Politics

Updated reaction on govenment ruling over Cuadrilla fracking appeals

Yesterday the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, announced he would decide the outcome of appeals by Cuadrilla against refusals of planning permission to frack at two sites in Lancashire. DrillOrDrop report

Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council

lcc-logo“I’m extremely disappointed. These decisions are of great interest and importance to many people in Lancashire and ultimately this letter means those decisions will now be made by a lone politician in London.”

“The county council went to great lengths to thoroughly consider these applications and councillors made their decisions based on a huge amount of evidence both for and against each application.”

“When the appeals were lodged it already meant that the decisions would be taken out of the hands out of elected representatives here in Lancashire.”

“The difference now is that, rather than being determined by an impartial planning inspector, they will be determined by a minister in a Government which has already made its views on shale gas very clear.”

“I would urge the Secretary of State to properly consider the information put before him and demonstrate that he has listened to people’s views whether they are for or against.”

Donna Hume, senior energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth

FOE“The fact that Lancashire Council’s rejection of fracking could now be overturned by central Government is a slap in the face to local democracy and the thousands of people in the county who strongly opposed it [fracking].

“For those who live in areas also under the threat of fracking, there will be extreme concern that any carefully considered local decision could be reversed by a Government intent on pursuing fracking at any cost.

“With mounting evidence that drilling for shale gas risks impacting on people’s health, polluting the natural environment and causing more climate change, it is only right that decisions are made locally by those who have to live with the consequences.

“If Cuadrilla is given permission to frack in Lancashire, it will be against the wishes of its residents, and its council, both of which have made their views against this risky process very clear.”

Preston New Road Group

PNR logo“Preston New Road Group are appalled but not surprised to learn that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, has called-in the Lancashire fracking appeal decisions. This flies in the face of the hypocritical government’s stated commitment to localism and the devolution of local decisions to where they should rest: in local hands.”

“Fylde Conservative MP Mark Menzies has stated consistently that he backs localism and this decision needs to be taken and upheld locally. Preston New Road now asks that he makes a strong vocal opposition to this latest high-handed move to prise Lancashire’s future out of Lancashire’s hands.”

“30,000 people objected to this application. Our parish and borough councils objected to it, Lancashire County Council objected to it. Lancashire has spoken loudly and clearly: we don’t want or need this industry.  It is a very “Black Friday” when local democracy has to be sacrificed in order to try to ensure planning outcomes under the euphemism of ‘national interest.”

Claire Stephenson, from the Preston New Road group, said

“The world is entering a critical period for climate change, and the need to act strongly to prevent catastrophic and irreversible global change is essential, the UK government seems dogged in their persistence to dig up yet more fossil fuels, against scientific warnings. Methane from fracking operations will contribute to this climate change.”

“The only options for future energy needs and meeting climate change targets must be focussed around renewable sources, of which the government has happily culled. It seems ironic that the UK government will attend the Paris Climate talks next week with little to contribute other than a destroyed renewables industry, scrapped carbon capture support and a nonsensical pursuit of fossil fuels.”

Sue Marshall, also from the group, said:

“Now even the illusion of democracy is at risk with far reaching consequences into all aspects of our lives. We don’t need to look abroad for terrorist threats: currently the greatest threat to us all is closer to home, in the heart of our government, whose blatant arrogance and disrespect for democratic process and destructive denial of human rights knows no bounds.”

Statement by Cuadrilla Resources

Cuadrilla“We note the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to decide the appeals after the Planning Inspector has conducted the Public Inquiry and produced a report and recommendations. This is part of the long established planning process and we look forward to presenting our case at the Public Inquiry commencing in February.”

DrillOrDrop report

Reaction from Roseacre Awareness Group


This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

Categories: Politics

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15 replies »

  1. There are too many people on our planet and we will have to live with the impacts of climate change. The climate has been changing since the earth was formed four and half billion years ago and will continue to do so despite what we get up to. Approximately 11,500 years ago the earth experienced a rapid end to a mini ice age. In 50 years temperatures rose 7 degC (data from GRIP Greenland ice cores). Clearly this was not man made and could easily hapen again. At the same time Neandertal Man died out, cave art ceased (we came out of our caves) and agriculture began in the Euphrates Valley. Just as possible is another ice age which is predicted several thousand years into the future, again not man made – if we are even here.

    FOE, Greenpeace, WWF etc. all want to us stop using gas but they do not offer a viable alternative for the short term to provide heating (20 million plus UK homes use gas), base load (nuclear and fossil fuels) and demand load (primarily gas). Renewables are not there yet with too much dependence on wind and sun, and no proven large scale storage to store renewables. Pumped hydro works great but unfortunately this will never be big in the UK due to our geography – unless we dam up all the Lake District valleys. We are closing our coal power stations so the need for more gas is even greater.

    For at least the next 25 years or so we need gas. The issue here is whether we continue to import it or we use our own gas. Currently we do not know if shale gas in Lancashire is viable or not. This is what Cuadrilla is trying to determine. I live in the area and fully support the Government’s efforts to try and kick start shale gas, at least to the point where we know if it is viable or not. The Cuadrilla wells are exploration wells, not field development wells. Development will be a long way off, and only if the planned wells prove the projects will be commercially viable.

    The rhetoric from FOE et al leads me to believe that they are think that shale gas will be viable in the UK hence their constant lobbying to prevent the exploration phase. In the end extracting shale gas in the UK or not will make no difference whatsoever to global climate change. This is a red herring and needs to be ignored.

    I see a lot of people harping on about greed and profits driving shale gas. Businesses need to make money to exist and pay taxes. Why do you think we have wind farms in the UK? Profits for larger onshore wind farms have been over 100% until recently. This is why they are attractive. Wind is not “free” when ROs and FITS are paid for the life of the project and these often exceed the grid price of the electricity thus reaping enormous profits. This is what I call corporate greed and Government (Milliband and Blair) stupidity.

    Not all local people are against shale gas extraction in Lancashire. 90% of the negative PR put out by FrackOff, FOE etc., is simply not correct for the UK. This is why the SOS has called the decision in. The Government needs to deliver a viable energy policy.

    The wind farm on Caton Moor in the Forest of Bowland AONB was refused at all democratic levels – this was called in and approved by the SOS at that time as it was seen to be a game changer. It is not just shale gas that gets this treatment.

  2. It seemed to be OK when it was for wind turbines and solar farms. