Daily headlines

February 2015 fracking headlines

Our digest of last month’s news about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments in the UK and around the world, including:

  • Infrastructure Bill gets royal assent and government accused of breaking promise on fracking conditions
  • Wales imposes moratorium on fracking planning applications and government devolves oil and gas licencing
  • Our investigations into breaches of environmental permits at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A site
  • Lancashire councillors refuse Cuadrilla’s plans for seismic testing at Singleton and call for unredacted version of government report on shale gas impacts
  • Campaigner explains why she put MPs on legal notice of harm from fracking
  • Call for Scottish moratorium to be extended to underground coal gasification
  • Shropshire councillors oppose Dart’s Dudleston drilling application for second time and Dart appeal gets underway
  • Ryedale council rejects blanket ban on fracking
  • Ineos’ Grangemouth plant under threat without fracking – or may be not
  • Dart Energy appeal at Airth and Falkirk suspended during Scottish moratorium
  • Shale at Surrey’s Horse Hill described as “world class”
  • Kent Police shown to have sent plain clothes officers to university fracking debate
  • Human rights breached at UK anti-fracking protests – new research

And more:

28th February 2015

‘Could do better’, say critics of David Cameron’s plan to beef up Welsh Powers The South Wales Evening Post reports on mixed reaction to give Wales more powers, including over oil and gas drilling licences.

Scotland can rely on Ineos for fracking bribes and threats Talk Fracking reports on Ineos’ offer to pay 6% of potential profits from fracking to local communities and its threat that Scotland cannot survive without fracking. The website site says Ineos’ track record suggests it will “disregard the public interest in favour of profits”, assuming there are profits in fracking..

Green Party launches petition against fracking in Northumberland The Northumberland Gazette reports on demands that Northumberland County Council refuse all applications for fracking. The 14th Round included licences for the area around Amble and Rothbury. Link to petition

New Forest Park Authority accuses Government of breaking fracking promise The Salisbury Journal reports concerns by the New Forest about the Infrastructure Act, which would allow fracking under, though not in National Parks. The government had previously said fracking would be banned both in and under protected areas, the paper reports.

Caroline Lucas: I’m not in politics to play about The Guardian interviews the Green Party MP, starting with her speech to an anti-fracking rally outside parliament on the day of the third reading of the Infrastructure Bill.

27th February 2015

Wales to get power to ban fracking The Guardian reports on the government’s so-called St David’s Day package under which Wales will get more control over energy policy, including oil and gas licensing. Link to David Cameron’s speech Command Paper

Lord Browne to give up role at Cuadrilla The FT reports that Lord Browne is to take charge of a $10bn oil and gas group backed by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman. He will give up his jobs at Cuadrilla and its funder, Riverstone, the private equity group.

Andrew Eaton-Lewis: Frackers label me an extremist A father of three who lives in a small flat in Portobello and works for a festival has been described as an extremist, he tells the Scotsman. Andrew Nunn, chief operating officer of Cluff Natural Resources, said community groups expressing concern about underground coal gasification were “increasingly extreme” and accused them of spreading “an unwarranted sense of fear and unease”.

Fracking not the answer A letter from Frack Free Lancashire to the Blackpool Gazette says the Blackpool Fracking for a Better Future group assumes there is a robust regulatory regime. FFL said Cuadrilla’s data for full exploitation of shale gas under the Fylde would require 4,000 wells, consume 50mt+ of water and produce 15mt+ of hazardous waste. FFL said deprivation in Blackpool will not be solved by “some pious hope of a few jobs from fracking”.

Act now to keep our planet safe and clean for future generations Julie Atkinson, in a letter to The Andover Advertiser, explains her opposition to fracking and the Infrastructure Act.

Sinn Fein pledges to block fracking The Leitrim Observer reports on an all-Ireland anti-fracking conference at Lough Erne. Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams said fracking caused a grave risk to the island’s farming industry and 230,000 jobs linked to it. The conference host, Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson, pledged the party would block fracking when it got to the planning stage. Link to conference video

Labour will block fracking The Labour MP Paul Bloomfield (Sheffield Central) says in his blog Labour will not allow fracking without protections it proposed as part of the passage of the Infrastructure Bill.

Hundreds of illicit oil wastewater pits found in Kern County The Los Angeles Times reports that officials from the Central Valley Regional Water quality Control Board have discovered more than 300 previously unknown unlined oil waste water pits operating without permits. More than a third of the region’s active disposal pits for fluids produced from drilling operations are being run without permission.

26th February 2015

MPs put on notice of harm from fracking Our report

Lancs County Council unanimously calls on government to publish full shale gas report Our post

Fracking banned for another five years by Tasmanian government ABC News reports the existing one-year moratorium would be extended for another five years. Tasmanian primary industry minister, Jeremy Rockliff, said the continued moratorium would protect “Tasmania’s reputation for producing fresh, premium and safe produce”.

Australia’s Northern Territory lacks proper regulations as government allows fracking MailOnline says a report on fracking in NT recommends laws to manage environmental risks. The government said it would “broadly” adopted all six recommendations, but they are expected to take a year to be implemented. 24 wells are expected to be drilled this year.

Fracking rights dealt major blow Farmers Guardian reports on the implications of the Infrastructure Act for landowners.

Teaching union calls for ban on fracking The Blackpool Gazette reports the Fylde branch of the National Union of Teachers voted unanimously at its annual general meeting in favour of a motion that fracking should not proceed.

25th February 2015

Lancashire County Council rejects Cuadrilla’s plans for seismic testing  Our report  Cuadrilla reaction

Underground radioactive waste disposal comes closer Our report on House of Lords debate

Protesters from Lancashire join local Frack Free groups Yorkshire’s Gazette and Herald reports that campaigners against fracking are preparing to “united the roses” as protesters from Lancashire join local frack-free groups.

Council to consider fracking ban The Monmouthshire Beacon reports a Labour motion calling for a frack free zone will be presented to Monmouthshire County Council on 26th February.

EU announces E11.6m in funding for fracking research Science Business reports EU has picked Edinburgh University and University College London to research studies on the impact of shale gas exploration.

Shell withdraws from largest tar sands project yet Climate Progress reports Shell has shelved plans for a new tar sands mine in northern Alberta, the largest project to be deferred. It would have produced 200,000 barrels a day.

24th February 2015

Our reports from UK Shale Gas summit 2015, organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Shale gas is the new nuclear – Balcombe was the turning point

Cuadrilla banks on low returns of flowback fluid from Lancashire wells

“Lip-licking” volumes of shale gas in UK – but no full-scale production likely before 2020 – IGas

Public acceptance for oil and gas is absolutely vital – Ken Cronin

300 shaken by plans for new fracking tests close to village
The Blackpool Gazette reports more than 300 objections have been lodged against plans by Cuadrilla to carry out pressure testing and seismic monitoring at its site at Grange Road, Singleton, in the Fylde.

Fracking row: Greenpeace accuse our MPs on water risk Spalding Today reports that Greenpeace is accusing local MPs John Hayes and Nick Boles of allowing drinking water supplies in their constituencies to be put at risk by frackers by voting to loosen regulations in the Infrastructure Act. Mr Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) accused Greenpeace of being alarmist and is argument “completely specious”

Somerton and Frome MP David Heath is challenged to debate on fracking Blackmore Vale Magazine reports the challenge is from local Green Party election candidate Theo Simon. David Heath (LibDem) voted in favour of amendments to the Infrastructure Bill which relaxed controls on fracking.

Stafford campaigners seek ‘green’ pledge in local elections The Staffordshire Newsletter says Members of Stafford’s Sustainability Matters campaign group are writing to all the candidates in May’s borough council elections to urge them to make the environment and climate change issues a top priority. Among the commitments candidates are being asked to make is to discourage the use of fossil fuels and oppose fracking.

Is Bolivia going to frack ‘Mother Earth’? The Guardian reports on first steps towards producing shale gas in Bolivia and the increasing concern among the country’s civil society.

Police clamp down on anti-shale gas protest in Algeria France24.com reports that hundreds of Algerian police officers sealed off avenues in the capital on Tuesday to prevent an opposition demonstration against plans to drill for shale gas in the south of the country. A few dozen opposition activists were able to briefly demonstrate near the rally site in Algiers chanting “Algeria Free and Democratic” before being detained.

Roman Abramovich Invests $15M In New US Fracking Technology Oil & Energy Insider reports that Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, has invested in the Houston-based Propell Technologies Group and its new fracking technology by Novas Energy. The website says the new technology allows fracking without water, chemicals or earthquakes.

23rd February 2015

Call for wider fracking moratorium in Scotland An alliance for almost 30 organisations, individuals, academics and a union have called on the Scottish government to extend its fracking moratorium to underground coal gasification. In a letter to energy minister, Fergus Ewing, the alliance said it was gravely concerned that underground coal gasification was not included in its scope. Cluff Natural Resources is seeking permission to build the UK’s first deep offshore coal gasification project to extract it. Scotsman The Extra BBC News Scotland FifeToday

Meet the OAPs who are determined to protect your water supply HU17.net reports on how a protest against a drilling rig at Crawberry Hill in East Yorkshire is being maintained by local people, many of whom are pensioners.

Fracking industry distorts science to deceive public and policymakers, says watchdog group The Huffington Post reports on research by the US non-profit Public Accountability Initiative, which concluded the oil and gas industry sponsors and spins research to shape the scientific debate on fracking. The organisation analysed more than 130 documents distributed to policymakers by industry representatives. Only one of the industry studies was both peer-reviewed and explicitly addressed public health concerns.

