Earlier this year we attended the community workshop, at Ribby Hall, which helped shape a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of planning applications received by Lancashire County Council (LCC) relating to proposed shale gas exploration.
The government just declared war on the British people over fracking.
It’s going to allow companies to frack under our homes without our permission — despite 99% of responses to a public consultation saying an emphatic NO.
A massive 40,000 people formally objected to proposals to change trespass laws so that fracking companies can extract oil and gas from under people’s land without permission. Showing utter disdain for democracy, the government has decided to ignore this outpouring of public opposition, and go ahead with changing the law in favour of the frack-happy 1%.
It’s clear that this government is far more interested in helping fossil fuel companies than it is in building a green economy or being democratically accountable. But we can still stop this.
Thousands of communities across the UK are facing the threat of fracking. The shale oil and gas boom in the US has led to contaminated drinking water, air pollution, health problems from headaches to cancer, multiple earthquakes, water shortages and rocketing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s blindingly obvious we can’t allow that to happen here.
Industry have licences to frack on more than 60% of British land already, but local communities everywhere are saying no. Action camps have sprung up all over the country.
The government is getting desperate, which is why it’s resorting to removing people’s basic right to control what happens under their own land. We have to make this shocking move backfire, and lead to even greater opposition, until the frackers are forced to back down.
1. Objecting to the Monitoring Sites Information.
The impacts of Shale Gas Development in Lancashire may be far more serious than any of us have imagined. We thought Cuadrilla were just applying for 2 sites to drill and frack at Roseacre and Little Plumpton. We were wrong they have also applied for planning permission for industrial development on a further 184 parcels of land and this we believe is their real prize.
The Roseacre application to drill and frack 4 wells is referenced LCC/2014/0101 but there is another application referenced LCC/2014/0102 for monitoring works.
The Little Plumpton application to drill and frack 4 wells is referenced LCC/20140096 and the application for the monitoring works is referenced LCC/2014/0097.
If you haven’t specifically objected to the second applications for monitoring works, it is vitally important to do that now because the Roseacre one is applying for planning permission on 91 parcels of land, (please see table 1a – Roseacre Wood Monitoring Sites to see where these are) and the Little Plumpton one is applying for planning permission on 93 parcels of land, (please see table 1b – Little Plumpton Monitoring Sites to see where these are).
The significance of this, is that once the principle of development is established, planning officers would find it very difficult to refuse any future development and so therefore, if these applications are approved, Cuadrilla will have the choice to develop any of the 184 sites right across the Fylde from Preston to Blackpool.
Frances Egan was quoted to say – “you need to understand the scale of this, this will be the largest gas field in the whole of Western Europe”. Now we see how this could become a reality!
So, please find attached a template letter to help compose your objection letter. 2 – Template Letter
You can write a general letter objecting to both planning applications covering the 184 monitoring sites (see template number 2 to assist you). As well as this, we recommend also writing to object specifically to the monitoring site /sites nearest to where you live (for the points you will need to consider when objecting to a specific site, please see 3 – Points to consider for specific monitoring sites
In Table 4 – Table of the Locations of All the Roseacre Wood Monitoring Sites you find find the exact location of all the monitoring sites in the Roseacre application LCC/2014/0102
In Table 5 – Table of the Locations of All the Little Plumpton Monitoring Sites you will find the exact location of all the monitoring sites in the Little Plumpton application LCC/2014/0097.
Finally you will find a map – this is 6 – Distribution of Monitoring Sites – Little Plumpton and Roseacreand this shows the distribution of all 184 monitoring sites, all 184, 20m x 20m square parcels of land across the whole of Fylde, Wyre and Preston.
Send your letters either by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to The Development Management Group, Environment Directorate, P.O.Box 100, County Hall, Preston, PR1 0LD.
Let us encourage as many people as we can to realise the significance of this potential threat and together we can help to save Lancashire from the blight of Shale Gas and prevent Lancashire people from becoming the guinea pigs in this experiment.
Just in case you haven’t heard yet (you may well not have heard because the media have barely mentioned it), the Government has responded to the “Underground Drilling Access” Consultation.
40,647 of us replied to DECC. Only 82 responses (mainly by oil industry insiders) were in favour of the proposed changes to the trespass law to allow fracking under our property without our consent. 99.8% of us were opposed to the changes.
You can read the Government’s response here:
The Government’s view is that not one of the 40,565 of us who replied raised any single point which would make them change their decision to press ahead with their proposed changes to the trespass law, whereas the 82 people who were in favour of it raised some very good points about why it is needed.
So they will be forging ahead with these changes as soon as possible. They’ve also decided that the proposed changes should now apply also to Coalbed Methane Extraction even though that was not included in the consultation.
I think our first step in continuing our opposition to these undemocratic changes must be to try to raise awareness amongst people we know and also to bombard our own MPs to let them know that we do not want this. Tessa Munt claims to be against this change (she wrote a very good letter about it encouraging us all to respond to the consultation). I will write to her asking what she proposes to do now that the Government has decided to ignore what 99.8% of respondents have said. Perhaps we should all do the same. I would be keen to hear your ideas about what other actions we could take.
