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Cumbria County Council passes plans to stack shipping containers of nuclear waste ever higher beside the Irish Sea


Today, Pam and Ian from RAFF, and Sandra and Martin from Singleton went up to Kendal to offer our support to Radiation Free Lakeland. Cumbria County Council was meeting to consider the planning application by LLW Repository Ltd to expand the nuclear waste dump at Drigg on the Cumbrian coast. We joined a handful of local campaigners who handed in a petition of over 2,000 signatures.

The Drigg nuclear waste site is home to shipping containers storing ‘low level’ nuclear waste. Its history dates back to 1957 when it was granted permission to store radioactive waste from Windscale. It now takes waste from all over the country. LLW Repository wants to expand the number of containers. Radiation Free Lakeland say that the waste isn’t low level and that some containers on the site are already rusting  and are potentially leaking. They also raised concerns about rising sea levels, flooding, the decommissioning of Sellafield (higher grade waste), the aquifer – many properties depend on boreholes for their water, pollution of the Irish Sea, and more.

The council proceedings were depressingly familiar with some councillors seemingly having made their mind up before listening to the objections. The Environment Agency provided a detailed presentation; it appears that the EA will rely on LLW Repository to do their own testing and reporting of results. Sounds familiar? Once again it appears there is to be little inspection and that safety will be dependent on the word of the company rather than an independent regulatory body.  Even more familiar was a well known face sitting next the the Chairman – Lancashire County Council’s ex Planning Officer Stuart Perigo! According to the CCC website he is Interim Manager of Development Control and Countryside Management.

Unsurprisingly, the plans were passed.

It was a privilege to support Radiation Free Lakeland. They have little support from any of the NGOs we have been fortunate to enjoy and it does seem that this remote part of the NW coast has been forgotten. The area is  facing a much larger threat – the possibility of becoming home to the biggest nuclear development in Europe. Moorside nuclear power station is a proposal to build three AP1000 nuclear plants near Sellafield. The plan by NuGeneration, which is the British subsidiary of Toshiba-owned Westinghouse Electric Company, has the station coming online from 2024.

There will be a Stop Moorside demo on 23 July at 10:00–12:00 at Whitehaven Civic Hall
Whitehaven. Please try and support our neighbours in Cumbria. Join with the thousands of people who already say NO to Moorside. Bring Banners, Bring Yourselves, Bring your Children, Bring Music. The plan for New Nuclear Build next to Sellafield’s already dangerous Plutonium wastes is outrageous. More information here.

#StopMoorside petition

The CONsultation



Damning reports question future viability of fracking industry

Two recently published reports seriously question the viability of the UK shale gas industry.

The late and long awaited report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) was finally made public on 7 July. Make no mistake, despite the spin put on this report by the BBC and other media outlets, this is a damning report that warns the government that the UK’s fracking regulations may be inadequate to prevent environmentally damaging methane leaks from shale gas production, ie fracking is not compatible with UK climate targets.

No wonder the government sat on it until the Planning Inspector Wendy McKay had made her recommendations to Secretary of State Greg Clarke; no wonder its publication was delayed until North Yorkshire Council had made a decision to give the go-ahead to fracking in Ryedale. If this information had been made available beforehand, it may very well have influenced both decisions.

Its deliberate delay is another example of our government’s attempts to manipulate decision making in favour of the UK shale gas industry.

The CCC report concluded that shale gas production on a significant scale would breach the nation’s targets for emissions cuts unless three tests are passed.

First, strict regulations are required to ensure leaks of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, are kept to a minimum. Second, shale gas must replace imported gas – not be burned in addition and, third, emissions from the production of shale gas itself must be offset by more carbon cuts elsewhere.

Current fracking regulations are inadequate to meet the first test. There are currently few regulations and little inspection – this is largely a self-regulating industry with all the pitfalls that involves. Offsetting the emissions from fracking will be difficult and expensive especially without carbon capture and storage (CSS). Meeting the UK’s legally binding climate targets will be challenging enough without accounting for the emissions of a shale gas industry – a factor the government hasn’t added to the equation as yet. The government cancelled a £1bn CCS programme in November last year, and without CCS, the nation’s gas use will have to fall 80% by 2050, compared with 50% with CCS, as as the government have no policies in place to meet more than half the emission cuts required by law by the planned date.

