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LCC rejects Cuadrilla’s planning application for Singleton

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Lancashire County Council has today (25 February) refused Cuadrilla’s planning application to carry out seismic and pressure monitoring at a site at Singleton. The decision came a surprise as the planning officer had recommended that the planning committee pass the application and it is rare for a committee to go against its officer’s advice. Planning permission was originally granted for the site in 2010, and in 2011 a well was drilled to a depth of 10,700 feet. The well wasn’t fracked but Cuadrilla applied for an extension of their planning permission to carry out seismic and pressure monitoring. Lancashire County Council voted seven to six against with one abstention. A webcast of the meeting is available here. A number of objections were raised:

  • Breach of National Planning  Policy Framework
  • Well abandonment issues
  • Emissions (climate change)
  • Pollution
  • Disruption to wildlife and wintering birds
  • No monitoring in place by EA

 

The councillors voted as follows:

Voted for approval:

  • Munsif Dad                         Lab
  • Marcus Johnson                Lab
  • Barry Yates                       Tory
  • Graham Gooch                Tory
  • Michael Devaney             Tory
  • David Howarth                  Lib Dem

Voted  against:

  • Kevin Ellard                        Lab
  • Terry Aldridge                   Lab
  • Nikki Penney                    Lab
  • Steve Holgate                   Lab
  • Kim Snape                        Lab
  • Keith Sedgewick               Tory
  • Peter Buckley                    Tory

Abstained:

  •  Paul Hayhurst                   Ind

Paul Rigby left the room and did not vote as he had previously declared an interest.

Congratulations to the anti-fracking group SAFE (Singleton Against a Fracked Environment) and to all our colleagues who gave such brilliant presentations to the committee. Plus, a huge thanks to those councillors who voted against this. Meanwhile, those of us waiting outside County Hall decided to do a bit of artwork on the wall near the entrance. And that is a huge wall! singleton

Farmers warned not to allow fracking on their land

The Farmers Guardian recently included a leaflet as an insert in the paper which goes out to their 20,500 subscription readers. This action went on to generate interest from the online publication National Farmer.  The National Farmer has subsequently done a news editorial piece based on it, and they are now sending the  leaflet out as an email to their 54,000 readers.  This will include a hyperlink to the Frack Off website and it has a couple of films imbedded in it too.  Apparently they have a click rate of at least 40,000 which means that it will get extensive coverage.

 

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The farmers are a powerful force in the fight against fracking. Please do alert any farmers you know to this leaflet.

Meanwhile, there has been lots of discussion on social media about insurance for farmers. The Farmers Guardian has recently carried an item about insurance on its web site, where NFU Mutual clarified its position. It said “a farm not involved in fracking but which suffered damage as a result of the process, for example shale gas extraction on a neighbouring property caused building subsidence, would be covered. So too would other rural properties in the area who insured with it.

“However, any farmer who had chosen to make a commercial decision to be involved in fracking would not be covered for damage incurred as a result of the process.”

Lancashire County Council has delayed deciding Cuadrilla’s planning applications until 30th April

Lancashire County Council has announced that it is extending the time allowed to decide Cuadrilla’s planning applications for Little Plumpton and Roseacre until 30 April.

The LCC press release is below:

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Lancashire County Council has agreed with Cuadrilla to extend the time allowed to decide the planning applications for shale gas development to 30 April 2015 to allow for consultation on new information mainly relating to noise and traffic.

The county council’s Development Control Committee decided last week to defer decisions on applications by Cuadrilla to develop two sites in Lancashire after the company asked them to consider new proposals to reduce the impact of noise and traffic.
The applications are 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 council’s planners are currently considering the new information on noise and traffic and will hold a further consultation with regulators and the public before putting their recommendations to the committee.
Dates for the consultation and the meetings at which the Development Control Committee will decide the application will be announced in due course.

In response, Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said:

“This extension is yet another delay for the industry at a time when fracking is becoming increasingly unpopular and politically toxic.

“A recent poll shows twice as many people in the North West oppose fracking as support it, while both the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Government have voted for a moratorium.

“Councillors must listen to the mounting concerns and tens of thousands of objections, and prevent Lancashire communities from becoming the UK’s fracking guinea pig.”

New poll shows that twice as many people oppose fracking outright – more than double those that support it

A new poll, conducted by Usurv, shows that half of those questioned in the North West (45%), where much of the shale gas resources are thought to be, said they were against it going ahead, with just 22% in favour of it. The press release is below.

RAFF says: “Independent surveys of Lancashire and the North West repeatedly show that people do not want fracking.  As residents become more aware of the implications of fracking on their environment, they are flocking to the anti-fracking groups for more information and to offer their support. People are very angry and this anger, coupled with that of a number of Lancashire County Councillors, who are disgusted that our local democratic processes are being meddled with from above, shows that fracking companies have no social licence to drill for shale gas in the North West.”

 

ENVIRONMENT Fracking Poll
Jan 28, 2015 3:09:18 PM

By Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent

More people are opposed to the controversial process of fracking in the UK than back it, a new poll shows. An online survey of 1,000 people found that two fifths (40%) were against fracking, while a quarter (25%) were in favour of it going ahead in the UK.

Around one in 10 (11%) were happy for fracking to go ahead but “not in my backyard”, while almost a quarter (24%) did not know whether it should happen in the UK, the poll by Usurv revealed.

Men were much more in favour of fracking, with 37% backing it in the UK compared with just 13% of female respondents, and wealthier people – those earning more than GBP40,000 – were also more likely to back it.

Almost half of those questioned in the North West (45%), where much of the shale gas resources are thought to be, said they were against it going ahead, with just 22% in favour of it, and 13% saying it could happen but not in their backyard.

In Scotland, where energy company Ineos has purchased licences to explore for shale gas, just 15% of people thought fracking should go ahead, while 54% were against it, and less than 8% were happy for it to happen elsewhere.

