell, who is also George Osborne’s father-in-law, said, “There are large and uninhabited and desolate areas. Certainly in part of the North East where there’s plenty of room for fracking that there was plenty of room for fracking in the ‘desolate’ North East. He later apologised and said that he had meant the North West.

These remarks from Saomes and Howell leave us in little doubt about the Conservative Party’s attitude to fracking – they want it as long as it isn’t on their patch in the South.

Invitation to Mike HiIl’s final speech

Having given 72 public speeches since 2010 and 10 of those as part of this election campaign, Mike Hill will be giving his very last one in St. Annes on the 5th May at 7.00 pm, in St Annes United Reform Church Hall, St Georges Rd,  Lytham St Annes,  FY8 2AE.

Mike Hill says, “I would like to invite you to attend this final event even if you have heard me before. Please bring along at least one person. They may be a supporter but preferably they may be sceptical about fracking, about myself or both! If you are a member anti-fracking group then please invite others from your group to come along as well. They do not have to support me, as I know the groups are apolitical, but I would like them to listen and to question. I am happy, as I always have been, to face hard questions. So whether you or your friends are anti, pro, ambivalent etc. I would like you and them there.”

Further information is available here.

Mike Hill is the independent prospective parliamentary candidate for Fylde.

As well as the 5 May meeting, Mike will also be holding a meeting in Cottam Community Centre  on Monday 27 April, 8.00 pm – 10.00 pm and in Kirkham Town Centre on 2 May, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm.

 

 

Medact publishes rebuttal responding to UKOOG criticisms of its report on Fracking and Health

On 31st of March, Medact published its report on Health and Fracking which concluded that hydraulic fracturing for shale gas (‘fracking’) poses significant risks to public health and called for an immediate moratorium to allow time for a full and comprehensive health and environmental impact assessment (HIA) to be completed.

In addition to this, shale gas is not a clean source of energy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and its use is incompatible with global efforts to prevent global warming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking entirely.

In response, the report was challenged and criticised by UKOOG: the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry. A number of pro-fracking individuals have also criticised the report via social media, in person at the report launch, and in an ‘open letter’ to Medact; while a news item published by the Times falsely claimed that the Medact report had been written by an ‘activist’.

On 21 April, Medact published a rebuttal and a letter addressing these criticisms.

Dr Patrick Saunders, a co-author of the report said, “all the substantive criticisms were looked at carefully, but none of them have given us reason to change our conclusions and recommendations. We can conclude that shale gas development will have a negative social, ecological and health impact, even though we cannot quantify the effect with any precision”.

Among the key findings of the report is that regulatory systems and policies are insufficient to provide assurance that fracking could or would be conducted safely. These concerns have been echoed in a separate recent study on the regulatory system for fracking which was published by Joanne Hawkins from the University of Bristol.

Dr David McCoy, Director of Medact, said:“Even if we can’t quantifiably predict the scale of risk and harm associated with fracking, shale gas development in the UK appears incompatible with our need to respond to climate change. Put together, these reasons, have led us to conclude that shale gas development should be abandoned in favour of renewable energy development.

The claim that the report was written by an ‘activist’ is wrong. A request to the Times to correct their inaccuracy has thus far gone unanswered.

Graham Jukes OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, in explicitly endorsing the Medact conclusions and content as a valuable contribution to the literature on this subject said: “It is a shame that the detailed analysis and arguments presented in the Medact report have not been widely or accurately reported in the mainstream press given that this is a vital and contentious policy issue”.

Medact have asked Public Health England to respond to its report on fracking and health, and to convene a meeting where these issues can be debated in public. David McCoy stated: “The public health community in the UK needs to come together to have an open and frank debate about fracking and climate change. But such a debate needs to take place without undue pressure from government ministers or inappropriate lobbying from industry”.

Is political expediency behind LCC’s announcement to delay planning application decisions?

As we predicted, Lancashire County Council has once again – at Cuadrilla’s request – delayed a decision on the company’s planning applications to frack Preson New Road (Little Plumpton) and Roseacre Wood. The LCC statement said:

“Lancashire County Council has agreed with Cuadrilla to extend the time period to make decisions on planning applications for shale gas development at two new sites to 30 June 2015.