Labour’s Barry Gardiner, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, said: “The CCC report lays out three fundamental tests [but] the government has decided to do precisely nothing to increase protection for the public or to deliver security for our climate targets. On this basis, it is currently neither safe nor reasonable to approve any fracking in Britain.’

Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, said: ‘The idea that fracking can be squared with the UK’s climate targets is based on a tower of assumptions, caveats and conditions on which there is zero certainty of delivery. The government now faces a clear choice between promoting this climate-wrecking industry or backing clean, homegrown, reliable renewable energy and smart technologies instead.’

More evidence that fracking is bad for health

The health charity Medact has published an updated report on the public health impacts of fracking. This new report, Shale Gas Production in England – an updated public health assessment reaches broadly the same conclusions as Medact’s 2015 report Health and Fracking, however it is now supported by a much larger body of evidence published in the year since the first report was produced. In the last year over 350 academic papers of various sorts have been published, examining the impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) for shale gas on air and water quality, health, climate change, social wellbeing, economics, noise and light pollution, and seismic events.

You can download he whole report here

David McCoy, the report’s lead author also provided expert witness testimony at the Lancashire planning public inquiry earlier this year. He states: ‘The biggest threat posed by shale gas is via global warming, but there are also direct risks to the health and wellbeing of local populations. What is striking is the lack of an integrated social, economic, environmental and health impact assessment of fracking’.

Medact’s own summary says:

‘Hazardous pollutants are produced at all stages of the shale gas production process. The range of pollutants are outlined in the report. Based on current evidence it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects. However, there is clearly potential for negative health impacts. In particular, there are risks of (i) adverse reproductive outcomes due to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, (ii) risk of respiratory effects resulting from ozone and smog formation, (iii) stress, anxiety and other psycho-social effects arising from actual and perceived social and economic disruption.

‘A special consideration in England as compared with the US is that there may be a greater risk of well integrity failure due to the heavily faulted nature of the geology.

‘Evidence is strongest regarding the risk that shale gas will accelerate climate change. Recent evidence of a rise in global atmospheric methane concentrations, which poses a global warming threat, points to recent oil and gas production in the US as one of the causes.

Climate change has been described by the Lancet journal as the greatest threat to health of the 21st century. Dr. Nick Watts, Executive Director of the Lancet Countdown to 2030: Global Health and Climate Action says, “it is clear that rapid decarbonisation of the energy sector is an important first step in protecting the health of the British public from the impacts of climate change. In the short term, a swift phase-out of unabated coal-fired power from the national energy mix will work to reduce the burden of disease from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. In the longer term, investment in solar and wind energy must be the ultimate goal in order to meet our international climate change commitments.”’

Here we have expert opinion from two bodies – the Committee on Climate Change and Medact, both warning of the effects of fracking on climate change and public health. On the other side we have a government with no long-term strategy in place, no desire to improve regulations and little regard for public well being. A change of leadership is unlikely to bring much solace. Current Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom is a huge supporter of shale gas. She said: ‘Shale gas is a fantastic opportunity, which could create thousands of jobs and a secure homegrown energy source that we can rely on for decades to come.’ Theresa May has been largely silent on the issue of climate change but her voting record mirrors that of the government. You can read more about both’s attitudes, statements, pay-offs and the like here.

Lock the gate on Drigg: the UK’s nuclear waste site

Cumbria needs our help: join members of RAFF on 15 July in Kendal as Cumbria County Council votes on extending the nuclear waste site at Drigg. If you can’t make it then please send your objections to Cumbria County Council (see below)

On 15th July 2016 in Kendal Cumbria County Council will be considering plans to extend the capacity and possibly the lifetime of Drigg Nuclear Dump on the West Coast of Cumbria. We the undersigned ask that you Lock the Gate on Drigg.

Why is this important?

To describe the UKs nuclear waste site as a “Repository” is putting a spin on the UKs main nuclear dump for “low level” waste. There is “controlled discharge direct to the Irish Sea” not to mention run off to the Drigg Stream and River Irt. Discharges to the air of radioactive gases are ongoing. According to the British Geological Society the Drigg site is above a regional aquifer. It is also “likely to be destroyed by coastal erosion” in 500 to 5000 years (computer modelling can be wrong either way) . Much of the waste is long lived and high risk.
Below are a few of the reasons why it is important that Cumbria County Council Lock the Gate on Drigg:

“Planning Application 4/11/9007 Low Level Waste Repository Site Optimisation and Closure Works” was withdrawn and a new application has gone in claiming to be more “modest”: Planning Application PL\1508\05 (4/15/9012):The phased construction of additional vaults, higher stacking of containers..capping..

1.The original planning application set the date for “closure” at 2079. So Drigg would continue to accept nuclear waste until that time. Mission creep under this new plan means it still could. “Capping” is misleading. To cap” a nuclear dump is akin to putting a cap on a fizzy lemonade bottle while there are holes in the bottom of the bottle. The site will continue to leach aqueous emissions to groundwater and gaseous emissions to air.

2. LOW LEVEL: This suggests that the waste at Drigg is low risk and short lived. Neither is true. As the University of Reading has pointed out: “The Drigg site uses two disposal systems: 1) An original system operated from 1959 to 1988 comprising a series of parallel trenches excavated into glacial clays, back filled with LLW and covered with an interim water resistant cap. 2) Current disposal of compacted waste placed in steel ISO-freight containers, with void space filled with highly fluid cement based grout. These containers are then disposed of in a series of open concrete vaults. Radionuclides with highest activities in the inventory include 3H, 241Pu, 137Cs, 234U and 90Sr, 238U and 232Th.

3. RADIOACTIVE FLY TIPPING: The chemical and nuclear dump site has moved on from the years 1940 to 1988 when chemical and radioactive waste was tumble tipped into trenches. Now the waste is compacted into steel shipping containers filled with cement. Incredibly the containers are stacked high. In 2013 the LLW management wrote: “in containers at the tops of stacks, the external capping grout has 
undergone extensive physical degradation and settlement; the lids are not full of grout, and the grout is generally heavily cracked. The state of the capping grout in underlying layers is better; most containers only show sparse cracking and typical settlement in the lid is approximately 15 mm. Standing water, sometimes contaminated with low levels of radioactivity, is present in approximately half of the containers at the tops of stacks. ..In containers at the tops of stacks, organic matter has accumulated beneath many open grout ports, with vegetation growing from some grout ports. ..Corrosion, sometimes fully penetrating, is present in some container lids at the tops of stacks…”

4. FLOODWATER AND SEA INUNDATION: “The Environment Agency has given a formal view that “the potential for disruption of the site is an acceptable risk” By “disruption of the site” they mean inundation by sea and flood. This is a far cry from the Environment Agency’s previous criticism in 2005: “BNFL (Now the NDA) has not yet demonstrated that the wider benefits to the UK from continued LLW disposal on this site outweigh the potential future impacts” We would hope that Cumbria County Council agree with the Environment Agency’s 2005 findings that that the real and present threat of inundation of the Drigg site by flood or by sea is not an acceptable risk to the people of Cumbria or to our international neighbours.
5. THE COLLAPSE in 1985 of the largest black-headed gull breeding colony in Europe on the Drigg dunes has never been satisfactorily explained. The official explanation is that a fox did it!

6. CHILDHOOD LEUKEMIA is officially blamed on “population mixing” due to the influx of workers firstly to the 1940 explosives factory (Royal Ordnance Factory) at Drigg and then the ROF at Sellafield. The irony of this incredible argument is that the plan for 3 new nuclear reactors at ‘ Moorside’ a few miles from Drigg (‘Moorside’ is at the village of Beckermet) would involve a boom and bust influx of thousands of workers along with a further tsunami of nuclear wastes and ever more Driggs.

How it will be delivered

By hand to Cumbria County Council on 15th July at 9am at County Offices Kendal.

The more people there to oppose this plan the better. Email Cumbria County Council with your objections/to speak at the meeting:

Medact to launch Health and Fracking Update

Medact are launching an update of its 2015 report Health and Fracking.  Since the release of the first teport over 350 new peer reviewed studies have been published, with significant implications for health locally, and climate change globally.

Dr David McCoy. Director of Medact, and Professor John Middleton, in-coming President of the Faculty of Public Health, will present the findings of an updated analysis of available evidence, and be available for questions.