We could see a new Mass Trespass to protect the Peak The Derbyshire Times says campaigners have vowed to save the Peak District from fracking after government announced fracking would be allowed beneath national parks.  Martin Porter, spokesperson for Frack Free Greater Manchester, said: “Fracking is unnecessary, unsafe and unwanted. The Peak District National Park is not the ‘desolate north’, it is somewhere my grandfather fought to protect. If the government breaks its promise we could see a new Mass Trespass to protect the Peak.”

Pro-fracking demonstration held in resort The Blackpool Gazette reports that a group of campaigners who say they “motivated by the continued economic decline in Blackpool” took to the street to show support for the shale gas industry on the Fylde coast. The group, called Blackpool Fracking for a Better Future, describe themselves as local residents. They say they held the demonstration to capitalise on online support after the group’s Facebook page gained more than 500 members in less than a week.

Wastewater wells are shaking Oklahoma Bloomberg View reports that Oklahoma had 585 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or more last year, almost three times as many as California. The average in 2009 for Oklahoma was two a year.

Even as oil prices drop, wastewater keeps flowing Inside Energy reports that the US fracking industry spent over $6bn in 2014 on waste water management. In 2013, Colorado and Wyoming together produced 128m barrels of oil and 2.4bn barrels of water. In 2013, North Dakota produced 300m barrels of oil and nearly 360 m barrels of waste water. The US has 144,000 wastewater injection wells.

Committee on Climate Change responds to Environmental Audit Committee report on shale gas Link to response

Fracking-related air tests reveal surprising results Bakken.com reports that air tests from five Barnett Shale wells, carried out by Modern Geosciences, showed no harmful emissions. During fracking, concentrates of benzene, toluene and p-xylene were above equipment detection limits, the website says. Other VOCs were estimated at concentrations below the lowest calibration levels.

Senate rejects Bakken flaring bill Bakken.com reports that senators in North Dakota voted by 35 to 11 against a bill that would have reduced flaring at a well from one year to 90 days. It would also have placed restriction on the volume of gas flared each day.

Capital projects and safe fracking The Engineer previews the Institution of Mechanical Engineers shale gas summit. See 24th February for our reports from the meeting.

22nd February 2015

Chevron says plans to give up Romania shale gas project Reuters reports that the Chevron Corp will give up shale gas exploration plans in Romania after an assessment showed they did not compete favourably with other investment opportunities. “Chevron intends to pursue relinquishment of its interest in these (Romanian) concessions in 2015.”

21st February 2015

Fracking Facts: Scots government under pressure to allow fracking after evidence shows no environmental risk Most Scots oppose fracking, believing it to be damaging to the environment, despite evidence to the contrary from academics asked by the Holyrood government to study the issue, the Scottish Daily Record reports. The paper says a YouGov poll for The Times shows 56% of Scots oppose Fracking, and 23% support. Previous polls by YouGov across the UK found opposition at 41% and support at 35%.

Jeb Bush publicly advocated for fracking while privately investing in industry A blog for the Miami Herald reports that in the summer of 2013, Jeb Bush, possible presidential candidate, said: “Some states, like yours here in New York, are choosing not to grow. They won’t approve fracking”. The blog says Mr Bush did not mention that one of his private equity enterprises at that time was raising $40 million to back a Denver-based company acquiring fracking wells in the hope that New York would lift its ban.

4 Ways fracking companies break the rules A report by the New York Research and Policy Centre explains how the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania breaks environmental rules on nearly a daily basis. Since 2011, thousands of oil and gas regulations have been violated, the report says, posing a threat to people and the environment. Exxon-Mobil and Shell are among the most frequent violators,  The Epoch Times reports.

15 New York Towns Are Looking To Secede From The Empire State And Join Their Neighbor The IJ Review reports that 15 New York towns are looking to join Pennsylvania because of the recent ban on fracking in New York and its higher taxes.

Parliamentary fracking debate Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy tells the Scunthorpe Telegraph that he voted for tougher measures on fracking in the debate on the Infrastructure Bill “Once you strip out the eco-warriors and anarchists attracted to fracking protests, there are a lot of genuine people who really want to know more about this process and don’t want us to rush into it. That is why I voted for tougher measures and for a moratorium on fracking until residents know more.”

Cromwell the eco warrior Mail Online reports that Wolf Hall star Mark Rylance appears to have an anti-fracking slogan in his window (The F word is a dirty word) and drives a tiny electric car.

South Downs National Park fracking protection u-turn The Midhurst and Petworth Observer reports that fracking could still take place under the South Downs National Park after the government rowed back on an earlier commitment to ban controversial ‘fracking’ under protected areas. Fracking companies will now be allowed to drill horizontally under national parks and other protected areas if their wells start just outside the boundaries.

20th February 2015

How Can Cameron Stop Fracking Causing Earthquakes? Easy. Change the Definition of Fracking Desmoguk reports that Cuadrilla’s fracking which caused earthquakes in 2011 at Preese Hall would not be classified as fracking under the new definition of the act. Drilling operations there used a total 8,400 cubic metres of water, 1,600 cubic metres less than the government’s required fluid volume for hydraulic fracturing. According to the Cuadrilla website each drill site at Preese Hall used approximately 900 cubic metres of water, under the 1,000 cum limit for each stage.

Fracking ban costs Scotland £40m as energy firm warns further hold-up will send investment to England The Scottish Daily Record reports Dart Energy’s comments that it has been forced to call of a planned £40m investment in coal bed methane extraction at Airth because of Scotland’s fracking ban. The money will go to England instead, the company said.

Only nine long-term jobs would be created by fracking, conference hears Impartial Reporter says anti-fracking conference at Lough Erne hears that Tamboran’s business plan predicts only nine full-time jobs would be created locally by the company. Dr Brenna O’Roarty, of Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, said the multiplier effect of five, quoted by Tamboran, “is entirely unsubstantiated” because Tamboran has not shared how they calculated the multiplier effect.

Bassetlaw against fracking protest group maps out drill opposition The Retford Times reports Bassetlaw Against Fracking has handed in maps to Bassetlaw Council showing “overwhelming” opposition to fracking in local villages. The group said it has surveyed every resident in villages which could be fracked in the future. Villagers were asked if they wanted a frack-free area. The percentages for each village where people answered ‘yes’ included: Misson at 81 per cent; Newington 92 per cent; Misson Springs 52 per cent; Mattersey 64 per cent; Mattersey Thorpe 70 per cent; Wiseton 81 per cent; Scaftworth 60 per cent; Harwell 72 per cent and Everton 67 per cent.

Drilling for oil at 1,600-metre well on Gainsborough site to last for 35 days The Lincolnshire Echo reports Egdon Resources is preparing a new exploratory drilling site near Laughton. Production and health and safety manager, Martin Brooks, said: “The Laughton well is a conventional exploratory well and is looking for conventional oil only. The Laughton well is the only well that we have in the licence area and there are no plans now or in the future for any hydraulic fracturing.” The company has applied for environmental permits

A180 drilling: We’re not fracking in Grimsby Hugh Mackay, CEO of Europa Oil and Gas, tells the Grimsby Telegraph his company’s drilling site alongside the A180 at Mauxhall Farm in Stallingborough, will not involve fracking. Site preparation has begun, and Mr Mackay says “We hope to start drilling soon”, the paper says.

Green Party prepared for election battle following popularity surge The Warrington Guardian interviews Steph Davies, the Green’s candidate of Warrington South. She says Green Party membership in Warrington is 500% higher than at the last election. “There are a number of reasons for that including disillusionment for other parties, a growing interest in the environment and the fracking issues which are massive”.

Chemical composition of fracking wastewater analysed RecyclingPortal.eu reports that researchers in Bristol have found that produced water from three US fracking sites contained more than 50 different chemicals including toxic metals, such as mercury, and the carcinogens toluene and ethylbenzene. However, a group of harmful chemicals, “polyaromatic hydrocarbons” commonly found in mining and coal extraction wastewater, were absent.

East Falkirk MP blasts Ineos’ use of “blackmail” tactics The Falkirk Herald reports comments by local MP Michael Carnnary, who accused Ineos of “corporate blackmail” to get its own way on fracking legislation. He says the company succeeded in lobbying the UK government to do a U-turn on fracking regulations in the Infrastructure Bill when an Ineos executive said the firm’s Grangemouth plant was in jeopardy.

Shale will always pose an environmental risk: MCOR chief Shale Energy Insider reports the shale industry will always pose some environmental risk, but transparency between government, the industry and general public to understand risks and solutions is crucial, according to the co-director of the Marcellus Centre for Outreach and Research.

World’s biggest PR firm calls it quits with American oil lobby – reports According to the Guardian, the world’s largest public relations firm, Edelman, has ended its relationship with the American Institute after a more than a decade and $327m in billings. Neither side has commented. The Centre for Public Integrity found the oil lobby paid Edelman the money for lobbying and public relations between 2008-12.

“Whatever we choose, we have to come down on the side of nature” Former Happy Monday’s dancer Bez tells The Guardian “Wrap it up however you want, but no sane government would ignore all natural law to poison air, water and earth by endorsing fracking. The bottom line is the people of Britain need to fight for our future by taking action to stop the rot and swiftly endorsing a ‘Not on our watch’ philosophy.”

19th February 2015

The Environment Agency is investigating what action to take against a Rathlin Energy exploratory drilling site in East Yorkshire as evidence emerges of more breaches of its permit conditions. Our report  

Largest US shale group sees growth halt Financial Times reports that EOG Resources, the largest US shale oil producer, expects its rapid production growth of recent years to come to a halt in 2015, in the starkest sign yet of how weak crude prices are hitting the industry. The company told analysts on a call on Thursday that it was “intentionally choosing returns over growth”.

Centrica sees profits fall steeply The BBC reports that Centrica (an investor in some Cuadrilla operations) has reported annual operating profits fell by 35% to £1.75bn. The company said it was cutting capital investment in the North Sea by 40% between now and 2016.

