Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

Our event in Blackpool

Thanks to those residents who braved a filthy night to attend our event last Wednesday (27 September) at the Grand Theatre Studio.

Our three speakers were inspirational.

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Susan Lofthouse recounted how she had always thought that fracking was a bad idea but hadn’t got involved in any groups or actions, until she saw The Bentley Effect film and this inspired her to become more active. She now regularly visits Maple Farm and the Preston New Road site to meet other like-minded people and to take part in peaceful actions.

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Organic Farmer Alan Schofield from Growing With Nature, which is based in nearby Pilling, emphasised the dangers of soil contamination from High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing. Alan has been involved in the Soil Association for many years and is highly qualified to understand the dangers of soil contamination and the devastating effects it could have on businesses like his.

 

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Our third speaker Tina Rothery needed no introduction. Tina has been a spokesperson and campaigner against fracking for over six years. She provided an overview of how the movement has stopped fracking for six years now and how she is in contact with AJ Lucas shareholders who are looking to campaigners to tell them what is really happening at PNR – yes they are lied to as well by Cuadrilla’s parent company AJ Lucas, who claim that the exploratory process is going well, despite Cuadrilla being five months behind schedule and what looks like major problems with the drill.

We heard from members of the audience about how many homes are up for sale at Carr Bridge (a small housing development near the site) and about houses that have lost nearly 50% of their value. A retired lorry driver told us that he was appalled to witness uncovered skips leaving the site, spilling sludge over the road; about how lorries are leaving the site without the legally required wheel wash. We had some great feedback from the audience who were also keen to pick up information leaflets, badges, etc. Thanks to all those who put something in the donations box. Such generosity enables us to afford more printing, purchase merchandise and put on other events such as this one.

 

 

UK Green Party Leaders in Solidarity Visit to Lancashire Fracking Site

PRESS RELEASE ON BEHALF OF THE GREEN PARTY OF ENGLAND AND WALES

UK Green Party Leaders in Solidarity Visit to Lancashire Fracking Site

17 September 2017

For immediate release

Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley, co-leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales, are to visit Cuadrilla’s flagship fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire on Monday 18 September.

Both of the Green Party’s co-leaders will join Ecotricity’s ecologist, Dr Simon Pickering; the President of Greater Manchester Association of Trade Unions, Stephen Hall; and a gathering of local anti-fracking campaigners outside the Preston New Road site on Monday afternoon.

Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and co-leader of the Green Party, said:

“I’m joining the protests on Monday because it’s abundantly clear that fracking is a dirty, destructive industry that will wreck the UK’s climate ambitions and leave us dependent on fossil fuels for years to come. We know that the price of renewables is dropping fast, and it is high time that the government stop their reckless dash for gas and focus on making Britain into a world leader in modern, clean energy from the sun, wind and sea.”

Dr Simon Pickering said:

“We don’t have to resort to fracking – a renewable future is possible. 2017 has been a record-breaking year, despite the government slashing support for renewables. Green clean energy would be a viable alternative if the government subsidised renewables instead of fracking.”

Caroline and Jonathan will speak in support of the Lancashire anti-fracking campaign at the Monday rally around 13.30hrs.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

1. Contacts for Monday’s rally:

Matthew Butcher, Parliamentary Press Officer to Caroline Lucas MP

07885 459 904

2. Dr Simon Pickering, Ecotricity

07582 216515

3. Councillor Gina Dowding: all other enquiries regarding co-ordination

Green Party Councillor, Lancaster, Lancashire County Council

07838 793674

Public Health England’s Fracking Report is Outdated and Risks Breach of Duty

PHE petition

FRACK FREE LANCASHIRE 

 PRESS RELEASE

PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND’S FRACKING REPORT IS OUTDATED AND RISKS BREACH OF DUTY

For immediate release

4 September 2017

Lancashire anti-fracking campaigners visited Public Health England last week, to hand-deliver a petition of approaching 6,000 signatures, which urges the body to take action and review its report on health and fracking, which is now over three years out-of-date.

Lancashire campaigners Claire Stephenson and Dr Frank Rugman, a retired haematology consultant, delivered the petition to the office of Professor Paul Cosford CB, the Director for Health Protection and Medical Director, at Wellington House in London.

In 2014, Public Health England published their final version of a health report on fracking. The report was narrow in its contents and missed out some significant health evidence that indicated fracking has impacts upon public health.

Since that report, hundreds of other health reports have been published with critical evidence that now needs to be taken into account before any fracking should proceed within the UK.

