UPDATED: Local councils invited to secret talks with fracking companies

i Apr 4th 1 Comment by

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.

Planning Committee reject fracking in Ryedale

i Mar 17th No Comments by

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’.

 

Man attempts to make citizen’s arrest of four key members of government

i Mar 6th 2 Comments by

11030718_10155256444575258_3059942275906713145_oYesterday, 4th March 2015, a man from Banbury called Paul Mobbs went to Downing Street with the intention of making a citizens arrest of four key members of government who he believes are guilty of ‘Misconduct In Public Office’ in relation to fracking.

The police refused to allow him entry, so he explained his reasons and showed them his evidence.

After several hours, when they still refused, he threatened to block access to Downing Street and was arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Because he was carrying his documented evidence on his person, this will now have to be taken in as evidence when charges are brought.

You can read below the account given yesterday by one of his supporters. A separate post later in the evening announced that he had been released and was back at home.

The two linked sites contain interesting information.

(more…)

RYEDALE DISTRICT COUNCIL TO HAVE EGM ON FRACKING, 2 COUNCILLORS RESIGN FROM THEIR PARTIES.

i Feb 13th No Comments by

ryedale_logo_large[1]Ryedale District Council will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting at the Milton Rooms, Market Place, Malton, North Yorkshire at 18.30 on Tuesday 17th February 2015

The Council have called an EGM in response to the growing concern in Ryedale over the wish of Third Energy to exploit shale gas by hydraulic fracturing. This follows closely on from the public debate ‘Unpacking fracking’ held at the same venue on 4th February 2015.

The motion is proposed by Councillor Clark and seconded by Councillor Woodward and states

‘In view of the following facts:-

  • The statutory authorities have neither the people, expertise or the independently verified data to safely control fracking
  • As a result, risk and prevention of dangers will depend on industry self regulation
  • The worldwide evidence to date is that fracking is an unacceptably high risk strategy
  • Ryedale District Council can only condone or oppose fracking

It follows that:-

  1. Ryedale District Council completely opposes all fracking in Ryedale
  2. Ryedale District Council calls upon all Thirsk, Malton and Filey parliamentary candidates for the forthcoming general election to state clearly if they oppose or support fracking’

The council are being advised by their solicitor and monitoring officer Anthony Winship that the proposed motion is in his opinion flawed and unlawful with potential financial implications for the council.

In recent days on the run up to the meeting 2 councillors have resigned from their parties as reported in the Gazette and Herald.

‘District and county councillor Lindsay Burr has resigned from the Liberal Democrat Party. Coun Burr, who has been a member of the Lib Dems for more than 20 years, tendered her resignation on Monday 9th February 2015. She said: “I feel the party has somewhat lost its true direction and my values are no longer aligned to the party. I am particularly against fracking and in the light that Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is supporting fracking, my position has become untenable, as a matter of principle.

Councillor Shane Collinson, who represents Ryedale South West on the district council is also understood to have resigned from the Conservative group. He was unavailable for comment.’

David Davis the petition organiser for Frack Free Ryedale said ‘I call on all the Ryedale Councillors to vote with their conscience. If fracking proceeds in Ryedale it will make life intolerable for many with the industrialisation of the countryside. People will have to live every day and night with excessive amounts of traffic, noise, light and emissions. If Third Energy are granted planning permission Kirby Misperton will be just the first site of several super sized wellsites which will come to occupy the landscape of Ryedale. It will change the way of life forever in this largely rural community leaving a long lasting legacy of health and environmental problems.’

Kirkbymoorside Town Council passes anti-fracking motion

i Dec 17th No Comments by

CouncilLogo[1]Kirkbymoorside Town Council has become the first authority in the district to oppose proposals to extract gas by fracking.

Members moved a motion at their meeting on Monday night regarding their “unresolved concerns” about Third Energy UK Gas’s intention to hydraulically fracture its KM8 site in Kirby Misperton.

The full text of the motion, which was approved unanimously, reads:  “We have unresolved concerns about important aspects of fracking and are opposed to any fracking activity in our area until satisfactory answers are forthcoming.”

Cllr Michael Clarke said his main concern was the visual impact the mining rig at KM8 would have on the area – and the longer term knock-on effect on the district’s tourism industry.

“I am conscious that Ryedale is reliant on its tourism,” he said. “If it goes ahead, it will be to the economic detriment of the district. People will be reluctant to come into the area.”

You can read more about this promising development in the Malton and Pickering Mercury and the Gazette & Herald.

Government pledges £36m to boost shale gas industry

i Dec 5th No Comments by

frack-this-poster-by-betsey-marcus[1]

Chancellor George Osborne’s final Autumn Statement said the government would be “taking steps to ensure that the UK leads the way with shale gas regulation” by allocating £31 million in funding for “sub surface research test centres” as well as £5 million in funding to better engage with the public on the shale industry’s regulatory process.