Peel Group enters fracking arena with new division The Liverpool Echo reports The Peel Group has launched a gas and oil business, which it says will look to maximise the economic and supply chain benefits to the North of England from the emerging shale gas industry. Peel Gas & Oil works alongside current and prospective onshore license holders as a development partner, providing property solutions for the industry, the paper says. Peel Group has already worked with IGas in the region and expects to announce further partnerships in the coming months.

Post Infrastructure Act, what’s going on with the 14th licensing round? Greenpeace Energydesk asks whether fracking clauses in the Infrastructure Act could delay the announcement of results from the 14th licensing round. DECC says the new law makes no difference, Energydesk reports. But it asks would the fracking industry be happy to invest in licenses if some of them could be completely covered in sensitive areas that are off-limits for drilling? The Secretary of State has until July 31st to define protected ground water and other areas.

Largest US shale group sees growth halt Financial Times reports that EOG Resources, the largest US shale oil producer, expects its rapid production growth of recent years to come to a halt in 2015, in the starkest sign yet of how weak crude prices are hitting the industry. The company told analysts on a call on Thursday that it was “intentionally choosing returns over growth”.

Alberta Fracking Quake Fears Prompt Tougher Rules for Shale Area Bloomberg reports shale producers in Alberta’s Duvernay region are being asked to monitor and prevent earthquakes after regulators linked a series of seismic events over the last two months to hydraulic fracturing.

Climate change activist Vivienne Westwood is selling PVC shoes on her website Metro reports several items on the fashion designer’s website, including a pair of sandals, are made from 100% PVC, a derivative of fossil fuel oils and gas. A spokesman for Vivienne Westwood said the shoes “have been developed using carefully selected materials and processes with a view to reducing the impact their production cycle has on the planet.  They are made from thermoplastic polyurethane which comes from 60% renewable resources.”

Fracking is not the way to reduce Ireland’s energy imports The Leitrim Observer reports comments by GEAI director, Aedin McLoughlin on Ireland’s imports of 89% of annual energy consumption. “We depend on fossil fuels to generate electricity, heat our homes and drive our cars. We need to change that and the right way is by generating energy from renewable sources. Fracking is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.”

Fracking just not viable in South Africa – study IOLscitech reports on a WWF-South Africa report which says the prospects of shale gas as a cheap energy source in South Africa are a distant and possibly unlikely prospect.

If I were prime minister I’d use Britain’s influence to tackle world poverty and inequality The Director of the Overseas Development Institute, Kevin Watkins, tells the Independent his chancellor would use the first budget to scrap tax concessions for North Sea oil exploration and fracking. Fossil fuel companies can prepare for a £30/tonne carbon tax in 2016. “As PM I’d start the assault on poverty and inequality in my own backyard. And let’s face it – the backyard is not in good shape.”

Engineers have a vital role to play in explaining the benefits of fracking Dr Tim Fox, of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, tells The Engineer “It is absolutely imperative for our future energy needs that drilling companies are allowed to move forward with exploration of shale gas.  “To help make sensible decisions and plan for an energy secure future it is important that we allow exploratory drilling in shale deposits to find out exactly what gas reserves we may really have in the UK”, he said.

Coping with earthquakes induced by fluid injection A study published in Science calls for more openness and cooperation between the oil and gas industry, government and researchers to understand on earthquakes induced by fracking.

18th February 2015

Land fracking rights changes “scandalous” The Carmarthen Journal reports on last-minute changes to the Infrastructure Act which removed the outright ban on fracking in protected areas and the right for farmers to be notified about fracking under their land. Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas said: “The antics of the Westminster government in removing vital protections for landowners and effectively ignoring the will of Parliament is nothing short of a scandal.

Debate on energy issues must generate light as well as heat Andrew Argo, in the Courier, says Scotland should be gathering all the evidence about fracking without moratoriums or delays so “that the best decisions in the best time can be made”.

Fracking firm’s monitoring site bid set for approval The Lancashire Evening Post reports that council planners in the county have recommended approval for Cuadrilla’s application to carry out seismic and pressure monitoring at Grange Hill, Singleton, near Blackpool. The application will be discussed at a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s development control committee on 25th February. A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “The monitoring works at Grange Hill would complement the seismic monitoring arrays that we plan to install around our proposed new shale gas exploration sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road.”

‘Nobody has made the jobs case for fracking to me’ says Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis tells the South Wales Evening Post he had not heard the jobs’ argument being made in his constituency to support fracking. “We have made good progress locally, in the Afan Valley and elsewhere, to improve our environment and this should not be put at risk,” he said.

Scientific fact should decide fracking policy The Scotsman reports on the launch of the 2015 Edinburgh international science festival. The paper says the festival calls for policy decisions on fracking, North Sea oil and climate change to be based on hard scientific fact, rather than hype. [There is no quote in the article to support the headline on fracking].

High chemical levels found in fracking runoff Manufacturing.net reports that water discharged from fracking sites in California contained levels of benzene 1,500 times the federal limit and chromium-6 more than 2,700 recommended levels. Toluene levels exceeded federal limits in 118 tests, benzene in 320 tests and chromium-6 in 118. 100 tests results were missing. Post from Desmogblog.com

17th February 2015

Dudleston drilling opposed for second time Shropshire Council’s Conservative-led planning committee has opposed for a second time Dart Energy’s application for coal bed methane exploratory drilling at Dudleston near Ellesmere. Our report

Ryedale councillors reject complete ban on fracking but warn “concerns must be resolved” Our report

BP: huge rise in energy demand at odds with climate change fight The Guardian reports that BP is forecasting an unsustainable rise in carbon emissions, fuelled by a 40% rise in energy demand. The company said two-thirds of this demand would be met from fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal – and that this would lead to a 25% increase in carbon emissions. This growth is well above the path recommended by scientists to keep emissions below the ceiling of 450 parts per million that would provide a 50% chance of stabilising global temperatures at 2% above pre industrial levels. “The projections highlight the scale of the challenge facing policy makers at this year’s UN-led discussions in Paris. No single change or policy is likely to be sufficient on its own”, BP said. The company predicts that even with rapid growth in the use of renewable forms of energy, this will account for only 8% of energy demand by 2035.

BP: No UK shale oil production for two decades BP predicts no significant production of shale oil or gas in the UK and Europe for at least 20 years, according to the report in the Independent. The company says the poor prospects for developing a global shale – or “tight oil” – industry also mean the current low price of oil is unlikely to last for more than a few years. It predicts the dramatic growth of US shale oil production will run out of steam and is unlikely to be replaced by new tight oil reserves outside the US.

Booming US shale industry will run out of steam and surrender ground to Middle East production by the end of the decade, according to BP MailOnline reports on BP’s energy outlook report, forecasting that the US will have become self-sufficient in producing oil by 2030. The report adds that global demand for energy is likely to climb 37 per cent by 2035. Last year the predicted increase was 41%.BP expects Middle East production to ‘gain ground’ by the end of this decade and the Middle Eastern oil cartel OPEC will remain ‘a central force in the oil market for the next 20 years’.

BP’s 2035 outlook sees OPEC gaining ground as US shale growth flattens BP predicts OPEC will regain ground and exceed its historic record production levels by 2030 as US shale oil growth flattens, Reuters reports. The news agency quotes BP chief economist Spencer Dale: “The story is that over time the oil market will grow out of its current weakness, reflecting the call that tight oil does not continue to grow so rapidly and demand will grow sufficiently to absorb it”.

Cuadrilla CEO says proceeding with shale gas development in UK Bloomberg reports Cuadrilla is proceeding with its shale gas development in northern England, even as environmental opposition grows and other regions impose temporary bans. “Where we are in Lancashire, we are still going forward,” Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan said on Bloomberg television. “We have all the permits from the environment agency now.” Commending on development of shale gas in the UK, he added: “We are pretty confident it will happen”.

Bill to police fracking protests runs into hundreds of thousands Chester First reports that protesters against fracking have said drilling companies should foot the £280,000 bill for policing anti-fracking demonstrations. Protests have taken place at IGas sites at Farndon, Upton and Ellesmere Port and outside Cheshire West and Chester Council headquarters. The information came in a FOI request by campaigner Matt Bryan, who is standing as a Labour candidate in Upton.

UCG exclusion from Scottish fracking moratorium “bizarre” ENDS reports that underground coal gasification may still go ahead in Scotland because of a loophole in January’s moratorium on fracking. The Scottish parliament does not have powers over offshore activities, including UCG. Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, described this as “bizarre”, ENDS says. “As far as I’m concerned it’s incompatible with where we need to be with regards to carbon emissions in Scotland,” he said.

Fracking boosts humming birds The Belfast Telegraph reports noise of machinery at gas extraction sites in the US appears to benefit the nectar-loving birds, boosting their nesting capacity and the rate at which they pollinate flowers. Scientists believe the racket of compressors is driving away the hummingbirds’ natural predators, enabling them to raise their chicks in peace despite the din.

The Hydraulic Fracking Blog reports that Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a local municipality cannot enforce its own permitting scheme in addition to the state-wide scheme. The case arose after Beck Energy Corporation (Beck) obtained a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) in 2011 to drill an oil and gas well within the city limits of Munroe Falls, Ohio. Munroe Falls then obtained a permanent injunction from a trial court blocking the drilling until Beck complied with five local ordinances.

16th February 2015

Fracking definition in Infrastructure Act alarms campaigners Our report

Overturning National Park fracking ban a “sensible change” The industry group, the Onshore Energy Services Group tells Shale Energy Insider the decision by MPs to overturn the proposed fracking ban in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to allow drilling “under but not in” the protected areas is a “sensible change. The group stated that any blanket ban on fracking for National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty would be a “fundamentally flawed concept”.