“The council has received applications from Cuadrilla to drill, frack, and test gas flows, with associated separate applications for environmental monitoring, at two sites in Lancashire – Preston New Road at Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood at Roseacre.

“The extension follows a request by Cuadrilla to consider additional information about the applications. Cuadrilla’s request resulted in the deferral of a meeting of the Development Control Committee in January 2015 at which councillors had been due to make a decision on each application.

“The council has subsequently consulted upon the new information provided by Cuadrilla and planning officers must now review the feedback from the consultation period, and the details supplied by Cuadrilla, before preparing reports for a further meeting of the committee.

“Consultation on the further information relating to both sites took place from Friday 20 March to Friday 17 April to allow representations to be made. It had previously been agreed that both applications would be decided by 30 April 2015.

The council will announce dates for the applications to be determined by the Development Control Committee in due course.”

No one will be surprised by the news. Coming a week before the general election the 30 April was always in doubt – fracking is an electoral toxic issue. It does beg the question though – has LCC been leant on? Is this political expediency by the Tory party – had the applications been approved it’s likely that many Fylde Conservative votes would have been lost. The decision favours both Cuadrilla and the pro-fracking Tories.

Ask your councillor to reject plans for fracking in Lancashire

IMG_2678

 

A number of us – Anne and Pam from RAFF, Gayzer from Frack Free Fylde and Jamie from Friends of the Earth have been out and about in St Annes getting signatures to letters which will be sent to Lancashire County Council councillors. Members from other local anti-fracking groups have been covering other towns in Lancashire.

Don’t worry if you missed us – you can download and print the letter here. Please send to your local councillor. If you’re not sure who s/he is then you can find out here just by entering your post code.

Please do this ASAP. A number of county councillors are against fracking and it’s important that they know they have the backing of their constituents.  Remember – Lancashire has been frack free now for four years, all down to the actions of local people – and that’s the way we want to keep it. Thank you.

New York State activists praise our “phenomenal work”!

A couple of weeks ago we met up with three fellow anti-fracking activists from New York State. You may remember that NYS issued a moratorium on fracking at the end of last year because it claimed the risks to public health were just too great. It was both inspiring and encouraging to meet and chat to John, Julia and Renee. Below is the message we received from them after their visit:

Hi everyone,

 We wanted to email to say thanks so much for having us in Lancashire, and for all of your phenomenal work. It was wonderful to meet you all, and we left with a great feeling that you all can win. We’re standing with you, as are many other New Yorkers and Americans.

We’ve been very busy meeting with all of the groups and doing some interviews and presentations in Ireland since we left, but we’re following up on a number of the action steps we discussed in Lancashire. 

 We also wanted to send along the important public health resources that we discussed at various of our meetings. We know that these substantive arguments about public health and other problems with fracking can be very powerful, particularly when paired with unrelenting organizing and public pressure.

1. The New York State Health Review that found fracking poses “significant public health risks” and should be banned.  https://www.health.ny.gov/press/reports/docs/high_volume_hydraulic_fracturing.pdf

2. The Concerned Health Professionals of NY Compendium of risks and harms. It is organized into 16 categories, ranging from air pollution and water contamination, to direct public health effects, noise and light pollution, occupational hazards, agriculture and soil quality threats, and more.  Note the executive summaries near the start of the document for each section; these are very helpful for talking points. The Compendium concludes, “All together, the findings from the scientific, medical, and journalistic investigations indicate that fracking poses significant threats to air, water, health, public safety, and long-term economic vitality.” Furthermore, it finds that, “Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical and public health literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health.” http://concernedhealthny.org/compendium/

3. When the Compendium was first released, we did a series of memes for social media about each section that highlight some of the key findings/threats. Feel free to download the images for your own use on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s the album:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.845360388809525.1073741829.134846486527589&type=3

