Kevin Hollinrake also joined in the call for public debate, and said in an open email: “I think it is very important that we have an open debate on this matter as I too am very concerned about fracking and any potential adverse effects on health and the environment. Although I think jobs and the economy are very important, no amount of party political pressure could ever lead me to support something that I believe would have a detrimental effect on our stunning countryside or the health of local residents.”
Read the full report in the Malton and Pickering Mercury.
The Conservative MP, who was sacked b y David Cameron in the summer, also said the government was losing the battle to develop shale gas to a very powerful ‘green blob’ of environmental campaigners.
You can read more about Mr Paterson’s attack on everything from the country’s climate change commitments to campaigners in his local consituency here.
Meanwhile, The planning sub-committee at the Shirehall in Shrewsbury unanimously rejected Dart Energy’s proposal to drill for gas on Brooklands Farm (in Owen Paterson’s constituency.)
The risks and benefits of fracking for the UK are to be examined by an “independent” task force, led by the former head of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith. The task force is to be funded by shale gas companies, including Cuadrilla, Centrica and Total.
Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “This looks like another attempt by the shale gas industry to buy respectability. If they think that opponents of shale gas, nationally and locally, who are rightly concerned about its impacts, will be convinced by an industry-funded body then they have badly misjudged. Rather than putting their money into bodies like this, the industry should engage in genuine debate with local communities.”
Lord Smith said “The funders have no influence over what we look at or what we do.”
No, of course they don’t, Chris. They’re just funding this “independent” study out of the goodness of their hearts. Seriously, how gullible do they think we are?
Read the full article in the Guardian.
He opens by saying that he had recently attended two key meetings, that between them “gathered just about all the expertise in the planet on shale oil and gas and fracking issues.”
And then he summarises the current situation, and lessons learned from the USA, before drawing five conclusions for fracking in the UK.
I’ve summarised his points below, though to be honest his piece is very short and you would likely be better off reading the whole thing here.
And what I think this means for us in Ryedale is:
Remember also that since this article/viewpoint was published,
i) Rather than trying to negotiate, the government has chosen the path of confrontation, seeking to impose fracking via the so called ‘Infrastructure Bill’, currently before the House of Lords.
ii) Third Energy has made planning applications to NYCC to put in place some of the critical infrastructure without which it would not be able to frack.
A late amendment has been added to the Infrastructure Bill, which is being debated in the House of Lords, which would permit the “passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land” and gives “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”.
Yes, you read that right. Any substance. Which of course is intended to mean that any fracking waste fluid can just be dumped under the ground without any independent monitoring or oversight.
However, due to the loose wording of the bill, this could also mean the disposal of nuclear waste too. (Interestingly, part of the deal the British Government did with France for the new nuclear plant in Somerset included a contract to dispose of the French company EDF’s nuclear waste here in the UK.)
This controversial bill, which already allows fracking companies to drill under people’s homes and land without permission, has been criticised from all sides, but they carry on regardless. The final reading of the bill will be in March, so we need to make sure this becomes a key election issue.
For more on this, please read the Guardian article.
Stock exchanges around the world have rules for what you are allowed to tell prospective investors about how good your business plan expectations are.
Bloomberg have done an analysis of the recoverable reserves that shale oil and gas companies have told investors they have, as compared to how much reserves those same shale oil and gas companies have told the Securities and Exchange Commission they have.
As you can see from the chart, across the industry as a whole, the companies have told their investors that their reserves are five times bigger than what they have told the SEC.
No wonder investors have poured funds into this sector, expecting huge returns.
The SEC requires drillers to provide an annual accounting of how much oil and gas their properties will produce, a measurement called proved reserves, and company executives must certify that the reports are accurate. But no such rules apply to appraisals that drillers pitch to the public. Indeed, many company presentations remind investors that “publicly announced estimates are more speculative than the numbers the drillers file with the SEC.”
Nevertheless, as John Lee, a university professor who helped to write the SEC rules on reporting, puts it: “They’re running a great risk of litigation when they don’t end up producing anything like that [level of output]. If I were an ambulance-chasing lawyer, I’d get into this.”
You can read the full story on Bloomberg.
Or a very dismissive analysis of the whole situation on the more tabloid Daily Kos.
To the average person living or working in Ryedale, or indeed anybody who simply visits, the question must be, “Why would anybody want to frack here?”
