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The Fracking page is in the process of being fully updated.
The page links to summary of the arguments for and against the technology and its impacts, particularly concerns for fracking's impact on livestock and the soil , extracts from Hansard and the media, and links for further reading.Lancashire and Ryedale are the only two live fracking applications in England (May 2016) Lancashire Council rejected fracking in June 2015 but Cuadrilla have appealed. The planning inspector's report is expected by 4th July.
The Ryedale fracking decision made on 23rd May to allow 3rd Energy to drill is highly contentious. See below.
Supporters suggest that there has been a transformation of the US energy market since fracking produced a new domestic supply of gas. They also point to studies claiming that the fracking process can be "safe":
Opponents point to what they see as numerous economic, health and environmental problems, and a very worrying loss of democratic choice when County Council decisions can be overruled. Lancashire County Council, for example, voted against allowing Cuadrilla to frack for shale gas, but the government intervened and decided that one of his ministers - Greg Clark - will have the final say.
Meanwhile in America, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday May 2nd 2016 that democratically decided local bans on fracking are illegal.
Recent Media coverage of Fracking Scotland: Fracking vote.
The Scottish Parliament has voted to support a (non binding) ban on fracking in Scotland. MSPs voted in favour of a Labour amendment: worded:
"This parliament recognises that, to meet Scotland's climate change goals and protect the environment, there must be an outright ban on fracking in Scotland"The motion was passed by 32 votes to 29 Although SNP members abstained,their manifesto made it clear that they are against fracking in Scotland "unless it can be proven beyond doubt that there is no risk to health, communities or the environment"..
Ewan MacLeod, a partner at the law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn told the Herald
"A successful judicial review would be very unlikely to expose Scottish Government to damages. It would simply mean that the Government’s ban on fracking would be removed until the consultations had been completed and considered and a further decision on whether to ban fracking was taken."Several Scottish Conservatives, led by the new Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, spoke out in favour of fracking.
Scotland: Labour sets its face against fracking
May 26th 2016 The Scottish Parliament Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Lab): "Here are Labour's priorities: to protect our environment and our climate, and not to open up Scotland to fracking, which is another fossil-fuel development that our environment cannot cope with and which local people do not want.."
North Yorkshire council fracking decision a 'declaration of war'
May 24th 2016 The Guardian "....The decision was made despite thousands of objections from residents and campaigners and will allow fracking in the UK for the first time in five years. Fracking was halted on the Fylde coast in 2011 when tests found it was the probable cause of minor earthquakes in the area. Since then, two high-profile applications to frack in Lancashire have been rejected by councillors and are the subject of appeals. Planners had recommended the most recent application be approved, despite acknowledging that the majority of representations received in consultation were objections...."
Fracking Given Green Light In North Yorkshire
May 23rd 2016 The Sky News "Protesters booed and jeered as councillors gave the go-ahead for the first fracking operation in England for five years. ...Councillors have approved an application by a UK company to frack for shale gas near the village of Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire."
Third Energy has become the first company to be approved for fracking in England since 2011.
Fracking "will provide a buffer for consumers as oil price rises" says an optimistic FT
May 17th 2016 The Financial Times, while conceding that the drop in oil prices "has blasted the fragile finances of the small and mid-sized companies that led the US shale revolution, and bankruptcies have been piling up" and that "the number of rigs drilling horizontal wells in the US has dropped by more than three-quarters from its pre-crash peak in October 2014" the FT says that for various reasons the price may well rise again.
The paper argues that the stronger fracking companies "have made remarkable strides in cutting the costs and raising productivity, meaning that they can be financially viable at much lower crude prices than they needed before the slump...If oil prices stay above $50 for any length of time- and even more if they stay above $60 - US producers will start putting rigs back to work. " Read in full
Fracking in North York Moors gets go-ahead in face of protests
May 13th 2016 Guardian today says that a report by North Yorkshire county council has recommended permission be granted for "testing on deposits first identified in the area by Third Energy in 2013."
".. The report said many of the 4,000 representations it received in consultation objected to the plans, with concerns raised over the impact on climate change, water quality, air pollution and the possibility that drilling would trigger earthquakes.Ryedale district council, unmoved by the promise of £100,000 in "benefits to the community if the well is fracked" has already lodged an objection to the plan, saying it would mean "unacceptable development within a rural location"
Environmentalists accused planning officers of dismissing "serious risks" associated with fracking in the area despite there being "clear evidence" it could harm wildlife, people’s health and local businesses..." Read in full
"How amazed I was when those protesting turned out to be such a normal bunch of people." Yorkshire Post
May 12th 2016 Yorkshire Post
""As a former police officer, I have worked on many demonstrations where I saw the usual suspects turn up to cause grief. How amazed I was when those protesting turned out to be such a normal bunch of people.The protesters lined the approach to the Spa and sang and chanted. There was not a single anarchist in sight. Here was a collection of aunties, uncles, grans and granddads. They were normal folk of all ages and great in number. They shared one passion and that was to stop fracking for gas in Yorkshire... ..Without a public referendum, North Yorkshire County Council cannot – and should not – be allowed to grant any permissions as it does not have the backing of the electorate... "."read in full
"I will speak bluntly: we have to get on with fracking." Anna Soubry UK Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
May 12th 2016 In a Westminster Hall debate yesterday on the steel industry, the Minister asserted that
"One piece of work that I am determined to carry on doing relates to fracking...There is a huge job that can be done that will have huge benefits for our steel industry. I will speak bluntly: we have to get on with fracking. I met representatives of that industry only recently. We know that fracking could have real benefits for our steel industry..."She added that although the steel plant in plant in Hartlepool "make an outstanding product. They do not make the seamless pipes that have to be used for fracking, but I do not see why we cannot look at making their pipes absolutely compliant so that they can be used."
French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said today that she is investigating legal means to ban the import of shale gas from the United States
May 9th 2016 Segolene Royal said today that she is investigating legal means to ban the import of shale gas from the United States because France has banned shale gas exploration using hydraulic fracking for environmental reasons. (Reuters )
Fracking: Ryedale "It would not be appropriate for the Government to comment on the specifics of any proposal."
May 9th 2016 Hansard Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, Conservative, asked what assessment the Government have made "of the possible impact on the local economy and the environment of hydraulic fracturing in Ryedale, and what were the results of the economic impact assessment carried out on that proposed development."
The answer, from Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was that a
"planning application for the extraction of shale gas in Ryedale is currently under consideration by North Yorkshire County Council. It would not be appropriate for the Government to comment on the specifics of any proposal. It will be for the Council to take into account the impacts of the proposed development on the local economy and the environment as relevant in its determination of that application."He added that "The Government continues to support the development of the shale industry in the UK. It has the potential to power economic growth, create tens of thousands of jobs (sic)and provide a new domestic energy source, making us less reliant on imports from abroad." He did not mention that many people in Rydale are aghast at the proposed planning application to frack the KM8 well at Third Energy's Kirby Misperton well-site.
Tourist Centre "Flamingo Land" now opposes fracking
May 6th 2016 Ruth Hayhurst's "Drill or Drop" website "... in a recent change of heart, the theme park and zoo said it had concerns about the health of its animal collection, local residents, visitors and guests.
Third Energy has responded saying Flamingo Lane’s views were based on a misconception and incorrect information. It said it would do nothing that would cause any harm to the "much-loved business."
Flamingo Land’s concerns are about the re-use of water. .."
Farmer says the Frack Free Bakers were "interfering with our farming practices".
FG Insight reports: "Organised by Greenpeace, the protest saw activists including British actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson take part in a ‘Frack Free Bake Off’ inside a marquee on the field in Little Plumpton, Preston, Lancashire..."
The farmer, who has leased his land to the shale gas firm Cuadrilla, told the Farmers Guardian that the protesters were "interfering with his farming practices". The "Frack-Free Bake-Off" video is light-hearted and can be seen here but the farmer is not amused and "drove his tractor around the land spraying liquid manure, catching some of the protesters and crew members."
Lancashire police were at the scene but told the farmer they could not remove the protestors. There was an injunction placed in 2014 against entry, something that Greenpeace says that it was aware of and had "broken a court injunction by peacefully occupying the land". May 6th 2016
Colorado High Court Rules Local Bans on Fracking Are Illegal
Wall Street Journal Monday May 2nd 2016 "The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that local bans on fracking are illegal after a long fight over drilling technique in northeastern Colorado. ... municipalities can’t bar hydraulic fracturing, a long awaited decision.."
Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., voted on Tuesday to ban fracking
Apr 12, 2016 "....."We really are with this vote taking a lead in his state and in the nation,” Council member Mary Lehman said at the hearing. "I could not be more proud of this county."
Maryland passed a temporary moratorium on fracking in 2015, and environmental advocates are hopeful that the Prince George’s County ban will help pave the way for a statewide ban before the moratorium expires in 2017." Source
UK: government survey finds 84% support for #solar as fracking backing fades
PV Magazine 29th April 2016 ".. it would appear that the government’s stance on clean power is at odds with public opinion. Severe cuts to solar and wind subsidies have shellshocked the industries over the past 18 months while the government has pressed ahead with controversial plans to expand fracking activity..."
Emma Thompson and her sister Sophie staged a "bake-off"..
..in the field leased by a local landowner for shale gas drilling, breaking a court injunction. The Greenpeace video is well worth watching as the celebrities stage a very funny but effective protest in one of the very fields that energy company Cuadrilla wants to frack for shale gas. 27th April 2016
Updated: Date set for fracking decision
The next big planning decision on fracking comes on 20 May, when North Yorkshire county council will decide whether to approve an application by "Third Energy" (97% owned by a subsidiary of Barclays Bank) to frack at Kirby Misperton. The Gazette and Herald April 2016
The planning committee meeting is to be held at County Hall, Northallerton. The County Council is currently finalising its report about the application, with reference to legal counsel, following consideration of detailed information provided by the applicant, along with responses from statutory consultees and over 4,000 representations. ..."
UK support for fracking hits new low
"Just 19% of people back fracking ....The government has consistently advocated shale gas as a future home grown energy source – no commercial fracking wells are currently operating in the UK – while at the same time cutting subsidies for solar and wind power. Just 19% of people back exploration for shale gas in the latest edition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s long-running public attitudes tracker, down from a high of 29% two years ago." Guardian 28th April 2016
A haven for wildlife and an environmental beacon - gravely threatened by the fracking industry. Sent to warmwell.com in August 2015
PRESENTATION TO CHESHIRE WEST & CHESTER COUNCIL 15/01/2015
Twenty years ago our farm was a fairly typical Cheshire dairy farm, producing commodity milk with little thought for the environmental impacts of the operation. Today it regularly wins awards and is one of only three farms in the United Kingdom producing top quality beef to the LEAF Marque standard from the third largest herd of rare breed Red Poll cattle in the country.
With the help of over twenty organisations, most notably Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the farm has become a haven for wildlife and an environmental beacon. Brown trout are again spawning in the River Gowy, and otters have returned for the first time in living memory. The Gowy valley is one of few areas in Britain with an increasing water vole population. Over the last seven years we have restored and replanted over two miles of hedgerows, protected and reinstated almost three miles of watercourses, created 24 acres of woodland, restored an old alder wood and a traditional orchard, and created a successful business based on environmental values and totally traceable, locally produced beef with a loyal and growing customer base of people who share these environmental values and aspirations. Since 2007 we have welcomed several thousand visitors to the farm, with over 1200 people of all ages enjoying a great day out on Open Farm Sunday last year, and hundreds more enjoying walking our permissive footpaths or learning to grow their own food in our community kitchen garden.
The farm is in both Entry Level and Higher Level Stewardship Schemes, and around thirty acres are currently due to be listed as a Local Nature Reserve. But now, thanks to the headlong dash for fracking being pushed by all the main political parties, all of this is under threat and the farm faces an extremely uncertain future. We plan to join the new environmental stewardship scheme when our current agreement expires in 2017, with the possibility of becoming fully organic. Both of these are unlikely to happen should fracking commence in this area, especially given that the Salters lane site is within half a mile of our land and upstream of it. What part of turning the water on which our crops and livestock depend into toxic sludge makes sense? We are likely to lose the market we have created for our Red Poll beef. This has already happened to farmers in New York State. But this might not matter since we could lose large numbers of our rare breed Red Poll cattle through air and water pollution. This has happened to farmers in Pennsylvania. I want to continue breeding and raising Red Polls, not Dead Polls.
There won’t be much point in growing arable crops because the fracking industry is likely to use most of the available water and pollute what’s left. So even we could grow crops, nobody would want to buy them. At least it will give me time to deal with the known adverse health effects caused by fracking which, according to the Catskill Mountainkeeper website, include neurological, pulmonary, gastroenterological, dermatological, immunological, haematological, endocrinological, ophthalmological, reproductive, and genetic illnesses and abnormalities. Intense or chronic exposure to some of these toxins and combinations of toxins can result in death for humans and livestock.
The time course for manifestation of illness related to the toxins associated with gas drilling may be months, years, or decades. Environment-related cancers can take 15 to 30 years to develop. In Louisiana, where the petroleum industry is well established, parts of the state are called “cancer alley” as a result of higher lung, liver and other cancers associated with the industry.
Support for fracking has made the future of our farm the most uncertain it has been since my grandfather came here in 1947; we are being washed out to sea in a river of doubt. Should fracking take hold in our area it is likely to drive us out of business, depriving us of a livelihood and trampling into the contaminated mud half a lifetime of conservation work. Many other farmers and food producers will find themselves in a similar position. Fracking might create a few jobs and bring a temporary windfall to cash-strapped local authorities, but at huge environmental and emotional cost.