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Ecotricity      Britain's leading green energy supplier     

Ecotricity promises 100% green electricity and Britain’s greenest gas, complete with a Frack Free promise – that it will never use shale gas as part of its energy mix. It offers one tariff and one price for all of its customers.

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.                                                 

EA isn’t even capable of issuing a notice of public consultation correctly, let alone regulate fracking

Any discussion on the pros and cons of fracking will inevitably include the topic of regulations. Time and again you will hear the pro-frackers argue that we have the best regulations in the world; terms like ‘gold standard’ and ‘robust’ will pepper the conversation.

One of the regulatory bodies is, of course, the Environment Agency. A week or so ago the EA opened its consultation period on the Environmental Permit for the management of mining waste involving waste facilities, flaring of gas in plant with a capacity of over 10 tonnes per day and a groundwater activity for the Preston New Road site, on the Fylde. The public is able to have a say and we have been busy responding to this. Today we received this alert:

 Dear Sir and/or Madam,

 We would like to advise that as a result of an administrative error an early unfinished draft version of the ‘draft decision document for radioactive substances activity’ was published on our website. We have also identified that the published version of the draft decision document for the second draft permit was missing references to the Health Impact Assessment review that Lancashire County Council has carried out. We have updated the online versions of both documents.

We would like to apologise for these errors and any confusion they may have caused. As a result of this we will now be accepting submissions to the consultation until Monday 15 December 2014 rather than the previously stated date of Monday 8 December.

 The full details of the draft decision are available here.

The phrase ‘don’t know their **** from their elbow comes to mind. We and everyone else who has responded have been working with out-of-date and incomplete information – but, hey, they’ve given us another week to respond so that’s OK. And oops let’s just leave out the rather important Health Assessment review and see if anyone notices.

It doesn’t inspire much confidence does it? Our MPs, councillors, etc tell us that fracking is safe because we have bodies such as the EA looking after our best interests. It seems that the EA is not even capable of issuing a notice of public consultation correctly, so how can we have any confidence and faith that they will protect us and our environment. Is this the type of ‘gold standard’ regulation that we have to look forward to?

 

Prof. David Smythe contacts LCC on environmental concerns regarding Cuadrilla’s test drilling applications

David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow, has contacted Lancashire County Council with the following message and presentation.

Click here to download the presentation.

 

Dear LCC Councillors

I would be very grateful if you would take five minutes to look at the attached short slideshow (just 10 slides!). It summarises my earlier technical objections to Cuadrilla’s applications to drill at Preston New Road and at Roseacre Wood, which I submitted as objections at the consultation. I have made the slideshow as non-technical as possible, while retaining scientific accuracy.

I am also very concerned that the Environment Agency does not seem to have grasped the points I am making, in fact, the EA simply does not seem to be up to the job of properly scrutinising such applications.

I welcome comments or questions from any or all of you, and would be more than happy to appear in person at the Planning Committee meeting which will determine these applications. I have appeared before West Sussex’s planning committee, and had success in persuading them to reject unconventional drilling there.

Yours sincerely,
David Smythe

Private Eye – Cameron is trying to develop shale gas on the cheap with no regard to safety

It’s great to see that Private Eye is taking seriously the issue of the allegedly leaking well at Preese Hall on the Fylde, when most of the media, including the national press, is ignoring it. Private Eye draws attention to the fact that Cameron has plenty of money to throw at the nuclear industry but is trying to develop shale gas on the cheap with no regulatory system in place

You can read the item here.

Blackpool & Fylde College accepts funding from shale industry despite most residents saying ‘NO’ to fracking

Blackpool & Fylde College has accepted development funding to become what it calls the UK’s ‘first national UK onshore oil and gas college’. The facility was announced and opened today by business and energy minister Matthew Hancock. Apparently the £1.5 million funding will be jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DfB) and the onshore oil and gas industry.

Hancock regurgitated the same old PR spin and numbers we have heard before. All his data is based on industry-funded reports. He claims that,“Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs” and that it will create “a world-class cluster of expertise in the North West of England, just as Aberdeen is a world class cluster of expertise for offshore oil and gas.” Needless to say the press and other media have largely fallen for the spin.

Blackpool and Fylde residents, however, are a tad more savy and RAFF has been inundated with comments and questions about the College today. These are typical of the comments we have received:

  • “It’s almost like it’s a done deal. It hasn’t even been passed yet.”
  • “It beggars belief that Fylde Borough Council voted against Cuadrilla’s planning proposals, and the county council is delaying while the college just forges ahead as if they know it’s going to happen.”
  • “I am disgusted with Blackpool & Fylde College for accepting money from a dirty industry that will have a detrimental effect on people’s health and environment.”
  • “The College is publicly funded and should firstly answer to the local public and not to a bribe from the industry.”
  • “Do they realise the majority of people are against fracking? Who’s supporting the people who don’t want fracking to poison our families and destroy our villages? The average person is not getting a say on this issue.”

People are generally disgusted that this has been announced before Lancashire County Council has passed/rejected Cuadrilla’s planning applications.  Two petitions have already been created here and here. Please sign and share.

What do the experts think? Fylde resident Mike Hill, who as an engineer works in the oil and gas industry, says the job creation opportunities for engineers have been greatly overstated, and that the process is largely automated.

He said, “If job benefits in the Fylde are claimed to be in the region of 1,500 to 2,000 at the height of drilling, this is based on a level of development which is unacceptable for the rural Fylde. Any jobs gained would be at the expense of a devastating effect of full-on fracking on the area, its agricultural and tourism industry.” Mike Hill predicts that this could be at the expense of up to 10,000 jobs lost. After the drilling surge, only some 100-200 jobs would remain including those at the college and on the ground.

He believes that Blackpool and The Fylde College may profit in the short term – it has already benefited from fracking companies Cuadrilla and Centrica who gave £24,000 to fund a science competition. But any fracking boom in the UK would be very short-lived. “The number of jobs that may come to the area from fracking will almost certainly be offset by the number of jobs lost in the tourism and agriculture sectors.

“Matthew Hancock has totally ignored the destruction of local lifestyle, reduction in property values and the very real potential health impacts. No amount of training will make the fracking risk acceptable in the Fylde, especially when the government has totally failed to act on effective safety regulation recommendations by its own committees and commissioned scientific reports.

“Only today a new report from the government-funded UK Energy Research Centre says that there will be no reduction in gas bills from fracking. Matthew Hancock is guilty of exactly the over-hyping of shale gas that the UKERC criticises today.”

The full text of Mike Hill’s press release can be read here.

We will be commenting on the UKERC Report in a later post.

Lancashire Association of Local Councils pass resolution to urge individual Parish & Town Councils to oppose applications for fracking

Yesterday (08/11/14), at the Lancashire Association of Local Councils’ AGM, (LALC is the professional association representing 187 out of 215 Town & Parish Council’s in Lancashire and is also a member of the National Association of Local Council’s, NALC) the following robust debate, the following resolution was overwhelmingly approved:

‘That LALC and NALC urge individual Parish & Town Councils to oppose applications for fracking in their areas, in recognition that the potential damage to the environment is irreversible and no payment from fracking companies can compensate for any such damage.’

Thank you to all those involved in getting this Resolution approved.

 

Ecotricity launch #nothinghappened ad highlighting the importance of wind energy

Below is the text of a two page Ecotricity ad published in today’s (07/11/14) Guardian.

 

NOTHING HAPPENED

nothing-happened-text

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince explains the  #nothinghappened campaign.

Wind energy is vital to our efforts to become energy independent as a nation and to the fight against climate change.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is about as clear as any warning could be: climate change is real, it’s man made and if we fail to get to grips with it, we face extreme weather, rising sea levels and species extinction – for hundreds, even thousands of years to come. Changing the way we make electricity is one of the biggest steps we need to take.

This is where wind comes in – Britain has 40% of all the wind energy in Europe, enough to power our country many times over. A recent European report makes it clear that wind energy is the cheapest form of energy available to us, bar none. And the IPCC report also makes clear that taking action to fight climate change will not impact economic growth, but could in fact boost it.

And yet, wind power has been under attack and regularly faces criticism and misinformation from this current government and much of the media. It’s an ideological divide we’ve seen open up in the last few months.

With eight nuclear reactors down and Didcot B gas power station in flames, wind energy went about its business quietly last month, ensuring the lights didn’t go out. The distributed nature of wind energy, and all renewable energy sources, makes them naturally more resilient than large centralised fossil and nuclear stations. Something you won’t often hear about.

At Ecotricity we’re pushing hard for energy independence – turning our customers’ bills into mills. The more customers that join us, the more green energy sources we can build. And the more we build, the more insulated our customers are from the rising costs of fossil fuels. It’s a virtuous circle and a model that works for our customers, and will work for all Britons.

Our #nothinghappened campaign is about drawing attention to wind energy’s great achievements, and to its potential – the extent to which we already rely on it and can rely on it in the future. Clean, homemade wind energy is a significant part of our energy mix now and it has much more to offer – at a time when we literally can’t afford to keep burning fossil fuels.

 

RAFF thinks this is a stunning advert and provides a great riposte to those who argue that wind power is ineffective and that we should be exploiting fossil fuels such as shale gas. We are increasingly impressed with Ecotricity, who have promised to never ever supplement their supplies with shale gas. The company has been generous with its support for anti-fracking groups like RAFF. In fact, if you change to Ecotricity, from your current electricity/gas supplier, you can do so via RAFF and we collect £60 for each customer who changes. At least two of us on the RAFF Committee have recently changed to Ecotricity and can vouch for the company. Why don’t you? You can make a difference by going to the Ecotricity website and selecting RAFF  on the right hand side of the page. Thank you.

Sign FoE’s petition to stop fracking companies dumping waste under your home

 The UK Government is trying to push through legislation not only to frack under your home without your permission, but also to to allow fracking companies to use ‘any substance’ under people’s homes. And leave it there. This could be nuclear waster – anything. If you disagee please sin Friends of the Earth petition here. Thank you.