The test centres, to be funded through the Natural Environment Research Council, will produce research relevant to both the shale and carbon capture and storage industries, the statement said.

The government will also fund a £5 million drive to “ensure the public is better engaged” with the shale development regulatory process through independent evidence on “the robustness of the existing regulatory regime”.

In addition, Osborne confirmed plans to establish a long-term investment fund for communities in the north of the country hosting shale development using revenue from shale tax to ensure that the economic benefit to the area continues for generations.

So the government are cutting public spending to its lowest level since the 30s, but have given the shale gas industry £36 million of taxpayers’ money. Sounds fair …

Read more in Utility Week – amazingly, hardly reported in the mainstream press. Actually, not that amazing …

Balcombe residents lose high court injunction

i Dec 5th No Comments by

_73582239_73582168[1]Balcombe anti-fracking campaigners have lost a High Court bid to block further exploration for oil and gas exploration in their West Sussex village. A residents’ group from Balcombe claimed the planning permission granted to energy company Cuadrilla to carry out testing was unlawful.

Permission for the site at Lower Stumble was granted in May this year. At a two-day hearing in London last month the Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA) argued the decision to grant planning permission was flawed by “errors of law”.

Read more on the BBC website and on ITV.com.

Fracking ‘a boon to the poor’

i Oct 30th No Comments by

_73828112_73828111[1]Fracking could be a financial boon to poor and remote parts of the UK, according to former environment secretary and climate change sceptic Owen Paterson.

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.)

Any substance? Seriously?!

i Oct 19th No Comments by

A hydraulic fracturing operation near Mead, ColoradoA 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.

Strategic Analysis

i Sep 30th 2 Comments by

With the government deciding to ignore not only the evidence of its own report, but also 99% of the input to its so-called ‘consultation‘ on fracking, and fracking companies now seeming to bribe landowners with billions of pounds, it seems a good time to step back and take stock of the situation.

Where have we come from, where are we now, and what is going to happen next?

Can we really win?

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 13.59.26

1) Stimulus:

a. David Cameron has said that he wants to go “all out” for shale gas.

b. Ryedale sits on top of one of the biggest reserves of shale gas in the world: up to ten thousand feet thick in places (nearly two miles).

c. In other places where shale gas has been extracted, the USA, Australia, the consequences have been appalling: in terms of health of humans, livestock, crops, and wildlife, and the effects on people’s livelihoods and property prices.

d. From a climate change point of view (if you believe in climate change) fracked gas is worse than coal.

2) Response:

a. Shale gas extraction so far has been carried out in places with far lower population densities than here. In the USA, densities are typically 100th of the UK average. Even at eight pads per square mile not many people live close by.

b. As frackers have moved into areas with higher population densities, like New York state, so popular resistance has grown. In places like Dryden (New York) and Bentley (Australia), Romania, Northern Ireland, Germany, France, Netherlands, people have been able successfully to hold fracking back — at least for a while.

c. Meanwhile the price of solar electricity is falling rapidly, with banks like UBS and Citibank predicting that solar will achieve “grid parity (even in the UK)” by around 2020. And whether you believe in the worsening effects of climate change or not, the movements for fossil fuel divestment are growing.

3) What next?

a. So, despite all the evidence of harms, and the opinion of the vast majority of the British people, some people in government seem to be set on fracking.

b. And despite some some setbacks in the planning system, the fracking companies are continuing to press ahead.

c. But their approach is very much ‘softly softly’. Seismic surveys and planning applications are “not for fracking”… until they are. They seem to be trying to slip things through ‘under the radar’. And now they are trying to use money to change our opinions.

d. Why? Why are they behaving like this? If fracking is so good for us, why aren’t they showing us the facts (to contradict our facts)? And if the government is behind it, why aren’t the fracking companies simply charging forward full steam ahead?

e. The only thing that makes sense is because they know we can win. They know the harms, and they know we can win.

f. Across the UK there are now over 300 groups against fracking, up from zero just two years ago.

4) Conclusions

a. The fracking companies know we can win. It won’t be an easy fight, because billions of pounds are at stake. But we can and will win.

b. For them, that is ok. Because fracking is just a game. The Bowland shale is just another “play”. And their attitude to investors is the same as their attitude to the local people on the ground.

c. Fracking has been described as a ponzi scheme. (The first investors in make a lot of money. The last investors in lose everything.) The bankers don’t care about them, any more than they care about the people who live nearby.

d. The banks’ don’t risk their own money — they risk the money of other investors, and they take their cut. And once the ‘play’ is over, they move on to the next game.

e. This is why we shall win: because for the fracking companies it is just a play, but for the people on the ground fracking is about health, wealth, and quality of life.

f. It won’t be an easy win. But there are two ways to stop fracking:

— One is to remove the political will, by demonstrating how many people are against it.
— The other is to remove the financial will, by raising the costs of fracking, at the same time as the costs of other forms of energy are falling.