The long-delayed report from the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) was finally published on 7th July, 99 days after it was submitted to ministers, and sneaked out in the wake of the Chilcott Report on the Iraq war.
The CCC concluded that shale gas would breach the nation’s targets for emissions cuts unless these three key tests were passed (as described on the Drill or Drop report):
A report in the New Scientist, with the headline ‘UK will struggle to meet climate target if fracking goes ahead’ says: “It’s bad news for the UK’s wannabe frackers. Those conditions are going to be very difficult to meet in practice, which means the UK government cannot allow fracking on a large scale if the country is to meet its emissions targets.”
The general tone of press articles on the report was that it was bad news for the shale gas industry, and this was continued in other papers on the day of publication. Here are a selection:
The only two sources that appeared to give the report the thumbs up were the pro-fracking Times Newspaper – with a headline ‘Fracking gets green light from climate experts’ – and the BBC, which not for the first time took a very pro-fracking line on all its media outlets, with the headline ‘Cautious green light for fracking’ on its Online News page.
As for the Government, they did their best to spin the report in their favour, saying blithely that all conditions and regulations were already in place and they didn’t need to do anything else, and ignoring completely that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – a requirement by the CCC for one of its conditions – is as far away as ever.
You can read what the Ecologist website thought about the government’s response, the article headline being, “Fracking not compatible with climate change targets, say CCC.”
How this will affect the Judicial Review for fracking at Kirby Misperton, for which the NYCC’s failure to assess the impact on climate change correctly is a key issue, we shall have to see.
On 7th May, Friends of the Earth and members of Frack Free Ryedale applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the NYCC’s decision to allow Third Energy to frack at their KM8 wellsite at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. You can read the official press release by clicking here.
The NYCC decision to allow Third Energy to frack at Kirby Misperton was made by a 7-4 vote of the Conservative-dominated Planning Committee, despite 99.2% of respondents opposing the application. Nearly 100 people gave evidence against the application, including local residents, climate change experts, businesses and ex-Ryedale MP Baroness Anne McIntosh.
Concerned residents have revealed that fracking licence holder, INEOS has invited parish council representatives across Ryedale and York to a private meeting next month.
Details of the meeting, on May 11th in Malton’s Milton Rooms, appear in a leaked letter seen by Frack Free Ryedale. The meeting will take place behind closed doors with the public excluded from observing or contributing to the process of consultation.
Malton, Norton, Helmsley, Pickering and Kirbymoorside town councils and 10 parish councils in Ryedale have already passed motions against fracking, as has Ryedale District Council.
Ian Conlan, of Frack Free Ryedale, says: “Even some parish councillors, who are all volunteers, will be unable to attend because they have day jobs, and the wider public are being treated with utter contempt as they are completely excluded from this sham consultation.
“The meeting looks like it is little more than a slick PR exercise. Those councillors who are able to attend need to ask the many awkward questions about the real impact of fracking on local communities that INEOS hope to avoid by excluding the wider public.
“A key element of the INEOS presentation to the meeting will be to offer 4% of revenues to land owners who are willing to have a fracking site on their land and a further 2% to communities. It is interesting to note that payments in the United States range from 12% to 21% of revenues, so INEOS is also short changing the public in their effort to bribe people to accept fracking.”
Russell Scott, Frack Free North Yorkshire says: “This isn’t the first time councils have been offered private meetings in the area: it has taken our Freedom of Information request to reveal that Pickering Town Council has already met privately with Cuadrilla at an informal un-minuted private “briefing”.
“Given that it is Third Energy that hold the licence covering Pickering, it would suggest Cuadrilla, with their dreadful record in Lancashire, is looking to take over Third Energy’s P.R. and try to hoodwink councils just as INEOS are also looking to take over sites in the area.”
Cllr Paul Andrews says: “The amount paid to communities will never compensate individual householders and property owners for the loss in the value of their properties, blighted by fracking, or for the decimation of a tourist industry that relies on our reputation for beautiful unspoilt countryside.
“It will be of no comfort if the landscape is ruined with thousands of wells, water contaminated and lives disturbed by continuous drilling. All these things have happened in other areas, and recent research has now added cancer causing chemicals to the mix.