Special meeting on impact of fracking The Lancashire Evening Post reports on plans by Woodplumpton Parish Council to hold a separate meeting to discuss shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla’s plans to drive HGVs through the village. .The council is waiting for details of the company’s revised traffic management plan and will announce the date of the meeting on its website. A regular meeting on Monday 23rd February will also give residents the chance to air their views on the fracking proposals.

Letter to Cheshire West and Chester Council on health risks of fracking The public health charity, Medact, has written to members of Cheshire West and Chester Council about what it regards are the risks of fracking.

Ineos tries to reassure Grangemouth employees on site’s future The Guardian reports Ineos has sought to reassure 1,300 staff at its Grangemouth petrochemical plant that it has a long-term future after one executive warned that a fracking moratorium had cast doubts over the business. Gary Haywood, the executive leading the company’s fracking plans, told a conference last week that Scotland’s biggest manufacturing plant, also one of the country’s biggest employers, could only rely on cheap supplies of US-sourced ethane gas for up to 15 years. After that, gas from local fracking projects would be needed. But in a message to employees  John McNally, chief executive of Ineos’s UK petrochemicals arm, told Grangemouth employees some of Haywood’s comments “had been taken out of context” and that the site believed it had secure supplies until 2031 at the earliest.

Fiery train crash forces W Virginia towns to evacuated Two towns in West Virginia were evacuated after a freight train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames, the BBC reports. At least 14 train wagons were affected and one plunged into the Kanawha River and was leaking oil. An eyewitness said about half a mile of river was on fire

Inside the Council: Cheap energy would benefit many people Independent councillor, Colin Raistrick, reports in the Brighouse Echo on the full council debate which resulted in a ban on fracking for shale gas in Calderdale. He says the debate stirred up controversy and was “completely pointless” because there was no shale in Calderdale and would, therefore, be no fracking. He said the benefits of energy security would be huge. He urged the area: “Let’s get fracking”.

Letter to Cheshire West and Chester Council on health risks of fracking The public health charity, Medact, has written to members of Cheshire West and Chester Council about what it regards are the risks of fracking.

15th February 2015

Rigged, manipulated and opaque: the $3 trillion oil market needs reform Commodities editor, Andrew Critchlow, writes in The Telegraph that Global energy markets are a complete mess – and the whole system, from supply through to trading, poses a real systemic risk to global growth.

Nymex-oil extends gains, Brent hits 8-week high Reuters reports Nymex crude for March delivery was up 43 cents at $53.21 a barrel. London Brent crude for April delivery was up 53 cents at $62.05 a barrel.

Fracktion stations in Sussex The Winter Oak blog has a special fracking issue of The Acorn, looking at drilling plans in Sussex, the Infrastructure Act and what protection there is for fracking in the English countryside.

Meet your election candidates for Morecambe and Lunesdale The Lancaster Guardian reports that Labour’s candidate for the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency, Amina Lone, is not convinced by fracking. She tells the paper: “I think that fracking has got to be led by the local community, and not large corporations.” The Conservatives’ David Morris says he is pro-fracking. “I’d be happy enough to allow fracking under my house. … It can be done safely, and causes far less of a blot on the landscape than wind turbines”, he says.

SNP right to halt fracking In a letter to the Scotsman, Glenn Stephen of Preston criticises the use of fracking as a political football against the SNP. “The test drillings by Cuadrilla between Preston and Blackpool on the Fylde coast have already engendered unacceptable earth tremors, traffic disruption and noise pollution”, he says. “Would that we had a government this side of the Border that would take a stance against fracking like the SNP”.

14th February 2015

Government in regular contact with Lancashire County Council over Cuadrilla application, parliamentary answer reveals Our report

Germany moves to legalise fracking The Guardian reports that Germany has proposed a draft law that would allow commercial shale gas fracking at depths of over 3,000m, overturning a de facto moratorium that has been in place since the start of the decade. A new six-person expert panel would also be empowered to allow fracks at shallower levels. Shale gas industry groups welcomed the proposal for its potential to crack open the German shale gas market, but it has sparked outrage among environmentalists who view it as the thin edge of a fossil fuel wedge, the Guardian says.

The New Forest Authority has raised the alarm over fears fracking may be allowed in national parks The Bournemouth Echo reports on a comment by the New Forest National Park Authority that it would be “concerned if the [Infrastructure] Bill was enacted as it currently stood”. A spokeswoman said “That could still leave open development happening under the park, but we would want to know what the regulations governing the process would be.” A DECC spokesman said: ““There’s a bit of uncertainty. We will provide further clarity in secondary legislation, by the end of July.” At least eight licences for possible fracking have already been issued to gas companies in south Hampshire.

Sean Lennon approves Bez bed-in protest against “evil” frackers The Salford Star reports approval by Sean Lennon of Bez’s Bed In anti-fracking protest which is re-creating John and Yoko’s famous bed in for peace in 1969. Sean Lennon described US frackers as “liars”, “evil wizards” and “psychopaths”, adding he wants to get involved in the UK anti-fracking movement.

Green Party candidate discloses the “bigger agenda behind fracking” Bob Dennett tells the Salford Star about a document from Department of Energy and Climate Change called Implementing Geological Disposal. “The government are planning to use all the bore holes that have been used for unconventional gas…when they’ve finished with them…and drilled hundreds more, they’re going to stuff nuclear waste down them…They’re going to turn the UK into a nuclear waste dump”, he said.

Risk of devastating earthquake raised for fracking state Oklahoma that used to be considered stable but had three times as many tremors as California in 2014 MailOnline reports that small earthquakes linked to drilling in Oklahoma and southern Kansas may be increasing the chance of bigger and dangerous quakes. A presentation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, William Ellsworth of the US Geological Survey, said “The more small earthquakes we have it just simply increases the odds we’re going to have a more damaging event”.

Cluff Natural Resources signs memorandum of understanding with Halliburton The Courier reports that the firm behind plans an underground coal gasification development in the Firth of Forth has agreed a 1-year partnership with one of the world’s largest energy services companies. Cluff’s main focus is on the Kincardine project, estimated to contain 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place in the Firth of Forth. Halliburton, will, according to the MOU, help CLNR accelerate the development of its knowledge and capabilities and enhance the business relationship between the parties.

13th February 2015

Welsh government moves to impose a moratorium on all planning applications in Wales. Frack Free Wales reports that Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant AM, says, “I will now be strengthening that position and stopping any local planning authority approving any planning application for fracking. I will be writing to all local planning authorities requiring them to inform me of any application to frack, and therefore imposing a moratorium on fracking in Wales.” Labour Press Release

Fracking will be allowed in the Peak District, Government says The Derbyshire Times reports concern among campaigners after it emerged that fracking could take place underneath the Peak District National Park. A spokesman for the Friends of the Peak District campaign group said: “We are deeply disturbed by this latest U-turn. It is further evidence that the Government is prepared to ride rough shod over the concerns of the public who have asked for stricter safeguards to be put in place to protect our most beautiful countryside, not undermine the legislation that they previously committed to”.

Barclays Bank told to dump fracking in Valentine message from North West campaigners Friends of the Earth Manchester reports its campaigners will be outside Barclays Bank in Manchester to send a Valentine’s message to Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays, asking him to cancel plans for fracking in North Yorkshire. The bank owns 90%+ of Third Energy, which announced before Christmas it planned to explore and produce shale gas using fracking in North Yorkshire.

Fracking company valuation sinks to new lows The Ecologist reports that shares in A J Lucas, the Australian mining company and a founder investor in Cuadrilla, traded on the Australian stock exchange as low as 34 cents this week. The magazine says investors appear to have lost faith in the company and continue to sell, some at a considerable loss. The firm has lost 71% of its value in the past 12 months. Kerogen Capital, a Hong Kong-based private equity firm, is also facing losses after buying 49.6% of A J Lucas. A J Lucas owns 44% of Cuadrilla.

Europe moves closer to shale Shale Gas Europe reports on the royal assent for the Infrastructure Bill and the draft law approving fracking in Germany. Marcus Pepperell, spokesperson for Shale Gas Europe says: “The UK has taken a decisive step in embracing the shale gas opportunity. There still needs to be a significant increase in the exploration process to understand its potential but for those looking for a pragmatic approach to Europe’s future energy mix, this week has seen reason overcome rhetoric.”

Extent of stealth fracking in Gulf of Mexico revealed The Fault Lines programme on Aljazeera America reports on how the world’s largest oil firms are fracking in some of the Gulf’s deepest waters, raising questions about how it is being regulated. A list of 100 well sites obtained by the programme reveals that BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell and nearly two dozen other companies were approved to use offshore fracking in 2013.

12th February 2015

Infrastructure Bill gets royal assent Our report

Fracking to be allowed beneath national parks despite ban pledge The Telegraph reports that ministers are accused of watering down commitment to ban shale gas exploration in protected areas.

UK National Park fracking ban overturned Shale Energy Insider reports on how MPs have overturned the total ban on fracking in National Parks and AONBs.

Concern at u-turn on fracking protections in Infrastructure Bill CPRE press release expressing disappointment that the Government has gone back on a previous commitment and chosen not to implement greater safeguards

Scotland and Wales blocked fracking. Here’s how we can push England to follow Greenpeace blog calling on Labour MPs to call for a fracking moratorium following the royal assent for the Infrastructure Bill

Farmers lose right to know their land is being fracked Farmers Weekly reports on the implications for farmers of the changes to the Infrastructure Bill. The online version of the magazine reports that landowners and occupiers of land will not have to be notified if fracking is to take place under their land. It will be up to the Secretary of State to decide what constitutes a protected area and protected groundwater area. Fracking will be allowed under protected areas. The Secretary of State will be able to override the depth limit of 1,000m. Boreholes for monitoring purposes may become permitted development – effectively a fast-track route avoiding more lengthy permissions.

