Fracking causing severe water shortages for farmers

i Nov 9th No Comments by
This used to be a lake ...

This used to be a lake …

This very interesting blog highlights the battle over water that is taking place all over the USA, as farmers and fracking companies fight over dwindling water supplies.

In a chilling reminder of what may well happen in the UK if fracking is allowed to take hold, American farmers are finding that they can’t get enough water for their crops because the fracking industry is demanding more and more fresh water. Combined with local and state-wide droughts, this is becoming a perilous situation for many farmers.

Read the full story on the Guardian US Money blog.

Fracking may affect mental health

i Nov 9th No Comments by

article-2560235-1B3A1AD000000578-989_634x503

Living near fracking sites could affect mental health and wellbeing, according to a new report.

The report, by head of Public Health Lancashire Dr Sakti Karunanithi, looked into the potential health impacts if fracking was permitted in Preston.

The report cites a lack of public trust and confidence, stress and anxiety from the uncertainty which could lead to poor mental wellbeing and noise from drilling could have health implications for nearby residents.

Read the full article on the BBC website.

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.

Ebberston Moor deadline extension is granted

i Oct 3rd No Comments by

North_York_Moors_National_Park[1]A very interesting piece in the Malton Gazette & Herald this week about the situation at Ebberston Moor, which we have described in detail on our Ebberston Moor South briefing and our How to Object pages on this website. The deadline for making comments and objections with the North York Moors National Park Authority and the North Yorkshire County Council is now October 24th.

The article goes on to discuss the ‘dash for gas’ and its implications in Ryedale and beyond. It points out that there are worries that potentially carcinogenic chemicals may escape and contaminate groundwater around Ebberston. This is a particular concern for Ryedale campaigners, including Frack Free North Yorkshire and Frack Free Ryedale, who fear that fracking may damage the Ryedale landscape, including the North York Moors National Park.

It also highlights that, according to a report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee, widespread fracking would not help to bring down gas prices as it has done in the US.

Read the full article here.

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.

Ineos accused of ‘bribes and bulldozers’ approach to fracking

i Sep 29th No Comments by
Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of UK fracking company Ineos

Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of UK fracking company Ineos

One of Britain’s biggest industrial firms has been accused of taking a “bribes and bulldozers” approach to fracking after unveiling a multi-billion pound plan to compensate landowners and local communities affected by its plans to frack on their land.

Jim Ratcliffe, the 61-year-old industrialist who founded the chemical giant Ineos, is promising to hand more than 6% of future shale gas revenues to those sitting on the reserves or affected by their extraction.

Simon Clydesdale, UK energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “This is just more of the same bribes and bulldozers approach that has already proved a failure. With one hand the fracking industry goads the government into steamrolling people’s right to oppose fracking under their homes, with the other it offers cash incentives.

“The industry forgets people have legitimate concerns about fracking that won’t be easily assuaged by cash sweeteners. The simple fact that the shale lobby can’t win the argument on safety but has to buy up consensus instead will help convince people that nothing good will come from letting the frackers through the door”.

Read the full article in the Guardian.

Fracking industry will be minimally regulated in UK

i Sep 23rd 1 Comment by
Fracking in McKittrick, California.

Fracking in McKittrick, California.

The Government has repeatedly claimed that there would be a ‘gold standard’ of regulation for the fracking industry. However, letters obtained by the Guardian show that the industry will be minimally regulated, there is confusion within the government about which department is responsible, and that no government body has overall control over the industry.

This week Cuadrilla announced they had discovered 200tr cu ft of shale gas below Lancashire, and is hoping to drill thousands of gas wells. However, local residents, environmentalists and engineers fear that shale gas extraction could potentially devastate water supplies near where fracking takes place, because methane or chemicals used in the process could leak into ground water.

Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, called for a moratorium on drilling: “The best evidence indicates widespread contamination of drinking water wells within 1km of gas wells. A moratorium is necessary to step back and better study the risks to water quality, air quality, and global warming.”

Read the full details in the Guardian article.

And it’s also interesting to read George Monbiot’s comments on the role of climate change minister Charles Hendry.

The world marches to demand action on climate change

i Sep 22nd No Comments by

15121798828_ea75d5cf61_o[1]On Sunday people took to the streets all over the world to demand action on climate change.  More than 300,000 marchers flooded the streets of New York in the largest US climate change march in history, taking the environmental threat to the top of the global agenda.

This was only one of 2,700 simultaneous climate events from Melbourne to Manhattan, from Kathmandu to Buenos Aires, from Delhi to Jakarta.

Organisers claimed 570,000 people protested in 161 countries. Everywhere the message was the same – time is running out and we need to take action now. The events put pressure on world leaders assembling for climate talks in New York this week, in preparation for a major conference in Paris in 15 months time.

RIMG3372Meanwhile in London, three Frack Free Ryedale members joined the 40,000 people marching from Temple to the Houses of Parliament. Apart from sore feet, it was an enjoyable day and inspiring to see so many people (and the occasional orang-utan) marching for the climate.

There were a large number of anti-fracking banners and placards among the crowd, highlighting the contribution that burning more fossil fuels produced by fracking will have on CO2 emissions and global warming.

Read the Guardian and New York Times accounts of the events, and see some amazing and inspiring photos from a variety of demonstrations around the world on Avaaz.

Three interesting letters in the Herald this week

i Sep 19th No Comments by

gazette_herald[1]

The letters page of the Malton Gazette & Herald is a good place to air your views and let people know what you think of fracking. There are three letters on the website this week, all of which are worth reading – click here to see them all. We have added some comments to respond to the claims of the third letter-writer, so keep scrolling down!

We would also encourage people to register online with the paper, and then you can also add comments to articles and letters.

Extension granted for Ebberston Moor planning application

i Sep 18th No Comments by
Gas drilling at Ebberston in the North York Moors National Park

Gas drilling at Ebberston in the North York Moors National Park

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!