“INEOS should be turned away just as local district, town and parish councillors have said no to Third Energy’s plans at Kirby Misperton.”
Malton resident, Dr Liz Garthwaite says: “My town council in Malton gave short shrift to Third Energy. This issue has energised ordinary people who have never got involved in politics before, because it is their health that is threatened, as is displayed in a wealth of studies.
“It is exactly those ordinary people that this company shows contempt for. Let’s show them what local democracy is made of by demonstrating outside this meeting. If the public are excluded I think there are going to be a lot of empty seats inside this building, and rather more people protesting outside it.”
UPDATE: Here’s what Friends of the Earth Scotland had to say when Ineos launched a similar “lovebomb” PR campaign in their licence areas north of the border last year.
District Councillors have sent a clear message to North Yorkshire County Council that hydraulic fracturing is not welcome in Ryedale.
In a council chamber packed with over 100 anti-fracking campaigners, Planning Committee members voted to recommend to the county council, who will make the final decision on the Third Energy application to frack at Kirby Misperton, that they refuse planning permission.
Speaking after the meeting, Sue Gough, whose home is just two miles from the proposed site where Third Energy want to frack at Kirby Misperton, said:
“I am delighted that the Ryedale District Council Planning Committee has listened to the views of local residents, who are overwhelmingly against fracking coming to Ryedale, and sent a strong message to the North Yorkshire County Council against it granting this planning permission.
“A dark cloud will hang over Ryedale until the final decision is made in Northallerton, but I hope the county councillors will take a lead from Ryedale and reject the application from Third Energy.
“The risks associated with fracking in terms of health and well-being, wrecking of the environment and irreparable damage to our tourism, agriculture and other business is too high a price to pay and do they really want to be remembered as the committee who brought about the destruction of the beautiful area that we live in?”
Councillor Di Keal said:
“This was a great decision by members of the planning committee who have sent a resounding message to the county council that we don’t want to see this hugely damaging industry decimate Ryedale.
“But this is just one hurdle – the bigger battle will come when the County Council meet to make a decision on the Third Energy application next month. This is one of the biggest decisions that county council members will ever have to make which will have a major impact on the area for generations to come. I hope that they will listen carefully to the views of the local people they represent.
“Ryedale has shown that this is shouldn’t be a party political decision – tonight’s decision had cross-party support – it should be made on what is right for Ryedale residents now and in the future”.
And the final word from Ryedale District Council… ‘Recommendation to NYCC that Ryedale District Council recommends refusal of the application. The proposed development is likely to have significant adverse impacts in relation to noise, air quality, ecology, disposal of waste water, additional disturbance from HGVs and likely detrimental impacts on the tourist economy. The proposal is therefore contrary to planning policies contained in the adopted Ryedale Plan – Local Plan Strategy’.
The day after the Government voted to allow fracking under national parks and other protected areas, they announced that they have awarded 159 new PEDL licences, including most of north Yorkshire and Ryedale. You can read more about this on Drill or Drop.
In Ryedale 15 new PEDL licences were awarded to INEOS, 16 to Cuadrilla and another 3 to Third Energy. To find out who has got the new licences all over the UK, please click here.
A spokesperson for Frack Free Ryedale, said: “This is a very black day for North Yorkshire, which has now been officially designated a Fracking Sacrifice Zone in the government’s relentless but misguided dash for gas. If local people haven’t been worried about fracking up to now because it’s not happening on their doorstep, then it is time for them to wake up and smell the methane. Fracking is now on everyone’s doorstep.” You can read more reaction to the news here.
On Wednesday 17th December the notorious statutory instrument was passed by a ballot vote in the House of Commons, which means that fracking is now allowed under National Parks, AONBs, SSSIs, Ramsar Sites, World Heritage sites and all drinking water aquifers. The only catch is that the fracking companies have to set up their drilling rigs just outside the boundaries of these protected areas and drill horizontally underneath.
The vote was carried by 291 votes to 268. To find our more who voted for what, please click here.
Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake finally showed his true pro-fracking colours by voting IN FAVOUR OF the legislation, despite acknowledging recently in an interview with the Gazette and Herald that the majority of people in Ryedale are against fracking. While this was not a surprise to many people in his constituency, particularly after he was seen chairing a Third Energy PR meeting in Kirby Misperton at a time when he was still claiming he had ‘an open mind’ on the subject, this vote confirms that he is simply trying to make sure fracking happens in Ryedale, whatever his constituents think.
After the vote, Labour’s Energy Minister Lisa Nandy called for a moratorium on fracking, given the lack of evidence that it is safe and the potential threat to the environment.
A fracking report the Government tried to keep secret reveals the true damage that fracking could do to rural economies.
An internal Defra report on the effects of fracking on the rural economy was published last year, but was so heavily redacted that it was utterly meaningless. The full, unredacted version has finally came out – and it’s explosive stuff.
Friends of the earth have reported that “The Government was forced to publish it after an appeal to the Information Commissioner, but no doubt were happy to keep it quiet until after Lancashire County Council’s votes on fracking”
The original 13page ‘redacted; report contained 63 sections that were blanked out.
Only three paragraphs of the Conclusions survived. Even the name of the author was removed. Most bizarrely, officials claimed that there was a “strong public interest” in withholding the information … from the public!
Source: Daily Mail
What did the ‘unredacted’ report reveal?
“The DEFRA report determines that property valuation declines will vary based on the proximity to a drilling site. For instance, house prices within 1 mile of drilling operations could potentially fall by up to 4-7%, based on the Boxall (2005) et. al report, if they were within 2.5 miles of wells.
In May, the first extensive estate agents’ survey, carried out by the research agency Redshift, found that two thirds (67%) of estate agents interviewed said fracking operations could bring down house prices.A majority of them estimate the loss in value to be more than 8-11%, with two agents putting it as high as 41-70%.  Estate agents in areas in which energy firms have applied to start fracking – in Lancashire, Manchester and Sussex – were questioned and one in four said that buyers had expressed concerns about fracking.More than half of the estate agents surveyed said they were concerned fracking could reduce property sales near potential fracking sites.
In Lancashire, some property owners have already seen 50-100% write-offs in value. Last year, Dianna Westgarth said the price of her house on the Fylde peninsula in Lancashire – just 300 yards from a site where drilling firm Cuadrilla wants to start fracking – had dropped by 70%. 
In August, a spokesperson for the Valuation Office Agency – which sets the values of properties for council tax purposes – admitted that commercial activities such as fracking could reduce their value.  He said, “Fracking is not widespread yet but if a new site had a knock-on effect on the value of the house then it could also affect the council tax banding.” The DEFRA report states that in the USA, Pennsylvania properties within 1.4 miles of wells, lost up to 12.9% of their value when the frackers arrived.
The DEFRA report states that properties near fracking operations may incur an additional cost of insurance to cover “losses in case of explosion on the site.” Based on this information, home insurance providers should be asked what effect fracking might have on insurance premiums, considering the high risk of earthquakes. Last week, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court has decided that homeowners whose dwellings suffer damage due to fracking-related earthquakes can sue the companies responsible. 
In addition, mortgage providers should be asked how property valuations for mortgages would be effected by fracking. Some mortgage providers in the USA refuse to consider properties within fracking zones.  One of the lenders involved, Quicken Loans, said, “In some cases conditions exist, such as gas wells and other structures in nearby lots, that can significantly degrade a property’s value.”  If you can’t get a mortgage on a property, it pretty much becomes unsellable.
The government has not only failed to further investigate the potential extent of damage caused to the economy; upon producing this report, they have then proceeded to sweep their own findings under the carpet and plead ignorance.”
Source & image – Talk Fracking
The DEFRA report finds that tourism and other sectors may lose business due to increased congestion and noise, and new perceptions about the region; reducing the number of visitors and an associated reduction in spend in the local tourism economy. It states that rural community businesses such as agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation, which rely on clean air, land, water, and/or a tranquil environment; may suffer losses.