Campaigners accuse Government of backtracking on national park fracking ban Grough, the outdoor world website, reports the implications of the Infrastructure Act for National Parks.

Should the UK frack for gas? New Scientist reviews the arguments for and against shale gas extraction. It quotes Kevin Anderson, of the Tyndall Centre: “We need a Marshall plan for developing low carbon options. For the average UK citizen, changes can be incremental.” His group is drawing up lists of ways in which the nation can cut back on its fossil fuel addiction, and calculating the impact of those changes on national emissions. Early results, he says, are promising.

Lindsey oil refinery falls victim to UK policy and shale MailOnline reports Total has announced plans to halve capacity at its Lindsey refinery in Lincolnshire as part of an overhaul of downstream activities to address overcapacity in European refining. The site says Lindsey’s problems are a “microcosm of the difficulties besetting the UK refineries, which are old, too small, need major investment and have fallen victim to government policy encouraging diesel cars.

Amid a lack of fracking data, the state should halt new operations An editorial in the LA Times says the wastewater from oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other extraction processes is supposed to be injected only into wells where the groundwater is already too toxic to be used for drinking or irrigation, even if heavily treated. But last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified 10 California wells where that rule had been ignored.

Fracking will be allowed under national parks, UK decides The Guardian reports that amendments to the infrastructure bill unpick earlier protections and will allow companies just outsides parks to drill horizontally under them.

Campaigners welcome government fracking ban in the Dales The Craven Herald and Pioneer reports on a welcome in the Yorkshire Dales for a government ban on fracking in national parks. But it says there are concerns that added protection for the national park could put pressure on the rest of Craven district.

Shell chief urges industry to speak up in climate debate The FT reports that in a speech to International Petroleum Week tonight the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben Van Beurden, is expected to say big energy companies are not assertive enough in global warming debate. The FT reports he will say: “In the past we thought it was better to keep a low profile on the issue. I understand that tactic but in the end it’s not a good tactic.” “Our industry should be less aloof, more assertive. We have to make sure that our voice is heard by members of government, by civil society and the general public.” Telegraph report and Guardian

Carlyle spies opportunity in energy rout The FT reports that Carlyle, the private equity specialist, said it would raise more money for investing in energy companies hit by the fall in oil prices. The paper says the group plans to raise $3b-$4b this year for energy investments, on top of a $9bn war chest already built up for the purpose.

11th February 2015

Government wins vote on fracking conditions Our report and How MPs voted

Labour’s energy spokespeople and a group of backbench MPs submit new amendments to Infrastructure Bill on fracking conditions Our report

Research finds UK breached human rights at anti-fracking protests Our report

Tory MP accuses Third Energy over Yorkshire fracking plan’s environmental risks Business Green reports that the Conservative MP for Malton and Thirsk, Anne McIntosh, has made a fresh call to the government to toughen up its environmental regulations on fracking. Miss McIntosh, the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee, said she was yet to reassured by the government on what would happen if fracking caused local earthquakes. Third Energy is planning to apply for a licence to frack for shale gas at Kirby Misperton in Miss McIntosh’s constituency in March. She said at a meeting last week, Third Energy admitted it did not yet have traffic or noise plans and had not appointed contractors to take or treat waste. Third Energy defended its proposals, saying the plans would be included in the application and that waste would be removed from the site and treated at a permitted waste facility.

Unpacking Fracking The Gazette Herald carries reactions from readers about Ryedale District Council’s Unpacking Fracking meeting. Third Energy is preparing a planning application to frack at Kirby Misperton in the district.

Cuadrilla CEO: Most fracking objections from outside Lancashire Francis Egan tells Energy Live News that 98% of the adult population in the area where the company wants to drill offered “no opinion” on the planning process. He told the site fracking is “not only good but essential” for the UK.

Cameron’s bid to tap shale-gas boom founders amid fracking bans Bloomberg Business reports on moratorium moves in Scotland and Wales and the ban on fracking national parks in the UK. The website refers back to quotes made 18 months ago by the then energy minister, Michael Fallon, that there would be 40 new wells drilled over two years.

US shale oil boom masks declining global supply The FT reports that the idea that US shale is ushering in a new age of global oil abundance is looking more exaggerated by the day. It says the trend in the number of rigs drilling for oil in the US shows the shale oil industry is in severe crisis. The paper says the rig count has been falling since a peak in early October (1,609) but the past two weeks have seen acceleration in the trend, with a falloff 94 in the week ending 30th January and 83 in the week ending 6th February.

What impact will cheap gas have on UK climate policy The Carbon Brief reports that rising fuel prices are part of the reason why UK homes have used less energy over the past decade. Falling prices might slow or reserve that trend, it says. The Committee on Climate Change says energy efficiency is underfunded and consumers would save £95 of the average annual bill in 2020 if efficiency was properly supported. Spending on energy efficiency has been cut and the number of homes fitted with energy efficiency measures fell 80% between 2011/12 and 2014/15. If gas remains cheap, supporting renewables will be more expensive because the guaranteed strike price for renewable energy depends on future wholesale electricity prices.

Residents and councillors attend public meeting in Malton to debate fracking The Gazette Herald reports on a sell-out event at Malton’s Milton Rooms. The meeting, chaired by Janet Waggott, Ryedale District Council chief executive, aimed to help residents explore and understand more about fracking. Speakers included Chris Redston, of Frack Free Ryedale, John Dewar, of Third Energy, Prof Richard Davies, of Newcastle University, and chartered electrical engineer, Mike Hill

10th February 2015

Friends of the Earth urges MPs to block Government changes to the Infrastructure Bill when they vote on 11th February and insist instead on a moratorim. Our report

Grangemouth needs local shale industry to secure future Ineos chief executive of upstream business, Gary Haywood, tells a conference in Edinburgh Scotland’s largest petrochemical plant is unlikely to have a long-term future unless a local shale gas industry can be developed, the Guardian and others report. Ineos has invested in an ethane supply project that will allow the firm to import, sore and use cheap shale gas from the US. But Gary Haywood, said that was not a long-term solution. Commenting on the future of the plant without a local shale gas supply, Haywood said: “Unless we can develop an indigenous source, it is unlikely that the cracker [at Grangemouth] has a long-term future.” FT report

Halliburton to trim its work force by 7% The New York Times reports an announcement by Halliburton that it plans to lay of 5,200-6,400 workers, or about 7% of its work force in response to falling oil prices. The paper says service companies that drill and complete wells are typically the first and worst hit when producers decommission rigs and cut investment. “We value every employee we have, but unfortunately we are faced with the difficult reality that reductions are necessary to work through this challenging market environment,” Halliburton said in a statement.

Energy minister on visit to Newcastle says fracking could create skilled jobs The Newcastle Chronicle reports on Amber Rudd’s comments during a visit to the city that communities can be convinced that fracking is beneficial to the economy and has the potential to create employment. She said shale gas extraction had to be done “extremely safely” and, the Chronicle reports, stopped short of saying where in the north east would be suitable for fracking. She said: ““I think fracking is a positive thing to have in the UK, as long as we can do it extremely safely and reassure communities that that’s the case, and I think we can. I think it is also something that young people can get into, both in terms of developing the technology and in the wider area of supporting renewables.”

Fracking no place in balanced energy policy Tommy Sheppard, SNP candidate for Edinburgh East, writing in the Edinburgh Evening News welcomes the Scottish Government’s halt to fracking planning permissions while an investigation is carried out. He says fracking is not the answer to energy needs because it is a finite fossil fuel that involves burning carbon to create carbon dioxide.

No fracking will lead to sky high prices The Scotsman reports on a presentation by Professor Gordon Hughes, a former world bank advisor, who says Scotland be sleepwalking into key decisions over its energy future without a “genuine debate about reality rather than phantasms”. He told a conference in Edinburgh “If Scotland decides it wants to be cold and green, fine that’s a choice it can reasonably make. But don’t let’s wander into that simply by ill-formulated and ill-thought through political posturing.”

Rathlin Energy claims drilling in Antrim will have little impact The Irish Times reports that Rathlin Energy says its proposal to drill a 2,700m borehole to explore for oil and gas in the shale of Ballinlea, Co Antrim, will have “no significant impacts” on the surrounding area. The company has applied for planning permission for a site halfway between Ballintoy Harborough and Dark Hedges. An environmental impact assessment maintains there will no significant impacts to the landscape, ecology, water quality, public health or noise levels. 43 homes are within half a mile of the proposed site, the paper says.

IEA says scope of US shale oil output fall will be limited The FT reports forecasts from the International Energy Agency of a swift pullback in US shale oil production although output decline will be “limited in scope”. The supply build up could “grind to a halt” as early as July. The price correction will lead to a pause in the North American supply party but not bring it to an end. Reuters report on the IEA forecasts says the US will remain the world’s top source of oil supply growth up to 2020. Wall Street Journal

Drillers take second crack at fracking old wells to cut costs Bloomberg reports the US oil industry is looking at 50,000 existing wells for a second wave of fracking, using techniques that didn’t exist when they were first drilled. New wells can cost $8m but refracking costs about $2m, according to Halliburton.

Airdrie politicians clash over fracking ban The Daily Record reports that the SNP MSP Alex Neil welcomed the moratorium on fracking planning permissions announced by the Scottish Government. He said: “This area, like the rest of central Scotland, falls into a zone of fracking potential and I know this decision will reassure so many of my constituents. Labour’s MP, Pamela Nash, said her party’s conditions would introduce greater controls than a moratorium, including a requirement for a local referendum on proposed developments.

Why a UK shale gas industry is incompatible with the 2degreesC framing of dangerous climate change Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre, responds on DesmogUK to a Royal Society science policy blog by Professor Robert Mair. Professor Anderson says: “There is no emissions space for shale gas in the UK’s national carbon budgets and emission pathways – and consequently, the only appropriate place for shale gas remains in the ground”.