  • This is an update of Medact’s 2015 report Health and Fracking.
  • Since the first report was released Medact’s director David McCoy has provided expert witness testimony to the public inquiry into fracking in Lancashire.
  • The launch will take place in the same week that the Secretary of State Greg Clark will receive a recommendation from Wendy McKay, the inspector who chaired the inquiry into fracking in Lancashire, on whether to overrule the local planning decision regarding Cuadrilla’s application to explore for shale gas.
  • Medact is currently awaiting release of a report by the Committee on Climate Change about the implications of fracking for climate change.

The event is free to attend but spaces are limited so please register here.

Local campaigner Tina Rothery reads out statement in court

Local Nana and campaigner Tina Rothery has appeared at Blackpool Magistrates Court, following two years of legal pursuit and a fine of £55,000. Cuadrilla and other ‘claimants’ have grouped together to target her following the large Reclaim the Power protest that was held on the field earmarked for fracking in Little Plumpton, on the Fylde Coast in 2014. The protest drew over 1,000 environmental campaigners who occupied a field for nearly three weeks.

Tina is refusing to pay the fine. Here is the statement she gave in Blackpool Magistrates court in June 2016.

With respect to the District Judge and the courts I have huge admiration for a system of justice that is fair but I feel in this case that our law courts are not being used to seek justice but instead being applied like a weapon and a threat against peaceful protest.

The fact that Cuadrilla has the finances, power and vindictiveness to pursue this throughour courts is an abuse of one of the most valued aspects of our democracy. 

So please accept my aplogies if this seems rude but as this case has nothing to do whatsoever with justice, I will not be complying with any requests  for information or payment.

I make this statement on behalf of myself and an entire movement who will not be bullied.

The next stage is for the lawyers ( Eversheds ) to respond with how they would like to proceed – pursue Tina for contempt of court and these costs or accept that this is an unjust use of our legal system and clear victimisation of peaceful protest, aimed at deterring further actions by communities in defence of the health and well-being of their children against this dangerous industry.

Sign Now! Last chance to tell Greg Clark to uphold Lancashire county council’s democratic right to say no to fracking

Message from Greenpeace:

Bad news: Earlier this year, leaked letters exposed how the government is plotting to overrule councils that vote against fracking [1].

Good news: Our petition to push back has surged past 130,000 signatures!

We’re set to hand in the petition tomorrow (14 June 2016), but we’ll be even stronger if thousands more of us join in. Can you quickly add your name?

Tell the government ‘don’t silence us on fracking’, before we hand the petition in tomorrow:
Sign the petition

With such overwhelming opposition to shale gas drilling in towns and villages across the country, our local councils can still play a crucial role in keeping fracking firms at bay. We’ve already seen some councils stick up for the views of local people and slam the doors on fracking firms when they’ve tried to drill [2].

But now one man in Westminster could change everything. If Greg Clark – the man who David Cameron’s put in charge of overseeing local government – overrules councils that vote against fracking, he’ll be undoing democracy with the stroke of a pen.

In the past, Greg Clark has told council leaders to “take power” back from central government, so let’s make it clear: we won’t let him back track on his own words. Please sign:
Sign the petition

After Lancashire council voted against fracking last year, it looks like this is where Greg Clark will turn his attention first. If he overturns Lancashire council’s decision to block the fracking industry, it could pave the way for even more councils to be overruled.

We’ll be outside 10 Downing Street tomorrow, handing in our petition and making sure the government knows we’re watching. But we’ll be even more powerful with thousands more of us on board.

This one’s urgent. Please sign now before we hand in the petition tomorrow. You can sign here


Anti-fracking campaigners threaten to set up protest camps

RAFF has pledged to help the residents of Kirby Misperton in Rydale, North Yorkshire, following the North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to grant Third Energy permission to carry out test drilling there. An item in The Guardian, published 25 May 2016, quotes RAFF Chair Ian Roberts saying: “We will go over there if they want us.” He warned the energy firms that they had picked on the wrong group of people. “They’ve chosen exactly the wrong people to do battle with: Lancashire and Yorkshire folk are no pushover. There’s a resilience, a tenacity. It’s perhaps no coincidence that a lot of us own terriers.”

Members of RAFF have taken part in previous camps at Balcombe and Barton Moss and, if invited, will join any camps in North Yorkshire. Together with members of many other local groups, RAFF folk also went over to North Allerton last week to offer support to residents while the planning committee was deciding the outcome.

