Latest News

BBC’s ‘Inside Out NW’ investigates role of ‘older’ women in fighting fracking

The BBC’s latest Inside Out NW programme features a piece on how many retired women are becoming activists for the first time in their lives, and it takes fracking as an example.

It doesn’t examine the pros or cons of shale gas, rather it concentrates on the women involved in the campaign. It’s available to download here  – about 10 minutes in. At last, a bit of quality non-judgemental reporting on the kind of people driving the anti-fracking campaigns.


Fracking appeal letters from LCC contain misleading mistakes

You may have received a letter(s) from Lancashire County Council this morning. All letters contain a serious error.  Barbara Richardson, from Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG), has compiled a reply below, which has been sent to  LCC Management Development Group. We will keep you up to date on this matter and also advise on how to respond.  It does beg the question as to whether this is a deliberate attempt to confuse/delay the issue, especially as all representations have to be submitted by the 30 October.

Barbara’s letter:

To: LCC Management Development Group <>

Sent: Saturday, October 3, 2015 12:41 PM
Subject: Incorrect LCC Letters Regarding Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road Fracking Appeals

LCC Management Development Group

Please note the letters received this morning, dated 29 September, by residents in relation to the proposed fracking appeals all contain the wrong reference numbers and descriptions. This is extremely misleading and could result in representations being made on the wrong case.

The correct associations according to PINS should be

LCC/2014/0096 Cuadrilla Bowland Preston New Road Exploratory Works APP/Q2371/W/15/3134386
LCC/2014/0097 Cuadrilla Bowland Preston New Road Monitoring Works APP/Q2371/W/15/3130923
LCC/2014/0101 Cuadrilla Elswick Roseacre Wood Exploratory Works APP/Q2371/W/15/3134385
LCC/2014/0102 Cuadrilla Elswick Roseacre Wood Monitoring Works APP/Q2371/W/15/3130924

For some reason I have received 4 letters, all identical with the Preston New Road description and LCC planning application reference, but with the Roseacre Wood Planning Inspectorate Appeals Reference!

Can you please ensure that all people who made representations are sent the correct letters with the correct references so as to ensure the representations are made to the correct appeal.

Barbara Richardson

Plenty of “wriggle room” for Planning Inspectors to overturn local authority decision

Two important letters have come to our attention, one from Fylde MP Mark Menzies, reiterating his belief in localism; the other, an official response from James Wharton MP, Minister for Local Growth and Northern Powerhouse – in response to Menzies’ letter on behalf of Barbara Richardson (Roseacre Awareness Group) to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Mark Menzies’ letter says: “Thank you again for contacting me with your concerns regarding Cuadrilla’s appeals on the two shale gas sites at Roseacre wood and Preston New Road. “I have now received a response from James Wharton MP, Minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, which you will find enclosed. Although the minister is unable to comment on the individual case reference, he has outlined the government’s policy on the appeal.

“I am a strong believer in localism and it is imperative that decisions on site locations should be taken at a local level. Prior to Lancashire county council’s decision to reject planning applications at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road sites decision I made it clear that if the county councillors decided to reject these applications and I will oppose any attempts to overturn those decisions at a national level. This is a commitment that I standby.”

Whether or not Mark Menzies will still stand firm on his statement, “I will oppose any attempts to overturn those decisions at a national level,” in the face of strong pressure from his “We’re going all out for shale” Government remains to be seen.

The letter from James Wharton is more worrying. It says:

“The Secretary of State, together with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, published a policy statement on 13 August setting out the government’s view that there is a need to explore and develop our shale gas resources in a safe, sustainable and timely way, and the steps it is taking to support this. The government also remains committed to ensuring local communities are fully involved in planning decisions that affect them: any shale applications – whether decided by councils or by government – will continue to require a full consultation with local people.

“Planning Inspectors are required to determine an appeal in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The Inspector has to balance national policy, wider Government objectives and safeguarding local interests. In coming to a decision the Inspector will give careful consideration to the planning merits of the case. The Inspector will visit the site to familiarise themselves with the location and its surroundings. They will consider the effect of the proposed development on the surrounding area, and take into account the views of the local planning authority and local residents before reaching a decision to allow or dismiss an appeal.

“While a Planning Inspector may come to a different view from the local planning authority and allow the appeal, this does not mean that they have disregarded the views of the local authority or local residents – rather they have attributed different weight to the issues in coming to their decision. Currently some two thirds of appeals are refused, so the decision of the local authority is upheld in the majority of cases”.

There are a number of statements in this letter that are particularly concerning. “The government’s view that there is a need to explore and develop our shale gas resources in a safe, sustainable and timely way” – , shale gas has already been explored for and it was not in “safe” way, not is likely ever to be safe – we only have to look at what has happened in the food and banking sectors, and more recently the water and motor industries to see that regulations are a mockery.

“The Inspector has to balance national policy, wider Government objectives and safeguarding local interests” – ie, the Government wants it to go ahead and will expect its Inspectors to facilitate this, regardless of local interests.