9th February 2015

Conditions on fracking, proposed by Labour and adopted by the Government a fortnight ago, are rejected by the House of Lords without a vote. Our report

EU energy consumption level falls to 20-year low The Guardian reports data from the European commission that energy consumption in the EU has fallen to levels last seen more than two decade ago. Annual consumption in 2013 was down more than 9% on the 2006 peak, reflecting economic troubles of the Eurozone as well as cuts in energy use and improved efficiency. Despite this, Europe remains dependent on fuel imports, with more than half energy supplied for production abroad. 46.4% of UK primary energy comes from overseas.

Britain’s fracking fight is a test of our democracy Human rights campaigner, Andrew Wander, writing in the Huffington Post says the government’s proposals on fracking in the Infrastructure Bill would not have been approved in stand-alone legislation. The bill was deliberately designed, he said, to be too big to fail. He asks: “Are our leaders serving the interests of the people, or their wealthy friends in the fracking industry? Whatever the answer, one thing is clear: the government’s wilful disregard of legitimate public concerns over fracking is a shameful attempt to impose a future on this country that three-quarters of us do not want”.

Two thirds of residents near Doncaster oppose fracking The Star reports findings by Misson Community Action says 71.8% of households who took part in a household survey in villages on the Doncaster-Nottingham border oppose fracking. 19% of those surveyed said they were still undecided and 5% said they were in favour. The survey was carried out in September and October by local village residents opposed to fracking.

Danish government to monitor Total drilling Shale Energy Insider reports that the Danish government will base its decision about lifting the ban on fracking on results from drilling by Total. The company is to test shale rocks for gas this spring and the government will evaluate the moratorium, in place since 2012, based on the outcome.

Gas is essential. Don’t give up on fracking Matt Ridley, a supporter of shale gas extraction, writes in the Times it would be a big mistake to forget about shale. “Gas really is rather special”, he writes. “It provides us in this country with 84% of our domestic heat, 27% of our electricity, much of the feedstock for our synthetic consumer products, and pretty well of the nitrogen fertiliser that has fed the world and largely banished famine. All this from a surprisingly small number of surprisingly small holes in the ground and the seabed.”

NFU fracking issue Lisa-Marie Nelson, of NFU Mutual writes to the Southern Daily Echo to explain why the company has clarified its insurance cover for fracking. She said as oil and gas production is not a farming activity, the company has included wording on our farm business policy to tell policyholders that their farm environmental liability insurance would not cover damage to other people’s property which they had caused by fracking or other oil and gas exploration or production.

Bez bed-in week long anti-fracking protest The Salford Star reports that Salford Reality Party candidate Mark ‘Bez’ Berry begins his bed-in protest at 9pm tonight at the Montcalm at the Brewery London City Hotel. Feed at: http://www.BezInBed.co.uk/

Egdon Resources to undertake longer term production tests at Wressle-1 Egdon Resources reports on the test operations at Wressle-1 oil well, east of Scunthorpe, where the company has a 25% interest. Tests on the Ashover Grit reservoir (the first of three potential hydrocarbon bearing zones) resulted in free flowing oil production rates equivalent of 80 barrels of oil per day and 47,000 cubic feet of gas. Energy Voice report

Bath MP backs fracking despite ongoing concerns Bath Impact reports that Don Foster, Lib Dem MP for Bath, voted in favour of the Infrastructure Bill which makes it easier for fracking. “If fracking can be done successfully, it will give us security, increase investment in the UK and create a lot of jobs,” Mr Foster said after the vote. The Somerset-based, Wells Liberal Democrat MP, Tessa Munt, who resigned her position as Parliamentary Personal Secretary to Vince Cable after the vote. She said: “I am unwilling to compromise and cannot change my opposition to fracking”.

Frack to Basics Bruce Crichton, in a letter to the Scotsman, says “It appears that the SNP and the Labour Party are trying to outdo each other to see who can be the most Marxist and this needs to be both recognised and rejected.”

Use sea water for fracking Michael Marlow, in a letter to the Blackpool Gazette, says “I strongly believe whoever is in power following the General Election will use their mandate to impose fracking should they consider it politically expedient and economically viable, irrespective of local planning decisions”. He recommends companies should be forced to use seawater, leaving reservoirs free for drinking water.

8th February 2015

SNP ignores facts about fracking and hypocrisy Dr Jim Hay, in The Scotsman letters’ page, criticises the SNP for putting little trust in what he calls highly knowledgeable scientists and preferring to accept the views of “tree-huggers and ill-informed sensationalist journalists”.

Fracking permits ‘need serious scrutiny’ The Lancashire Evening Post reports comments by Friends of the Earth’s Helen Rimmer about Environment Agency permits for Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking operations in Lancashire. She said: “These permits will need serious scrutiny because of the high environmental risks of fracking including air pollution, climate change and the creation of huge amounts of toxic wastewater. Ultimately it is for elected councillors to decide whether Lancashire becomes the UK’s fracking guinea pig.”

Some wetlands receive fracking protection The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust welcomes a block on fracking on some of the UK’s most important natural places. WWT says it “remains concerned about the effects fracking could have on all wetlands that benefit people and wildlife. We’re also concerned at the lack of a robust regulatory framework that would help to safeguard the natural environment. We’ll continue to work to find solutions”.

Why I voted for a fracking moratorium The Gainsborough Standard carries a column by Andrew Percy, Conservative MP for Briggs and Goole, on why he voted for a fracking moratorium during the debate on the Infrastructure Bill. He says there are thousands of fracked wells in the US where the processes has taken place “perfectly safely”, he says. But adds: “There is no doubt that many residents want to see more evidence of the safety of this process and that is why I voted for a moratorium at this time. Sadly the Government and the Labour opposition did not agree with me.”

7th February 2015

Thousands march and rally in Oakland to call for ban on fracking Contra Costa Times reports thousands from across California marched in Oakland in protest at the state’s use of fracking. “Fracking is hurting our communities. It is sucking our drought-ridden state of precious water resources, contaminating our groundwater in a region where 25 percent of the nation’s food is grown, and contributing to the impending climate crisis,” UC Berkeley student Eva Malis told a crowd at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, in front of Oakland City Hall.

Climate change marchers told to hire private security firm The Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) says it is effectively being made to “pay to protest”, after learning that its demonstration in London, which could attract up to 20,000 people, will carry a bill of thousands of pounds, the Observer reports. Organisers of the Time to Act march on March 7th have been told police will no longer facilitate the temporary closure of roads along the agreed route.

Fracking company defies Wales’s shale gas moratorium The Ecologist reports that IGas insist the Welsh Government is powerless to stop them test drilling near Wrexham, despite the assembly passing a motion calling for a fracking moratorium. IGas said “The decision by the Welsh Government was not a moratorium. They can refuse applications on planning grounds, but they have no power to stop fracking.”

Fears for US economy as shale industry goes into hibernation The Guardian reports that America’s fracking revolution is becoming a victim of its own success. The boom drove US economic recovering and helped lower world crude prices. But a price plunge from £115 a barrel last June to just over $50 last week means many shale operations no longer pay.

LibDem MP under fire over fracking vote The Milngavie Herald reports criticism of Jo Swinson MP for not voting for a moratorium on fracking in the UK. Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod (SNP) accused Ms Swinson of failing her constituents. And East Dunbartonshire’s Green Party candidate, Ross Greer, calls on Ms Swinson to explain her stance.

MPs defends sitting out fracking vote Dumbarton and the Vale’s MP, Gemma Doyle, defends her decision to abstain on a fracking moratorium, according to the Dumbarton Reporter. The paper reports Ms Doyle as saying the decision helped secure an outright ban on fracking in national parks, alongside a Labour-led amendment on conditions for shale gas extraction.

6th February 2015

Campaigners accuse government of diluting fracking protections in the Infrastructure Bill Our report More in the Liverpool Echo and Ecologist Magazine

Campaign group calls for freeze on Rathlin’s operations in East Yorkshire following DrillOrDrop.com investigation Report

Environment Agency backs Cuadrilla’s second site Our report

Update on Dart Energy planning appeals at Airth and Falkirk An email from the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals says work on Dart Energy’s appeals will be suspended following the moratorium on fracking planning applications in Scotland. The company has applied for permission for coal bed methane drilling on land south of Powdrake Farmhouse, near Airth and at Letham Moss, Falkirk.

Special Council meeting on fracking Ryedale District council announces an extraordinary meeting on 17th February at 6.30pm, to receive a petition opposing all fracking. The meeting begins at 6.30pm and is at The Milton Rooms, Market Place, Malton, YO17 7LX

Public meeting on fracking organised Cumbernauld Media reports on a meeting on 26th February to discuss fracking and unconventional gas extraction. It is organised by Halt Unconventional Gas Extraction in Cumbernauld and will be attended by a number of leading Scottish academics.

Doubts over claims in fracking Lib Dem MP Bill Duncan Hames tells the Wiltshire Times why he voted for a freeze on fracking in the UK during the debate on the Infrastructure Bill. “Without a global climate deal, even if by fracking the UK used more gas and less coal, the displaced coal would still be burnt in other countries. Claims, therefore, that fracking can help prevent climate change are clearly false”, he said.

Residents urged to ignore fracking “scaremongering” Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg tells the Somerset Guardian people in north east Somerset should look to the “positive economic consequences” when considering shale gas exploration. He dismissed concerns voiced by opponents and said the possibility of fracking ‘was very exciting but extremely important it is done in a safe way’ and said it would now go ahead irrespective of who wins the general election.

