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Fracking shame: Full threat to British wildlife

Fracking shame: Full threat to British wildlife is laid bare in a new report showing up to half the country could be licensed for shale gas extraction

 

The threat posed to wildlife by fracking is laid bare today as a new report identifies vast swathes of environmentally sensitive land across Britain that could be excavated for shale oil and gas.

The land covers tens of thousands of square kilometres and includes thousands of sites such as Morecombe Bay in the North West, one of the most important areas in Europe for hosting wintering birds, as well as the North York Moors and the Thames Estuary.

An alliance of wildlife groups including RSPB and the National Trust is calling on the government to establish “frack-free zones” across the country to protect areas of particular environmental importance.

The proposed zones would cover a total area of about 42,000 square kilometres – or about 18 per cent of Britain. Some of them are already under threat from licences previously granted to fracking companies, some could be put at risk from licences due to be auctioned in a giant licensing round this summer, while others are not currently in any danger. The so-called 14th licensing round in the summer potentially covers about 40 per cent of Britain, although experts expect only a fraction of this will end up being licensed – at least this time round, as gas companies initially compete for the most attractive locations.

Continue reading Fracking shame: Full threat to British wildlife

Cuadrilla applying to frack at two Lancashire sites


Cuadrilla applying to frack at two Lancashire sites

the Banks site The well will be sealed and the site restored to its former condition

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An application to carry out fracking on the Fylde coast will be submitted to Lancashire County Council by the end of the month, said energy firm Cuadrilla.

It said it was applying to drill, hydraulically fracture and test gas flow at up to four exploration wells at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

It said it would also submit an application for its Roseacre Wood site “a few weeks later”.

Campaigners say fracking is harmful to the environment.

‘Gas potential’The energy company said it had produced a detailed environmental impact assessment as part of the application.

The firm said it was applying to install a network of “monitoring stations” within 4km (2.4 miles) of the Preston New Road site.

Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan said the application could be an “important milestone for Lancashire” in unlocking its shale gas potential.

He has estimated the market value of shale gas reserves in Lancashire at £136bn.

Mr Egan said the firm had undertaken “extensive consultation and engagement” with local people.

‘Wall of opposition’Lancashire County Council said once the application was registered it would reach a decision “within 16 weeks”.

Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is a technique in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas.

Lawrence Carter from Greenpeace said Cuadrilla “could not have picked a worse time to push ahead with their drilling plans in Lancashire” and were “bound to hit a wall of opposition”.

“Fracking firms are ploughing ahead despite widespread concerns about the impact of fracking on water supply, air pollution and the industrialisation of our countryside.”

The technique was suspended in the UK in 2011 after fracking of shale gas deposits near Blackpool was linked to two minor earthquakes.

A study by the British Geological Survey placed the epicentre for each quake about 500m away from the Preese Hall-1 well.

A government report published in June 2012 concluded fracking was safe if adequately monitored.

The company said in December no further work would take place at the site near Weeton.

Cuadrilla also confirmed it was pulling out of Becconsall well, near Banks, and said it would not seek to frack at its Anna’s Road site in St Annes

Doctors Call On President Obama For More Regulation On Fracking

More than 1,000 doctors and other health care professionals are calling on President Obama to take steps to protect Americans from the risks posed by fracking.

On Thursday, Environment America delivered a letter with more than 1,000 signatures from health care professionals that asked Obama to declare certain areas in the U.S. off-limits to fracking and to ensure that fracking is no longer exempt from environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. The letter outlined the dangers fracking poses to health and the environment, including drinking water contamination, carcinogenic air pollution, acute and chronic health effects, and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Given this toll of damage, the prudent and precautionary response would be to stop fracking,” the letter reads. “Instead, the oil and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking at a frenzied pace, even into areas that provide drinking water for millions of Americans.”

Continue reading Doctors Call On President Obama For More Regulation On Fracking

Fracking now subject to independent environmental impact studies

Exploration and hydraulic fracturing extraction activities for non-conventional hydrocarbons in the EU will now be subject to environmental impact studies. This results from the European Parliament voting to amend the existing Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA)

Lead MEP Andrea Zanoni

 

Previously, the directive was limited in scope to natural gas projects that extract at least 500,000 cubic metres each day. Many shale gas projects yield less due to the hydraulic rock fracturing process (“fracking”), and hence were not subject to an impact assessment requirement.

