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.
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.
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.
The Government have decided to press ahead with their plans to frack below UK citizens’ homes without their permission after ministers decided to ignore the results of a DECC consultation about the new trespass laws.
There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners’ permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. Setting aside the 28,821 responses submitted via two NGO campaigns, 92% of the remaining responses objected to the proposals.
The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.
Good to see democracy alive and well in the UK, isn’t it? You wonder why they bothered asking us in the first place. Read more about this disgraceful decision in the Telegraph or the Guardian, and watch a news report on this on YouTube.
Meanwhile, in Scotland, ministers are demanding the right to decide for themselves.
Scotland’s energy minister, Fergus Ewing, said: “UK government proposals to remove the right of Scottish householders to object to drilling under their homes, without so much as debate in the Scottish Parliament, flies in the face of Scotland’s cautious, considered and evidence-based approach on this issue.” Read more on the BBC website or in the Scottish Daily Record.
Anti-fracking campaigners will hand in a further 3,000 objection letters to council chiefs today over applications to frack for shale gas in Lancashire.
Representatives from Frack Free Lancashire, an alliance of over 20 anti fracking campaign groups from across the county, will hand in the signed objection letters to Lancashire County Council.
It brings the Frack Free Lancashire campaign total, so far to more than 8,000. The total responses received by Lancashire County council to date, is 20,000, the group claim.
It comes days after Fylde Council announced that it would reject Cuadrilla’s two planning applications for fracking for shale gas at sites off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton, and near Roseacre in the Fylde.
Ebony Ava Johnson of Frack Free Lancashire said: “There has been phenomenal support for the campaign, which reinforces the strength of opposition against shale gas in Lancashire. People are now well aware of the risks shale gas extraction poses and will not let this go ahead at their expense.
Read the full article in the Lancashire Evening Post.
People living near a Rathlin’s exploratory gas-drilling site in West Newton, near Beverley, have complained to the Environment Agency about feeling sick from noxious smells.
“The smell is hideous, very distinctive, pungent and nauseous. It comes in waves. It started last week and has continued since. It fades in and out. The area where they are drilling is very rural and the smell drifts easily a mile away,” says Debbie Stabler, who lives 400m from the drill site near West Newton.
“Depending on the wind, it has at times reached villages like West Newton and Withernwick,” said Stabler, who with others have also complained about gas flaring and light pollution from the round-the-clock operation.
A sombre warning if we ever allow exploratory drilling in Ryedale …
Read the whole Guardian article here.
As you may know, there is a planning application for an injection well and other works at Ebberston Moor in the North York Moors National Park. If you’ve looked at the planning application, you’ll see that there are hundreds of documents and thousands of pages.
For this reason, the two authorities that are responsible for the application – the North Yorkshire County Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority – have kindly agreed to an extension of the time available for people to comment on this application, after consultation with Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free North Yorkshire.
The deadline for comments on this application is now 24th October 2014. For written confirmation of this, please see this document, from the NYCC planning website: 140910_Extension-to-consultation-period
We have some experts looking at the application in detail and will be posting some guidelines on how best to object to this planning application as soon as we can. Watch this space!
An article in the Guardian gives a very interesting picture of the effect grass-roots opposition groups like Frack Free Ryedale are having on the political landscape.
Research suggests that more than 120 Tory MPs face protest groups in their constituencies. Of the 40 key marginal seats identified in the party’s election strategy, 31 fall in areas where exploratory drilling is about to start or has been permitted. Only seven cabinet members will not be affected. Of the 160 protest groups, 70% are in Tory areas, and just 15% in Labour held areas. The remainder of the groups cover several seats.
“The number of anti-fracking community groups has exploded in the last year. There were roughly 40 groups this time last year, now there are over 160 with about 10 new groups forming each month”, said Sarah Mackie, a Frack Off campaigner.
Read the full article here.
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.
As people in Yorkshire are becoming increasingly concerned about oil developments in the North York Moors national park, there is some positive news about another National Park in the south of England.
Plans for exploratory oil drilling in the South Downs National Park have been recommended for refusal by the park’s authority. Officers from the park’s authority said the company had failed to demonstrate that “exceptional circumstances” exist for the work and that it was in the public interest. The final decision is to be made on Thursday 11th September.
Let’s hope the North York Moors National Park Planning Committee take note!
Read the full article here.