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.
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group
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.
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/)