And in the South East, where companies are looking to exploit shale deposits in the Weald, 35% were against it going ahead in the UK, 25% were in favour and 12% said they were in favour but not near them.

The figures come as the debate over the future of the shale industry in the UK intensifies, with the Government forced to rule out all fracking in protected areas such as national parks and tighten rules on giving it the go ahead under pressure from MPs.

A decision on two planning applications by Cuadrilla has also been deferred by Lancashire County Council, as the shale company submitted new information after planning officers recommended the sites be refused planning permission due to noise and traffic.

Please click here for an analysis of the results

 

Is our council being leant on from above?

Cuadrilla bullies LCC into deferring planning decisions for another eight weeks

Lancashire County Council have capitulated to the demands of Cuadrilla by giving them another eight weeks in order that new information can be assessed by the planning committee, leaving residents upset and uncertain as to what the future holds. Last week planning officers recommended refusal for the two planning applications for Little Plumpton (Preston New Road) and Roseacre on the grounds of noise and traffic. Cuadrilla submitted revised proposals that they claimed mitigated both the noise and traffic problems and argued that they should be allowed a deferral on both applications.

At this morning’s LCC planning committee meeting members of the public, both for and against the Little Plumpton application, were each allowed to speak for four minutes. Things had only just got going when there was an adjournment for 90 minutes or so as the planning committee met in private to be given legal advice. Following the adjournment, County Secretary and Chief Legal Adviser Ian Young said:

“As committee members are aware, during the course of the last few days, the applicant has submitted additional information in relation to both applications. In relation to Preston New Road, new proposals in relation to noise mitigation have been received. In relation to Roseacre, proposals in relation to both noise mitigation and traffic measures have been received. That information of course relates directly to the grounds for refusal recommended by officers.

“The applicant has in each case submitted that this information is of a substantive nature and should therefore be the subject of public consultation as required by regulation 22 of the Town and Country Planning Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2011. In those circumstances the applicant has requested that both applications be deferred so the additional information can be assessed by the council and therefore considered by the committee.

“The applicant’s request for deferral and their submissions in support of the request have been considered carefully by officers, in particular the legal basis for the request. Having done so, and with the benefit of advice from leading council, my unequivocal advice to the committee is that the proposals now submitted by the applicant in respect of both noise and traffic must be regarded as substantive information. It therefore follows that the proposals must be advertised and consulted on by the council.

“In these circumstances my advice to the committee is that the determination of both applications must be deferred. Not to do so would in my view mean that the council would be acting unlawfully. If the committee were not to accept my advice, then in my view the applicant would have clear grounds to challenge a refusal to defer and a legal challenge would inevitably be successful, leading to both further delay and cost consequences for the council.

“If my advice is accepted and the decision is deferred, the committee should also be aware that it is likely to be a minimum of eight weeks before the committee would be able to reconvene to consider the application.”

So basically the Legal Officer was saying that the applications must be deferred otherwise the committee would be acting unlawfully, leading to Cuadrilla mounting a legal challenge, which could prove costly for the council and, by implication, the tax payer. Cuadrilla, of course, has no such financial worries as it would be bankrolled by its Chairman and 30% owner Lord Browne, who has previously stated that he will throw enough money at fracking to make it happen.

Following the statement from LCC’s Legal Advisor, several councillors voiced their disapproval.

Councillor Marcus Johnstone (Labour) said he regretted that people at today’s meeting would not be able to make representations but said that they would be able to do so when the committee reconvened. He also said it was regrettable that local communities would suffer more weeks of uncertainty.

Councillor Paul Hayhurst (Independent) said that there were many councillors who were not happy about having to follow the advice for a deferment and expressed concerns over the time, effort and expense that people had invested in order to present to the committee. He requested that the various groups should be able to give their full half hour presentations again before the applications were reconsidered. He said, “Many people’s health is suffering because of the work they’ve had to put in to this and the worry they’ve had to go to is not helping the situation at all.”

Councillor Kevin Ellard (Labour) said that this was not a decision taken by the committee but on the recommendation of an officer.

Councillor Terry Aldridge (Labour) declared that he would vote against a deferral, because Cuadrilla could have brought forward their new proposals at an earlier stage in the process.

Councillor Steven Holgate (Labour) declared he was “downright angry” and that the authority of the committee had been undermined. He referred to George Osborne’s leaked letter that urges “rapid progress’ on fracking, and said that there are too many people dipping their fingers into responsibilities that are not theirs and that, unfortunately, this goes right to the top. He said he would abstain. You can watch a clip of his speech here.

None of the other councillors spoke. The motion was carried with one abstention and one vote against.

Today’s developments are disappointing. We are dismayed that LCC have given into Cuadrilla’s demands. We feel that the company has had weeks and weeks to get their information together. We feel that they have manipulated the planning process to their own advantage, leaving local residents to suffer further months of uncertainty. Many residents have spent a lot of time and money creating and getting together their representations – the 20 minute presentations were delivered both last and this week. They involved expert opinion from geologists, engineers, climate experts, barristers and the like, as well as heartfelt representations from residents living close to the proposed sites. Unlike the fracking industry, which was given £5 million by George Osborne to inform the public about shale gas, we residents are largely self-funded.

According to The Guardian, George Osborne’s leaked letter asks that ministers make dozens of interventions to fast-track fracking as a “personal priority”. Listed at the top is a demand to  “respond to the asks from Cuadrilla. The “asks” include contacting the Health and Safety Executive and Lancashire County Council about planning applications, and the Ministry of Defence over granting Cuadrilla trucks access to military land. In his preamble, the chancellor writes: “I expect to see rapid progress” on the recommendations.”

Is our council being leant on from above? If so our democratic process is being made a mockery of.