MEPs have now voted to make environmental impact assessments mandatory, regardless of the quantity extracted, for all exploration and exploitation of non-conventional hydrocarbons (shale gas and oil, coal gas, et cetera).

Lead MEP Andrea Zanoni (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Italy) was granted a mandate by 332 votes to 311 with 14 abstentions, to negotiate a first-reading agreement with EU ministers. Accordingly, Amendments 79, 112 and 126 have been made to Annex 1 of the EIA Directive.

Zanoni said: “We are revising this key legislation to align it with Europe’s new priorities, such as soils, resource use and protecting biodiversity. Hydraulic fracturing raises concerns. We lay down clear criteria to avoid conflicts of interest and involve the public.”

 

‘Jewel in the crown’ of European Union environmental policy

The aforementioned amendments involving fracking are part of a broader assessment of the EIA Directive.

Described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of European Union environmental policy in one European Parliament statement, it incorporates 200 types of projects within its scope and aims to ensure their environmental sustainability.

Assessments of the impact of any given project are based on considerations of biodiversity, the use of natural resources, climate change and natural and man-made disaster risks.

Continue reading Fracking now subject to independent environmental impact studies

First British shale gas ‘to fuel homes next year’

gas next year

Cuadrilla is preparing to submit planning applications by the end of this month to frack at two sites in Lancashire next year

Shale gas could be fuelling British homes for the first time by late 2015, under plans from fracking firm Cuadrilla.

The company is preparing to submit planning applications by the end of this month to frack at two sites in Lancashire next year.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla chief executive, said that, if successful, it planned to connect the test fracking sites up to the gas grid, in what would be a milestone first for the fledgling British shale gas industry.

He also suggested homeowners hostile to fracking beneath their land should be entitled to only minimal compensation, if any.

Cuadrilla hopes to gain planning permission for its two sites, near the villages of Roseacre and Little Plumpton, in time to start drilling at the end of this year. They could then be fracked next summer “in a best case scenario”.

“After the initial flow test period, which is up to 90 days, if the flow rates look good then we would want to tie the well into the gas transmission system and flow it for a longer period to assess the flow rate over 18 to 24 months,” Mr Egan said. Continue reading First British shale gas ‘to fuel homes next year’

UK Fracking ambitions threatened by EU

The EU authorities have opened a new front in efforts to clamp down on shale gas, warning that the carbon footprint from methane emissions may be high enough to call into question the whole future of fracking in Europe.

Protestors and anti-fracking activists camp near the entrance to a site operated by Cuadrilla who are drilling to explore for oil and shale gas in Balcombe in Sussex

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says methane is 86 times more damaging than CO2 over a 20-year period Photo: Christopher Pledger. “Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2,” said Jos Delbeke, director-general of the European Commission’s climate divisions.

 

“The level of methane emissions tilts the balance for or against the development of shale: it is the central issue. We don’t want to copy and paste what happened in the US. We will do things differently in Europe,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Continue reading UK Fracking ambitions threatened by EU

STUPID OR WHAT ?

Falling house prices as a result of fracking could be ‘a really good thing’ for first-time buyers, according to Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Mike Jones.

But his comments on Chester radio station Dee 106.3 sparked a backlash from opponents of coal bed methane and shale gas extraction.

The debate on fracking follows an ongoing protest camp on a proposed test drill site at Upton and a previous camp next to a test drill at Farndon.

Cllr Jones was asked by local resident and businessman Matt Bryan, who is camping at the Upton site, whether householders living near full scale extraction operations will see their council tax reduced if house prices fall.

The council leader responded:  “The house prices in Cheshire are broadly 10 or 11 times the average salary. “So for house prices to come down a little bit after their huge increases over the last 20 years might be a really good thing for our young people who cannot afford housing. “We are losing our young people from Cheshire. The number of young people in Cheshire is going down because they can’t afford to live here, which is not good for our economic future prosperity.” Continue reading STUPID OR WHAT ?

The report by a panel of 14 INTERNATIONAL experts

photo Balcome ugly rig

The report by a panel of 14 INTERNATIONAL experts concludes “data about potential environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive.”

So little is known about the long-term impacts of extracting gas by fracturing rock beds with high-pressure fluids that scientists and regulators need to start now to understand how to develop the resource safely and cleanly, according to co-author Rick Chalaturnyk, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta.

In an interview with CBC News, Chalaturnyk said “additional information needs to be collected to better understand and manage those impacts.” Continue reading The report by a panel of 14 INTERNATIONAL experts

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