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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.                                                 

Fylde Borough Council’s Planning Meeting “even worse than a pantomime” “nothing short of a momentous shambles”

Earlier this month, Fylde Borough Council voted to approve their officers’ recommendations to object to both of  Cuadrilla’s  planning applications – Preston New Road (Little Plumpton) and Roseacre Wood. As well as objecting, the committee also beefed up the reasons for refusal.

We covered the meeting very briefly but deliberately didn’t go into huge detail. This is because we don’t fully understand the workings of the council but it was mainly because we knew Counterbalance would cover it and would do so much better than we could ever do!

Once again RAFF congratulates Counterbalance for its fair reporting, attention to detail and injection of humour into its account of what was a frustrating, tedious and long day. The item is very long but as Counterbalance explains “that’s because this meeting of Fylde’s Development Management Committee addressed probably the most important planning issue there has ever been in Fylde Council’s history.” We think this is a very important document that will be referred to again and again. You can read it here.

Fylde Borough Council vote to object to Cuadrilla’s planning applications

Today (17/09), Fylde Borough Council voted to approve their officers’ recommendations to object to both of  Cuadrilla’s  planning applications – Preston New Road (Little Plumpton) and Roseacre Wood. As well as objecting, the committee also beefed up the reasons for refusal.

Although Fylde Borough Council are only a statutory consultant, and it will be Lancashire County Council who make the final decision, this is still  a tremendous victory for Frack Free Lancashire. The public were given a chance a speak at today’s meeting and many took up the opportunity. They were all tremendous and our councillors heard about the health risks, the effects on people’s day to day lives, the lack of regulations, the fears that our water might be contaminated, the environmental impacts and lots more. 

Congratulations to all the activists and campaigners who have been working for more than three years to get to this point. Let’s keep piling on the pressure and get yet more signatures and show Lancs County Council that they have no option other than to reject these applications.

Shale gas rejected in Sussex – Lancs residents call on county leaders to follow suit

The South Downs National Park has today unanimously rejected an application from Celtique Energy for shale gas and oil drilling near the village of Fernhurst in Sussex. This follows an earlier planning refusal for the company to drill in Wisborough Green, which was turned down by West Sussex County Council in July this year (1). The applications did not involve fracking – the controversial technique of injecting water and chemicals underground at high pressure to find gas trapped in rocks - but would likely lead to it in the future.

The decision to reject drilling throws the spotlight on Lancashire County Councillors who are expected to make a decision on Cuadrilla’s applications for fracking sites off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton, and near Roseacre in the Fylde in November.

Bob Dennett from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking said:

“We are really pleased to hear that another application to drill for unconventional oil and gas has been turned down. More and more councils around the country are saying no to fracking and declaring themselves frack-free. We are now looking to Lancashire County Councillors to show the same concern for communities and our environment and say no to fracking here.” (2)

Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth North West campaigner said:

“It’s fantastic news that drilling has been refused in Sussex and a National Park has been protected – but communities across the country still face the threat of fracking particularly here in Lancashire. We don’t need dirty fracking and the economic benefits have been hugely exaggerated - according to Cuadrilla’s own documents the frack sites in the Fylde will only create 11 jobs.

“It’s time to build a clean energy future based on efficiency and developing our significant potential for renewable power, which could create thousands of new jobs in Lancashire.”

Notes

1. The Fernhurst application was recommended for refusal by planning officers on the grounds of no overriding public interest, impacts on rural tranquillity and unacceptable noise: http://www.southdowns.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/486686/Agenda-Item-4-Nine-Acre-Copse-Fernhurst.pdf

The Wisborough Green application was turned down on transport grounds and impacts on residents and highways http://www2.westsussex.gov.uk/ds/cttee/plng/plng220714ucmins.pdf

2. Newcastle City Council has passed a motion against fracking this month http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/groups/newcastle/blog/newcastle-city-council-opposes-fracking following other councils who have passed motions against it including Manchester, Dover, Brent, Brighton http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/climate/issues/get_involved_fracking_41285

Cancer risk from fracking: Fylde medic speaks out

The following is a letter sent by Dr Frank Rugman, a Fylde medic, to the local Lytham St Annes newspaper on 30/08/14. The paper didn’t publish it but you can read the full text of the letter below.It considers the effects of benzene, which is found in the flowback water from fracking, on public health.