Over 200 local businesses & community groups call on Lancs County Council to say no to fracking

FRACK FREE LANCASHIRE PRESS RELEASE TUESDAY 27 JANUARY 2015

OVER 200 BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITY GROUPS CALL ON COUNTY COUNCIL TO SAY NO TO FRACKING​

Over 240 businesses, community groups, and trade union groups have today (Tuesday 27 January) written to Lancashire County Councillors to call on the council to reject plans for fracking and support clean energy alternatives (1).

The letter, organised by the Frack Free Lancashire alliance (2), highlights evidence of the harmful effects of fracking on the environment and health, and the myths that shale gas will reduce energy prices and create many jobs. It also calls for a positive vision for Lancashire providing opportunities for young people, job creation and tackling climate change through renewable energy and energy conservation.

Ebony Johnson from Frack Free Lancashire said:

“We are delighted that so many organisations across Lancashire are joining us to call for a frack-free future for the county. While Cuadrilla and their lobby groups such as the North West Energy Task Force claim to have support from the business community, it is clear that many businesses have grave concerns about the negative impacts fracking will have on our local economy. We are calling on County Councillors to do what’s right for Lancashire and say no to fracking.”

Peter Thorne of North East Lancashire Trades Union Council said:

“North East Lancs TUC is totally opposed to fracking on environmental grounds and notes that almost the whole county has been identified as possible future fracking sites. Instead of more fossil fuels we need bold action on climate change which could create many thousands of jobs in clean energy sectors for Lancashire workers”.

Jane Barnes from Rural Fylde Young Riders Club said:

“Our members gain a great deal of pleasure, and psychological and social benefits, from interacting with their horses and nature. Any activity which interferes with that enjoyment or affects the health, wellbeing or safety of our members or their horses will be opposed by the club.  We consider fracking to be such an activity, an industrial process which should not encroach into the countryside.”

Karen Ditchfield, owner of Glasform business in Poulton-le-Fylde said:

“Our business is visited by tourists who come to the Fylde and surrounding area to enjoy our beautiful countryside and stunning sunsets. If Cuadrilla is allowed to turn this area into a gas field, in Francis Egans words “the biggest gas field in Europe”, I believe tourism and agriculture would be seriously affected. Would you take your family on holiday to a gas field? Would you feed them food grown in a gas field?”

Fraser McMillan of PR1 Media Productions in Preston said:

“There is strong evidence that fracking has harmed lives and communities in the USA. We must not allow it to happen in the UK. The bank balance of the few should not take precedence over the rights of the many. I applaud the selfless dedication of the groups and individuals who have campaigned to raise awareness of this threat to our health and quality of life.”

Muriel Lord from Longridge Against Fracking said:

“We’ve been talking to groups and businesses in our community and found that many share our concerns about the harmful impacts of fracking on our health, environment and beautiful countryside. Lancashire County Council must listen to the voices of people across Lancashire including the Ribble Valley and reject the fracking plans.”

Lancashire County Council will make a decision on plans by Cuadrilla to drill and frack eight wells in the Fylde this week (Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 January).

ENDS

Notes 1. Copy of letter and signatories below
2. Frack Free Lancashire is an alliance of local community groups from across Lancashire working together to oppose shale gas extraction.

 

Copy of joint letter to Lancashire County Council

As community groups, businesses and residents in Lancashire, we call on our elected representatives to oppose plans for shale gas extraction and to support a Frack Free Lancashire.

Shale gas extraction poses a real and serious threat to our environment, communities and local economy.

Evidence shows that fracking and shale gas production has high risks of ground and surface water contamination, air pollution, and climate change. Studies show that workers and residents living near fracking sites overseas have experienced serious health effects – and the long-term impacts are unknown.

If they go ahead, the fracking sites in the Fylde would create millions of litres of radioactive wastewater.  Wildlife in our beautiful countryside and internationally important habitats would be at risk. And our communities would live with 24-hour drilling and gas flaring, noise and heavy traffic.

And for what gain? We are being sold a myth that shale gas will bring low energy prices and jobs – yet there is no evidence to back up claims that it will cut energy bills, and the limited jobs are likely to be short-term and transient. Planning documents show only eleven jobs will be supported at each site despite years of disruption to local residents and businesses. Our important farming and tourism sectors would be at risk from an intensive shale gas industry that requires thousands of wells puncturing the landscape.

Yet despite the hype from the Government and the industry, public concern is mounting and across Lancashire and the UK communities are coming together in peaceful protest. Over 20,000 people have already objected to the plans. The movement for a frack-free UK has brought people together from all walks of life and across the political spectrum – families, farmers, faith groups, trade unionists, artists, environmentalists and businesses.

We recognise the need for new solutions to our energy problems.

But fracking is the wrong solution – and we believe Lancashire can do better.

We have a positive vision for our county – developing our abundant renewable energy resources, improving energy conservation, and building community energy where local people have a genuine stake in the energy they produce and consume. This would create jobs, provide genuine opportunities for our young people, cut carbon emissions and protect our environment.

As the Government has failed to listen and act on our concerns, we look to our local representatives to do what’s best for Lancashire. Please oppose the fracking plans and support a Frack Free Lancashire. Signed

