Lancashire letters

The pros and cons of Cuadrilla’s proposed planning applications in the Fylde area near Blackpool are being discussed in the letters page of the Lancashire Evening Post. As the decision date for the applications approaches, here’s a series of letters, against and in support of the plans, published in the past few weeks. We’ll update this post with any new letters published in the paper.

Oct 31st

More serious fracking risks by Elaine Smith

The impacts of shale gas development in Lancashire may be far more serious than any of us have imagined.

We thought Cuadrilla were applying for two sites to drill and frack in Lancashire, at Roseacre and Little Plumpton, but we were wrong. Cuadrilla have applied for permission for industrial development on a further 184 parcels of land right across the Fylde from Blackpool to Preston.If permission is given, Cuadrilla will have the choice to develop any of these sites into fracking sites.

Francis Egan CEO of Cuadrilla said “you need to understand the scale of this – this will be the largest gas field in the whole of Western Europe”. Now we see how this could become a reality.

The Government however, asked for and received 10 safety recommendations from the Royal Society and to date have only implemented one of them. Until the Government implement all safety recommendations, hydraulic fracturing for Shale Gas should not go ahead anywhere.

Only one well has been fracked in the UK to date, at Preese Hall, in 2011 when there were two earthquakes. As the people who felt this impact, shouldn’t Lancashire have all the protection recommended.

If all these prospects worry you, with all of their impacts on our health and well-being, contamination to water and farm produce, risks to road safety and wildlife, threats to ruin our farming and countryside and devastate house prices etc etc then write to Lancashire County Council to object.

Save Lancashire from the blight of Shale Gas and prevent Lancashire people from becoming the guinea pigs in an experiment of an industry in its infancy.

7th November

Fracking claim misleading by Francis Egan, chief executive Cuadrilla

I would like to respond to Elaine Smith (letters October 31) and in particular the misleading impression that our application to install a network of seismic monitoring stations represents ‘industrial development’.

As is very clear from our planning applications and from our extensive pre-application consultations we are applying to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of natural gas from up to four horizontal wells at each of two proposed exploration sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road.

As part of our planning applications we are proposing to install a network of seismic monitoring stations around each of these two proposed exploration sites the purpose of which is to provide data about seismic activity and prevent any felt tremors.

Each of these monitoring stations would typically occupy an area of four square metres and we are proposing to have up to 90 monitoring points around each site.  Approximately 10 of these at each site would contain a small cabinet (approx. 1.1m in height) at surface level and the other monitoring stations would contain buried seismometers with nothing other than a small perimeter fence visible.

To represent these monitoring stations as “industrial development” as Ms Smith has done, is broadly equivalent to calling a post-box an industrial development site. To further claim that “Cuadrilla will have the choice to develop any of these monitoring locations into a fracking site” is just plain wrong. We would not have and do not seek such a choice.

I understand that many people want to understand more about our planning applications and we have answered and will continue to answer their questions and in that process I hope that we are reassuring people that our proposals are both safe and sensible. It is disappointing therefore to have our proposals misrepresented. I hope that this letter corrects that misrepresentation.

19th November 2014

Planning Now for Future by Christian Thompson, via e-mail

I read a letter from Francis Egan CEO of Cuadrilla (letters November 7), trying to claim that the 184 monitoring sites they are applying for, are not industrial development.

Look at their application and you will see that the sites they specify are 20m x 20m and are to have welfare facilities, lay down area, stores, parking and a drill. See the illustrations in their monitoring works application, pages 18 and 20.

This is not residential, not recreational, not agricultural, of course it is industrial – it is development for industry in the countryside. If Cuadrilla’s plans are passed, Cuadrilla and any companies they are sold on to, will have the choice to develop these sites because in planning terms, once the principle of development is approved it is very difficult for planners to refuse further development.

Note that Mr Egan did not deny his prediction, that this will be the largest gas field in the whole of Western Europe. He did not deny the earthquakes caused by Cuadrilla in 2011 and nor did he deny the fact that safety recommendations have not been implemented. Cuadrilla do not reassure – they just try to pull the wool over our eyes.

19th November 2014

Pandora’s box fears for shale by  Neil Simmonds, via e-mail

In his response to Elaine Smith’s letter Francis Egan is clearly being at least economical with the truth. The picture he submitted was for a surface array point of which, there are 16 in the two seismic monitoring planning applications.

There are a further 160 plus buried arrays in the applications which are purely for Cuadrilla’s own commercial benefit, not for monitoring of earthquakes or safeguarding public or environment. The buried arrays, according to Cuadrilla’s planning application report, each comprise of a 20×20 metre concrete surfaced pad, with a vehicle parking area, a drilling rig, welfare facilities and a store.

For the array sites alone a total of approx. six hectares of mainly agricultural land is being converted to concrete, that is approximately the size of six full size football pitches.

If planning permission is granted, the principle of development will have been established for each of the 184 odd sites, rendering them liable for future development even if there are no ‘current’ plans for such development.

For the two sites targeted for exploratory drilling, Cuadrilla have made it clear that, should gas flows prove to be viable for exploitation, even with the first well drilled, the intention is to apply directly for planning permission for production rather than continue with the four well exploratory phase.

After all the whole point of exploratory testing is to move to production. However, in order to extract the volumes of gas required, many hundreds, if not thousands of wells will be required. In the USA over 80,000 wells have been drilled for shale gas since 2005.

How many wells, with all the supporting infrastructure and heavy traffic, will Mr Egan consider to be an industrial development, and where will they be located? Pandora’s box?

20th November 2014

Where does the shale truth lie? by T Froud, Lytham

Two announcements were made last week, one, that thousands of students are to be trained as shale gas specialists at a new energy centre at the Blackpool and Fylde College, and the other made by the UK Energy Research Council (a Government funded body) is that Ministers have “completely oversold” the potential of shale gas.

So according to Minister Matthew Hancock, “Shale gas is an enormous opportunity for the UK and one that we simply can’t afford to miss out on”. Whereas Dr McGlade, one of the authors of the UKERC report said: “There is really no evidence that there will be a huge boom in the UK. Where the government got its rhetoric from I’ve no idea. Absolutely explore, but stop banking on this idea that shale is going to be plentiful and cheap.”

One might be tempted to think that the left hand of Government does not know what the right hand is doing? But worse, if the UKERC report proves to be accurate, there could, in a few years’ time, be thousands of graduates emerging from our local college, encumbered by debt, but with no jobs to go to.

21st November 2014

Frack sites not industrial scale by Frank McLaughlin, North West Energy Task Force

I am writing in response to the extremely misleading correspondence about Cuadrilla’s monitoring works applications (letters November 19).

In the ‘Planning now for future’ letter from Christian Thompson it’s claimed that if ‘you look at their application that the (monitoring) sites they specify are ‘20m x 20m’. Neil Simmonds in his ‘Pandora’s box fears for shale’ letter goes even further stating they will ‘comprise of a ‘20x20m concrete surfaced pad’.

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint these scaremongers, but I have taken the time to look at the planning statements and they are both wrong. The planning statements show that Cuadrilla are proposing to install a network of seismic monitoring stations around each of the two proposed exploration sites. Once installed, they will be used to record background seismic data.

Approximately 10 of these at each site would contain a small cabinet (approx. 1.1m in height) at surface level and the other monitoring stations would contain buried seismometers with nothing other than a small perimeter fence visible. These public documents make clear that it will take between one to two days to install each array point.

What Thompson and Simmonds fail to point out is that the ‘illustrations’ they refer to show what would be left – after a couple of days of installing – is an enclosed area approximately 2mx2m. Not, as has been claimed by this pair, a site 10 times as big. As for the ‘concrete pad’ that so alarms Mr Simmonds, it would be similar in size to the small square or rectangular cover for a domestic water meter.

I think Cuadrilla’s CEO Francis Egan (letters November 7) put it very well when he said in his letter, that to represent these monitoring stations as ‘industrial development’, is broadly equivalent to calling a post-box an industrial development site. To further claim that Cuadrilla will develop any of these monitoring locations into a fracking site is just plain wrong.

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