The Government announced the first results today of the 14th round of onshore oil and gas licences.
27 licences will be formally issued later in the year to a total of 12 operators, including well-known names, such as Cuadrilla, IGas, Egdon and INEOS. Most of these licences cover land in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Another 132 licences have been subjected to wildlife assessments and the government is consulting on them until later September. These licences are mostly in the Bowland shale areas either side of the Penines. More details here
Here’s a compilation of reaction to the announcement:
Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns, Friends of the Earth
“Opening up huge swathes of Northern England to a fracking blitz will only provoke more anger and controversy, because wherever fracking has been proposed, it has been opposed by local people.
“The Government’s own report into the rural economy impacts of fracking highlights a myriad of concerns, including a drop in house prices, impacts on tourism, and increased noise and traffic congestion – not to mention local environment and climate risks.
“These offered licences to frack will cause yet more anxiety for people living under the cloud of fracking, now that the Government is allowing companies to drill right through aquifers that are used to supply household drinking water.”
Daisy Sands, head of energy campaign, Greenpeace
“This is the starting gun to the fight for the future of our countryside. Hundreds of battles will spring up to defend our rural landscapes from the pollution, noise and drilling rigs that come with fracking.”
“It seems clear that the government is responding to the vigorous lobbying from the fracking companies by ignoring both the economic and environmental evidence that clean, renewable energy is a far better bet for investment and the planet.”
Matt Williams, Climate Change Policy Officer, RSPB
“The Government is today doling out new fracking licences for areas of the UK that put some of our most precious wildlife sites under threat. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, such as Attenborough Gravel Pits and Fairburn & Newton Ings, are up for grabs for fracking companies who will be able to apply for planning permission to frack anywhere within these newly licensed areas.
“SSSIs are some of our most important wildlife sites. Species such as kingfisher, bittern and goldeneye could be put at risk in these special places and should be protected from the Government’s fracking plans. Questions need to be asked why the Government has begun handing out new licences before figuring out how it’s going to protect our most sensitive sites.”
“This is the latest in a string of announcements that have put the natural environment at risk from a growing fracking industry.
“The Government should introduce new measures that rule out fracking within all protected sites, including SSSIs, before handing out any new licences”
ANTI-FRACKING CAMPAIGN GROUPS
Pippa Hockey, Frack Free East Yorkshire
“The more they try and push fracking on us, the harder we will fight back. We have made friends all over the UK, especially with other groups in the north, and now we will all work together to stop fracking happening anywhere.”
Bob Dennett, Frack Free Lancashire
“The fact that the vast majority of the licenses being issued are based in the north shows the governments contempt for our communities. Obviously they have listened to Tory Peer, Lord Howell and decided to focus fracking in the ‘desolate north’. They will get a shock if they think we will be so easily pushed around.”
Riley Coles, Frack Free Leeds
“Frack Free Leeds has been supporting anti-fracking campaigns across the north because we know fracking is a dangerous, polluting technology which doesn’t even bring down people’s energy bills. Now the threat of fracking is on our doorstep and we know that people across the north will join together to put a stop to fracking in the UK.”
Biff Vernon, Frack Free Lincolnshire
“Any support for extracting fossil carbon is a denial of climate change. Campaigners in Lincolnshire are delighted to be joining up with so many other groups in the north to stop this addiction to fossil fuels.”
Rachel Thompson, Manchester Reclaim the Power
“They can change any laws they want, what they fail to register is that we have a really strong movement here in the North West. This is not just about the destruction of our local environment and potential water contamination; this is about stopping climate change and local communities making our own decisions about our energy future.”
Chris Redston, Frack Free Ryedale
“News of new exploration licences all across Yorkshire will send shockwaves through many areas that have so far been free of the threat of fracking.”
“The effect of widespread fracking across Yorkshire would have a huge impact on the lives of rural communities all across the county, as their lives become blighted by endless HGV traffic, noisy drilling, air pollution, health impacts and threats to their water supplies.”
“The region’s core industries of agriculture and tourism are also under serious threat as the government attempts to green-light the industrialisation of the countryside across Yorkshire.”
“The public understands the folly of starting a dangerous new fossil fuel industry at a time when the world is threatened by climate change, and the fight against fracking will only increase as more areas of the country are sold off to the fracking industry.”
COMPANIES AND THE ONSHORE INDUSTRY
Francis Egan, Chief Executive, Cuadrilla
“We are very pleased to be offered these new exploration licences. Whilst we continue to progress our shale gas exploration work in Lancashire, we welcome the potential for exploration in Yorkshire along with the associated benefits of new jobs and economic growth we believe it will bring.”
“Our first priority will be to talk with local communities. We recognise that some members of the public will have concerns and there continues to be a good deal of misinformation circulated regarding onshore shale exploration. We have a responsibility to ensure people understand the facts and are not misled by harmful scaremongering. Onshore exploration and fracking can and will be done safely, securely and in an environmentally responsible way.”
Mark Abbott Managing Director, Egdon Resources
“We are delighted to have been advised we will be offered a number of high quality blocks in what has been a very competitive licensing round. The new blocks provide significant opportunities for growth and will be excellent additions to Egdon’s UK portfolio of interests.”
“As an established operator with a strong licence holding, we are also encouraged by the high level of interest shown in the onshore UK. We now await the results of the second tranche of offers with interest.”
Stephen Bowler, Chief Executive, IGas
“We are delighted with these new licence offers which further increases our oil and gas operations onshore in Britain and extends our acreage position in the strategically important Gainsborough Trough.
“We are also particularly pleased to be strengthening the relationships with Total and Egdon, our existing partners in PEDL’s 139 and 140 in the East Midlands.
“This licensing round is important in realising the significant opportunity to produce home-grown oil and gas and help secure Britain’s energy needs for the future.”
Ken Cronin, Chief Executive, industry body UKOOG
“The opportunity exists to create tens of thousands of jobs, reduce imports, generate significant tax revenue and support British manufacturing from an extremely small footprint which will benefit the environment at the same time.”
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England
“The handing out of fracking licences up and down the country today is shocking but not surprising as we all know the Tories are in bed with the fracking industry.
“Going all out for fracking is short-sighted and is a big distraction from the new era of clean renewable energy that scientists are urging us to move into.
“This is yet another move in the wrong direction for UK energy policy away from climate security and in favour of self-serving unproven technology.”
Updated at 18.23 to include RSPB
Update on 19/8/15 to include comments by Frack Free East Yorkshire, Lancashire, Leeds and Lincolnshire and Manchester Reclaim the Power