A previous letter published in the British Medical Journal stated:

“The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.”

Claire Stephenson said:

“Public Health England has a mission statement ‘to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities’. If they are to fulfil their public duty without breach, then they must acknowledge the mounting evidence against fracking and health. The current PHE report is grossly outdated and leaves the public open to insurmountable negative health impacts.

“Isn’t it enough that our communities have had fracking forced upon them, let alone leaving residents unprotected and vulnerable? We are asking, as a matter of urgency, to review the latest evidence and create a new, comprehensive and more importantly, independent report.”
Dr Rugman said:

“The UK Faculty of Public Health has endorsed the call for an immediate moratorium on fracking due to the possible serious public health risks involved, which include potential health hazards associated with air pollution and water contamination; these include toxins that are linked to increased risk of cancer, birth defects and lung disease.

“Fracking activity could pose additional risks in the UK when compared to experiences elsewhere, because of the proximity and size of surrounding populations.”

ENDS

Notes for the Editor

  1. Image attached is Dr Frank Rugman and Claire Stephenson, at Public Health England, handing in the petition.
  2. Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks And Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction)

 

Community Survey Campaign

We will be kicking off the Community Survey Campaign where we will be engaging with residents on the doorstep in conversations about their views on fracking. We will be giving people more information and be encouraging more people to become involved at whatever level they feel comfortable with. We will have a survey questionnaire, street maps and road groups and leaflets.
The plan is to focus on one area, canvassing every household then move onto the next area. This initially will be a rolling programme on Saturday mornings.

Canvassing is great fun, you meet lots of people and get a feel of what concerns them.

Come along and join us on 2nd September, 10.30 Maple farm.

Bail out from fracking – with help from Fracky McFrackFace!

PRESS RELEASE – FRACKING LOCK-ON – CITY COUNCILLOR, HEALTH & GEOLOGY PROFESSIONALS TAKE DIRECT ACTION

29 August 2017

fracky

 

Four women from Lancaster, including a City Councillor, have today taken action by locking-on outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site on Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The three women are all members of the Green Party and are taking action to protest against increasing extraction of fossil fuels. They arrived at the site with a boat named ‘Fracky McFrackFace, painted with the slogans: ‘Harness the wind, waves and sun’ and ‘Bail out from fracking’.

Caroline Jackson is a Lancaster City Councillor and a retired headteacher. She said:

“We have brought a boat to the fracking site to highlight the fact that fracking will make climate change worse by emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Fracking will therefore contribute to rising sea levels. Around half a billion people around the world are at risk from rising sea levels (1).”

Emily Heath is a university lecturer in Earth Sciences. She said:

“Continuing to develop new sources of fossil fuels is utter madness. We have abundant renewable energy all around us, and yet the Government is hell-bent on undermining the renewable energy industry, because they have vested interests in the fossil fuel industry and seem to be incapable of thinking beyond the short term.”

Mollie Foxall is a retired NHS manager. She explained:

“I am taking direct action because the Government has left me no choice. They overturned the local democratic decision to not allow fracking in this area. We are calling on the Government to put people’s lives ahead of corporate profits, and stop backing fracking.”

ENDS

Letter from local oil and gas engineer Mike Hill to Theresa May

Dear Mrs. May,

RE: High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing – Inadequate Regulation & Monitoring

I would be grateful if you would personally consider my points below and not just pass on to a “relevant” dept. as this is a very serious and substantial topic of interest for your government. I am a professional who has been involved in the Oil and Gas sector for over two decades. I have consulted with senior civil servants and ministers, written numerous peer reviewed papers and given many public meetings on fracking. (1) I will use two examples to illustrate my case but I have many more of equal importance and effect.

Example 1: Government. The Royal Society/ Royal Academy of Engineering (RS/RAE) published a Shale Gas Report in June 2012. I was one of the 71 contributors to this report drawn from around the globe. I am cited in it. I agreed with its ten recommendations, all of which the government has accepted. I wrote a follow up paper on this in 2013 and concluded that only 1 of the 10 recommendations has actually been implemented in full. I presented my paper to the RS/RAE (2) and the Chair’s (Lord Mair) representative (Prof. Younger) who was also one of the 8 report authors, accepted my conclusion. This is still the situation now, yet fracking is about to recommence with the first ever onshore lateral sections in the U.K. starting at Preston New Road Pad on the Fylde in Lancashire. This is unsafe and will put the public at great risk. There are two large secondary and numerous primary schools within 2 miles downwind. It will also ensure local indigenous industries, particularly farming and tourism, will suffer great and permanent damage.

Example 2: Regulation. I have been “consulting” with the Environment Agency (EA) since 2011. They have virtually no experience at all of regulating unconventional fossil fuels. This has been made very clear to me many times as they flounder and was indeed one of the ten recommendations of the RS/RAE report. The permits (by which the EA raises revenue and so is not financially independent from the operator) issued to my local license holder (PEDL 165 – Cuadrilla) by the EA state there is no Best Available Technique (BAT) for the 68m litres of toxic (as identified by the EA) (3) fracking waste left in the ground from the 4 wells about to be drilled in Lancashire. It is the law (EPR 2010 Regs) (4) that not one single litre is allowed to escape the target formation. The EA decided to rely on assurances given by Cuadrilla to facilitate issuing the permits in 2015. Now the EA have published a document stating that they (the EA) must be able to confirm that no fracking waste has left the shales.(5) This directly contradicts their own permit and in any case in 2015 the Technical Director of Cuadrilla (Dr. A. Quarles) stated publicly that “we have no idea where the final resting place (of the fracking waste) is”.(6) Fracking waste can migrate to the aquifer via vertical and horizonal migration and so will contaminate it. The Fylde takes 55% of its drinking water from the same aquifer.(7) The EA have just demonstrated how far behind they are and so how incredibly dangerous any fracking would now be. They are not fit for purpose to regulate this new industry onshore. Likewise the regulations are also totally inadequate, have not been developed or simply cannot be met and so are being ignored.

I can cite many equivalent examples where regulations themselves, regulatory oversight and monitoring is falling way below those required for this industry and way below that which you have stated is necessary. Your advisors appear not to understand the reality of the situation on the ground. The responses I have had from ministers and civil servants are astonishingly similar to those received by professionals and concerned members of the public prior to the Grenfell disaster.

I can assure you Prime Minister, awful though the Grenfell disaster was, the outcome of your actions on fracking, the lack of effective regulation and monitoring actually in place (not just in box ticked documents), will lead to a far greater disaster and cost the country far more in terms of lives lost and businesses destroyed. The amount of gas that can be recovered by fracking is small. Approx. 3%-5% of U.K.’s total needs of approx. 3tcf/annum. It is very different from conventional in terms of gas produced and risks to the environment. Onshore the risks also affect the general public and local business. The national interest is not served by damaging local industries and destroying our farming sector. Just the rumour of fracking waste contamination will be enough. Please recall the BSE crisis. This will dwarf it. My colleagues on the Technical Working Group at the EU Commission have informed me that the EU would be minded to impose exclusion zones for 30km around each fracking well for ALL produce. Brexit only complicates that further and will strengthen their resolve to protect their publics and also their markets with a very justifiable excuse. The U.S.A. has been able to frack and produce a lot of gas without such damage mainly because it is a vast country with a relatively tiny population when compared the U.K. Also it is important to note, contrary to popular belief (mainly amongst non-professionals in the field) the regulations in the U.S. relating to fracking are considerably more robust than the U.K. (I can happily provide specific examples). They also have a balanced approach to inspections. By this I refer to a balance between goal setting/self-regulation and prescription (min standards). We do not and I can prove this with actual examples fracking company CEOs have given me.

Please may I ask that you do not make a similar mistake as was made over the Grenfell disaster. I can provide evidence for all my assertions and I can provide many more examples. The public are being put at great risk by the your approach. The risks can and should be mitigated but they are not. Please do not just accept your special advisors, civil servants and ministers views. Many will not have my qualifications, experience and knowledge. Please consider halting the industry at this time and conducting a thorough review. The exploratory phase alone has the power to severely damage local populations and business. Just the first four wells on the Fylde will leave millions of litres of toxic waste in the ground and very likely will also emit large quantities of unburnt gasses such as Radon, Benzene, Toluene and Xylene over the local schools via the flare. (Flaring is now effectively banned in the U.S.A. via the use of “green tanking” or reduced emission completions as I and Prof. David Mackay recommended to the DECC 5 years ago).

Based on the current situation, as a professional engineer and expert in the field, I know this will go wrong. In the shadow of the Grenfell disaster I need to have a clear conscience that I did all I could to raise the alarm prior to that happening. There is still time but it is getting very short. I would be very happy to meet with yourself and your ministers to discuss further.

Yours sincerely, Michael Hill B.Sc. (Hons), C.Eng. MIET. UK Expert Advisor|TWG Hydrocarbon BREF|JRC/ EU Commission.

