Cuadrilla’s bid to change rules for Lancs shale gas site raises concerns about “intensified fracking”

pnr 170623 flood Katrina Lawrie10

Preston New Road, 23 June 2017. Photo: NED

The shale gas company, Cuadrilla, is being urged to explain why it is seeking changes to the environmental permit for its site near Blackpool.

The Environment Agency announced yesterday that Cuadrilla had applied to vary the permit for Preston New Road, where drilling is expected to start imminently.

The company wants to make changes to the maximum limit of fracture fluid that can be used and to the duration of flaring during initial well tests.

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Cuadrilla’s bid to change rules for Lancs shale gas site raises concerns about “intensified fracking”

 

 

 

 

Three Lancs councillors join 13-person anti-fracking lock-on protest at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site

BY RUTH HAYHURST ON JULY 3, 2017

Three women councillors from Lancashire are taking part in a lock-on protest against operations at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool.
Along with 10 other Lancashire residents, they locked themselves to heavy objects at 3am at the Preston New Road site.
The protest is designed to stop vehicles entering the site where opponents expect the drilling rig will be delivered soon.


People opposed to Cuadrilla’s proposals have protested outside the site since work began in January. The company’s plans were refused permission by Lancashire County Council just over two years ago. But the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, gave the go-ahead to the scheme, following the recommendation of a planning inspector at a public inquiry.

Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding, one of the councillors taking part in today’s protest (above), said:

“It’s abundantly clear that when it comes to fracking, local councils have been rendered weak and helpless. I feel I need to be here with the community to say that we won’t roll over and accept this. We are putting our bodies on the line because our voices haven’t been heard.”

Join the Rolling Resistance to Fracking – Summer 2017

"You left us no choice."Local residents and councilors tell us their motivations for today's 13-person lock-on at Cuadrilla's flagship fracking site at Preston New Road.Come to Lancashire this summer to support the fight.Join the #RollingResistance

Posted by Reclaim The Power on Monday, 3 July 2017

Fylde Borough Councillor for Warton and Westby, Julie Brickles, (left)  said:

“I’m sometimes called the anti-fracking councillor. I strongly disagree with this: I’m the pro-community councillor and Westby is my community. Residents are rightly scared and we have now run out of options.”

 

 

Kirkham Town Councillor, Miranda Cox ,(right)  said:

“When your community and family is threatened, you are often left with little choice but to take direct action. As a councillor and member of this community, I have been left with no more alternatives.

“I feel our way of life locally is under attack by an industry that, backed by a distant central government, is seeking to turn Fylde and Lancashire into the largest gas field in Europe. I cannot stand by and allow this mass industrialisation to happen.”

 

 

Retired civil servant, Nick Danby, who lives in Inskip,  said:

“I believe that the imposition of fracking on our communities is unfair and unjust and it makes a mockery of local democracy. I have never been inside a courtroom before but, having exhausted all other legitimate means of resistance, I now feel that I have no choice but to continue my protest in the only way left available to me.”

 

Today’s protest is part of what has been called a “Rolling Resistance” month of action by Reclaim the Power, a UK-based network opposed to fracking.

At 9.20am, Lancashire Police posted on Twitter:

“A583 Preston New Road – Please be aware the is a contraflow in place due to campaigners “locked on” at the entrance to the Fracking site. Temporary traffic lights have been implemented and short delays are expected throughout the day.”

DrillOrDrop invited Cuadrilla to respond to the protest. This post will be updated with any further developments and comments.

What’s happening this week? 12-18 June 2017

BY RUTH HAYHURST ON JUNE 11, 2017
https://drillordrop.com/2017/06/11/whats-happening-this-week-12-18-june-2017/#more-45734

In this week’s listings:

Launch of local Medact group in Yorkshire
Final UK screenings of The Bentley Effect
Planning meetings
Fundraiser

Continue reading “What’s happening this week? 12-18 June 2017”

What’s happening this week? 5-11 June 2017

BY RUTH HAYHURST ON JUNE 4, 2017

https://drillordrop.com/2017/06/04/whats-happening-this-week-5-11-june-2017/#more-45215
In this week’s events listing:

UK book launch of Frackopoly
More screenings of The Bentley Effect
Oil and gas conferences
Anti-drilling direct action training workshops
Fracking information meetings
Oxford Geology Group lecture
Plus planning sessions, fundraisers and election hustings. Continue reading “What’s happening this week? 5-11 June 2017”

Drilling diary – June 2017

BY RUTH HAYHURST ON MAY 31, 2017

https://drillordrop.com/2017/05/31/drilling-diary-june-2017/#more-44900

60+ events in June about fracking and onshore oil and gas, including five direct action training sessions, nine screenings of The Bentley Effect documentary and the UK launch of Frackopoly. Plus meetings, fundraisers and industry conferences & workshops.