  • A A Hosiery, Burnley
  • A White Room, Colne
  • About Coffee, Colne
  • Accrington Baby Centre, Accrington
  • Accrington Carpet and Bed, Accrington
  • Advanced Print Solutions, Longridge
  • Ahoy Lancaster, Lancaster
  • Aiqah’s Boutique, Nelson
  • All Sorts Cheaper 4 U, Blackpool
  • Allen Braithwaite, Colne
  • Alma Inn, Accrington
  • Ancient Mariner Furniture, Ribchester
  • Angel’s Hair Design, Colne
  • Anise, Chorley
  • Anita’s Furnishing, Accrington
  • Anne Whittaker Bridal Wear, Accrington
  • Antonias, Burnley
  • Aphrodite Health Store, Penwortham
  • Art and Soul Gallery, Padiham
  • Art and Soul, Leyland
  • Ascot Studios, Ribchester
  • Ashey’s Fashionware, Preston
  • Astons Optique, Accrington
  • Atticus Books, Lancaster
  • Ayda Boutique, Preston
  • AZ Car Care, Accrington
  • Bargain Booze Accrington, Accrington
  • Barn Owl Produce, Ormskirk
  • Baxenden Ironing, Accrington
  • Beautiful Planet café, Preston
  • Beauty at No 3, Accrington
  • Bee Mill Garage, Ribchester
  • Bee Mill Laundry, Ribchester
  • Bella Anika, Blackpool
  • Bewitched Parties, Leyland
  • Big Butts, Preston
  • Blackburn and District Trades Union Council
  • Bolthole Gifts, Rawtenstall
  • Bookidz, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Booshooz, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Brabins Shop, Chipping
  • Breck News, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Brethertons Gold Line, Thornley with Wheatley
  • Brough’s Butchers, Ormskirk
  • Brown Brothers, Longridge
  • Buggy Brilliant, Chorley
  • Burnley Firefighters’ White Watch
  • Burnley Homebrew, Burnley
  • C.E Burke & Sons, Preston
  • Card Emporium, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Carleton Chemist Shop, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Chipping Farm Shop, Chipping
  • Clark’s Hardware, Nelson
  • Coco Boo, Preston
  • Conlan’s Butcher’s, Padiham
  • Connect IT Ltd, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Crown and Green Line Taxis, Colne
  • Cutting Edge, Preston
  • Daisys Dog Grooming, Padiham
  • Dale Hey Touring Park, Ribchester
  • De Mendo, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Dean Anthony, Accrington
  • Ditsy Bride, Colne
  • Dr Fiona O’Neill, You Thrive, Lancaster
  • Drenched Cosmetics, Kirkham
  • Dressing Room, Colne
  • East Lancashire Clarion Choir
  • East Lancashire Natural Childbirth Trust
  • Edges, Preston
  • Elaine’s Wholefoods, Barnoldswick
  • e-Logic Computer Services, Freckleton
  • Emma Hartley Bridalwear, Colne
  • F Haynes, Blackpool
  • Falafel Express, Preston
  • Flower Barrow, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Fonebox, Preston
  • Forties to Naughties, Blackpool
  • Friends of Greenfield Local Nature Reserve, Colne
  • Fylde and District Windows Ltd, Blackpool
  • Fylde Travel, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Gabriel’s House/Howell Ltd, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Glasform, Singleton
  • Glory Hole, Accrington
  • Gorse Hill Nature Reserve, Aughton
  • Green Elephant Cooperative, Lancaster
  • Green Technologies and Solutions Ltd, Samlesbury
  • H Conway and Sons, Preston
  • Haw (NW) Ltd, Rawtenstall
  • Health Rack, Longridge
  • Heather Lea Nurseries, Westby
  • Holloways of Poulton, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Homecare Walkabout, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Horse and Bamboo Theatre, Rossendale
  • Hugos Barbers, Blackpool
  • Idris Patel Newsagents, Preston
  • Ink Plus, Preston
  • Inkognito Tattoo Studio, Accrington
  • Jack’s Café, Nelson
  • Jaffa restaurant, Preston
  • Jam Media, St Annes
  • James Anthony Antiques, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Jason Stocks Barbers, Preston
  • J-Lo’s Hair, Beauty & Nails, Padiham
  • K and H Balls, Preston
  • Kendalls Sandwich Bar, Burnley
  • Kings Wood Estate Agents, Preston
  • Lancashire Tea
  • Leagrams Organic Dairy, Chipping
  • Lee’s Pet Products
  • Leyland Home Brew, Leyland
  • Lilly’s Dog Grooming, Accrington
  • Little Town Farm Shop, Chipping
  • Live Like the Boy, Colne
  • Livesey’s Butchers, Preston
  • Lowther Gardens café, Lytham
  • Lush Lancaster store, Lancaster
  • Lush Preston store, Preston
  • Ma Bakers, Westby
  • Mace Blackpool, Blackpool
  • Malcolm’s Musicland, Chorley
  • Manor Property Management, Colne
  • Maple Farm Nursery Gardens, Westby
  • Messrs R Moore, farmers, Woodplumpton
  • Millie’s Hurst Green, Clitheroe
  • Mooreys Health Store, Preston
  • Mooreys, Rawtenstall
  • Natural Choice Ltd, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • New Penny Grill, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Nirvana Gifts, Blackpool
  • North East Lancashire Trades Union Council
  • NWA Claims
  • Old Black Bull, Preston
  • One Planet, Accrington
  • Organic Veg Club, Ormskirk
  • P & P Mason, farmers, Out Rawcliffe
  • Padiham Angling Centre, Padiham
  • Pendle Belles, Colne
  • Pendle Chiropody Clinic, Colne
  • Pendle Sandwich Bar, Colne
  • Phaedra Design, Penwortham
  • Pink Tree Parties, Kirkham
  • Portland Carpet, Accrington
  • Potters Barn, Ribchester
  • Preston and South Ribble Trades Union Council
  • PR1 Media Productions, Preston
  • Premier Travel, Nelson
  • Procters Cheeses Ltd, Preston
  • Purple Daze, Preston
  • Queen Bees, Blackpool
  • Queen’s Hotel, Leyland
  • Radical Resourcing Ltd, Lancaster
  • Raw Furniture, Ribchester
  • Recycle Works Ltd, Ribchester
  • Red Lion Hotel, Colne
  • Red Triangle café, Burnley
  • Relish Sandwiches, Nelson
  • Rennie Goth, Colne
  • Robert G Barnes Ltd, Roseacre
  • Rossendale Models, Rawtenstall
  • Roupe UK Sameena, Accrington
  • Royle Estate Agents, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Runners Centre, Lancaster
  • Rural Fylde Young Riders Club, Out Rawcliffe
  • Safari Stone, Preston
  • Safari Tanning, Accrington
  • Salt of the Earth, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Scorpion Claims, Blackburn
  • Sewing Box, Colne
  • Sew-Mech, Preston
  • Shorecare, Blackpool
  • Simply Natural, Kirkham
  • Single Step Co-op Ltd, Lancaster
  • Single Step, Lancaster
  • Sizzling Pigs, Lytham
  • Smartee Babez, Burnley
  • Sophie’s Choice, Preston
  • Source Deli, Ormskirk
  • Spectacle Factory Shop, Preston
  • St Annes Dog Minders, St Annes
  • Sun Station Tanning Studio, Colne
  • Super Fruit, Nelson
  • Swarn Singh, Preston
  • T and G Web Design, Leyland
  • T S J Newsagents, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • T. Holden Ltd, Inskip
  • Taylormade, Colne
  • Sandwich Bar, Colne
  • The Baby Shop, Fleetwood
  • The Bridal Lounge, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • The Copper Kettle, Ribchester
  • The DVD Studio, St Annes
  • The Green Chimney, Colne
  • The Snip, Fleetwood
  • The Studio Coffee Shop, Rawtenstall
  • The Town Barbers, Leyland
  • Thoughts, Nelson
  • Tillotsons Arms, Chipping
  • Tinderbox, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Tony’s Fish and Chips, Rawtenstall
  • Top Café, Preston
  • Town Café, Chorley
  • Trawden Pottery, Colne
  • Trend Jewellers, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Uncle’s Pawnbrokers, Chorley
  • Victoria Hotel, Accrington
  • Victorian Arts and Crafts, Poulton-le-Fylde
  • Vogue Hair Design, Accrington
  • Wags Dog Salon, Newton
  • Washable Fabrics, Roseacre
  • Westgarth News, Blackpool
  • Wheatsheaf Health Foods & Homebrew, Ormskirk
  • Workhouse Marketing, Ribchester
  • 4ones Express, Burnley

