Daily headlines

February 2014 fracking headlines

A round-up of fracking news from February 2014.

freedom of information request to the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirms that Cuadrilla did not seismic surveys at Balcombe. The most recent surveys, according to DECC, were 2d surveys and were carried out in the 1900s

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, says the Greens will win the debate over fracking in the UK. She tells the party’s conference in Liverpool this is “in small part due to the logic of our position, in larger part due to the strength, passion and determination of our anti-fracking protesters.” She also supports anti-fracking campaigners, saying: “They are standing up to disgracefully aggressive policing, camping out through storm and flooding, and we stand with them.”

Los Angeles City Council votes unanimously to draft a law to ban fracking and other well-stimulation techniques, such as acidizing and gravelling. The motion now goes to the city attorney’s office to be written as a zoning ordinance and will return for a final council vote.

The ENDS Report estimates that UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen just 1.4% over the past five years. The organisation has calculated that emissions in 2013 fell 2.2%, due to small falls in energy consumption and coal use. This goes someway to reverse the 3.2% rise in 2012. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is due to issue its greenhouse gas data for 2013 in March.

The Lancashire Evening Post reports that Preston City Council is expected to “cautiously accept” fracking next week, providing operators comply with all regulations and risk management process. The council’s Environmental Scrutiny Panel is due to publish a report into the industry on Tuesday. Cuadrilla tells the paper; “We see this as a very positive potential step forward as we continue to work hard to unlock Lancashire’s energy.”

Natalie Hynde tells The Guardian “We need an “outright ban on fracking or at the very least a moratorium”. She says “getting arrested for taking part in direct action at Balcombe was the most liberating experience I’ve ever had. Nothing I’ve ever done in my life has made me feel so empowered and alive.”

Balcombe Parish Council’s oil working group meets to discuss the village’s future policy on hydrocarbons, in the light of the village poll results (see 24/2/14)

Mike Stephenson, director of science and technology at the British Geological Survey, tells shale gas developers the industry has “a credibility problem.” At a meeting organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, he says “The answer is not PR but transparency. We must demonstrate that we are competent.” Eric Vaughan, well services director of Cuadrilla, tells the meeting: “We find it effective meeting small groups face to face. It doesn’t work having a PR agency that doesn’t understand”. (Reported by ENDS)

Natalie Hynde and Simon Medhurst are found guilty of besetting Cuadrilla’s Balcombe site under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. Nichola Sanger is found not guilty of the same charge. Robert Basto is found guilty of obstructing the highway but not guilty of obstructing a police officer.

The Ecologist magazine reports that West Sussex County Council pension fund has investments in Celtique Energie, Cuadrilla and IGas. A statement by the council denies there is a conflict of interest when considering planning decisions involving the companies.

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, tells the Daily Telegraph too much emphasis is being placed on shale gas, at the expense of the North Sea, which offers greater and quicker potential for home-grown energy.

Balcombe Parish Council announces the results of the local poll on attitudes to fracking. A majority say the council should reject Cuadrilla’s current planning application and any future applications, whether or not they involve fracking.

A new report from the Colorado School of Public Health finds few studies of the effects of the US shale industry on human health.

The Spectator carries an article on how to be a shale profiteer and get a slice of the fracking action. It recommends putting money into exploration companies that are quoted on the London stock market, such as IGas and Egdon Resources. (Cuadrilla is privately owned and so not listed). Alternatively, the article says, investors could put money into industries that benefit from shale gas, such as chemicals, or those that transport it.

A judge at Manchester Civil Justice Centre adjourns until March 6th an eviction hearing against the camp outside the IGas exploration site. The action was brought by the commercial landowner, Peel, which claimed the camp was causing problems to the public and police. But the lawyer for the campaigners argued successfully that they should be given more time to contest the eviction on human rights grounds.

Responses to Freedom of Information requests show that the seven arrests of people for causing harassment, alarm or distress at the Balcombe anti-fracking protests resulted in no convictions.

A report by the Poyry consultancy says uncertainty about regulation of fracking could prevent investment in the UK shale gas industry.

Chevron apologises to residents of Bobtown, Pennsylvania, for the explosion of a fracking well by offering a coupon for free pizza and 2 litres of soda.

The Centre for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel publish the results of an eight-month investigation on air pollution in the Eagle Ford oil and gas field.

Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association challenges the responses made by parish council chair, Alison Stevenson, in an interview with Shale World.

The Environment Agency begins consultation on new standard permits for the management of waste from onshore oil and gas operations. The rules cover non-hazardous waste and waste contaminated with hydrocarbons managed at places other than mining waste facilities. A separate set of draft standard rules relate to gas flaring. Neither consultation covers fracking.

Geoff Davies, chief executive of Celtique Energie, which has applied for planning permission to explore for shale gas in the South Downs National Park, tells The Times opponents of fracking are “selfish and unpatriotic”.

The South Downs National Park Authority puts a planning application from Celtique Energie to drill at Fernhurst on hold because the company has left out “significant details” from its environmental statement.

The Authority also confirms it will recommend to the government that no Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences are sold in National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Authority will make the comments formally in its response to the consultation on the Strategic Environmental Assessment on the sale of the next round of onshore oil and gas licences.

Methane emissions from the North American natural gas industry have been underestimated, according to a study of more than 200 scientific papers reported in the journal Science. “Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate around 50% more than EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] estimates.”


The trial of five environmental campaigners who used super-glue and locks to block the entrance to Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe is adjourned until February 24th. Charges under trades union legislation against two of the group are dropped when the judge decides there is no case to answer.

Trial opens of Natalie Hynde, Simon Medhurst, Robert Basto, Nichola Sanger and Jamie Spiers on Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, arising from anti-fracking protest at Balcombe.

Cuadrilla says it will not use hydraulic fracturing at its Balcombe site, now or in the future.

Alison Stevenson, chair of Balcombe Parish Council, gives an interview to ShaleWorld.com about the village’s experiences with Cuadrilla. [The interview no longer appears to be on the ShaleWorld.com website]

27 per cent support extracting shale gas and 21 per cent oppose it, according to the latest survey of public attitudes, commissioned by DECC. 48 per cent are undecided.

The Midhurst and Petworth Observer reports that Celtique Energie’s chief executive, Geoff Davies, told a public meeting that his company had no experience of fracking. When asked by a parish councillor “Has Celtique actually fracked anywhere?”, he replied “We have not engineered any hydraulic fracturing in any well, but our engineers have experience off shore.”

The government announces it will drop plans to restrict access of campaigners to judicial review.

Sussex Police say a review by Hertfordshire Police of the operation at the Balcombe anti-fracking protests is due in “the next few weeks”

Chancellor George Osborne gives evidence to House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee inquiry into shale gas.

Cuadrilla announces two new fracking sites near Blackpool.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable, tells The Guardian “shale gas won’t be a reality for at least a decade”.

Greenpeace reports that a group of residents in Fernhurst, in the South Downs National Park, have formed the first legal blockade to stop a drilling site

The Chief Constable of Sussex, Martin Richards, tells the Mid Sussex Times the near £4million cost of policing last year’s anti-fracking protests was “value for money”.

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