Continue reading “Drilling diary – June 2017”

European backing for Lancashire fracking protests

BY RUTH HAYHURST ON MAY 31, 2017


About 80 opponents of fracking from across Europe joined a protest today outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, where drilling is expected to start imminently.

The campaigners were from Friends of the Earth groups in 30 countries, including Holland, Germany, Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Jules Burton, of the local campaign group, Frack Free Lancashire, said:

“This industry has already caused catastrophic damage to great swathes of the countryside wherever it’s been practised.

“What is happening here at Preston New Road is not the culmination of Cuadrilla’s attempt to frack the Fylde but merely the start of an invasive and all-pervading industry that will change our area into one huge gasfield with no agriculture, no tourist industry and no more clean air or water.”

A spokesperson for Friends of the Earth said:

“The eyes of the world are on England – particularly the Fylde.

“We have successfully fought off the blight of fracking from countries in Europe and people power is gradually driving it out of Australia, Canada and America where it was born.

“The only country in the western world still supporting this dangerous and discredited industry is England and there is a real fear that if fracking goes ahead here it will give foreign governments the excuse they were looking for to re-introduce licenses regardless of public opinion”.

“Government misled public and parliament over shale gas carbon emissions” – new research

BY RUTH HAYHURST ON MAY 24, 2017
The government misled parliament and the public over the climate change impacts of shale gas, according to new research. It suggests that ministers may even have breached their code of conduct by giving MPs inaccurate information.

The conclusions, by environmental investigator Paul Mobbs, centre on the government’s use of a report to portray shale gas as a bridge to a green, low carbon future.

The report on shale’s greenhouse gas emissions was commissioned by the then Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) from David MacKay and Timothy Stone and published in 2013. Continue reading ““Government misled public and parliament over shale gas carbon emissions” – new research”

Conservatives back fracking and seeks to take some shale decisions away from local councils

ConsManifesto.jpgA Conservative government would take some decisions on shale gas drilling plans out of local control.In the manifesto published this morning, the party said:

  • Drilling that did not involve fracking would be classed as permitted development and would not need planning permission
  • Major shale planning decisions could be made by a government minister rather than a local council planning committee.

This marks a major change in policy for the Conservatives, who have previously promised “local people know best” and there would be “no compromise” in taking account of the views of local communities.

Read more

Conservatives back fracking and seeks to take some shale decisions away from local councils

 

Anti-fracking campaigners accuse police of “disproportionate and aggressive” tactics at Cuadrilla shale gas site



BY RUTH HAYHURST ON MAY 17, 2017

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool say their right to protest has been “repeatedly trampled on” by Lancashire Police.

In a letter to the force’s incoming chief constable, Andy Rhodes, they called for a meeting on policing of protests at the site at Preston New Road.

The letter, signed by more than 300 people, was handed-in at Kirkham Police Station this afternoon. The signatories accused the police of “increasingly aggressive tactics and lack of respect for human rights”.

Lancs police letter

It said:

“The timing of an increasing zero-tolerance attitude to protests, just as the fracking industry and its supporters have called for you to ‘crack down on protesters’, has further damaged confidence and trust that the operation at Preston New Road is impartial and proportionate.”

“Lancashire Police has a legal duty to protect the right to freedom of assembly and a responsibility to provide greater transparency and genuine accountability for your operation and the conduct of officers who are part of it.”

Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, was among about 100 people from across Lancashire who gathered outside the police station. She told the Blackpool Gazette the police presence at Preston New Road was “heavy-handed” and was facilitating Cuadrilla’s activities. She said of the policing:

“It’s not giving us the opportunity to protest in the peaceful way that we want to.”

