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No more onshore wind farms if Conservatives win 2015 election

A new Conservative government would grant local residents powers to block all new onshore wind farms within six months of taking office, party pledges

The commitment to stop the erection of new onshore turbines is the latest hardening of Conservative rhetoric on green energy

The commitment to stop the erection of new onshore turbines is the latest hardening of Conservative rhetoric on green energy Local residents will get new powers to block all new onshore wind farms within six months of a new Conservative government taking office, the party will promise on Thursday.

No subsidies will paid to operators of new onshore wind turbines if the Conservatives win a Commons majority next May, they will promise. is the latest hardening of Conservative rhetoric on green energy. s capacity by 2020. But no more onshore turbines would be put in place beyond that, Michael Fallon, the energy minister, will say. Under current planning rules, big onshore wind farms are handled by a national infrastructure regime that can ignore the wishes of local people. The Tories would change those rules so that major sites would be processed by local councils, allowing local politicians to reflect the views of residents.

Planning policies would also be altered to give greater weight to local concerns about landscape and heritage.

If the Conservatives win the election next year, they would put new curbs on wind farms in place by November 2015, Mr Fallon said. The UK has “enough” onshore turbines he said.

“We remain committed to cutting our carbon emissions. And renewable energy, including onshore wind, has a key role in our future energy supply. But we now have enough bill payer-funded onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more. “That’s why the next Conservative Government will end any additional bill payer subsidy for onshore wind.”

Continue reading No more onshore wind farms if Conservatives win 2015 election

Barton Moss drilling firm wants to study geography across three areas of Greater Manchester


TESLA has written to town hall bosses saying it intends to carry out a seismic survey of parts of Salford, Trafford and Wigan on behalf of IGas.

The firm responsible for the controversial drilling at Barton Moss is behind new plans to conduct a geographical study of three Greater Manchester areas as part of its quest for gas.

TESLA Exploration International has written to town hall bosses saying it intends to carry out a ‘three dimensional seismic survey’ of parts of Salford, Trafford and Wigan on behalf of IGas.

The study, which would map the geological structure of the area, is part of IGas’ ongoing work to analyse the potential reserves of shale gas and coal bed methane across the north west.

It will also take in parts of Warrington and covers an area from Worsley and Boothstown in the north to Flixton and Carrington to the south. It stretches from Eccles in the east to Glazebury to the west, taking in Astley.


This Island Is The First In The World To Be Powered Fully By Wind And Water

A view of the wind turbines on El Hierro.

A view of the wind turbines on El Hierro.

The smallest and southernmost of Spain’s Canary Islands is about to make an outsized mark on the path toward a more renewable energy-powered future.

With the opening of a new wind farm next month, El Hierro, population just over 10,000, will become the first island in the world to be fully energy self-sufficient through combined wind and water power. The five wind turbines will provide 11.5 megawatts of power, enough to meet the demand of the population and the desalination plants on this small crop of land off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean.

When the wind isn’t blowing, hydropower will fill the void. When the wind is blowing, power will be used to pump water into a reservoir in a volcanic crater about 2,300 feet above sea level. Then when power is needed, that water will be released down to a lower reservoir and used to generate electricity on the way. This process is known as pump-storage hydroelectricity, and is used in many other countries across the globe — including the world’s largest outside of Washington, D.C.

“This system guarantees us a supply of electricity,” said the director of the Gorona del Viento wind power plant, Juan Manuel Quintero.

With the $75 million project set to come online, El Hierro will no longer have to rely on costly and dirty diesel generators for electricity — although it will maintain an oil power station just in case. According to, the island’s transition to renewable energy will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20,600 tons per year and save the island from using 40,000 barrels of oil a year.

Other islands are taking advantage of renewable resources to become wind- and solar-powered, but El Hierro is believed to be the first to do so exclusively with wind and hydro power and without having any connection to an outside electricity grid.

National Grid warns fracking firm to stay away from its pylons and pipelines

 pylon new

The National Grid has warned fracking firm Cuadrilla it will take legal action if its drilling operation for shale gas threatens to disturb its underground pipelines or overhead transmission lines, ClickGreen can reveal. The organisation has lodged a “formal objection” to a preliminary application by Cuadrilla to extend its search for shale gas in the Bowland Basin. The company has submitted an initial bid seeking to open up four exploratory boreholes near the Lancashire town of Kirkham, midway between Blackpool and Preston. But in a strongly worded letter to County Council planning chiefs, the National Grid has taken an unprecedented stance and warned of legal action should the drilling affect a nearby high-pressure gas pipeline as well as its high-voltage transmission overhead lines Continue reading National Grid warns fracking firm to stay away from its pylons and pipelines

Shale gas safety put to the test

Fracking health concerns

Fracking health concerns



The county council is to spend £30,000 on examining the likely impact on residents should the controversial drilling process get the go-ahead.

