The Public Inquiry is currently underway at Blackpool Football Club. Anyone can attend the hearings. Please do try and go along and offer support to the Roseacre and Preston New Road residents. After some members of the public were turned away for wearing Frack Free Lancashire T-shirts, Green Party jackets, etc, the issue has now been resolved and you can wear whatever you like. The taking in of banners and the like is forbidden. It is cold in there, so you are advised to wrap up.
Cuadrilla is webcasting each of the sessions and a live link is provided below. Previous broadcasts can be viewed here. There have been (still unresolved) problems with the sound of these broadcasts.
- Link to live webcast – all sessions are being recorded and will be available to the public for 30 days only. The sound is very poor on some of them, especially the earlier ones. By the beginning of the third week the sound is much improved.
- Core documents for the inquiry can be accessed here
- Proofs of evidence can be accessed here
- All the Public Inquiry details, and copies of the documents being presented as part of the Proof of Evidence, can also be found on the Programme Officer’s website
- An inquiry programme available here
- Updates from Lancashire County Council
Please note that the most recent day’s proceedings is listed first. Please scroll down for previous days. Most coverage is provided by Counterbalance and Drill or Drop.
Day 19 – Final Day – Inquiry closes
The Planning Inspector heard the closing statements from Elizabeth Warner for Roseacre Awareness Group/Wharles, Roseacre & Treales Parish Council, Alan Evans for Lancashire County Council and Nathalie Lieven for Cuadrilla. Cuadrilla made an application for the costs of its appeal for Preston new Road.
A rally and photo opportunity was held during the lunch break.
During the day we heard the very sad news that BBC Radio Lancashire journalist and broadcaster Steve Becker had tragically died on his way to the hearing. Steve had covered the Public Inquiry every day and was known to us all for his fair reporting and balance on fracking in Lancashire. We offer our sympathies and condolences to his family.
We have set up a collection in his memory. If you would like to contribute the link is here
Drill or Drop
Day 18 (11 March 2016) Closing Statements
Closing statements from Newton-with-Clifton Parish Council, Preston New Road Action Group, Roseacre Awareness Group, Friends of the Earth and North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.
Drill or Drop
Day 17 (10 March 2016) 72 Personal Statements
Today 72 people are providing personal statements to the Inquiry. Only three individuals are speaking for compared with 69 against. If you were unable to attend today listen to the recordings of the amazing statements made by our residents.
Drill or Drop
Day 16 (9 March 2016) Newton-with-Clifton Parish Council Conditions
Drill or Drop
Day 15 (8 March 2016) Preston New Road – Noise, Planning and Landscape
We attended this morning when noise expert Mike Stigwood was giving Cuadrilla’s QC a good run for her money. The session spilled over well into the afternoon and at 3.00 pm Mr Stigwood was followed by Steven Scott-Brown, an independent planning consultant with 40 years experience.
This evening, from 5.30 – 9.30 pm, is for interested parties, ie both pro and anti-fracking supporters have the opportunity to speak for five minutes. There are only a handful of pro-speakers, the rest are all anti. Once again, no Conservative Fylde Councillor has elected to speak, nor has Fylde’s MP Mark Menzies. There’s maybe an excuse for Menzies not turning up personally mid-week but we would have thought he could have sent a representative. As for our Tory councillors, are they scared of being seen to be not toeing the party line? Is the party more important than their residents?
You can read more about the details of today’s sessions on Counterbalance and Drill or Drop.
Drill or Drop
This evening’s session included some amazing presentations from local residents on a wide range of topics – technical aspects, economics, recreational activities, personal experiences of residing near the proposed fracking sites, etc. It’s humbling to see the expertise of ‘ordinary’ residents and we are full of admiration over the amount of knowledge people have acquired. Only five of the seven pro-fracking parties turned up, compared to 25 anti-fracking parties. Once again, Counterbalance and Drill or Drop has them covered.
Drill or Drop Opponents of Cuadrilla’s fracking plans
Drill or Drop Supporters of Cuadrilla’s fracking plans
Day 14 (4 March 2016) Roseacre Residents
[From Counterbalance] The morning began with Cuadrilla’s barrister Ms Lieven producing two new documents: one explaining the issue of the alleged erroneous flowback figures which, as we thought and as we suggested to our readers last Friday, is because the wording in Cuadrilla’s Waste Management Plan – (which was then re-quoted by the Environment Agency) – is inaccurate.
The figures are broadly correct, but the word ‘site’ has been omitted from one paragraph, thus one of the figures related to flowback per well, and the other to flowback per site, and because the proposals involve four wells per site one figure is 4 times the other.
We thought the fact that an error like this reached version 7 of the Waste Management Plan and it took those opposing the scheme to spot it, it didn’t increase the confidence we can have in the information that has been provided.
The second document was the spreadsheet of the raw transport figures which Cuadrilla had said they would prefer not to provide, but which the Inspector formally requested be presented to the Inquiry.
The Planning Inspector heard from Roseacre’s barrister and local residents.
Drill or Drop Day 14
Day 13 (3 March 2016) Roseacre Residents Evidence
This was the day when discussing traffic numbers to the fracking sites, Cuadrilla’s QC, Ms Lieven said:
“We’re not at all willing to produce the detailed spreadsheets of every day and the calculations in respect of every day. I’m instructed there are commercial confidentiality issues around that and I don’t accept in the least that it is material to you or the Secretary of State.”
So decisions are expected to be made without the Planning Inspector or the Secretary of State having access to vital traffic data because Cuadrilla says it is confidential. This is unacceptable and is the second time we have been fobbed off with the ‘confidentiality’ plea at the Inquiry. Last week information on flowback treatment sites was also deemed commercially sensitive. For ‘commercial confidentiality’ read ‘something to hide’.
Drill or Drop
Day 12 (2 March 2016) Health and Planning
Drill or Drop
Day 11 (26 February 2016) Climate Change & Waste
Today’s hearings were on climate change and dealing with waste (blowback). Before the hearings began a group of Lancashire residents and supporters of Renewable Energy Alliance Lancashire -(REAL) gathered outside Blackpool Football Club to highlight the harmful effect of fracking and shale gas on the climate, and called for a greater ambition in renewable energy and green jobs. A press release is available here.
Today’s evidence from waste management expert Alan Watson was compelling. His Proof of Evidence can be read here but for a real flavour of this witness’ knowledge and authority, it’s worth watching the video recording. Cuadrilla’s QC was plainly out of her depth. Watson’s evidence revealed that there are limited waste treatment facilities available to Cuadrilla; Cuadrilla’s statements about where the waste will be treated are confusing; information is being withheld because it is ‘commercially sensitive’ – some had been redacted; and much more.
However the most significant item concerned the amount of waste, with Watson claiming that Cuadrilla’s Environmental Statement had underestimated the amount of flowback by four times. This revelation was one of the best moments of the hearing so far – Cuadrilla’s QC tried to pass of the error as a typo – Alan Watson pointed out that this was the revised 7th edition of the document, so how could they have made the same typo on seven separate occasions! Watching their QC stutter and flounder was pure entertainment.
What it does mean is that the planning authority was given incorrect data. Watson said that dealing with the true amount of flowback would lead to either greatly increased traffic movements or the storage of waste on the site – both of which are planning-related issues. On this basis he said that the planning applications should be rejected. Surely the revelation over the greatly increased amounts of flowback must be a game changer?
Drill or Drop Day 12 Climate Change & Waste – topics include:
Kevin Anderson introduction
“Erroneous to regard any fossil fuel as low carbon”
Is shale gas “lower carbon”?
Will coal be replaced or displaced by shale?
The role of gas as a bridge fuel
Emissions for exploration alone “irresponsible use of carbon budget”
“Energy security should not be a driver for shale gas”
Wytch Farm “not a good comparison for shale gas”
Cost of electricity generation
“Cuadrilla under-estimated methane emissions”
Amber Rudd’s statement
“Foolhardy” to develop shale gas for a five year window
Professor says he would not support shale gas applications in the UK: the maths don’t add up
Flow back fluids
UK Treatment capacity
Capacity at proposed treatment centres
Big discrepancy in flowback figures, inquiry hears
“High flowback would threaten viability of projects”
Cuadrilla “between a rock and a hard place” on flowback
Is waste a planning issue?
Who is responsible for waste?
Dispute over flowback data
Cuadrilla claims onsite treatment not possible
Day 10 (25 February 2016) Planning Policy; Supporters & Opponents of Preston New Road
Today we heard from two supporters of fracking and 25 local residents, business people and councillors speaking against it. Presentations were varied and covered health, farming, damage to properties, the effects on well being, stress, animals, planning issues and so on. Some were rousing and others were very moving. The Planning Inspector showed patience and tolerance, as the audience clapped and cheered after each one.