4. A 292 page report in 2014 by the Council of Canadian Academies, a prestigious scientific body, examined the evidence on fracking. Their findings about well integrity are important and certainly relevant to Lancashire. They found, “Natural gas leakage from improperly formed, damaged, or deteriorated cement seals is a long-recognized yet unresolved problem” and also that, “the greatest threat to groundwater is gas leakage from wells from which even existing best practices cannot assure long-term prevention.” For the key excerpts on this, see the May 1, 2014 entry of the Inherent Engineering Problems section of the Compendium. http://www.scienceadvice.ca/uploads/eng/assessments%20and%20publications%20and%20news%20releases/shale%20gas/shalegas_fullreporten.pdf

Also feel free to use us as a resource for the technical issues as well as organizing strategies and tactics.  From our assessment of the situation on the ground – this is all going to come down to public pressure on the Councillors much like it did here in New York. We hope that you will all do everything you can in the next few weeks to get businesses and residents in those Councillors districts that could go either way. Every vote will surely count. We have a few follow up items to assist with on our end and will be in touch with Jamie.

Thanks to you all, we look forward to being in touch, and we are all cheering you on!

Best,

John, Julia and Renee

NYS activists advise “promote Medact report”

Last week RAFF and representatives from other Frack Free Lancashire groups met up with three activists from New York State (NYS). This was a valuable meeting because at the end of last year NYS imposed a moratorium on fracking based on the risks to public health. Coincidentally, here in the UK, Medact has just published its report, Health & Fracking: the impacts & opportunity costs, which concludes that “hydraulic fracturing for shale gas poses significant risks to public health and calls for an immediate moratorium to allow time for a full and comprehensive health and environmental impact assessment (HIA) to be completed.” The advice from the American activists is to push this report to highlight the health risks of fracking in the UK. A copy has been sent to all councillors on the Lancashire County Council Development and Control Committee, who will shortly be considering the applications for Preston New Road (Little Plumpton) and Roseacre Wood. MEDACT represents health professionals who aim to educate, analyse and campaign for global health on issues related to conflict, poverty and the environment. The report is a 34-page, well researched, document prepared by medical professionals. It’s well worth reading and provides compelling reasons why fracking should not be allowed to go ahead.

Dr David McCoy, Director of Medact said:

“Today, Medact, alongside a wider group of health professionals, has called for a moratorium on fracking because of the serious risks it poses to public health. Fracking has already been suspended in Wales and Scotland because of health and climate risks and New York State has banned fracking because of the ‘significant health risks’.”

The report highlights the limitations of Public Health England’s report on fracking, including the fact that it was narrow in scope and failed to critically assess the adequacy and reliability of the regulatory system.

Working with various experts in energy policy and climate change, Medact’s report also describes how shale gas produces a level of GHG emissions that is incompatible with the UK’s commitments to address climate change.”

Executive Summary

Background

The United Kingdom (UK) is presently set to expand ‘hydraulic fracturing’ of shale formations (‘fracking’) as a means of extracting unconventional gas. Proponents of fracking have argued that it can be conducted safely and will bring benefits in the form of: a) energy that is cleaner in climate terms than coal and oil; b) greater energy security; c) lower energy prices; d) more energy diversity and competition; and e) local employment and economic development. However, fracking has proven to be controversial and there are serious concerns about its safety and impact on the environment.

This report reviews fracking and its associated activities through a comprehensive public health lens. It examines the direct and immediate effects of fracking on health; the adequacy and capacity of the regulatory system; and the relationship between fracking and climate change.

It builds on a number of existing reviews of the evidence and interviews with various academics and experts (in the UK and abroad). Medact also requested short papers in particular subject areas to inform the production of this report. Given that much of the literature about fracking has been derived from experience in the United States (US), this report also highlights the specific features of the UK that need to be considered.

Fracking and its risks and threats

The word ‘fracking’ is used to denote high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) and related activities. It describes a relatively new technology that is not to be confused with other forms of hydraulic fracturing that have been in use for decades. The term ‘unconventional’ describes the fact that the gas embedded in shale formations does not flow out as easily as in the case of conventional sources of gas. To extract unconventional gas, the shale needs to be fractured (or pulverised) by large volumes of fluid (water combined with various additives) injected into the ground under high pressures.