“Take into account the views of the local planning authority and local residents before reaching a decision to allow or dismiss an appeal” – parish, town, borough and county councils have rejected these plans; thousands of residents have objected – if these views are to be taken into account why is an appeal even going ahead?

“While a Planning Inspector may come to a different view from the local planning authority and allow the appeal, this does not mean that they have disregarded the views of the local authority or local residents – rather they have attributed different weight to the issues in coming to their decision.” This statement provides the Planning Inspectors with plenty of wriggle room. What are the “different weights” referred to here? You can bet that they do not benefit residents but favour Government policy, the companies involved, and individuals with vested interests. This response does not inspire confidence.

Motion by Lancs County Council casts doubts on adequacy of regulations

Lancashire County Council has passed a motion that casts doubt on the adequacy of regulations in major industries, particularly in the light of the 14th round of onshore oil and gas licence awards covering much of England. The motion was brought about following the four-week struggle by United Utilities to contain the cryptosporidium outbreak, which LCC says demonstrated  a failure of inspection and regulatory procedures, and an apparently inadequate contingency plan for dealing with such an outbreak.

The motion was passed on Wednesday 2nd September with all party support. It says:

Over the last few weeks we have witnessed United Utilities struggle to contain an outbreak of Cryptosporidium. Apart from the obvious public health risk, this has led to business damage and great inconvenience for over 300,000 residents in Lancashire. The prolonged period for which this situation has continued appears to have been due to a failure of inspection and regulatory procedures and an apparently inadequate contingency plan for dealing with such an outbreak.

Lancashire County Council recognises the work of the multi-agency strategic coordination group that is chaired by Lancashire County Council’s Director of Public Health and includes a number of district councils and government departments. This Council further recognises the work of LCC’s Emergency Planning and Public Health Teams in preventing any major sickness outbreaks.

Lancashire County Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Minister for Health and to the Minister for Energy and Climate Change drawing their attention to the inadequacy of regulation in major industries, particularly in the light of the 14th round of onshore oil and gas licence awards covering much of England. We also request that Central Government should put in place rigorous, independent regulatory and inspection regimes for industries which affect Public Health, above all improved purification of domestic water supplies, and the treatment and disposal of contaminated waste water.


Green energy beats Cuadrilla to the punch on Preston New Road

Fylde Borough Council has passed plans for a solar farm at Staining Wood, off Preston New Road. The plans, lodged by LightSource, were passed unanimously by Fylde councillors. The Staining Wood site, which ironically is almost opposite the field Cuadrilla has earmarked for fracking, is tucked away and will not be visible from the road or surrounding properties.

This isn’t a community energy scheme and the electricity created will be directed straight into the grid. At its peak the site will produce 4.9 megawatts (MWp) which is enough to power 1,352 houses; it will save 2,310 tonnes of carbon emissions every year, which is the equivalent of taking 513 large family cars off the road.

Members of RAFF visited the site prior to the planning meeting and we were impressed with LightSource’s Biodiversity Management Plan. For example, sheep will graze on the farm, giving the land a dual use – producing food as well as energy. Areas around the panels will be managed to create ‘enhanced habitat corridors,’ comprising wild flowers and grasses to encourage, bees, insects and other wildlife. New tress will also be planted. LightSource say that the farm will have no floodlighting, overhead lines or moving parts.

 The site is expected to be operational by March 2016.

A spokesperson from RAFF said: “We are delighted that the Staining Wood solar farm is to go ahead and we hope this is the first of many new renewable energy projects on the Fylde. RAFF has consistently promoted green energy as an alternative to developing shale gas in Lancashire.  As well as proving green energy, the plans for this site will enhance the biodiversity of our area, unlike those of Cuadrilla, which are set to destroy natural habitats, pose a threat to public health, destroy our agricultural and tourism industries, and contribute to global warming.”


Draft timetable for Cuadrilla monitoring applications and fracking appeals

From the Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) web site:

Lancashire County Council have posted details of a draft timetable agreed with Cuadrilla for not only the monitoring applications but the full fracking appeals.


Bolton says ‘NO’ to fracking

Well done to Bolton Council whose leader Cliff Morris has stated that it will oppose any attempts to carry out fracking in the borough. The announcement comes a week after the latest licensing round whereby the government gave the go-ahead for tests to be carried out in the borough, including parts of Smithills, Horwich, Blackrod and Astley Bridge.

Anyone who has visited Bolton recently will know that the town is not looking particularly prosperous, so all credit to Bolton Council who have not been taken in by the false promises of wealth, job creation and the like, put forward by the government and fracking companies.

Bolton is the latest council to join an ever growing list of local authorities who are saying ‘NO’ to fracking:

  • Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Brent Council
  • Brighton and Hove Council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Ceredigion County Council
  • Cheshire East Council
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Deal Town Council
  • Dover District Council
  • East Sussex County Council
  • Glastonbury Town Council
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Hull City Council
  • Kirklees Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • London Assembly
  • Manchester City Council
  • Mendip District Council
  • Monmouthshire County Council
  • Newcastle City Council
  • North Lanarkshire Council
  • Norwich City Council
  • Pendle Borough Council
  • Preston City Council
  • Sheffield City Council
  • Trafford Council
  • Waltham Forest Council
  • Westhoughton Town Council
  • Wirral Town Council
  • York City Council

Preston Council votes against fracking

Preston City Council has voted against fracking taking place within its boundaries.