Drill or Drop Day 11 Top 10 points on planning issues
Drill or Drop Day 11 Planning policy
Drill or Drop Day 11 What Supporters say about Preston New Road
Drill or Drop Day 11 What Opponents said about Preston New Road
24 February 2016 Site Visits
Today, the Planning Inspector, councillors, legal teams etc listed the Preston New Road and Roseacre sites. In an effort to show the Planning Inspector just how high and intrusive Cuadrilla’s proposed 53 metre fracking rig will be, the Preston New Road group organised a blimp (balloon) to fly at the 53 meter height. Comment and a press release from Preston New Road are available here.
That’s Lancashire provided good coverage of the event.
Drill or Drop Day 10 – includes lots of photos taken of the parties at both sites.
Day 9 (23 February 2016) Noise and Traffic
Drill or Drop Day 9 Noise & Traffic – topics include:
“Preston New Road fracking could be refused on noise grounds”
Planning policy on noise
Continuous night-time noise for 8 months
”Inadequate” noise data
“No guarantee night noise can be achieved”
Questions from Cuadrilla
Noise complaints related to “unpopularity of fracking”
“39 decibels would meet planning policy”
Type of noise
UK government guidance on sleep disturbance
Document “not relevant”
“Shifting attention to other guidance”
Daytime noise limit “not properly derived”
Noise effects at Preston New Road
“People will acclimatise to noise pretty quickly”
What happens if Cuadrilla broke night noise limits?
Questions from the inspector
Roseacre Wood HGV traffic would have unacceptable impact
Problems of big lorries on country lanes
Traffic generated by Roseace Wood “uncertain”
Predicted safety problems
Road safety audit
Day 8 (19 February 2016) Landscape
Drill or Drop Day 8 Landscape – topics include
Lancashire County Council evidence begins
Preston New Road would have urbanising effect – landscape witness
Criticism of Cuadrilla landscape assessment
“Drilling rig should be reduced to 36m – if approved”
“Building monitoring stations would have significant landscape impacts”
“Lower rig would reduce impact on Roseacre Wood landscape”
Cuadrilla questions council landscape witness
Landscape value of Preston New Road
Change to Preston New Road landscape
“Fracking will inevitably be in rural areas”
Effect of lighting on landscape
53m v 36m drilling rig
Monitoring at Preston New Road
Rig height at Roseacre Wood
Lancashire county council advice
Council re-examination on landscape issues
Questions from the inspector
Day 7 (18 February 2016) Business and Economics
Day 7 began with a photo opportunity for those local businesses who are worried that fracking will destroy their livelihoods.
A press release is available here. Read the press coverage here.
Drill or Drop Day 7 Business & Economics – topics include:
Inskip route too expensive
Chamber of Commerce evidence
“Significant” job creation from shale
“Start of a supply chain”
Benefits “might”/”probably” accrue
Exploration “considered on its merits”
Preston New Road benefits: 11 jobs
Friends of the Earth questions Babs Murphy
Chamber membership in tourism and farming
“Vast majority of members” support shale gas
“Chamber survey elicited the response you wanted”
Farming support for shale gas
Report on rural impacts of shale gas
Industry-supported reports on shale gas benefits
House of Lords committee report on shale gas
Public questions to Babs Murphy
Lessons from Aberdeen
“Don’t take things for granted”
“Absolutely no guarantees”
“Gas compatible with a low carbon economy”
“Red carpet not rolled out for Cuadrilla”
Public questions to James Bream, Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce
36 job losses at PR Marriott
Lancashire drilling programme
Public questions to Paul Matich, PR Marriott
Day 6 (17 February 2016) Traffic; Supporters/Opponents of Roseacre Wood
This evening (17 February 2016), between 6.30 pm and 9.30 pm, local people had the opportunity to make comments on the Roseacre Wood application. twenty-four individuals spoke at this session, four pro-frackers and 20 against. The group of 20 comprised residents, farmers, engineers, a fire expert, market gardeners and more, all convinced that fracking would have a devastating effect on their livelihoods, lifestyles and physical and mental health. You can red more about the evening here.