 

 

The UK Gov is trying to push through legislation to allow fracking companies to use ‘any substance’ under people’s homes. And leave it there. </p>
<p>Disagree? Sign our petition: http://www.foe.co.uk/act/ask-mps-stop-companies-fracking-under-homes-without-permission

 

 

Cuadrilla injunction granted – judge describes costs as ‘considerable’

Reproduced from Drill or Drop? Independent evidence-based reporting of the exploitation of onshore oil and gas and the campaign against it

The interim injunction granted to the drilling company Cuadrilla and a group of Lancashire landowners to prevent protests on proposed fracking sites has been extended unopposed at Manchester High Court.

But the judge rejected the company’s application for legal costs of £54,000 against a single anti-fracking campaigner. It was also confirmed for the first time that Cuadrilla is paying the legal costs of the landowners.

The case centred on four areas of land at Little Plumpton and Roseacre, where Cuadrilla has submitted two planning applications to drill and hydraulically fracture shale gas wells. It was brought following the establishment of an anti-fracking camp by a group of grandmothers for three weeks in August in a field belonging to one of the landowners.

At a hearing on August 28th, the claimants (Cuadrilla and the owners) sought an injunction against “persons unknown” and a wide range of anti-fracking groups. That case was adjourned when an anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Louise Rothery, asked for more time to consider opposing the injunction.

Today’s case was against Miss Rothery, “person’s unknown” and anyone who accessed the land. It centred on legal costs because Miss Rothery did not contest the terms of the injunction.

Tom Roscoe, for Cuadrilla and the landowners, said Miss Rothery was liable for the costs because the claimants had been the successful parties. He said evidence of this included the end of the occupation of the field days before the first hearing.

If Miss Rothery had not requested an adjournment, Mr Roscoe said, there would have been no need for today’s hearing. He said the claimants had sought to limit the costs, which otherwise would have been above £100,000.

Mr Roscoe said Miss Rothery had played a key role in organising the occupation of the field and she had publicised the action. He also accused her for making misleading statements about the previous hearing.

He said the rights of freedom of expression and assembly under the European Convention on Human Rights did not legalise trespass or protect a person from liability for costs.

When asked by Judge David Hodge why no VAT had been added to the costs, Mr Roscoe said it was because the VAT could be claimed back. “Is this because Cuadrilla is paying”, asked the judge. “Yes”, said Mr Roscoe.

Felicity Williams, for Miss Rothery, said there should be no order for costs. She said the claimants had not been successful because at the previous hearing they had failed in their attempt to outlaw any actions that encouraged or instructed people to oppose fracking. The only issue that divided the two sides had been the timescale of the injunction against trespass, she said, and Miss Rothery had sought to come to an agreement over that.

Miss Williams said the costs of £54,000 was “manifestly excessive”, adding: “there is a danger that the level of costs will have a chilling effect on the rights to protest and on access to the courts”.

She said additional evidence submitted by the claimants today was unnecessary and some of it duplicated material submitted at the previous hearing. She also accused the claimants of trying to tarnish Miss Rothery’s reputation. Miss Williams said there had been confusion about the scope of the injunction imposed by the previous hearing and this had been clarified only by a transcript made available recently.

Judge Hodge said he was satisfied the claimants had won the case, to which members of the public gallery wearing anti-fracking black and yellow shouted “absolutely not” . The judge extended the injunction to 28 days after a decision was made on planning permission. If this was unexpectedly delayed, he said, the injunction could continue for no more than two years.

He described the costs as considerable and questioned both the hourly rate and the number of hours sought by the claimants. “In my judgement”, he said, “it would not be just to visit considerable costs of bringing these proceedings on one of the trespassers just because she raised her head above the parapet and submitted to be joined to the proceedings. If she had kept quiet the burden of costs would have fallen on the claimants and Cuadrillla. It seems to be to be wrong that she should be subjected to excessive costs.”

He ordered that a separate judge should assess the costs and, as he put it, “scrutinise their reasonableness and proportionality”.

The judge said that in seeking the adjournment, Miss Rothery made today’s hearing inevitable. “In these circumstances I am certain that Miss Rothery has to bear these costs on her own”. He suggested that she invite people who supported her to contribute.

Farmers say ‘NO!’ to fracking

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Farmers from the Fylde and Lancashire have said a resounding ‘NO’ to fracking. About 10 tractors and large agricultural vehicles brought traffic to a standstill in Preston City centre yesterday as Frack Free Lancashire protesters led the tractor cavalcade along Fishergate to County Hall, where a full council meeting was taking place. The anti-fracking protestors also met up with Friends of the Earth at County Hall who were campaigning for clean solar energy over dirty shale.

Lancashire farmers are letting the County Council know they will not tolerate the approval of planning applications from Cuadrilla to carry out operations on or near their land. As the tractor cavalcade pulled away, a light aircraft with a “Keep Lancashire Frack Free” banner flew round and round County Hall before taking its message to Blackpool.

 

 

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A massive thank you to all of those involved. Special thanks go  to Tony Holden for organising the farmers and to Andy for the wonderful fly-by. The farming community is being torn apart by the likes of Cuadrilla who are offering farmers large sums of money to turn agricultural land in industrialised fracking pads. Hats off to the brave farmers who showed their true colours at yesterday’s event.