This letter, together with the recently published leaflet from Breast Cancer UK, on the possible links between fracking chemicals and breast cancer, offer further proof about the detrimental effects of fracking on public health.

Fracking & Human Cancers:

Benzene causes cancer in humans, in particular acute myeloid leukaemia.

A positive association has also been reported between exposure to Benzene and lymphoma, acute lymphocytic leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and multiple myeloma.

Benzene is found in unleaded petrol / gasoline, cigarette smoke, chemical manufacturing and is also present in fracking flow-back water. Occupational exposure to Benzene occurs via inhalation or skin absorption. Benzene exposures in the workplace are supposed to be limited by regulations, but some oil and gas production activities in the USA are exempt from those standards.

The USA Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have just published preliminary data (21 Aug 2014) indicating that occupational exposure to Benzene vapour during Fracking can exceed regulations and present a risk during certain flow-back fluid work activities.  The study is unusual in that it did not simply rely on air samples. The researchers also took urine samples from workers, linking the exposure to absorption of the toxin in their bodies. In several cases Benzene exposures were found to be above safe levels.

The research also found that airborne concentrations of hydrocarbons, in general, and Benzene, specifically, varied considerably during Fracking fluid flow-back and can be unpredictable. Hydrocarbon emissions during flow-back operations also showed the potential to generate flammable and explosive concentrations depending on time and where measurements were made, and the volume of hydrocarbon emissions produced.

Unlike the USA, the Fylde is relatively densely populated.

Are residents living near Fracking sites about to become the innocent victims of an industrial experiment?
Dr Frank Rugman
MB ChB, MSc (Distinction) FRCPath, FRCP(London)

Residents urged to object to fracking before deadline

Residents groups opposed to fracking in the Fylde have urged people to object to proposals for a major shale gas site off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton, before the end of the official consultation deadline this Friday (5 September).

Already several thousand objections have been lodged to the application for four horizontal fracked wells which would involve 24 hour drilling and flaring, around 100 million litres of freshwater, the creation of 21 million litres of contaminated wastewater and support only 11 jobs (1). This includes 4,500 objections specifically for the Preston New Road site from Friends of the Earth supporters and 5000 objections gathered by the Frack Free Lancashire alliance of local groups for both the Preston New Road and Roseacre sites.

Lancashire County Council is expected to make a decision on the two applications from fracking company Cuadrilla in November.

Patricia Davies of Preston New Road action group , a member of the Frack Free Lancashire alliance, said:

“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from local residents and businesses. Thousands of objections have been lodged to this site and we urge anyone who cares about protecting the Fylde environment to do so before Friday. It is clear that local residents don’t want the Fylde fracked.

“Fracking will industrialise the Fylde, and risk our air, water, land and health with no gains for local residents but huge gains for Cuadrilla and their friends in Government.

“We call upon Councillors to fulfil their elected responsibility, and listen to and protect our local community by saying a decisive no to this industry.”

Note
1. Figures for freshwater usage and wastewater creation taken from the Scheme Parameters document in the planning application: Appendix B – Scheme Parameters http://planningregister.lancashire.gov.uk/Attachments/6586/PNR_ES_Vol2_Appndx%20B_Scheme%20Parameters.pdf 7500m3 water to be used in drilling (Table B6.1) and between 89,500 to 112,500 m3 of water during hydraulic fracturing (B7.1) and 21,500m3 of flowback wastewater (B8.2). Figures converted to litres.
Figures for jobs taken from the Non-Technical Summary of the Environmental Statement (Section 5) http://planningregister.lancashire.gov.uk/Attachments/6586/PNR_ES_Vol3_Non-Tech%20Summary.pdf

Poor day in court for Cuadrilla as it tries to censure the world

Yesterday (28:08:14) an interim injunction was granted to Cuadrilla and a couple of farmers and landowners, preventing future occupation of land  around the Little Plumpton site where Cuadrilla wants to frack. News of the injunction and an eviction notice was served to the ‘Nana Camp’  at the end of last week, despite their announcement that they would be packed up and away by the time of the eviction.  (BTW the term ‘served’ is used very loosely to describe a plastic bag containing hundreds of pages of text and photos, thrown into the camp field on a wet and windy day).

