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’.

 

Academics cast doubt on shale gas

i Mar 10th No Comments by

Academics from Warwick Business School and University College London have published an opinion piece based on research funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

They advise policymakers that, for continuing economic, social and environmental reasons, the UK’s gas strategy should be developed on the assumption that there will be no domestically produced shale gas.

They say that recovery of UK shale gas (while still keeping within two degrees of climate change)  might only be an option if ten conditions apply.

Summarising, these conditions include:

  1. That there is recoverable shale gas under the UK. (Our difficult geology make make this too difficult or costly.)
  2. That we produce zero electricity using coal after 2025.
  3. That there is widespread cheap technology to capture and store the CO2 that would be produced.
  4. That we are able to measure and manage the methane that is released during shale gas production.
  5. That the fracking industry wins the ‘social licence to operate’ from the people of Britain, because we trust the companies to avoid or control the negative environmental impacts that exist.

Given that Deutsche Bank (and others) is already saying that solar power has won, these conditions seem increasingly unlikely to be met. (In some countries, such as Australia, solar electricity is already less than half the retail price of electricity from the power companies. Within two years it expected to reach ‘grid parity’ in around 80% of countries worldwide.)

You can read more about the academics’ report at: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-shale-gas-uk-low-carbon-transition.html

Uniting the Roses

i Feb 28th No Comments by

100px-White_Rose_Badge_of_York_svgDuring the past 2 weeks, Third Energy have been holding consultation meetings with residents in Pickering, Gt Habton, Malton and Kirby Misperton. Frack Free Ryedale members have been outside each venue (not being deterred by the cold) for the duration of each meeting from 1.00 – 7.00 pm. This was an important presence to show local residents they are being supported and that they can say no. It was also a message to Third Energy that residents oppose fracking in Ryedale. We counted people going in and spoke to most of the people coming out of the consultatio100px-Red_Rose_Badge_of_Lancaster_svgn. The majority expressed concerns about traffic, air and light pollution, 24/7 drilling and specifically about the impact on house prices.

We were also joined at Kirby Misperton with fantastic support from Frack Free Lancashire and the Fylde. This combined support truly united the Roses from Lancashire to Yorkshire, coast to coast. We are building on our joint efforts and resources to stop fracking in the UK. Let’s keep up the pressure, together we can stop it!

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.’

Letter from Pennsylvania – December 2014

i Jan 6th No Comments by
Fracking wells in Pennsylvania

Fracking wells in Pennsylvania

Ryedale Resident Robert has been in correspondence with an old friend called David, who lives in Pennsylvania, to ask him about his experiences of having fracking on his doorstep. The email correspondence, which we have had permission to include on our website, makes very interesting reading and gives a powerful account of what it’s like living in the middle of the gaslands.

Here are a few of David’s comments about fracking near his home in Pennsylvania:

Basically our township is being transformed from a rural residential area into a more heavy industrialized zone in some respects. 

When a new well pad was beginning to be developed only ½ mile from the local high school and middle school challenges were made.  This is ongoing.  

The major impact so far has been the tremendous increase in tanker truck and heavy equipment traffic on our local roadways.  Trucks hauling water in for fracking is a continual operation day and night for months.

I also failed to mention the noise, 24 hours a day for 6 months that we had to deal with while the one closest well was being drilled. 

You can read the full correspondence by clicking here: Robert and David in conversation.

Also please read this article in West Coast Conservative News about the water contamination in Pennsylvania, where water was found to have been contaminated 243 times.

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.

G&H postbag full of letters about fracking

i Nov 1st No Comments by

gazette_herald[1]

There were some excellent letters in the Gazette & Herald this week, about the Parish Council meeting, the Ian Crane talks. Check out ‘Not a democratic exercise’, ‘To frack, or not’ and in particular ‘Fracking fears’ on the Gazette & Herald letters page.

Also, please keep writing to the local and national papers about fracking to show the strength of feeling that there is about the threat of fracking in the area. Even if they don’t get printed, they really help to show the papers that it’s a topic they should be covering.