Drill or Drop Day 6 Traffic – topics covered:
Hedges and wing mirrors
Peaks in lorry movements
Safety of the lorry route
Inskip and Wharles route
Junctions on route to Roseacre Wood
Width of Dagger Road
Pedestrians and cyclists
Enforcing traffic plans
Types of heavy goods vehicles
“Vast increase” in lorry traffic to Roseacre Wood
Roseacre traffic report “extreme” – Cuadrilla witness
“Lorry route is not practicable” – parish council
Cuadrilla barrister reviews traffic evidence
Roseacre resident questions traffic witness
Day 5 (16 February 2016) Traffic and Landscape
Drill or Drop Day 5 Traffic & Landscape – topics covered:
“Worst case scenario: three rigs on site at one time”
“No assessment of lighting on landscape character”
Shale gas extraction would have “minor impact” on landscape – company witness
Landscape assessment “did not follow best practice”
Review of landscape evidence
Inspector’s questions on colour and sound barrier
Layby parking for lorries
Broughton alternative route dropped
Cuadrilla’s highways evidence begins
“No reason to refuse appeal”
Day 4 (12 February 2016) Noise and Landscape
Drill or Drop Day 4 Noise and Landscape – topics include
Cuadrilla’s barrister re-examines noise witness
Inquiry inspector questions noise expert
Fracking effects on landscape
“Limited landscape impact”
How many rigs on site?
Questions to landscape witness
Measuring landscape effects
Harm to the landscape
Day 3 (11 February 2016) Noise
Drill or Drop Day 3 Noise – topics include
Cuadrilla’s noise expert witness gives evidence
Noise at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood
Reducing noise at fracking sites
Noise no reason to refuse appeals – Cuadrilla’s noise expert
Council questions Cuadrilla’s noise expert
Roseacre residents question Cuadrilla’s noise expert
Background and predicted noise levels
Proposed equipment at Fylde fracking sites
Preston New Road residents question Cuadrilla’s noise expert
Low frequency noise
Day 2 (10 February 2016) Planning Policy
Drill or Drop Day 2 Planning Policy – topics include
Paris Climate Agreement
Capacity of waste treatment works
Health impacts of fracking plans
Costs and benefits of fracking applications
Ministerial statement supporting shale gas
Roseacre residents question Cuadrilla
Impact of fracking on tourism
Cuadrilla’s barrister reviews evidence on planning
Inspector’s questions on planning
Day 1 (9 February)
The first day of the Inquiry started with a rally outside Blackpool Football ground, the home of the Inquiry for the next five weeks. It was lovely to see old friends from Frack Free Lancashire as well as further afield and to meet new supporters from other regions, as well as Northern Ireland. Thank you to you all for supporting us in Lancashire, we really do appreciate it.
A double decker red buses hired to pick up supporters from Preston station and bring them to the ground. It was suitably decorated and gave us a lot of publicity as it drove round and round the outskirts of the football ground (unfortunately it wasn’t allowed to park.
There was a pathetic attempt by 30 or so pro-frackers to organise their own rally. We’d been alerted that they would have a presence but on arriving at the ground their allocated space was empty, with not a soul in sight. About an hour later, about 30 of them all arrived at once and exactly an hour later they all left together – everyone of them. Obviously they were being paid by the hour. They were mostly male and mostly of job age. We hope they were paid well and that it was worth taking a couple of hours off work. While they were there we were subjected to Blackpool Football Club’s anthem ‘Glad All Over’, which were blasted though their PA system – so loud that our speakers were drowned out.
Refraction has created a couple of amusing posts analysing just who these ‘rent a mob’ pro-frackers are.
So who exactly is backing fracking: unmasking the astro surfers
Lost in transit- a sad tale
There was lots of media coverage of the day including:
Huffington Post UK (Tina’s piece)
Daily Politics BBC
RAFF was involved with the demo on the first day and we are planning to attend some of the Inquiry sessions over the coming weeks. The hearings are being webcast by Cuadrilla so you can listen to them in real time here This is a public Inquiry so anyone can attend. If you do make it to a session please do get in touch and tell us about it.
Recordings are being made of all sessions. Todays can be viewed and heard here.
The wonderful Drill or Drop creator Ruth Hayhurst is attending the Inquiry and is blogging about it daily on her web site Drill or Drop. Day One of the Inquiry can be read here. Topics included:
Cuadrilla opening statement
North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
Lancashire County Council
Friends of the Earth
Roseacre Awareness Group
Final opening statement from Preston New Road Action Group
First Cuadrilla witness: Mark Smith
Cross examination of drilling rig
Local planning policy
Cross-examination of Cuadrilla’s witness
Mineral planning policy
Counterbalance attended for most of the first day and will be at other sessions. You can read about the first day here
Many of the local groups are in attendance and Tweeting in real time.