In doing so, fracking and its associated activities create multiple actual and potential sources of pollution. Leaks of gas can occur across the entire process of extraction, treatment, storage and transportation. There are also emissions from diesel engines, compressors and heavy transport vehicles; as well as the potential release of silica into the air. Oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, formaldehyde, benzene, ethylene, toluene, particulate matter and ground-level ozone are among the more significant airborne health hazards. Surface and ground water can also be contaminated by gas, fracking fluid, or wastewater which consists of original fracking fluid combined with a range of new materials generated from underground (including lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium; and naturally occurring radioactive material).

The health effects of these different hazards vary depending on the type and pattern of human exposure. But they include increased risks of cancer, respiratory disease and birth defects.

Shale gas development involves continuous activity conducted over a sustained period of time for the entire course of a day, seven days a week. Noise (from compressors, generators, drilling and heavy trucks); light pollution; bad odours; and heavy traffic can cause distress and negative health impacts on nearby communities, especially in the context of quiet rural and semi-rural areas.

The introduction of a temporary and intensive extractive industry will also disrupt and divide the social fabric of local communities, compounding both the mental and physical effects of other hazards. When conducted on an industrial scale, it will also alter the character and aesthetic of the local area and potentially affect wildlife and biodiversity as well.

Although fracking may bring local benefits in the form of new jobs and increased revenue, it can harm other economic sectors such as leisure and tourism; and affect the value of nearby homes. It is worth noting that employment generation associated with shale gas in the US has been over-stated and that initial economic booms often transform into long-term social and economic declines.

Red Pepper’s People’s Agenda includes profile on RAFF

In the run-up to the election, Red Pepper‘s ‘People’s Agenda’ series will be looking at the breadth of exciting grassroots political activity across Britain.  The series kicks off  with an item on us – RAFF!

Frack Free Lancashire launch

 

You can read it here. Thanks to Red Pepper for giving us the opportunity to explain what RAFF is about and what we hope to achieve.

18 leading UK doctors and academics call for a ban on fracking

Eighteen leading UK doctors and  academics have written a latter to the British Medical Journal calling for a ban on fracking. The group said that the arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. The letter was written in response to the Medact report which was published today (30:03:15). We will be commenting on this latest report in a forthcoming post.

The letter said:

Dear Editor,

We write as concerned health professionals who seek to draw the public’s attention to the dangers associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and shale gas extraction in the United Kingdom, as highlighted by a recent report published by Medact.

Fracking is an inherently risky activity that produces hazardous levels of air and water pollution that can have adverse impacts on health. The heavy traffic, noise and odour that accompanies fracking, as well as the socially disruptive effects of temporary ‘boomtowns’ and the spoilage of the natural environment are additional health hazards.

Such risks would be magnified in the UK where fracking is projected to take place in closer proximity to more densely populated communities; and where there are concerns about the effectiveness of the regulatory system for onshore gas extraction.

But in addition to this, shale gas is not a clean source of energy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas in its own right, and when burnt, produces carbon dioxide. Shale gas extraction would undermine our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and be incompatible with global efforts to prevent global warming from exceeding two degrees centigrade.

The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Robin Stott, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Council
Professor Sue Atkinson CBE, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Council
Professor Hugh Montgomery, UCL
Professor Maya Rao OBE
Professor Martin McKee, LSHTM
Dr Clare Gerada, GP and former Chair of RGCP
Dr Christopher Birt, University of Liverpool and Christie Hospital, Manchester
Professor John Yudkin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UCL
Dr Sheila Adam, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Professor Klim McPherson, Chair of the UK Health Forum
Dr John Middleton, Vice President UKFPH
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, KCL
Helen Gordon, Chief Executive, RPS
Dr Frank Boulton, Medact and Southampton University
Dr Sarah Walpole, Academic Clinical Fellow
Professor Allyson Pollock, QMUL
Dr Julie Hotchkiss, Acting Director of Public Health at City of a York Council
Professor Jennie Popay, Lancaster University

Competing interests:           No competing interests

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