But Eve McNamara, from the pressure group Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, accused the authority of “just paying lip service” to safety concerns.

“In the past we have found that these Health Impact Assessments are just tick box exercises to appease the community. This is not an industry we want onshore in the UK because, if they did a proper impact survey, they would realise the impact is substantial. Data from Australia and the United States suggests this is not safe.”

Cabinet members will be asked to approve a Health Impact Assessment of two proposed fracking sites near Kirkham – Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton. The investigation will look at possible contamination of land, water and air quality.

A report from the Lancashire’s director of public health, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, to be presented to the cabinet meeting, says: “It is proposed that work is undertaken to identify information about the full range of potential health impacts.

“It is an opportunity for LCC to demonstrate its role to improve the health and wellbeing of its residents in relation to the ahle gas industry and highlight any potential risks at an early stage.”

“Law change planned over fracking”

The government is poised to announce that energy firms will be given the right to “frack” under private land without the owner’s permission, according to reports today.


It is understood the move will be included in the Queen’s Speech in June – paving the way to avoid any legal block by protesters if shale gas exploration is approved.

The legal move would change trespass laws.

According to national media reports, energy minister Michael Fallon is set to give more details at a shale gas supply chain conference in Blackpool on Thursday.

Gas exploration company Cuadrilla is planning to “frack” for shale gas at two sites in Lancashire – Rosecare Wood and near Little Plumpton near Preston.

In the North West the number of residents backing a Greenpeace petition to launch a mass legal block against fracking has reached nearly 7,000, with almost 2,000 in Lancashire alone.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy was unable to comment on the reports this morning.


Local authorities have ‘conflict of interest’ on fracking investments

Councils that will play a key role in deciding the future of fracking in Britain have investments worth millions of pounds in companies behind the energy extraction method, The Independent can reveal.
Local authorities in areas identified as potential sources of gas have holdings via their pension funds in firms seeking to drill within their boundaries. One of the most significant investments is £1.9m held by Lincolnshire County Council’s pension fund in Total, the French company that earlier this year became the first oil major to enter Britain’s dash for shale gas, with a £30m stake in two exploration projects in the county.
West Sussex County Council also has indirect holdings in Cuadrilla, which was at the centre of controversial tests in the village of Balcombe last summer. The council also has substantial investments, currently worth £3.5m, in Centrica, the parent company of British Gas – which last year took a 25 per cent stake in a Lancashire shale-gas project operated by Cuadrilla, albeit not directly.
The Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF), which invests on behalf of Salford and Trafford councils, holds shares in Henderson Group, a major investor in IGas, another fracking exploration company that is conducting shale-gas tests in the Salford area.
All the councils insisted there was no conflict of interest between their pension-fund investments and past or future planning decisions on fracking projects. They pointed out that shares had been bought in all cases except Lincolnshire via investment funds, and councillors involved with pension fund-related decisions did not sit on their planning committees.
But campaigners said it sent the wrong signal and called on the local authorities to sell their holdings.
Simon Clydesdale, energy campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “It’s a worrying discovery. Fracking is already a dirty enough industry without getting mired in the murky waters of conflicts of interest. Councils must disinvest and show local voters that they can be trusted to put the interests of their constituents first when making crucial decisions on fracking applications.”
With assets worth about £120bn, local authority pension funds are among Britain’s largest investors.
David Forbes, Lincolnshire’s assistant director of resources, said: “The pension scheme operates within a set of clear investment principles and is overseen by the pension committee, which makes its decisions independently from the county council.”
West Sussex County Council said its investment in Cuadrilla, worth some £26,000, was minimal and equated to some 0.001 per cent of the total value of its £2.45bn pension fund. In a statement, the council said: “Any indirect investments made by the pension fund’s investment managers would not have any influence at all in determining a planning application.”
Salford City Council said its planning panel members had no role in deciding where GMPF invested its funds. GMPF acknowledged its holding in Henderson Group but said it had no investment, direct or indirect, in IGas.