 

Notes: (1). See www.shalegasoffice.com
(2) Brief Review of RS/RAE Report and present position of Shale Gas Regulation, Hill MP, Slater G, Nov 2013.
(3). See EA published analysis North West Monitoring of Flowback – Doc 6th Dec, 2011 : http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140328145127/http://www.environment- agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Business/6th_Dec_-_Shale_gas_-_North_West_-_Monitoring_of_flowback_water_-_update_(3).pdf. Flowback was approx. 50%. Cuadrilla have stated this week in their fracking plan they will use 765,000 litres of fracking fluid per frack stage and 45 stages per borehole and 4 initial boreholes on the Fylde. Later spreading to 6,000 boreholes on the Fylde and up to 100 frack stages per borehole.
(4). I identified this myself through Tim Webb (then at The Times) and verified with Lord Smith (then Chair of the EA).
(5). See EA doc: Background Cuadrilla PNR Hydraulic Fracturing Plan: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/onshore-oil-and- gas/information-on-cuadrillas-preston-new-road-site/supporting_documents/Cuadrilla%20%20HFP%20Background.pdf
(6). See The Case: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b0aabf_8b49380dd66c44e7b614dc0f3241a5ac.pdf (7). Letter to M Hill from United Utilities dated 14th July 2017.

We have exhausted every democratic opening available to us: what next?

A common comment made by folk who claim to be in support of us fighting fracking is that they don’t agree with the way we go about it. We take this to mean that they are not in favour of our rolling protest on Preston New Road. For those folk here is a checklist of most (am sure we have forgotten some) of the actions RAFF has taken in the last six years:

* Held public meetings to gauge opinion & share information ☑

* Helped create groups to discuss the hundreds of peer-reviewed studies ☑

* Provided residents’ feedback to councillors ☑

* Engaged with and provided MPs with feedback on residents’ concerns about the effects of fracking so close to residential areas ☑

* Engaged with government ministers over residents’ concerns ☑

* Attended industry information events in order to discover/understand their plans and what they might mean for residents ☑

* Created petitions and obtained thousands of signatures which were delivered to County Halls and Downing Street ☑

* Organised and attended peaceful demonstrations locally and nationally ☑

* Took peaceful, direct and non-violent direct action ☑

* Co-operated with NGOs to put pressure on central government ☑

* Given evidence at the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on the Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil ☑

* Attended and gave evidence at Lancashire County Council Development and Control meetings on planning ☑

* Attended and gave evidence at the Public Inquiry ☑

* Contacted Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with an invitation to visit proposed sites and meet residents (not accepted) ☑

* Sought help from our Monarch ☑

Folk may not agree with our current actions but the list shows that we have exhausted every democratic opening available to us.

Residents take Government to court over fracking decision

PRESS RELEASE

Preston New Road Action Group

RESIDENTS TAKE GOVERNMENT TO COURT OVER FRACKING DECISION
27 AUGUST 2017

This week will see anti-fracking campaign group, Preston New Road Action Group, take their legal challenge over fracking in Lancashire to the Court of Appeal in London. Wednesday 30 and Thursday 31 are the dates given by the court to hear both legal teams’ evidence, along with an additional challenge by a separate campaigner.

In 2015, Lancashire County Council democratically refused planning permission for Cuadrilla’s application to carry out exploratory hydraulic fracturing at Preston New Road, on the Fylde Coast in Lancashire. Cuadrilla subsequently appealed to the Secretary of State, who in October 2016, controversially overturned the local council’s decision and gave Cuadrilla the go-ahead for planning permission.

An ongoing legal battle has continued since then, with a judicial review at Manchester Court of Appeal earlier this year. Justice Dove dismissed the review, stating that none of the grounds argued were “made out in substance”.

A spokesperson from Preston New Road Action Group stated:

“We trust that the Secretary of State’s decision to allow fracking at Preston New Road will be found unsound, and Lancashire County Council’s original decision will be reinstated.

“Even before any fracking has commenced, the local community has been subjected to disruption. They have suffered stress due to the process and since work commenced on the site, their day-to-day lives have been disrupted by convoys of HGVs, a massive police presence and many road closures.

“Cuadrilla, far from being good neighbours, have already demonstrated their contempt for the local community and planning conditions meant to protect it. They have breached planning conditions by bringing the rig on to site during the night and have commenced drilling only days prior to the appeal being heard.

“People matter, communities matter. As has been demonstrated loudly and clearly over the last three years upwards, there is no social licence to frack at Preston New Road.”