Concerns about fracking The Somerset Guardian also reported on the first public meeting of Frack Free Somer Valley, which packed Midsomer North Town Hall. When asked their biggest concerns, members of the audience said they were worried about the use of fresh water on an industrial scale, water contamination and disposal, traffic, air pollution, fracking waste, leaking wells, radioactive contamination, methane migration, earthquakes and the impact on property values.

Strong risk of regulatory delays to the UK shale gas sector Oil and Gas Insight reports that the Environment Agency’s permits for Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking operations marked a milestone in shale gas exploration in the UK. The site says the Preston New Road permit was the first to be granted in the UK since 2011.

InfraStrata plans £300m gas storage project in Northern Ireland Energy Voice reports the oil and gas exploration company, InfraStrata is planning a share offering later this month to raise funds for its project to create seven gas storage caverns a mile under Larne Lough. The caverns would be able to store 500m cubic metres of gas – enough to meet Northern Ireland’s demand for about 60 days. The project is a joint venture between InfraStrata (65%) and Moyle Energy (35%) and will receive £1.9m in support from the European Commission.

Frack Free Wrexham welcomes Welsh Assembly vote A spokesman told us: “We welcome this historical vote which calls on the Welsh Government to seek powers from Westminster to regulate the extraction of gas via unconventional means in Wales and we very much hope that talks between the First Minister and the Secretary of State will be fruitful and that powers will be devolved.”

Fracking: Sacrificing the North to fuel the South Clare Burnett writing in BDaily.co.uk criticises plans to frack for gas in her home region of Yorkshire. She says fracking is a political hot potato and the expense of having to pay off a community has so far proven too much of an expense. But as reliance on gas continues and the supply burns away, it may become a more lucrative proposition – but not necessarily the right one. “It looks like we’re like sacrificing the North to fuel the South and that just does not sit well with me.”

Prospects for fracking in Britain are “bleak” as the industry loses ground Geoffrey Lean, in the Telegraph, says fracking has recently lost an “awful lot of ground – literally as well as figuratively”. He says some experts believe its prospects are now bleak, following a moratorium in Scotland and moves towards one in Wales. The picture in England does not provide much comfort, with Labour’s 13 conditions accepted by the government during the debate on the Infrastructure Bill. The effect on the industry – and, even more, on investors – is likely to be serious. “The industry will now be thinking long and hard about its plans,” said Philip Mace, an oil and gas specialist and partner in the law firm Clyde & Co, in the Guardian. “Investors loathe this sort of uncertainty, so the prospects for shale oil, and gas in the UK look bleak for the short and medium term.”

Holyrood’s fracking indecision Former Labour MP, Brian Wilson, in the Scotsman, says ministerial mishandling of fracking is short-changing Scotland’s economic future. He asks if shale gas can be achieved with stringent safeguards “why would we not explore such potential? A moratorium only delays an answer to that basic question.”

EU plans to increase energy security The Guardian reports on a discussion paper on a European Energy Union, which proposes closer co-operation among member states on energy production, distribution and consumption. Plans outlined include more liquefied gas terminals would be built in northern Europe and gas pipelines across the Mediterranean, to improve security of supply. Speech by Miguel Arias, commissioner for Climate Action and Energy

8-year fracking moratorium bill introduced in Maryland EcoWatch reports on a group of Maryland legislators who introduced the Protect Our Health And Communities Act to enact a long-term moratorium on fracking and head off weakened regulations from the incoming Republican governor.

5th February 2015

A drillOrDrop.com investigation finds Rathlin Energy’s drilling site at West Newton breached eight environmental permit conditions in three months. Investigation findings

World’s largest sovereign wealth fund divests from coal Norway’s Government Pension Fund Glob, worth £556bn, reveals it divested from 39 companies in 2014 on environmental and social grounds, 22 because of high carbon emissions. A spokeswoman told ENDS: “As part of our focus on climate change, we have looked at emissions of greenhouse gases from companies in the portfolio. Companies that rely on value chains with particularly high greenhouse gas emissions may be exposed to risk from regulatory or other changes leading to a fall in demand.”

Tighter fracking rules not needed, says EA chair Sir Philip Dilley, giving evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee, said “risks of fracking are relatively easily mitigated or avoided by doing things competently”, Utility Week reports. Sir Philip told the committee: “We would not ask for any further legislation to be confident these activities can be done properly and safeguard the community and safeguard the environment.”

Cutting from today's Mid Sussex Times

Cutting from today’s Mid Sussex Times

Campaigners on fracking stand for election Private Eye reports that Mike Hill, who has campaigned on tougher regulations for fracking, is standing against the Conservative Mark Menzies in Fylde, Lancashire. Beki Adam, a Sussex business woman and opponent of fracking, is contesting the Mid-Sussex constituency, where the sitting MP is Nicholas Soames.

Dart appeal validated The Planning Inspectorate has validated Dart Energy’s appeal against Shropshire Council’s failure to decide its planning application for drilling at Brooklands Farm, Dudleston, near Ellesmere. Comments from Dart and Shropshire Council are due by 26th March but no date has been set yet for a decision. The appeal reference is APP/L3245/W/15/3002435. Details here

Plans to test drill at Wrexham for underground gas will go ahead, IGas bosses insist The Daily Post reports that IGas plans to go ahead with plans to drill on farmland at Borras, despite a Welsh Assembly motion for a moratorium on fracking. An IGas spokesman said: “Nothing has changed in our plans to test drill for underground gas in Wrexham, which we will be continuing with. And if we were to put in a planning application in the future, which is rejected by Wrexham council, the appeal would go to the Welsh Secretary, which comes under Westminster, not the Welsh Government.”

Fracking’s methane risk cannot be ignored Jane Burston, head of centre for carbon measurement at NPL writes in The Engineer about her evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee investigation on fracking risks. She says the baseline status of the environment is critical. Measuring background levels of methane in the atmosphere around a site would allow regulators to compare measurements taken during and after fracking with those taken before.

I definitely oppose fracking – just look at my record Theo Simon, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Somerton and Frome, tells the Frome Standard if elected he would press for a vote in parliament to half fracking and withdraw existing licences. He says shale gas extraction would potentially have a “disastrous impact on the Mendip Hills and Somerset’s water table. It would mean rapid industrialisation of our countryside for short-term profit, disrupting tourism and rural life with drill rigs, gas flaring and truck convoys carrying contaminated water down the lanes”.

Fracking freeze welcomed Scottish Farmer reports a welcome for the Scottish moratorium from the country’s Tenant Farmers Association (STFA). The organisation has backed residents of Canonbie opposing unconventional gas extraction. Over the past few years, Scottish Farmer reports, many many farms and houses in that region have been cleared of tenants – moves widely interpreted as making way for local landowners to sell lucrative rights to shale gas extractors.

How did your MP voted in fracking suspension? The Dewsbury Reporter says north Kirklees MPs were divided on a parliamentary vote to suspend shale gas that was rejected by the House of Commons. Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood (Lab) voted in favour of a moratorium, but Dewsbury MP Simon Reevell (Con) voted against.

We cannot afford not to get fracking Irvine Inglis, of Reston Berwickshire, writing in the Scotsman, likens opponents of fracking to those who believe in Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. He says: “the hard fact is that we cannot afford not to get fracking and the sooner our spineless politicians face up to that blindingly obvious fact the better it will be for both Scotland and Britain”.

Group’s first meeting in fracking battle The Somerset Guardian reports that Midsomer Norton Town Hall was packed for the first public meeting of Frack Free Somer Valley. The meeting was told UK Methane holds the local licence, which was renewed for a further 12 months in July, and gives the company just a couple of months to apply to start drilling. The paper says many people living in the area believe this will lead to hundreds of wells being drilled in the area once known as the Somerset Coalfield.

4th February 2015

Horse Hill shale is world class and overturns current thinking on drilling in the Weald, investors told. Our report

Shale support and opposition fall in latest government survey. Those on-the-fence reach record levels. Our report   Carbon brief report

Dilley: EA likely to undergo further change The Environment Agency’s new chair, Philip Dilley, tells the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee further organisational change at the EA was likely, despite shrinking corporate and support activity as part of budget and staff cuts.

Ministers promise to oppose fracking in Wales The South Wales Argus reports that Welsh Assembly ministers voted in favour of devolved energy powers to prevent fracking in Wales. They debated a Plaid Cymru motion, tabled by Elin Jones, to do everything with the Welsh Assembly’s powers to prevent fracking in Wales until it was proven to be safe for the environment and public health. The motion was approved by 37 votes to 16 at the Senedd. BBC Report  Friends of the Earth says: “The Westminster Government needs to catch up with Scotland, Wales and many other areas of the world and bring in a moratorium on controversial fracking”.

Wrexham campaigners welcome vote to block fracking in Wales unless its safety is proven The Daily Post reports opponents of test drilling plans on land near Borras welcomed the Plaid Cymru motion. Marc Jones, a member of Frack-Free Wales, said: “If they do come through with a moratorium on fracking I will be absolutely delighted. It’s something we have been calling for.”

Kent Police accused of abuse of power for planting plain-clothes officers at fracking debate at Canterbury Christ Church University KentOnline reports that an FOI request by the Green Party has revealed that a chief inspector requested that two officers monitor the meeting, on November 19, following concerns over the attendance of a prominent Green Party activist. The party is accusing the force of “political policing”. A document labelled “Meeting Summary” states: “Ch Insp [name redacted] requested that CI [name redacted] and DI [name redacted] register to attend the university debate.” It says there will be “some high profile figures present, one being Mr Ian Driver, the Green Party Councillor for Thanet. Links have been made with local security”. Cllr Driver said: “It’s deplorable. This was a public debate. It was not a meeting planning any actions, protests or demonstrations. It was simply a public discussion about a controversial issue.”