 

  • Bowland Fracking Forum
  • Defend Lytham
  • Fleetwood Folk Say No to Fracking
  • Frack Free Blackpool
  • Frack Free Creators
  • Frack Off Elswick
  • Frack Free Freckleton
  • Frack Free Fylde
  • Frack Free Kirkham and Wesham
  • Frack Free Pendle
  • Frack Free Skelmersdale
  • Frack Off Rossendale
  • Garstang Against Fracking
  • Hyndburn Anti Fracking
  • Inskip Against Fracking
  • Keep East Lancashire Frack Free
  • Lancashire Frack Free Food Alliance
  • Lancaster Against Fracking
  • Lancaster Climate Action
  • Longridge Against Fracking
  • Mereside United Frack Fighters
  • Preston Frack Off
  • Preston New Road Action Group
  • Residents Action on Fylde Fracking
  • Ramsbottom Against Fracking
  • Ribble Estuary Against Fracking
  • Roseacre Awareness Group
  • Thornton Unites Against Fylde Fracking
  • Singleton Against a Fracked Environment
  • Preston Greenpeace
  • Burnley Friends of the Earth
  • Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth
  • Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Friends of the Earth
  • North Lancs Friends of the Earth
  • Ormskirk and District Friends of the Earth

 

MPs demand a halt to fracking on environmental grounds

A cross-party committee of MPs has published a damning report demanding a halt to all fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change The Environmental Audit Committee also claims that the  government’s drive for shale gas should be put on hold because it would lead to more reliance on fossil fuels. The cross-party committee also warned there were “huge uncertainties” about the environmental impact of fracking.

Joan Walley, chair of the environmental audit committee (EAC), said: “Fracking cannot be compatible with our long-term commitments to cut climate changing emissions unless full-scale carbon capture and storage technology is rolled out rapidly, which currently looks unlikely. There are also huge uncertainties around the impact that fracking could have on water supplies, air quality and public health.”

The Committee’s conclusions and recommendations are:

1.  Any large scale extraction of shale gas in the UK is likely to be at least 10-15 years away. It is also unlikely to be able to compete against the extensive renewable energy sector we should have by 2025-30 unless developed at a significant scale. By that time, it is likely that unabated coal-fired power generation will have been phased out to meet EU emissions directives, so fracking will not substitute for (more carbon-intensive) coal. Continually tightening carbon budgets under the Climate Change Act will have significantly curtailed our scope for fossil fuel energy, and as a consequence only a very small fraction of the possible shale gas deposits will be burnable. (Paragraph 26)

2.  A moratorium on the extraction of unconventional gas through fracking is needed to avoid the UK’s carbon budgets being breached in the 2020s and beyond, and the international credibility of the UK in tackling climate change being critically weakened—already a prospect if the provisions in the Infrastructure Bill aimed at maximising North Sea oil extraction are passed. (Paragraph 27)

3.  The Infrastructure Bill should be amended to explicitly bar fracking of shale gas. This could be done through an Amendment to Clause 37, to qualify the provision in the Bill which seeks to introduce a strategy to maximise the economic extraction of ‘petroleum’ (which includes natural gas) reserves, so that the “principal objective [of the strategy] is not the objective of maximising the economic recovery of UK petroleum but ensuring that fossil fuel emissions are limited to the carbon budgets advised by the Committee on Climate Change and introducing a moratorium on the extraction of unconventional gas through fracking in order to reduce the risk of carbon budgets being breached.” (Paragraph 28)

4.  It remains to be seen whether [the existing regulatory regime] will ensure effective regulatory co-ordination across all the relevant bodies and departments. A joint strategy concerning the regulation of unconventional oil and gas signed by all relevant national and local departments and agencies must be developed and published. (Paragraph 64)

5.  The Government must ensure adequate numbers of skilled and experienced staff are in place to regulate unconventional oil and gas now and in the future. (Paragraph 65)