ENDS
Notes to the Editor

Court times to be confirmed Tuesday 29 August 2017 when sitting reconvenes.
Lancashire Campaigner Claire Stephenson and Dr Frank Rugman will next week, attend Public Health England to submit a petition for the review and update of Public Health England’s report on fracking and health in the UK. Date and time to be confirmed.

Further research reveals that living near a fracking well is bad for your health

Frack Free Lancashire

PRESS RELEASE 24 August 2017

INCREASED RISK OF NEGATIVE HEALTH OUTCOMES AND FRACKING SITE PROXIMITY

A new report published yesterday has found that people living within one mile of active fracking wells are at an increased risk of heart and neurological diseases, cancers and adverse birth outcomes.

The report was written by Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers (PSE) for Healthy Energy, a non-profit research institute; the University of California, Berkeley; and Harvey Mudd College. It is the first peer-reviewed nationwide measurement in the USA of the number of people living in close proximity to actively producing oil and gas wells.

Lead author and research associate at PSE, Eliza Czolowski, stated:

“Our study was specifically designed to determine how many Americans have increased health risks from potential exposure to pollutants emitted from oil and gas development.”

Dr Frank Rugman, from Preston New Road Action Group, said:

“At Little Plumpton, unfortunate residents just 350 metres from the site may also be subjected to night-time noise at 42 dB. Sleep disturbance, particularly in vulnerable residents, can aggravate cardiovascular and arterial disease, impair cognitive function and impair learning in children.

“Despite industry claims of safety and ‘better regulations’, reports of air or water pollution and negative health impacts continue to accumulate.”

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire commented:

“This new report validates our serious concerns about the potential health risks which will arise as a direct result of turning the Fylde into the largest onshore gas field in Western Europe.  The government has so far refused to consider minimum set-backs between fracking sites and places where people live, play and learn.

“With evidence mounting on the negative impacts from air, light and noise pollution that follow fracking wherever it imposes itself, this issue can no longer be conveniently swept under the carpet. We urgently call upon our MP, Mark Menzies, to recognise its importance and hold the government to account.”

ENDS

 

Notes for the Editor:

  1. Toward Consistent Methodology to Quantify Populations in Proximity to Oil and Gas Development: A National Spatial Analysis and Review
  2. Preston New Road Action Group heads to the High Court in London next week, in a further challenge to the Secretary of State’s overrule of Lancashire County Council’s refusal of Cuadrilla’s planning application for exploratory fracking.
  3.   Campaigner Claire Stephenson and Dr Frank Rugman will next week, attend Public Health England to submit a petition for the review and update of Public Health England’s report on fracking and health in the UK.

 

Babs Murphy asking for more ‘robust’ action by police

A RAFF follower has just sent us this message she received from Babs Murphy. Miss Babs is chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of both the North West Energy Task Force  and the business group Lancashire for Shale. You could say she is a firm supporter of shale gas. Those of you who attended the Public Inquiry in Blackpool, last year, will remember her poor (nay appalling) performance and even poorer lack of knowledge.

Presumably this message, which is full of mis-information, has been sent out by the Chamber to all of its members. As well as containing statements which are untrue, she pleads with her members to write to Clive Grunshaw the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner to ask him to “empower our local Police to use all legal options available to them to enforce the law”.

Once again the pro-fracking lobby is peddling half-truths, lies and fantasy; it shows just how desperate they are getting. If you feel compelled to give her some feedback giver her a ring on 01772 653000.

 

The following is the full text of  email sent out out by the Chamber:
Dear Colleague

We have been contacted by a number of businesses in relation to the disruption that is being caused by protestors on the A583, near Little Plumpton.   Yet again, today we’ve seen the A583  closed all day due to activists deliberately “locking-on” across a major public highway.

The last five weeks have seen six complete road closures and at least nine contraflows caused protestors occupying the main carriageway.    Blue light ambulances have been redirected and a funeral cortege had to be re-routed at one point.  Local residents are not getting to work on time, tourists have had their holidays affected and local businesses are losing vital custom.

The police are doing a superb job in very difficult circumstances balancing the rights to peaceful protest with the rights of residents and business-owners to go about their normal business and earn a living.  However, the escalation of these disruptive tactics means that more robust action is needed now to keep the public highway open.

If, like many local businesses, you feel strongly about this, I urge you to write to Clive Grunshaw the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner to ask him to empower our local Police to use all legal options available to them to enforce the law and keep this important road open.  Please tell him how you, your families and your businesses have been impacted.

Clive can be contacted at:

commissioner@lancashire-pcc.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Babs Murphy
Chief Executive
01772 653000

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