Government to make 40 per cent of Britain available for fracking

The vast disruption that could be caused across the country by fracking has been laid bare, with the Government announcing it would make 40 per cent of Britain available to companies to explore for oil and gas.
Local communities could be subjected to thousands of wells being dug every year in the search for fossil fuels – requiring billions of litres of water, with dozens of lorries passing by every day – after the Coalition said it would put oil and gas licences covering 100,000 square kilometres up for auction.
The auction, which would give the licence-winners exclusive rights to explore an area for oil and gas, but would require additional permits for fracking, would add to the 19,000 square kilometres of licences that have already been sold to hydrocarbon producers.
Opponents of the drilling technique were quick to criticise the plans. Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “These plans cast a dark shadow over many communities across Britain who could now face the threat of fracking in their backyard.”
Harry Huyton, head of energy and climate policy at the RSPB, added: “We asked that the most ecologically sensitive parts of the country, such as protected areas, be excluded from licensing. Sadly, this scenario is not even considered in the documents released by the Government because it might have the ‘unintended consequence’ of restricting fracking activity.”
Britain’s first fracking site, near Blackpool, was forced to suspend operations in 2011 after being found to have caused two earth tremors.
But the Government sought to boost its chances of widespread fracking by saying that next year’s licences, together with those already awarded, could generate almost £1bn for local communities, according to a new environmental assessment of fracking by the engineering firm AMEC.
The money would come from a £100,000-per-well payment, irrespective of whether it contains gas or oil, and 1 per cent of any revenue generated – which could be between £2.4m to £4.8m a site.
But the Government also revealed that HGV trucks could pass near homes as many as 51 times a day as they travelled to and from the wells.
The ferrying of people and materials could continue for up to 145 weeks, or nearly three years, during which time trucks could pass by a given property more than 50,000 times.
Launching an environment assessment of the forthcoming licensing round, Energy Minister Michael Fallon said he was “stepping up the search for shale gas” – although he declined to say whether he would allow fracking under his own house. “There could be large amounts of shale gas available in the UK, but we won’t know for sure the scale of this prize until further exploration takes place. It is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security,” he said.
The Government talked up the economic potential of next year’s licensing round, predicting 150 new licences would create between 16,000 and 32,000 jobs, and produce as much as 8.64 trillion cubic feet of gas during the 2020s

Doubts cast on claims of Lancashire fracking jobs boom

TOWER OF PEOPLE POWER: Protesters gathered outside the conference

TOWER OF PEOPLE POWER: Protesters gathered Outside the conference




Anti-fracking protesters have hit back at claims of a multi-billion pound boom for Lancashire if shale gas gets the go-ahead.

Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said of the UK Onshore Operators Group report compiled by Ernst and Young: “This report is a rehash of rose-tinted industry guesstimates about the economic potential of fracking in the UK.

“Paying accountants to tally up hypothetical jobs won’t change the fact that executives still have no idea whether they’ll actually be able to get gas out of the ground on a commercial scale in the UK.

“Scratch beneath the hype and this report is actually a veiled plea for government and taxpayer support for an industry that has stalled before even taking off. It’s less about what fracking can do for your country, and more about what your country should do for fracking.

“The low-carbon energy sector is already giving work to tens of thousands of people across the UK, with the potential to create many more. This is where ministers should concentrate their efforts if they are serious about making Britain’s energy supply cleaner and safer.”

Friends of the Earth North West Campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “This report should be viewed with caution – US studies have shown that the fracking industry has exaggerated jobs claims in the past.

“Supporters of fracking have form on over-hyping shale gas. Claims that it will cut UK energy bills have been dismissed by most experts.

“The North West has some of the best offshore wind and tidal resources in Europe and already over 10,000 are employed in the sector.

“The Government should abandon its reckless pursuit of fracking – which is dirty, unpopular and will not deliver for years – and make the North West the heart of a renewables revolution to power the country.”

She said the renewables sector already amounts to £1.2 billion and 10,000 jobs in the North West, with predictions that 400,000 jobs could be created by 2020.

4 Wells Planned for Roseacre Wood & Little Plumpton

Four wells planned for each of Roseacre and Little Plumpton sites

Cuadrilla has announced that it intends to apply for planning permission to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells at each of the Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road sites. Following submission of its planning application, residents will also be able to make further comments during the statutory consultation period, which will be organised by Lancashire County Council (LCC). Please keep checking back to the RAFF site, as once the applications are received by LCC we will be providing advice on how best to object.

Cuadrilla also states that a works programme is also underway to restore the exploration sites at Anna’s Road and Preese Hall. Site restoration plans for these two sites were approved by Lancashire County Council at a planning committee earlier this year. Readers will remember that both of these wells failed – Preese Hall was damaged by induced seismicity caused by the drilling, and Anna’s Road because Cuadrilla messed up the process by getting a packer stuck down the well.

As part of Cuadrilla’s review of sites, the company will also be applying for planning permission to carry out seismic and pressure monitoring at its Grange Hill site. The company says that the well will not be hydraulically fractured.