According to a Frack Free Lancashire representative, the vote was split along major party lines.  On the Climate Change Amendment the council concluded: “Many of the effects of fracking may be contentious but there is no scientific doubt at all about the effect of fracking on Climate Change. Extraction of shale gas causes leakage of high levels of methane, which is far worse than carbon as a greenhouse gas. For these reasons Council oppose fracking. Consequently Council will do all in its power to oppose any attempt to extract shale gas within its boundaries as well as any planning applications outside Preston which will have implications for people living in the Preston area.”
Apparently all the Conservative councillors voted in support of fracking.
A brief report has been published on the Lancashire Evening Post website.

Which areas in Lancashire are covered by the latest fracking licences?

The two new areas in Lancashire that are up for exploration include the area between Samlesbury, Little Harwood , Wheelton and Darwen; the other area includes land to the east of Chorley, comprising Healey Nab, Belmont, Rivington and Horwich.

Another 132 areas are up for grabs and are dependent on further environmental assessments. Two of these are in Lancashire, one around Glasson Dock and Cockerham, and another that covers Quernmore and Dolphinholme. Other areas in the North West include land surrounding Wigan and Skelmersdale.

Northern communities vow united front to stop fracking

Northern anti-fracking groups today vowed to unite to prevent any fracking in the north of England. The statement follows the announcement of the 14th round of licensing for on shore petroleum exploration and development licenses (PEDL).

The long awaited announcement made earlier today (18/08/15) showed that the majority of licenses to be issued are based in the north of England and cover huge swathes of Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Furious campaigners from more than thirty groups responded quickly to say they will show a united front and support each other in their fight against fracking and onshore fossil fuel extraction.

Bob Dennett from Frack Free Lancashire said “The fact that the vast majority of the licenses being issued are based in the north shows the governments contempt for our communities. Obviously they have listened to Tory Peer, Lord Howell and decided to focus fracking in the ‘desolate north’. They will get a shock if they think we will be so easily pushed around.”

Frack Free Lancashire recently won a major victory against the fracking company Cuadrilla when Lancashire County Council turned down their planning applications. A community campaign in East Yorkshire also won a victory this month when Rathlin Energy was forced to abandon an exploratory well at Crawberry Hill in the face of massive local opposition.

Pippa Hockey from Frack Free East Yorkshire said, ‘The more they try and push fracking on us, the harder we will fight back. We have made friends all over the UK, especially with other groups in the north, and now we will all work together to stop fracking happening anywhere.’

The announcement of the 14th license round follows a recent announcement that the government plans to give itself more power to rush local councils into making decisions and be able to overrule decisions they do not agree with.

Rachel Thompson from Manchester Reclaim the Power said, “They can change any laws they want, what they fail to register is that we have a really strong movement here in the North West. This is not just about the destruction of our local environment and potential water contamination; this is about stopping climate change and local communities making our own decisions about our energy future.”

Fracking company IGas, faced massive community opposition at Barton Moss, Salford and a local group has now set up its own energy cooperative in response to the threat of fracking in their community. In Upton, Cheshire the local community have been occupying land earmarked fracking for over a year.”

Riley Coles from Frack Free Leeds said “Frack Free Leeds has been supporting anti-fracking campaigns across the north because we know fracking is a dangerous, polluting technology which doesn’t even bring down people’s energy bills. Now the threat of fracking is on our doorstep and we know that people across the north will join together to put a stop to fracking in the UK.”

Geologist, Biff Vernon from Frack Free Lincolnshire said, “Any support for extracting fossil carbon is a denial of climate change. Campaigners in Lincolnshire are delighted to be joining up with so many other groups in the north to stop this addiction to fossil fuels.”


1, Groups who issued this press release:

Frack Free Greater Manchester, Northern Gas Gala, Reclaim the Power Manchester. Frack Free Lancashire, Lancashire Nanas, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, Frack Free Blackpool, Fleetwood Folk say no to Fracking, Roseacre Action Group, Preston New Road Action Group, Frack Free Inskip, Frack Free Freckleton, Singleton against a Fracked Environment, Frack Free East Yorkshire, Frack Free Lincolnshire, Transition Town Louth, York no to TTIP, Frack Free York, Frack Free Dee, Ellesmere Port Frack free, Frack Free Scarborough, Wirral Against Fracking, Frack Free Upton, Frack Free Mickle Trafford, Bolton Against Fracking, Frack Free Wervin, Picton, Croughton,  Stoak andLittle Stanney, Frack Free Irlam and Cadishead.

2, Diagram showing latest licensing round:

3, Government press release:

4, Lancashire County Council refuse planning permission to Cuadrilla:

5, Rathlin Energy:

6, Mancunians oppose fracking at Barton Moss:

7, Barton Moss Energy Coop:

8, Anti-fracking camp in Cheshire celebrates one year anniversary: