Britain’s fracking push facing resistance from nation’s heartland

Britain’s fracking push facing resistance from nation’s heartland
The Conservative Party is in pursuit of a shale gas boom like that in the U.S.
photo Balcome ugly rig
LONDON – The ruling Conservative Party is lining up investors to kick-start fracking across swathes of rural Britain and challenge opposition from the village halls and country estates in its political heartland.
Britain got 95 bids for onshore oil and gas licenses this year, after 60 in the last round in 2008, Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said. Celtique Energie, Ineos Group and IGas Energy were among bidders, as interest in hydraulic fracturing grows even after protests stalled earlier projects.
That’s testament to the Conservative-led coalition’s drive to emulate a U.S. shale gas boom that profited producers, cut energy bills and created scores of overnight millionaires.
Britain offers tax breaks to explorers and plans to change laws on trespass to allow drilling under land without owners’ consent. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne says he’s proposing the world’s most generous tax system for shale.
“There’s clearly a large amount of interest in license applications despite some of the negative press coverage, local opposition campaigns and environmental concerns,” said Caroline May, a lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright in London who has advised U.S. operators seeking to enter the British market. “There is a determination to see shale gas succeed.”
In the affluent village of Fernhurst, nestled in West Sussex’s rolling green hills 40 miles southwest of London, 70-year-old Aphra Peard is having none of it.
“It’s terribly dangerous,” Peard said in the village community center, where she was finishing off a woolly hat with her knitting group. “If they’re successful, there’ll be a well every 2 miles. Every well needs 4 acres of heavy industry with traffic going backwards and forwards.” The trucks threaten houses in the village like hers built 350 years ago, she said.
The local South Downs National Park Authority declined an application by London-based Celtique, which won a British license in an earlier bidding round, to drill at a site at Fernhurst after receiving about 5,000 objections to its plans.
Michael Pearson, the fourth Viscount Cowdray, whose estate hosts the competition for polo’s most coveted trophy, is among opponents. Pearson, a Buddhist whose great grandfather struck oil in Mexico in the 19th century, has obtained a preservation order for ancient oak trees lining the access road.
Even the area’s Conservative lawmaker, Andrew Tyrie, wrote to the national park planning officer to voice locals’ concerns.
Celtique, which partnered with Magellan Petroleum Corp. of the United States, on Tuesday said it was considering its options for Fernhurst, after the company filed an appeal over a rejected application in the nearby settlement of Wisborough Green.
“While the government takes seemingly positive steps in support of the shale-gas concept such as the trespass law, the reality is the onus is on the explorers to go out and show the public that it technically works and is safe,” Mark Wilson, an oil analyst at Jefferies Group in London, said by phone.
High population density in Britain relative to the U.S. and the lack of the mineral rights laws that enriched American landowners make it harder to win over local communities.
Cuadrilla Resources, faced with protests over plans to drill at Roseacre village and Preston New Road in England’s northwest, is considering ways to curb trucks coming into its project. It is studying recycling waste water on site, as well as seeking permission to use alternative routes.
The government sees such efforts and its argument that the United Kingdom needs to secure low-cost energy supplies winning the day.
“I am not prepared to pass up a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity,” Hancock, a Conservative lawmaker, said as he opened the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas on Friday. “Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the U.K. and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on.”

Human rights must not be ignored!

Just as the UK Government is stirring up public anger against human rights, writes Anna Grear, its fast-track development of shale gas and oil shows that we need these legal protections more than ever. A new report shows how the ‘dash to frack’ is endangering our most cherished rights – to health, water, security and life.

“Human rights exist to protect ordinary people from state action threatening certain core human interests – and fracking makes us all vulnerable”

Continue reading Human rights must not be ignored!

Potential Health Impacts of the Proposed Shale Gas Exploration Sites in Lancashire

The Lancashire County Council Cabinet will be asked to:

 

–  Receive the report on the initial health impact assessment of the proposed shale gas exploration sites in Lancashire;

–  Authorise the Director of Public Health to take the necessary steps to address the potential influence of shale gas exploration activities on the health and wellbeing of local communities.

See Full Report here.

Are Fracking Workers Being Poisoned on the Job?

A new study published in Environmental Health reveals air pollution data on major, in some cases previously underestimated, health risks from toxic contamination at gas production sites related to fracking. Air samples gathered around “unconventional oil and gas” sites by community-based environmental research teams contained unsafe levels of several volatile compounds that “exceeded federal guidelines under several operational circumstances,” and that “Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.”

See the Report here.

Who’s Important?