6.  Work to determine the baseline status of the environment, including baselines related to methane in groundwater and fugitive emissions, and subsequent monitoring requirements must be completed as soon as possible and the findings used to inform fracking permits and permissions. (Paragraph 66)

7.  The UK has complex geology and more effort is required to understand and map specific local geological conditions and the influence of historic mining activity. (Paragraph 67)

8.  Fracking must be prohibited outright in protected and nationally important areas including National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and ancient woodland, and any land functionally linked to these areas. (Paragraph 68)

9.  Venting of methane emissions is not acceptable. Full containment of methane must be mandated in all fracking permits and permissions. (Paragraph 69)

10.  It is crucial that groundwater is protected and the restriction on fracking in water source protection zones 1 is welcome. However, fracking should be prohibited in all source protection zones and all fracking activity must require a groundwater permit when wells extend under aquifers. A minimum vertical separation distance between shales being fracked and a groundwater aquifer should be defined and mandated. (Paragraph 70)

11.  There must be clear and accessible public disclosure on the chemicals used in the exploration and production of shale gas, and the risks they potentially pose. (Paragraph 71)

12.  Automatic right of access to “deep level land” is not supported by the majority of the public and is not considered necessary by the industry. It should be removed from the Infrastructure Bill. (Paragraph 72)

13.  Changes to the regulatory system identified above, though essential, do not address the fundamental need for a more coherent and more joined-up regulatory system, and one that needs to be put in place before further fracking activity in contemplated. First, the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Licensing Rounds, Environmental Impact Assessments, planning and permit appraisals must all consider the cumulative impacts of fracking. Second, environmental impact assessment must be mandated for all fracking activity. Third, attention must be paid to the way in which the industry and the risks might scale up. There is the prospect that a regulatory regime for operational extraction would be applied without the same rigour that had been applied to the exploration phase. It is important that the necessary regulatory arrangements are determined and in place prior to the expansion of the industry. Finally, there should be a consolidated regulatory regime specifically for fracking. (Paragraph 73)

14.  We welcome the Environment Agency’s inclusion of mandatory conditions for baseline monitoring in the draft permits for the two sites currently pending planning permission. Mandatory baselines and continued monitoring, covering all relevant indicators, must be conducted. (Paragraph 74)

15.  It is unacceptable that there are no monitoring requirements for abandoned wells and this should be remedied immediately. We agree with the Environment Agency that it is “essential that [commercial operators] take responsibility for their work” and conduct their own monitoring “in accordance with the standards that are set in [the Environment Agency's] monitoring certification scheme”, and welcome the Agency’s recognition of the “the desirability of some independent monitoring at this stage of the industry’s development.” Monitoring by the commercial operator should be supplemented with such independent monitoring in all cases to increase public confidence in the results. The regulators must conduct regular unannounced spot checks and audits of all fracking sites, and facilitate a clear and accessible public disclosure of all monitoring data. (Paragraph 75)

16.  It is imperative that commercial operators have sufficient resources and insurance to cover full liability in the event of a pollution incident. Licences, permits and permissions must not be issued if this cannot be demonstrated. We welcome the industry’s efforts to develop an insurance mechanism: this must be in place in advance of any fracking activity. (Paragraph 76)

17.  Public acceptance—what Tom Burke called a ‘social licence’—is critical in determining whether fracking should continue in the UK. We can envisage the development of a regulatory regime fit for the purpose of fracking but we are unable to see at this stage how the crucial ‘social licence’ can be established when the debate around fracking is so polarised. The openness of all involved is vital. Publishing only a redacted report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts has not been helpful in this regard. We asked Defra for an un-redacted version of the report during our inquiry, and this should now be published as soon as possible. The Government and industry must be transparent and make publicly available all other information relating to fracking as a matter of course. (Paragraph 79)

18.  This proposed change in trespass law has serious implications for citizens’ rights which could unnecessarily undermine the democratic process for objecting to development. On this issue, the public have spoken and the Government must listen. (Paragraph 80)

19.  The Government must fully engage with the work of the Task Force [on Shale Gas] on the climate change and environmental risks, and await its findings before proceeding further with fracking in the UK. We called for a moratorium on fracking because it cannot be accommodated within our climate change obligations. A halt is also needed on environmental grounds, and it is essential that further independent studies into the impacts of fracking in the UK are completed to help resolve the environmental risk uncertainties. It is vital that the precautionary principle is applied. Until uncertainties are fully resolved, and the required regulatory and monitoring system improvements we identify are introduced, there should also be a moratorium on the extraction of unconventional gas through fracking on environmental grounds. (Paragraph 83)

We need to sieze the moment – stirring words from John Ashton

Message your MP, join the rally in London – do something now!

John Ashton is one of the world’s top climate diplomats and is an independent commentator and adviser on the politics of climate change. From 2006-12 he served as Special Representative for Climate Change to three successive UK Foreign Secretaries, spanning the current Coalition and the previous Labour Government. Last year, he came to meet us in Lancashire – supporting our stand against fracking and helping to get our message out. The following is a sincere plea from him about tomorrow and the vital importance of the people making a stand – thanks to Julie Wassmer for posting originally on Facebook :

His message:

All – My impression is that, all of a sudden, things have become fluid. But we must seize the moment because they will probably get stuck again after the INFRASTRUCTURE BILL votes. It’s important that the rally turns out to be bigger than people inside the bubble expect. Friends of the Earth have just told me that they hope to get up to 200 people out for this on Monday. I really hope we can all do a lot better. Here’s why.

Those who want to turn our country into a fracking playground have so far proceeded by stealth. They have got much closer than would have been possible in a healthy democracy to turning their dystopic fantasy into reality. The votes coming up on the Infrastructure Bill will be the first opportunity to make a political choice at national level to apply the brakes.