She said policing costs, estimated at an extra £450,000 a month, were “over-the-top” because the presence was disproportionate.

“On the majority of days, there’s a few people there, normal residents like myself who just want to protest and there’s been three or four policemen to one person. That’s disproportionate.”

She added that lock-on protests had taken place off the carriageway and it was unfair to blame protesters for any traffic problems.

The letter, is supported by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), a national human rights organisation that has monitored the policing of anti-fracking protests since 2014.

It said it had been increasingly alarmed by Lancashire Police’s failure to learn from previous opposition to fracking in other parts of the country.

Netpol said it was particularly concerned about what it called “often extremely aggressive behaviour by officers”, arbitrary decisions about arrests and the way protesters were “pushed into the path of busy traffic with a lack of care about their safety”.

Kevin Blowe, the coordinator for Netpol, said:

“Concerns have been raised about the financial costs of policing the protests at Preston New Road but little thought appears to have been given to the legacy costs of this confrontational style of policing or the long-term impact it is having on relations between Lancashire Police and local people.”

“In the interests of transparency and accountability, we urge the new Chief Constable to agree to the request to participate and answer questions in an open public meeting and urge the Police & Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, to also attend and take part.”

At times tensions rose on both sides during today’s gathering. Supt Richard Robertshaw, of Lancashire Police, said:

Supt Robert Robertshaw“What today has shown is the very difficult job that the officers who are on the front line of the policing operation at Preston New Road have to deal with on a daily basis.

“Our intention is to facilitate peaceful protest We want people to be able to exercise their democratic rights. However that that needs to be balanced against by the right of Cuadrilla to develop the site in Preston New Road.”

“We don’t have a position on whether fracking is a good thing or a bad thing. We are very much in the middle trying to strike a balance between the protesting side of the argument and the development of the site.

“There are a vast amount of protesters who go about protesting in a peaceful and appropriate way and there are also others who are very aggressive. They are very much in the face of officers and acting in what I would describe as quite a threatening and aggressive way towards officers.

“What you will also see today is the professionalism of officers working on the operation. They know they’ve got a job to do. They know there are strong feelings. But they will also try to use the absolute minimum amount of force.”

Judge dismisses bid to challenge government minister over reopening Lancashire fracking inquiry

BY RUTH HAYHURST ON MAY 17, 2017

A Lancashire resident failed today to bring a legal challenge to the decision by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, over one of Cuadrilla’s proposed shale gas sites.

Mr Javid announced in October 2016 that he was reopening the public inquiry into plans to frack at Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool, despite the recommendation from an inspector that the scheme should be refused on highway safety grounds.

Roseacre resident, Jules Burton, who lives 500m from the proposed site, sought to bring a legal challenge in the High Court against reopening the inquiry.

He argued that the Secretary of State’s decision was unfair, irrational, tainted with bias and an abuse of power.

But in the past few minutes, Mr Justice Kerr, sitting at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, said the case was not arguable and he refused permission for a challenge. He confirmed a written ruling issued before Easter by Mr Justice Dove.

After today’s hearing, Mr Burton said:

“This has nothing whatever to do with justice and everything to do with the interpretation of the law. This is the interpretation the government chooses to put on the law because the government wants to promote fracking.

“Unfortunately this is not a triumph for democracy or a triumph for people. It is contrary to everything that should represent fairness in the British judicial system.”

Mr Javid said in October he was minded to approve Cuadrilla’s plans to drill, frack and test up to four wells at Roseacre Wood. But he said Cuadrilla had failed to provide adequate evidence that it had properly addressed highway safety issues.

Reopening the inquiry would, Mr Javid said, give the company an opportunity to “provide additional evidence”.

The reopened inquiry has been scheduled for six-to eight days and is expected to begin on 10 April 2018. Cuadrilla had said it would use the time before the new inquiry to undertake further traffic surveys and assessments that would inform updated transport plans.

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said this afternoon:

“We are pleased that the Secretary of State’s “minded to grant” decision, regarding our planning appeal for our proposed shale gas exploration at Roseacre Wood, has been upheld. Cuadrilla looks forward to demonstrating that it will meet the necessary highway conditions which are to be considered at a public inquiry in April 2018.”