Government figures show that in 2010, tourism in predominantly rural areas was valued at £10.7 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) – the amount of goods and services that have been produced by this sector, minus all expenses directly attributable to the industry. Any decline in tourism would have a massive impact on rural economies because tourism accounts for 5.1% of the total GVA in rural areas. 
Source & image – Talk Fracking
Health: Water, noise, light and air pollution
People could experience the consequences of surface water contamination from fracking — not from drinking water but “it can affect human health indirectly through consumption of contaminated wildlife, livestock, or agricultural products”.
Noise and light pollution from rigs could also lead to problems, the internal Defra report acknowledges. It says: “Some residents may experience deafening noise; light pollution that affects sleeping patterns.”
“Noxious odours from venting gases can also impact on air quality for local residents,” it adds.
Truck movements to and from the site – about 14 to 51 journeys a day over a period of weeks – could also impact air pollution and noise.
And if you have resulting health problems you might find your local services stretched with the additional demand from the influx of fracking workers.
The report says that it’s unclear whether the extra funding given to communities “will be sufficient to meet the additional demand if new schools or hospitals are needed to ensure service provision for existing rural communities is maintained”.
source – greenpeace
Money: Housing and jobs
So, your house might be worth up to 7% less if you live within a mile of a fracking site (though other estimates say 10% or even up to 70% of the value could be wiped off) — and you might have to pay more for your house insurance in case of an explosion on site.
Fracking is also a mixed bag for local economies — short term benefits belie costs in terms of industries including “agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.”
The report also highlights concerns about what happens to local economies after the frackers leave.
In case local people were thinking of working in the fracking industry, there is also uncertainty over “how sustainable the shale gas investments will be in the future and whether rural communities have the right mix of skills to take advantage of the new jobs and wider benefits on offer”.
And at a time of deep cuts to DECC, the Environment Agency and HSE – the people responsible for regulating the fracking industry – it is tricky that the report recommends that “regulatory capacity may need to be increased”.
A Defra statement said: “This document was drawn up as a draft internal discussion paper – it is not analytically robust, has not been peer-reviewed and remains incomplete.
“It does not contain any new data or evidence, and many of the conclusions amount to unsubstantiated conjecture, which do not represent the views of officials or ministers.”
source – greenpeace
Here’s the full ‘unredacted’ report.
The sections that were previously redacted are highlighted in red
also click here for the full version in PDF
Hundreds of anti-fracking campaigners outside the county hall in Preston, where the verdict was announced, reacted with delight and cheers, and people in the council chamber applauded.
The surprise rejection is for a site at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton on the Fylde, where Cuadrilla had hoped to drill four wells and undertake exploratory fracking for shale gas. The Council had already refused permission for Cuadrilla to frack at Roseacre last week.
A major new scientific study has concluded that the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and that an EU-wide moratorium should be implemented until widespread regulatory reform is undertaken.
The damning report by the CHEM Trust, the British charity that investigates the harm chemicals cause humans and wildlife, highlights serious shortcomings in the UK’s regulatory regime, which the report says will only get worse as the Government makes further budget cuts.
It also warns of severe risks to human health if the new Conservative government tries to fast-track fracking of shale gas across the UK. The “scale of commercial fracking” unleashed by the Government’s eagerness to exploit the technique “should not be underestimated”, it cautions.
Read more in the Independent on Sunday.
You can read the CHEM Trust report on their website.
The fracking trade organisation UKOOG have criticised the report, read the CHEM Trust’s response.
The application was originally posted on 22nd May, and it was expected that it would be validated within 48 hours. The delay is a blow to the energy company, who have had months to polish their application after a scoping opinion was posted earlier in the year.
Frack Free Ryedale are demanding to know why the application failed its validation test and has called on Third Energy to come clean on what went wrong. Chris Redston of Frack Free Ryedale commented, “The fact that NYCC were unable to validate this application after nearly three weeks of negotiation with Third Energy is unlikely to fill anyone with confidence that the company would be able to frack ‘safely and discreetly’.”
Russell Scott, of Frack Free North Yorkshire, added, “If Third Energy can’t even get the paperwork right, what chance is there that they would be able to frack safely?”
You can read a report on this in the Gazette & Herald.