The answer is that beneath this beautiful landscape lies the Bowland Shale — a formation of rock that runs right across the country, from Scarborough to Blackpool:
This report by the British Geological Survey into the potential recoverable gas content of the Bowland Shale (which in places is up to two miles thick) puts it very plainly:
“Estimates of technically recoverable shale gas resources… The figure of 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) includes 19 tcf for the Bowland Shale and 1tcf for the Liassic shales of the Weald Basin [in Sussex].”
In other words, the Bowland Shale is estimated to contain approximately nineteen twentieths (or 95%) of the recoverable shale gas in the UK.
Anybody who wants to get at that gas is likely to come to Ryedale and do a more detailed survey, AONB and National Park or not.
The other thing that might make Ryedale an attractive location to frack is our low population density.
This page of the North Yorkshire Police website says that “Ryedale has a population of 51,700 people living in 24,743 households and with 0.34 persons per hectare is ranked as having the 2nd lowest population density of all 326 local authorities in England.”
That means fewer people to resist.
But it is still more than seven times* higher than the population density of North Dakota, where fracking has devastated farming.
And it also means that we care more. Because tourism and farming, the two industries that would be most affected by fracking, are the most important parts of our economy.
Two other industries that are smaller but are very important to all of us and would also be affected, are water (Yorkshire Water pumps drinking water from the aquifers beneath Ryedale) and estate agents (because of the effect of fracking on property values).
It is also slightly higher than the population density of County Fermanagh, where resistance to fracking has in some cases been intense, and where the environment minister recently rejected applications for exploratory drilling for fracking.
Just because you can. Doesn’t mean you should.
– British Geological Survey report into Bowland Shale
– North Yorkshire Police website page on Ryedale
– Wikipedia page on North Dakota (11.70 people per square mile (3.83/km2))
– Wikipedia page on Ryedale (89 people per square mile (34/km2))
– Wikipedia page on County Fermanagh (85 people per square mile)
In the past three months ‘West Texas Intermediate’ oil has fallen from $105/barrel to $85/barrel. This has caused the stock price of shale oil companies to “tank”.
Here in Ryedale, the likelihood is that companies would be drilling for shale gas rather than oil and the prices of oil and gas are less tightly correlated than they used to be. But understanding how the shale oil market works can still help us to understand the implications for shale gas.
One reason that share prices of shale oil companies have fallen so far is that the companies now get less money for every barrel of oil they extract.
An article in the Daily Telegraph discusses farmers’ fear they could face financial ruin from government plans to allow fracking beneath their land without compensation, the National Farmers’ Union has warned. The NFU say that ministers pushing for shale gas exploration cannot take the support of rural communities for granted and are turning farmers against the process by appearing to brush side their concerns.
The Government is pressing ahead with new laws that would strip people of power to block fracking beneath their property or land. It has insisted no compensation will be paid to individual home and landowners, because they should not be affected by the gas or oil extraction deep beneath them.
But the NFU, which represents 47,000 farm businesses across England and Wales, said its members feared that the value of their land above fracking sites could be reduced “because of current attitudes and perceptions of fracking” – even if no harm was actually caused. This could result from people refusing to buy food that is grown in fracking areas, or avoiding these areas on holiday and thus affecting farmers’ ancilliary businesses, like farm shops and B&Bs.
This could have serious consequences for farmers, especially those with mortgages secured to their land – for whom “any reduction in the value of the land could have significant financial implications”.
Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph.
East Riding councillors have approved an extension to existing planning permission at Crawberry Hill to allow Rathlin Energy to complete controversial exploratory test drilling for oil and gas at the site. Rathlin had requested a two-year extension to the original approval, granted in 2010. However, the council’s planning committee agreed to give the company another 12 months to complete the test drilling, as well as another six months to restore the site to its previous condition.
The 11-1 vote in favour of the extended deadline was greeted with cries of “Shame” from protestors in the public gallery at County Hall in Beverley. Many more local protestors were locked out of the proceedings, and the meeting was overshadowed by controversy surrounding the number of objections, many of which had not even been processed before the Planning Committee made its recommendation.
To add insult to injury, Rathlin presented the local protestors with three owl nest boxes, which would obviously compensate for another 18 months of noisy, smelling drilling and an uncertain future. Not. Read a report of the whole sorry experience on the HEY Frack off blog.