 

The Nanas and their Solicitor Simon Pook had to face the six plus Cuadrilla legal team at the High Court in Manchester. It was the first hearing of the case brought by Cuadrilla and named farmers for possession of the field in great Plumpton and various claims for damages. The Judge heard that the site had already been vacated by the Nanas and that they needed time to assimilate the details of the charges against them. He subsequently decided after much careful deliberation, which lasted most of the day, that the Nanas did indeed need more time to look at evidence.  Most of  it was addressed to persons unknown ranging from people on social media to named groups of unknown persons. The farmers were allowed possession and an injunction preventing trespass, which would stay in place until the date of the next hearing on October 8th. Cuadrilla’s other demands were refused.

The Salford Star offers some good coverage on the case. It’s important to note that Cuadrilla’s action didn’t just include the Nana camp and Reclaim the Power, but also every local group in Lancashire, Frack Off, etc and bizarrely,  anyone `encouraging and instructing’ people to protest via social media! Not one single individual was named. The Salford Star says: “There was laughter in the public gallery and even the judge smiled as fracking company Cuadrilla and fellow claimants tried to ban everyone in the world who might be opposed to fracking from going to Little Plumpton. The judge realised that those terms, if they had been applied would have breached Article 10 and 11 of the European Convention and had them taken out of the order because it would breach human rights. ”

The case for the injunction `preventing further trespass’ was adjourned until October 8th, to give time for people to object. The Salford Star quotes the defendant’s solicitor Simon Pook as saying: “The injunction has been overturned until it comes back to court in October. If this does comes back we will get rid of it, the judge has told them. I’d be very surprised if it does come back…”

The Lytham St Annes Express also covers it with predictable imbalance – as yet, its online item includes quotes from Cuadrilla, plus their solicitor, but none from any of the defendants. Posters in the Comments section below the item have also remarked on the imbalance:

“I am surprised that the local press appear to only be reporting one side of this story,…the poor farmers who will actually be paid handsomely for any disruption. The local residents groups wrote to all local papers with their side of this story yet nothing has been published. Please consider those people who will be directly affected by this horrendous industry and stop trying to make out all protestors are loonies. I am just an ordinary member of the public (who was neither for or against fracking) but after months of research now realise this must be stopped at all costs or it will damage our environment and affect our local tourism and agriculture businesses. To say anything else makes me think people have not looked into this closely enough. We are not nimbys…we just care for our wonderful countryside and value our rural heritage.”

 

And this post is from someone who was obviously at the hearing:

“Hmmm, spin machine in overdrive already it appears.

1) The only field affected by the injunction is the one the protectors occupied. No others.
2) Cuadrilla’s attempt to effectively stifle all protest at all of their sites/potential sites was dismissed as “too vague”.
3) can we stop referring to the 10 local farmers as if there are ten farms here backing Cuadrillas plans, this is a long way from reality. As I understand it there are 2 farms backing this and the individuals named are all members/family of those farms.

Cuadrilla’s attemps to quash public protest has, in reality, been dealt an expensive blow today and it shows how desperate they are getting that they honestly thought they’d have a chance of pushing this “blanket ban” through the legal system.

Despite what is being pumped out in certain sections of the media via a very expensive, well-oiled PR machine, this battle is still a long, long way from over and Cuadrilla, IGas and co know it, hence their increasingly desperate and ill thought out legal attempts to silence the public.

The fat lady hasn’t even started gargling yet.”

 

Fylde farmer says protestors have done ‘fantastic job’

A local farmer has spoken out about how he will never sell out to Cuadrilla and how he thinks the local protesters have done a’fantastic job’ . he says:

” I am a local farmer that lives close to the proposed fracking sites and I am completely against fracking our lovely Fylde countryside.