Our awareness raising event in Wells on 21 September went well. Around 160 people put dots on the Frackometer to show their feelings about fracking. 25 were 100% in favour, 80+ were 100% against and the rest said that they didn’t know enough to express an opinion about it yet. We had good discussions about their questions about fracking. Most people were concerned about contamination of the water, the geology of the Mendips, the impact of the infrastructure and our health. Our next step is to try to get answers to specific questions from people on either side of the debate. I’ll keep you posted about any answers we get….
The Government continues to put those in sympathy with fracking into positions of power – John Manzoni (an ex BP exec who was fined in the US for breaching fracking regulations) has just been appointed CEO of the Civil Service. His appointment seems to have been engineered by Lord Browne. The new head of the Environment Agency, which will be responsible for regulating fracking to a large extent, is Philip Dilley, who was previously chairman of Arup’s and involved in advising Cuadrilla.
All very depressing, but there is some good news – UK Methane – the fracking company which holds the PEDL 227 licence in Somerset has just had it’s planning application in Neath rejected by the Council. Lets hope Somerset County Council will stand up to the frackers too.
In case anyone you know hasn’t already signed this:
Lancashire County Council planning committee today (23 September) granted permission to shale gas company Cuadrilla for two planning applications – regarding ‘pressure monitoring’ at the Becconsall site in West Lancs, and an extension for the time period to restore the site at Preese Hall, Fylde.
Representatives of Ribble Estuary Against Fracking and Friends of the Earth spoke at the planning committee to express concerns including that:
• A full Habitats Regulation Assessment should be carried out at the Becconsall site which is only 650m from the Ribble Estuary, an internationally protected site for wintering birds
• Cuadrilla provided a lack of information on the key activities at the Becconsall site including the means of perforating the well, the pressure that will be reached and risks to groundwater as a result
• Uncertainty remains regarding the steps taken to inspect the Becconsall well in the three years since it was drilled
• The Becconsall site should have been restored to agricultural use by September 2012 according to the original application
• Regarding Preese Hall, it is not clear that well integrity issues encountered at the site have been addressed and that the Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) has inspected the site
• Cuadrilla has failed to meet three time conditions by which it should have restored the site back to agricultural use, and the council should therefore take enforcement action.
Committee members approved the testing at the Becconsall site, and the time extension for restoration of Preese Hall, but raised major concerns regarding Cuadrilla’s operations and repeatedly breaking planning conditions. Cuadrilla also withdrew an application yesterday (22 September) for the Becconsall site that was connected to fracking.
John Powney from Ribble Estuary Against Fracking said:
“We are disappointed that the Committee granted permission for testing but are very pleased that there will be no fracking in the future at the site near the Ribble Estuary.
“Cuadrilla withdrew an application connecting them to fracking at the eleventh hour, following a challenge from our legal team. If they try to frack the site in future, we will be using the law to protect the people of Lancashire from this unwanted, unnecessary and dangerous industry.”
Helen Rimmer, North West Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:
“We are concerned that further testing has been allowed at such a highly sensitive site for ecology, but we are pleased the Councillors sent a strong message to Cuadrilla that breaching planning conditions is completely unacceptable.
“Cuadrilla’s record in Lancashire is appalling, and considering the high risk nature of operations and environmental concerns, the current applications to frack in the Fylde must be turned down.”
Bob Dennett of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking said:
“Our concern is that it is unclear whether the Health and Safety Executive have visited the Preese Hall site to verify that well integrity problems have been resolved, and they are relying on self-regulation by the operator. We are pleased that the Cabinet member for the environment publicly recognised the weaknesses in the regulatory framework”.
Responding to discussion amongst Committee members at the meeting on enforcement action against Cuadrilla due to breaching planning conditions at the Preese Hall site, Councillor John Hodson of West Lancs Borough Council said:
“Local authorities have the powers in situations where there is a hazard to the public, to enter land for the purposes of carrying out or arranging remedial works with costs charged to the landowner. This should raise questions in many farmers minds as to the extent of the liability they are exposed to.”
Lancashire County Council are due to consider the two applications for major fracking sites in the Fylde – at Preston New Road and Roseacre – in November this year.
UKOOG, the representative body for the UK Onshore Oil and Gas industry, has launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging people to ask questions about natural gas from shale.
‘Let’s talk about shale’ is borne out of the recognition that the general public are subjected to a stream of information from a range of sources and much of this information is contradictory. ‘Let’s talk about shale’ will give people the chance to ask the questions they would like to have answered.
Safe fracking will cut energy bills and create wealth without ruining precious countryside, writes David Cameron
Even a High Court judge at Manchester Civil Justice Centre smiled as Cuadrilla and fellow claimants tried to ban everyone in the world who might be opposed to fracking from going to land in Little Plumpton – or `encouraging or instructing’ anyone to do so via social media.
The injunction to try and stop anti-fracking protests in Lancashire, if applied, could have dire consequences for the upcoming fight against fracking in Salford.