Campaigners fury as planners approve fracking application without social licence


Campaigners have reacted with fury and dismay after North Yorkshire county councillors approved plans to carry out hydraulic fracturing at Kirby Misperton, near Malton.

The eleven-member Planning Committee voted 7 votes to 4 to grant planning permission to Third Energy to frack just ½ mile from the picturesque North Yorkshire village.

Over 1,000 people attended an anti-fracking rally outside the meeting at County Hall on Friday 20th at Northallerton and many returned on Monday to hear the councillors make their ruling. Nearly 4,000 letters of objection to the company’s plans were received also at the County Council, set against only 32 letters in favour.

Ian Conlan from Frack Free Ryedale said:

“It is just appalling that despite the strength of public opposition to this application it has been pushed through by councillors, who are being told what to do by a government that is determined to support the fracking industry.

“What faith can local people have in democracy if the members of the planning committee can just completely ignore both the strength of local opinion and the sound planning grounds that objectors have raised? It is a sham.

Our Government is making a mockery of ‘democracy’

Tonight’s (11/05/16) Gazette is once again carrying the story of the proposed National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, planned to be built at Blackpool Airport, to provide training for the onshore oil and gas industries. The item reports that the Government is to invest £5.6m in the college.

Last week we learnt that Cuadrilla is to seek permission to drill four groundwater boreholes at the Preston New Road site, in anticipation of fracking going ahead.

Both of these actions make a mockery out of democracy. The Secretary of State has yet to consider the yet-to-be-published Planning Inspector’s report and make a decision as to whether fracking will go ahead in the Fylde. The confidence with which industry spokespeople, together with Cuadrilla, assume that it will suggests that permission to frack is a foregone conclusion.

Was the Public Inquiry a farce – solely a tick box exercise to show that due process had been observed? What about the residents of Preston New Road and Roseacre who spent tens of £000s on hiring barristers, specialist witnesses and the like, not to mention the huge costs to their physical and mental health and wellbeing? Has it all been for nothing?

News of the proposed college isn’t new, so why has it reared its head again? In the face of increasing opposition is it a bullish attempt by Cuadrilla and the industry to get some positive spin in the local paper or is it indicative of an industry that has been given the nod that, regardless of what the Planning Inspector’s report says, Greg Clarke has already made up his mind that keeping the Tory donors – ie the oil and gas companies – happy, is more important than the health of a few thousand residents in the Desolate North?



Cuadrilla plans to drill boreholes despite not having permission to frack

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, has written to local residents notifying them of the company’s plans to seek permission to drill four groundwater boreholes at the Preston New Road site. The company said that it also plans to submit a similar notification to residents living close to the Roseacre Wood site. Cuadrilla is behaving as if full scale fracking will go ahead, despite the fact that a decision has yet to be made by the Secretary of State, after Lancashire County Council rejected the company’s two planning applications to explore for shale gas at both sites.

Under UK legislation, the company is required to establish a baseline of the natural groundwater conditions in the vicinity of the proposed shale gas exploration works before any fracking begins. The work will involve drilling 30-metre deep bore-holes for approximately 16 days, using two truck-mounted rigs, which are less than 12 metres high.

Francis Egan told the BBC: “Whilst we wait for the outcome of our appeals for planning permission for both exploration sites, we want to ensure that if we do get the go ahead we are fully prepared to meet our obligations on baseline monitoring of the ground water.” In the same news item, a council spokesman said: “Cuadrilla has notified the county council of its intention to exercise the company’s right to permitted development for water monitoring at Preston New Road. This means that planning permission would not normally be needed. We will assess these proposals and respond to Cuadrilla within the statutory 28 days.”

Not only did LCC refuse Cuadrilla’s plans to frack, it also refused permission for a monitoring array at Preston New Road. But in another example of the government bending over backwards to favour the frackers, two months after LCC’s decision, the government changed the rules on permitted development rights to allow monitoring boreholes to be drilled without the need for planning permission.

The arrogance of Cuadrilla is astounding. Not only is the company being presumptuous in assuming that the Secretary of State will give permission, but it is posturing as a ‘responsible neighbour’ when, in fact, it has previously ignored the impacts of fracking on noise, traffic, light, etc. on local residents. The truth is that legislation obliges Cuadrilla to conduct baseline monitoring of groundwater. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it is doing so as a favour to residents.