“Of the 10 farmers mentioned above (refers to injunction from Cuadrilla to protestors mentioned in the article), it’s actually 3 farms with all their family members listed, it is not 10 farms. I want people to know this because if it was 10 farms, mine would be on there too. The farm first on the list is the guy getting the millions off Cuadrilla, the second and third farms are the ones that are likely to have fracking on their land in the future and have probably already been in discussions with Cuadrilla. The rest of the people on the list are not farmers but have bought up local land as an investment, obviously knowing they could sell it to Cuadrilla. The other names are the Cuadrilla companies.

“I would never, ever sell out to Cuadrilla. A company with a shocking record of failures in the Fylde, in fact not one success.

“This will turn out to be a huge experiment at our cost and I for one will be monitoring what goes on with my own farm, if I find anything that indicates the fracking is damaging my land I will have Cuadrilla in court.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that, the protestors have done a fantastic job of raising the public awareness about fracking in the Fylde area. I personally met a lot of the protestors, some really, really nice people down there.

“As a local farmer I thank you for coming to the Fylde and raising awareness of this corrupt, polluting and arrogant company.

“As for the chamber of commerce, I think we all know enough about this to realise everyone is in bed together.

“It’s all about the ££££££”

 

 

Warm message of support from Michael Mansfield QC as ‘Nanas’ head to court

Three weeks ago 25 local people, primarily women, occupied a field off Preston New Road, next to the fields where Cuadrilla have installed guards who are there under Section six squatting rights. The field occupied by locals (which has become known as ‘Nana Camp)’ is currently under a planning application for access roads to facilitate Cuadrilla’s proposed shale gas operation.  A few days after the camp was installed, Recaim the Power arrived with their hundreds of supporters and occupied another section of the field. They left after a week and the Nana Camp left yesterday (27:08:14), leaving the field in a pristine condition.

There was always a chance that the locals and Reclaim the Power (but not Cuadrilla and their guards) would end up in court at some point. That point starts today at at Manchester High Court. You can read more about it here 

This post isn’t about legal issues or the audacity of Cuadrilla’s attempts to gain a widespread injunction – which would cover every proposed fracking site in the region. Rather it’s about hope that jutice will prevail and the court will undertsand that all these people are trying to do is to raise awareness and protect their communities from the unwanted intrusion, danger and massive impact of a shale gas industry taking hold in  beautiful rural areas.

Good luck to those in court today. Michael Mansfield QC, who is currently involved in the Hillsborough hearing, has sent us this wonderful message of support

‘You have the spirit
You have the courage
You lead the way
We are all guardians of our planet and some of us show the rest that action speaks louder than words.
Before its too late.
You represent the human conscience
And I will sit with you today albeit some distance down the M62 engaged elsewhere!!

XXXXXXXX
MICHAEL M’

Roseacre Awareness Group and Little Plumpton respond to Cuadrilla’s press statement on protestors

Roseacre Awareness Group and Preston New Road Action Group (Little Plumpton) have jointly responded to Cuadrilla’s press statement last week regarding protestors.
_____________________________________________
We are writing to you in response to Cuadrilla’s email sent out by their PR Officer last week (21st August) to the local press and local councillors regarding their support of local farmers and their impending legal action as a result of recent protests. This appears a little one sided.

As representatives of local residents in Little Plumpton, Roseacre and Wharles , i.e. those villages which will be directly affected by Cuadrilla’s plans, we are appalled at Cuadrilla’s actions and ‘holier than thou’ stance. There is no mention of the impact their own actions are having on local residents and we wanted to express our views.

Since Cuadrilla announced their plans in February our lives have been severely disrupted and local residents have suffered much anxiety and stress. We consider the statement somewhat offensive, i.e. by making reference to the distress of the farmer and his family over a 3 week period. These are the same farmers who effectively brought this on themselves, by inviting Cuadrilla to use their land, against the wishes of their local communities, and for which they will be paid most handsomely. Cuadrilla have also attempted to make it appear that more farmers are involved when in fact they list several members of the same families! The statement the farmer makes about his milk yield being reduced seems very odd given that he will drastically reduce his land for grazing by allowing Cuadrilla to use it, or perhaps he intends to allow the cows to graze around the drill pad?