At the top of their Party machines, each for different reasons and reflecting different combinations of negligence and intent, all three establishment parties have, as it were, been putting Cuadrilla first not people first. But finally more and more MPs are realising either that fracking really is a bad idea and/or that the political cost to them of welcoming it could be much higher than they thought. All of a sudden things are more fluid inside the Palace of Westminster than they have ever been. That is true to an extent for the Conservatives and Lib Dems; but the stresses seem to me to be even greater inside the Labour Party. Now is the moment to strengthen the hand of those in all parties who want to stop the bandwagon.

With luck and effort we could even emerge from the best few days with the beginning of a de facto moratorium on fracking. That would have been unthinkable until very recently. But a lot of effort is still needed.

So, for anyone who has been thinking about expressing themselves on fracking but has not quite found a voice, there will never be a better time. A few hours over the next few days, and especially on Monday, will almost certainly pay bigger dividends than days or weeks of effort later on.

I became drawn to this issue because there is a deep political contradiction between a two degree climate policy and a drill baby drill energy policy, especially when the aim of the latter is to open up new resources, supply chains and vested interests. It is simply impossible to be in favour of fixing the climate and of fracking at the same time.

Meanwhile on the front line, up and down Britain, some of our real heroes and heroines have been risking everything to draw attention to the threat fracking poses to their communities, and to mobilise people against it. And the more I see of this the more it seems to me that this question is also at the centre of everything NEON stands for. Without wanting to put words in your mouths, I suspect we would all like to live in a country where people experience politics as something they are part of, not as something that is done to them against their will and interest. But for most people now facing a prospect of fracking in their community that’s exactly how it feels.

For that reason, victory on fracking will also be a significant victory in the wider struggle.

So if you can possibly spare the time, do please come on Monday, even for a few moments. Please also encourage others to come.

If you can’t come but have a bit of time at the weekend, please do anything you can think of to bring people to the rally and get messages to MPs.

And I really hope, when we are there, in thousands not hundreds, in full accordance with the law, and with peace and grace in our hearts, we can make a noise that will be audible not only in Old Palace Yard but in the Chamber itself.

When I was a civil servant I was occasionally accused of being too passionate. I make no apology for being passionate about this. But I hope I have expressed myself in accordance with the values, rules and culture that we are trying to build together in NEON.

With best wises to all  John

 

Details of rally in this extract from FoE message:  Can you help build a massive rally against fracking on Monday 26 January, 12.30pm-3pm, in Westminster? Full details: see Urgent rally: No Fracking Anywhere!

On 26 January MPs will be voting on the Government’s Infrastructure Bill containing, amongst other things, amendments proposing a ban on fracking and the Government’s controversial proposal to allow fracking under people’s homes without permission. We want MPs to hear an overwhelming NO to fracking.

The rally is jointly called by Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Greenpeace UK, Occupy Democracy, Frack Off London and others. Speakers so far confirmed include Caroline Lucas, Bianca Jagger and Vanessa Vine (Founder, Frack Free Sussex and BIFF!), Tina Louise Rothery.

The vote comes just two days before Lancashire County Council decide whether to give the go ahead for Cuadrilla to frack in Lancs. If the Lancashire fracking applications are approved, it will set a precedent for the rest of the UK. (The momentum created by  the recommendation by Lancs planning officers that Cuadrilla’s applications be rejected is great but it’s definitely not all in the bag yet!) Please join us outside Parliament to send a loud message to MPs that Lancashire and the whole of the UK is not for shale.

If you can’t make it, please share the event far and wide.

Day one of presentations ends in farce as Cuadrilla asks for deferment for both applications

Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee are currently determining the two applications for Little Plumpton (Preston New Road) and Roseacre Wood. Four dates have been set aside whereby local groups and individuals are given the opportunity to present to the councillors.

The dates are:

  • Friday 23 January (Little Plumpton – 30 minute presentations)
  • Monday 26 January (Roseacre – 30 minute presentations)
  • Wednesday 28 January (Little Plumpton – four minute presentations)
  • Thursday January (Roseacre – four minute presentations)  

Day 1: Friday 23 January

Approximately 30 members of the public – or observers as we were labelled – were allowed into the council chamber for the first day of  the 30 minute presentations for the Little Plumpton. LCC told us that it was unusual to allow so many observers into the chamber at this stage of the process!

There were seven 30 minute slots

  • Preston New Road Action Group – Pat Davies (Chair)
  • Preston New Road Action Group – Mike Hill (independent oil & gas engineer and Fylde resident), Professor David Smythe (Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at Glasgow University)
  • Defend Lytham – Ken Hopwood (Fylde Councillor  and local resident), Janet Lees (DL)
  • Frack Free Fylde – Eve Mcnamara (REAF), Steve Garsed (ex-HSE, sits on various churches environment committees, Damien Short  (Director: Human Rights Consortium and Senior Lecturer in Human Rights, School of Advanced Study)
  • RAFF – Dr. Paul Kelly, (retired GP, ex director of Medact), Ashley Bowes QC
  • FOE  –  Helen Rimmer (FoE NW Campaigner), Jake White (FoE solicitor), Naomi Luhde-Thomson (FoE planning advisor)
  • Cuadrilla – Francis Egan, Eric Vaughan, et al

 

Preston New Road Action Group started off by showing a short film about the different communities around Little Plumpton that will be affected by the development of a fracking pad. You can watch the film here.

