A government fund to help English councils deal with shale gas planning applications appears to have paid out just 20% of what was available. A ministerial answer last week revealed that the shale support fund, which ran for five years until February 2020, paid nearly £1m to mineral planning authorities. But analysis by DrillOrDrop shows that the government allocated £4.8m to the fund during that period.
The Grangemouth multinational, Ineos, has withdrawn its bid to drill for underground coal gas in central Scotland, ending a ten-year controversy.
In September 2019, the company received its third formal warning from the Environment Agency (EA) in just over a year. It had failed to monitor key substances in groundwater and failed to tell the EA about missing data. It was also accused of poor communication and supervision of the company carrying out the monitoring. In December 2019, the EA said Cuadrilla had breached a condition on methane monitoring.
A group of environmental activists, public health professionals and campaigners are fighting fracking, climate change, petrochemicals and plastic pollution.
Ministers have performed a dramatic U-turn on the future of onshore wind farms and announced that they will free up public cash to help Britain cut greenhouse gases.
Onshore wind turbines were blocked from receiving public funds in 2016 – after then Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to get rid of the ‘unsightly structures’.
Companies covered by the UK’s apparent moratorium of fracking operations haven’t exactly sent all their staff home for the rest of the year and put a pallet board over the holes they made, as any site works they can declare merely “exploratory” may continue apace – a loophole some MPs are now asking to have closed.
In response to a question from MPs, business minister Kwasi Kwarteng pointed out that the UK’s specific definition of fracking is what’s being used here, and that piece of legislation only covers the injection of water. Any exploratory work, drilling, or controversial use of acids may continue, leading opposition MPs – and the fracking haters across all parties – to call for the government’s soft fracking suspension to be firmed up and made legally final, lest Cuadrilla start pumping thousands of gallons of tea into Lancashire rock.
Joe Corré from campaigner Talk Fracking said: “The fracking moratorium is and has always been an electioneering lie. The moratorium does not even consider the other associated fracking techniques like acidisation where they pump huge volumes of hydrochloric acid into the ground to dissolve the limestone and release the gas or oil.” [iNews]
The Environment Agency has objected to plans to drill for oil in Dorset because there was no assessment of the risk to water.
The regulator said the application by South Western Energy Limited at Puddletown had “insufficient information” about the risks to drinking water and to a nearby chalk stream.
It said there was no objection in principle to the application, but added:
“We will maintain our objection until we receive a satisfactory risk assessment that demonstrates that the risks to controlled waters posed by this development can be safely managed”.
A Conservative MP is seeking answers from his party’s leaders on fracking and Labour’s shadow minister for the environment branded the government’s stance on the practice as “disingenuous,” after it emerged that exploratory drilling for potential sites has continued in parts of England.