Since the beginning of July residents in Little Plumpton, Roseacre and Wharles have been subjected to an increased and totally over the top security presence. We have to endure security guards stationed in fields in our villages with their cars, tents, portaloos, cameras trained on our public footpaths, helicopters flying over head (at great cost no doubt), vehicles being driven around fields at night, increased security vehicles parked in our lanes, people being photographed when they stop to read the signs, additional police presence and so on. This heavy handed approach is not appreciated by the local community and it is actually causing severe distress to many local residents and has done so over many months. Cuadrilla have done all this without planning permission invoking Section 6. What hypocrisy!

Our lives have been severely disrupted since February by having to try and fight these plans which will in essence destroy our communities, have a severe impact on our health and well being and damage to our wonderful environment. So to quote the distress of this farmer over a 3 week period pales into insignificance compared with the constant stress, worry and helplessness felt by locals, who do not have a hefty cheque to look forward to, as these farmers do.

We actually respect people’s right to protest about something which they feel strongly. Public opposition is mounting as more people become informed about what fracking really entails and the impact it will have on our wonderful county. So far LCC have received over 14,000 objections to Cuadrilla’s plans. Surely public opinion should count for something. Cuadrilla are just trying to supress people from speaking out.

Finally we do not feel Cuadrilla have been entirely open in their comments. We want you to be aware of our feelings too and also more about Cuadrilla’s poor track record to date of which some key concerns are included below.

Kind regards

Barbara Richardson
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group
Pat Davies
Chair of Preston New Road Action Group

Lack of transparency

In the email Cuadrilla’s public relations officer has apparently sent to all Councillors in Lancashire, it is claimed that “The land occupied by protestors is not one of Cuadrilla’s proposed exploration well sites.” However were they being upfront, transparent and honest with Councillors they could have told you that the land is in fact part of Cuadrilla’s planning application for Preston New Road and they plan to turn the farmland into an access road for the HGVs carrying fracking chemicals and radioactive wastewater.

We are also confused by the concern Cuadrilla are purporting to hold regarding the future of this farmland and the local farming economy – considering that if they have their way this time next year it will be a major fracking site.

Attempts to smear local residents’ opposition

We are aghast at the consistent attempts by Cuadrilla to tarnish opponents to their proposals and the reference to protest actions as “far from peaceful”. The main event of the Reclaim the Power camp was a Sunday walk along Blackpool Prom led and supported by local residents, which attracted hundreds of people. Many local residents have supported the camp set up by local Mothers and Grandmas as it has increased awareness about the threat to the area.

Misleading public information

Cuadrilla was forced to withdraw a publication following a decision by the Advertising Standards Authority that it contained ‘misleading advertising’, ‘exaggeration’ and ‘subjective claims’. Among the statements that the ASA decided were inaccurate were “Cuadrilla uses proven, safe technologies to explore for and recover natural gas”.

(Ref. http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2013/4/Cuadrilla-Resources-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_203806.aspx ).

Causing earthquakes, damaging its drilling well and not informing the Government

Cuadrilla’s test-fracking at the Preese Hall well triggered earthquakes and damaged the wellbore. However Cuadrilla did not report the wellbore damage to the Government for several months. The then Energy Minister Charles Hendry wrote to Cuadrilla to say “My department is concerned Cuadrilla failed to recognise the significance of the casing deformation experienced in the earth tremor triggered by fracking operations on 1 April 2011. So much so, that the company did not report it to my officials … I have formed the view that this failure discloses weaknesses in Cuadrilla’s performance as a licensee, which need to be addressed”

(Refs http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/mar/13/fracking-cuadrilla-halts-operations-lancashire https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48330/5055-preese-hall-shale-gas-fracturing-review-and-recomm.pdf ).

Breaching planning conditions

Cuadrilla has shown little respect for planning rules, breaking numerous planning conditions, drilling beyond the permitted period into the wintering bird season at Banks near the Ribble Estuary and now failing to meet three time extensions to restore its Preese Hall site.

(Ref http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/10/cuadrilla-breach-fracking-lancashire)

Repeated trespass

Cuadrilla repeatedly trespassed onto private land to carry out seismic tests. It had to settle out of court with one landowner after repeated trespassing in May 2012 and local residents have reported many similar instances.

(Refs http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/02/fracking-cuadrilla-trespassed-private-land http://stopfyldefracking.org.uk/residents-reports/)