Traffic fears raised over new HGV route The Garstang Courier reports on ears that local roads around Woodplumpton in the Fylde district of Lancashire could become major fracking routes. Cuadrilla has revealed a new route for its lorries to take after Lancashire County Council delayed a decision on two planning applications for fracking for at least eight weeks. Report in Longridge News

Concerns raised over more fracking sites in Ryedale The Gazette and Herald reports fears by Frack Free Ryedale that Third Energy is looking to apply for permission to frack at other existing sites in the area. The company announced last year it would apply to carry out a test frack at an existing well site in Kirby Misperton. The company also has well sites at Pickering, Great Habton and Ebberston. Chris Redston, of Frack Free Ryedale, is concerned about the potential impact on the number of tourists visiting the area.

Fracking protesters urged to unite Fife Today reports that anti-fracking campaigners throughout Fife met at Glenrothes for the second time last week to discuss fracking. Campaigner Tam Kirby, who chaired the meeting, urged those present to put aside political differences and stand together in the common cause of fighting the proposals that could see exploratory wells set up across the region, as well as in waters just off the Fife coastline.

The issues around fracking are not simple and decisions should not be rushed The Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail opinion column says: “There are clear risks with fracking. Things can go badly wrong but how often and how badly is what must be weighed up by truly independent scientists and experts – with specific reference to the proposed Scottish sites.”

Tractors rally for anti-fracking protest Farmers Weekly reports that anti-fracking protests used tractors during last week’s protest outside Lancashire County Council in Preston. About 500 protesters used about 30 tractors to rally against plans by energy firm Cuadrilla to frack at two nearby sites, the magazine said.

Councillors look for policy statement on fracking The Mearns Leader reports that Aberdeenshire councillors agreed to state in the Development Plan that any future applications for fracking operations could be considered properly through the application of policies on protecting resources, natural heritage and landscape. This would ensure that the interests of local communities would be given due consideration.

3rd February 2015

Plaid’s calls for fracking moratorium gather support Plaid Cymru in Wrecsam previews a debate tomorrow (4/2/15) in the Welsh Assembly which will consider a moratorium on fracking in Wales. Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Sustainable Communities, Energy and Food, has called on the Labour Government in Cardiff to confirm its views on fracking amidst a growing consensus in favour of a moratorium. “The people of Wales want to know if the Welsh Government will show the same strong lead as the Scottish Government and stop fracking in Wales.”

New poll shows that twice as many people oppose fracking outright – more than double those that support it Residents Action on Fylde Fracking reports that a new poll by Usurve shows that 45% of people questioned in north west England are against shale gas, compared with 22% in favour.  Lancashire Evening Post report (4/2/15)

BP chief warns of oil industry slump BP’s CEO Bob Dudley warned that the oil industry faces its worst slump since 1986, with crude prices likely to stay at sharply lower levels for “several years”, the FT reports. Mr Dudley said OPEC members had told him they wanted to “fundamentally test” the oil market to see if US shale producers who had led America’s output boom could continue pumping crude at lower prices, the paper said.

Borders MP welcomes fracking moratorium The Berwickshire News reports South Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse welcomes the moratorium on fracking planning permissions announced by the Scottish Government last week. Mr Wheelhouse said: “Today’s announcement of a planning moratorium on subsequent applications for commercial scale unconventional gas activity in Scotland will be very much welcomed by communities across the country who have been alarmed by the gung-ho stance taken by the Tory-led Westminster Government”.

Anthony Hilton: Fracking just doesn’t pay, so why bother? Anthony Hilton, writing in the London Evening Standard says for a large number of people fracking has been an extremely good way to lose a great deal of money. He says that explains why large oil companies, having tried it, are now “heading rapidly in the opposite direction”. He adds: “In a huge number of the sites in America the return on investment is negative. It costs virtually as much to get the stuff out of the ground and to keep it coming than it is worth”.

BG reduces investment budget by 30% Energy Voice reports that BG Group has written down the value of its business by nearly $6bn and reduced its 3015 investment budget by around 30%. It is looking to reduce operational expenditure by 10%, the website reports.

Fracking could be hit with new regulations Energy Voice also reports that almost all the areas being made available for fracking in England will be hit by new regulations. The Government has accepted a ban on fracking in National Parks and other protected areas. 45% of the 931 licence blocks would be significantly affected by the changes, according to Greenpeace. 68 out of 416 significantly affected blocks would be entirely off limits if the changes to the Infrastructure Bill go through. Just 26 licence areas contain no regulated areas and could be freely fracked. Guardian report Fracking set to be banned from 40% of England’s shale areas

We can’t bail out fracking if it turns into another housing crisis Pavan Sukhdev, writing in for the Guardian, urges governments in 2015: please do not rescue those who have made bad economic decisions yet again, just let them fail. It will be good for the economy and jobs, and even better for our safe planetary existence.

Duxford will not be fracking hotspot because its water supply must be protected councillor claims The Cambridge Evening News reports comments by South Cambridgeshire District Cllr Mick Martin. He said Duxford is included in the next phase of fracking licences. But he said there were several issues that would discourage drilling applications, including a nearby “critical water aquifer”, which he said “must be protected.”

Houston energy company defaults on debt payment EaglefordTexas.com reports Houston-based Lucas Energy has defaulted on a debt payment from December and so will now be paying 18% interest per year on the $7.7m it owes under a loan agreement. The website says the company has been in financial turmoil for months and was in danger of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in August but got a compliance extension.

2nd February 2015

Biggest weekly oil rig decline since 1987 Shale Energy Insider reports on the latest drilling rig report from oil services company, Baker Hughes. The last seven days saw the idling of a 94 US oil rigs, the largest single week drop in the active oil count since recording began in 1987. The largest oil state, Texas, had the largest number idled, at 58. Oklahoma lost 10 rigs.

Pontrhydyfen residents oppose gas test drilling application BBC Wales reports a meeting of 80-100 people rejected new proposals by UK Methane for drilling for shale gas in the Foel Fynyddau Forest. The new proposal is the same as one previously rejected by Neath Port Talbot Council but now include a noise management plan. The application is out for consultation until 19th February.

Bez to stage week-long anti-fracking “bed-in” NME.com reports that dancer turned political activist Bez is to begin a seven day protest with his girlfriend later this month. His bed-in protest at the Motcalm Hotel will last from 9-15th February. He says it is designed to raise awareness of shale fracking techniques and is inspired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-in for Peace in March 1969.

Unions and fracking: the need for an honest conversation Philip Pearson writing in the TUC’s Touchstone blog reports on last week’s fracking conference in Blackpool organised by the GMB. He said the event had raised vital questions about where gas supplies would come from in the future, the evidence on labour and environmental issues, and the need to develop new energy efficient technologies.

Fracking and mining on the Northumberland coast New Facebook page launches in response to a new open cast mine and possible fracking licences at Druridge Bay in Northumberland.

In fracking hot spots, police and gas industry share intelligence on activists National Public Radio in the US reports on a law suit settled by an anti-fracking group against Pennsylvania. The group had erroneously been labelled a potential terrorist threat. According to StateImpact Pennsylvania, US law enforcement officers continue to conduct surveillance on anti-fracking activists.

New York fracking ban throws peer review under the bus The Energy Collective says a study used to justify New York’s ban on shale gas was peer reviewed by opponents who, the website claims, concealed their bias from the scientific community and the public.

Swansea MP calls on Council of Europe for halt to fracking Geraint Davies, Labour MP for Swansea West, has put forward to motion to ban fracking across Europe and is asking the Council of Europe to support it, the South Wales Evening Post reports. Mr Davies says “if just one fifth of the available fossil fuels is burnt, global temperatures will grow beyond the two degrees tipping point that could send the world into irreversible climate change”.

1st February 2015

Texas family devastated by fracking health problems warn Scots to consider severe risks The Daily Record reports on a Texan family who suffered health problems which they say were the result of fracking near their ranch, including rashes, nose bleeds, sores and a potentially fatal brain aneurysm. The paper says the family urged Scots to consider the risks. Bob and Lisa Parr were awarded £2m by Aruba Petroleum last year after they and their daughter suffered health problems linked to gas extraction.

SNP fabricated reasons for fracking ban, says Prof Paul Younger The Telegraph reports on comments by Professor Paul Younger (a member of a scientific panel which found no significant technical barriers to fracking) that SNP ministers were deliberately misleading Scots by pretending their fracking ban is about health and environmental concerns. Professor Younger, of Glasgow University, said the Scottish Government’s justifications for a moratorium on fracking were “all made up” and “completely feigned”. He accused the SNP of treating fracking as “a political football” ahead of the general election. Times report

The gaping loophole in fracking ban: undersea coal gas The Herald Scotland reports that ministers are facing mounting pressure to close what is seen as “a gaping loophole” in the moratorium imposed last week on fracking. The moratorium covers fracking for shale gas and mining for coalbed methane but it excludes underground coal gasification. Two companies have advanced plans to gasify coal under the Firth of Forth and the Solway Firth.

Fracking fears must be addressed Bob Ruddiman, head of energy and natural resources at lawyers Pinsent Masons, tells the Scotsman we must strive to remain open-minded about fracking. He says Scotland’s moratorium and public consultation could be the “catalyst for setting out what is acceptable to individuals, communities, industry and investors, and which will allow our fledgling fracking industry to progress”.

Fracking could have been halted The Todmorden News reports on claims by a Lib Dem candidate that his party had an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which could have blocked fracking in the UK if it had been backed by Labour. Alisdair Calder McGregor tells the paper Labour’s motion “had had such minor concessions that the Tories readily accepted it – it isn’t a real safeguard against the environmental damage Fracking will cause.”

Fred Starr recollects: Black arts at Wytch Farm An article in Materials World challenges some of the myths of oil drilling at Wytch Farm in Dorset.

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