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW THE GOVERNMENT TREAT THE VOTING PUBLIC

Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 15:00
The Rt Hon Matthew Hancock
 
We are writing to you as our new Energy Minister. We are the chairs of the Roseacre Awareness and Preston New Road residents Groups (representing two groups of over 200 residents) who will be directly affected by Cuadrilla’s two recent planning applications to drill and hydraulically fracture for shale gas here at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton in the heart of rural Fylde, Lancashire. If permission is granted (determination due November) these will be the very first wells to be high volume, intensively ‘fracked’ in the UK since the earthquakes at Preese Hall in 2011, just 6km from here.
We would like to invite you, and your representatives, to come and personally speak to our residents, from the villages of Roseacre, Wharles, Treales, Little Plumpton and Westby, i.e. those people who will be directly affected should these plans go ahead. We have had several meetings with our MP Mark Menzies on this issue, plus numerous discussions with local councillors, but there are still matters to be addressed. In view of the intense media attention (we have already been the subject of several press and media reports), we feel it would be a politically astute, and beneficial, move for you to come and speak to the people first hand about their concerns rather than hearing from government departments, industry experts and the actual operators. So far, we feel we are not being listened to despite months of effort to try and make our voices heard and we implore you to come and see us for yourself.
We appreciate you are a very busy man which is why we are inviting you now so we can set a date possibly to coincide with another NW visit.  We previously invited the Prime Minister but he passed onto Michael Fallon, the then Energy Minister, and we heard nothing more. This was a missed opportunity considering fracking is such a major issue at present and will continue to be so for some time to come. 
If you agree we would also invite our local parish councils and local press. We can assure you we are not a bunch on uneducated ‘nimbys’ but a well educated cross section of society. Peviously most of us were life long conservative voters but unfortunately this is no longer the case.
There are specific issues we would want to discuss including the DEFRA report, socio-economic benefits as well as the potential impacts on our health and environment. We could agree these, and Agenda, before hand.
Please, please consider this invitation seriously. You would be most welcome here and we are sure you would appreciate seeing first hand that this is not the desolate North!
Looking forward to hearing from you.
 
Kind regards
Barbara Richardson 
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group                                     
Pat Davies
Chair of Preston New Road Residents Group

What Next?

02 September 2014 11:30
Dear Sir/Madam
 
We have not had an acknowledgement to our email below sent to the Rt Hon Matthew Hancock, on 27th August regarding fracking in Lancashire.  This is not just a generic letter regarding the issue but a serious invite from the two communities who may well be the first to experience full blown fracking in the UK since the earthquakes of 2011.
I am sure you would want to hear our views and this is a sincere invitation to come and meet us face to face so you can hear for yourself the views of local residents and, hopefully, reassure us the Conservative Party have our best interests at heart.
 
I have also invited our MP Mark Menzies to join us if we can agree a suitable date. If this is the wrong email address I apologise and I hope Mark will forward  to you or speak to you directly. 
Kind regards
Barbara Richardson
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group

What Next?

Sent: Friday, 19 September 2014, 15:02
Subject: RE: Fracking – Invitation to Roseacre Wood proposed fracking site
Dear Ms Richardson,
 
Apologies in the delay in responding to this email. 
 
The Minister is grateful for your kind invitation to visit Roseacre and other local villages.  Unfortunately, due to diary pressure, he is unable to meet with you at this time.  We will be in touch if a visit to the North West is planned in the near future, to discuss whether it would be possible to arrange a meeting.
Kind regards,
Rosie Birchall
Private Secretary to Matt Hancock MP
And Next!!
Wednesday, 12 November 2014, 13:51
Dear Rosie
I have just found out that the Minister has indeed visited the NW today, with much publicity, yet extremely disappointed that he did not find time to come and speak to those residents who are likely to be directly affected by plans to frack in Lancashire. I find this discourteous and alarming.
The Minister can find time to visit local colleges so why not take time out to me with us as we kindly offered in September. Is he afraid of what we will have to say?
Can you please pass this on to the Minister and let him know our invitation is still open to him, and that next time he is in the NW, we hope he will find time to come visit us.
Regards
Barbara Richardson
Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group

EU Fracking Boom Becoming Less Likely

Pro-fracking campaign in the global media is fading fast. A year or two ago the extraction method suitable for the Arizona desert was presented as a key component of the EU’s energy security policy by high-ranking officials in the European Commission. Many large corporations that announced an influx of investment into Eastern European fracking projects between 2010 and 2013 are now gradually reducing the scope of their planned work. Their decision was prompted by environmental and political problems that receive insufficient coverage in the industry media. It’s becoming clear that fracking technology can’t be brought to the EU “as is” from the United States.

Recently published data by Rice University, Texas indicates that simple recycling of the tainted waste water is not safe, OilPrice.com writes. A year or two ago supporters of hydraulic fracturing used to preach about “green innovations in the shale revolution” with the passion of small-town televangelists, but now, after the publication of new data, they have switched tactics and simply remain silent about environmental problems. Yet concerned citizens of New York City are more aware.

“Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the current technology, or with the inadequate regulations being proposed,”

Louis Allstadt

See full article

The government is getting desperate

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.

Tell the government to ditch plans to frack under our homes without our permission.

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.

Sign the petition to stop forced fracking under people’s land.