We are hoping to be able to provide access to the presentations when they are made available. In the meantime, below are the Tweets that were tweeted in real time by RAFF from the chamber:

“Preston New Road presentations starting with short film about how fracking will affect ordinary people’s lives  #Lancsdecides

“Preston New Road Action Group pointing out that communities will only be 230 metres from #fracking pad-health implications #LancsDecides

“Mike Hill presentation-to get amount of gas out 3.5k wells needed & 120-200 pads between Preston & Blackpool #LancsDecides

“Prof David Smythe on geology says faulting crucial problem for fracking here & faults will be conduits for contamination #LancsDecides

“Prof David Smythe says #Cuadrilla‘a 3-D geological survey for Preston New Road is inadequate #LancsDecides

“Janet Lees from Defend Lytham says West Lancashire has most top quality agricultural land in W Britain. Will be lost to shale #LancsDecides~

“Breaking-word here is that Cuadrilla is asking LCC to defer planning apps for both sites till later date! Does LCC know? #LancsDecides

“Eve Macnamara from REAF says that #fracking will be a provable economic burden for #Lancashire

“Damian Short says #Cuadrilla‘s application didn’t include a human rights impact assessment. #LancsDecides

“Social science example of Barnett shale shows that costs of development outweigh benefits. #LancsDecides” (Damien Short)

“Dr Paul Kelly director of Medact says evidence shows significant risks for communities in #Lancashire #LancsDecides

“Dr Kelly says current regulatory framework doesn’t come close to protecting health of public. #LancsDecides

“Weight of evidence combined with Precautionary Principle means that councillors must reject applications says Dr Paul Kelly #LancsDecides

“Ashley Bowes QC says LCC in breach of its development plan in terms of landscape impact of high impact fracking #LancsDecides

“Francis Egan just arrived before @CuadrillaUK gives presentations. Public gallery still haven’t been alerted about possible deferment”

“Word from outside County Hall is that planning meeting will still go ahead when committee will consider Cuadrilla’s deferment letter”

“Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth, says their consultation revealed that 63% of Lancashire residents want fracking banned #LancsDecides

“FoE planning advisor Naomi Luhde Thomson & FoE lawyer Jake White tell councillors specific aspects they should be considering #LancsDecides

“FoE advises LCC to – yes reject on noise  – but also on grounds of waste, global warming, transport, climate & limited economic benefits:

“Egan up now saying they have new noise mitigation plans & that they are going for deferral on both applications #LancsDecides

“Everyone shuffling about as @CuadrillaUK chap gives charisma bypass presentation mumbling about decibels. Even Cuadrilla look embarrassed!”

“Oh my @CuadrillaUK really need some tuition in how to present. Awful compared with professionalism of all those that went before them”

We were halfway through the proceedings when we learned (from an outside source) that Cuadrilla had asked for a deferment for both applications. We were not informed of this development until Cuadrilla announced it as part of their presentation. Readers will remember that a couple of days before, LCC’s planning officers had announced that they were advising that both the applications be rejected. Curiously they cited noise (both sites) and traffic (Roseacre) as the main reasons, ignoring the major issues such as damage to public health, air/water pollution, disposal of flowback, etc. You can read our thoughts on this development here.

Our advice to Lancs County Council is to refuse Cuadrilla the extra time and reject both aplications outright.  Cuadrilla has had months and months to prepare for this and to push this request onto the councillors and residents at the last minute is grossly unfair. As Friends of the Earth said: “This is yet another example of Cuadrilla trying to circumvent the planning process and creating more uncertainty for communities by doing so.”

Meanwhile, the presentations will  continue and RAFF will be back inside County Hall to hear those on behalf of Roseacre, on Monday 26 January.

Our battle is far from over: reflections on the latest planning news

Following yesterday’s news that Lancashire County Council’s planning officers are recommending that Cuadrilla’s two planning applications should be rejected, RAFF’s Bob Dennett reflects on what this means for our campaign:

 

These applications represent a huge milestone for fracking in the UK and potentially the whole of Europe. Whilst it is a positive that LCC planners have recommended that the applications are rejected, this battle is far from over!!

The scope of the Planning Officer’s recommendation is not nearly wide enough as it only includes 2 fairly low level issues, noise and traffic levels, and completely ignores the much more important issues of Negative Impacts on human and animal Health, pollution the environment and climate change.

The Developing Infrastructure Delivery Plan for Fylde (June 2013) Renewable and Low Carbon Energy:

3.36 Lancashire is committed to becoming a low carbon economy and to reach the national goal of generating 15% of the UK’s energy needs from renewables by 2020. The drive towards increasing the deployment of renewable energy is as important for the achievement of economic and social imperatives, such as fuel security, job creation and addressing fuel poverty, as it is for environmental reasons.

3.37 The Lancashire Sustainable Energy Study was produced in April 2011 and updated in 2012 for all Lancashire authorities. The study concludes that Fylde has the deployable resource potential of 61 Megawatts (MW) by 2030, the equivalent of 5% of Lancashire’s deployable potential. Commercial scale wind provides the highest deployable potential in Fylde. Further information can be found in the Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Generation section of the Local Plan: Preferred Options document, and in the Lancashire Sustainable Energy Study (2012).

The North West Energy Task Force are making a lot of noise about jobs; well IF this goes ahead there will be approx 20 jobs per exploration site which will reduce to 1 to manage several production sites (the Elswick site is manged by one semi skilled worker on a part time basis). If Cuadrilla do get to complete their exploration at Plumpton and Roseacre they will employ imported skilled workers for the first year then possible a small handful for the production phase and these will be more than outweighed by the losses to tourism and agriculture.Whereas renewable energy sources such as wind, water and solar WILL provide hundreds of permanent jobs for years to come.

With regard to energy security, “the lights going out” and the Russian situation, the UK is not reliant on imports of gas from Russia, this is just scaremongering on the part of Government and industry. There is more than enough natural gas offshore to keep the UK going for over a hundred years at current consumption. If the Government were to lift the punitive windfall taxes that they imposed on the offshore industry the flow would be increased and they would lose their argument for shale. I am not suggesting that we continue to burn fossil fuels but we do not need shale gas as a “transition” to renewables” because shale will just make the carbon footprint even greater.

If the Councillors on the planning committee follow the advice and ignore the wider issues it will leave the gate wide open for the operator to appeal to the Secretary of State on the basis of minor issues and he is likely to “rubber stamp” the applications. The County Council planning procedure is the only place that the “Dash for gas” touches the democratic process so this will effectively subvert democracy.

We must not allow this to happen fracking started here we MUST END IT HERE.