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.
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.
We’ve just read about a very exciting breakthrough in the field of solar energy from the USA. A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that, when placed over a window, creates solar energy while still allowing people to actually see through the window.
“It opens a lot of areas to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,” said Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering. “It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”
Read the full article on sciencedaily.com.
Frack Free Ryedale asks why isn’t the UK government investing heavily in this kind of technology, instead of subsidising fracking companies to drill for more fossil fuels, which destroy the countryside, pollute the water and cause more climate change.
A record high of 22 per cent of the UK’s electricity was generated by wind, while coal only provided 13 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs on Sunday. Solar and biomass both provided three per cent, hydro power provided one per cent, while nuclear generated 24 per cent and gas provided 26 per cent, Renewable UK said.
Jennifer Webber from RenewableUK said: “This proves yet again that onshore and offshore wind has become an absolutely fundamental component in this country’s energy mix. It also shows that wind is a dependable and reliable source of power in every month of year – including high summer”.
While Frack Free Ryedale appreciates that wind farms need to be sensitively placed, if there is a choice between a wind farm or a series of noisy, dirty, polluting fracking wells, we know which we would prefer.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Lindsay Burr has said that she is ‘against fracking, especially in Ryedale’ and that ‘fracking is an accident waiting to happen.’ She also adds: ‘I don’t want Ryedale to be caught up in an accident or worse, turn in to a min-Texas’.
Cllr Burr, writing in her monthly column in the Gazette & Herald, says that she has been deliberately quiet regarding fracking up to now, but is now ‘worried about the roofs over our heads and the ground beneath our feet’ and that the loss of open spaces and increases in lorry transport are ‘certainties’.
She also adds that ‘ministers need to stop encouraging the large energy companies to apply for licences and ensure residents are put before profits’. Read her full column here – her comments on fracking begin in the fifth paragraph.
Frack Free Ryedale welcomes Cllr Burr’s timely comments on the threat of fracking in the area, and are pleased to see that councillors are now prepared to voice their private concerns in public.
We would. however, like to correct one thing in the article. Cllr Burr says that she understands ‘that our national park is protected, thank goodness’. However, this is untrue. Although the government announced on 28th July that they were tightening guidelines for fracking in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), fracking in these areas can still be allowed in ‘exceptional circumstances and in the public interest’. Given that the government’s argument is that all fracking is ‘in the national interest’, and the final decision can be made by the government itself, this feels like no protection at all.
In fact, one only has to look at the situation developing at Ebberston Moor, in the North York Moors National Park, to see that fracking is a very real threat. Third Energy have recently been granted permission to inject millions of gallons or radioactive water back into the ground – all without any Environmental Impact Assessment on the consequences.
Read moor – sorry, more! – on this story here.
News articles about fracking often focus on perceived benefits and ignore the costs. The vision of an energy-independent Britain, free of the growing problems of overseas fuel dependency, is deeply alluring. However, many people don’t realise than if fracking were to take hold in the UK, the gas wouldn’t all be ‘ours’ to use as we please – it would have to be sold on the open market, just like any other commodity, and would be sold to the highest bidder. Indeed, many other countries such as France are already lining up to buy fracked UK gas if it ever materialises.
Furthermore, as is being increasingly reported in financial newspapers and blogs, problems are emerging with the shale narrative. An article in the Guardian Economics Blog identifies five hidden costs to fracking: economic risk; local environmental cost; global environmental cost; social cost, and opportunity cost. To find out what these are, please read the article by clicking here.
An article in this week’s York Press and Gazette & Herald discusses the relative impacts of fracking v solar or wind farms. Professor David McKay, the Government’s former chief scientific advisor, claims that fracking would not be as visually intrusive as a wind farm.
Richard Lane, from York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth group, said: “Visual intrusion is certainly one of fracking’s lesser crimes. Prof McKay chose not to include in his blog post any estimates of the pollution created by each source – particularly the enormous amount of polluted water which is generated by fracking and will then require disposal, or the likely global warming impact of “fugitive” methane emissions.”
Frack Free Ryedale also adds that Prof McKay neglected to mention other the reasons why wind and solar farms would be preferable to a fracking site: for example, noise pollution (fracking sites operate 24/7), large numbers of HGV vehicles day and night, the huge quantities of contaminated and radioactive water fracking produces, air pollution and related health problems, destruction of vast areas of countryside (it is estimated that thousands of wells would be required in Yorkshire alone to make fracking viable), the effect on wildlife, and the very real possibility of contaminating our drinking water supply. Not to mention the effects of burning more fossil fuels on climate change. We know which we would prefer …
Read the full article here.
Third Energy, the same company who is behind the survey in Ryedale, is set to begin working Ebberston Moor in the North York Moors after winning permission to get rid of a vast amount of potentially radioactive waste water – that will come up with the gas – by pumping it back into the ground.
According to documents seen by The Independent on Sunday, the Environment Agency (EA) has been warned that public water supplies could be affected. Yorkshire Water is concerned about the re-injection well which will travel through the rock from which they draw water, called the Corallian limestone aquifer. In submissions to the EA the water company said the water re-injection may “directly affect their asset”.
Russell Scott, of Frack Free Yorkshire, said: “Third Energy intends to inject via mechanical means a total of 5.88 million cubic metres of waste over a nine-year period. Third Energy’s suggestion this process will not have any negative impacts on the integrity of the well casing protecting our drinking water from the injected waste is simply ridiculous.”
Read the full article here.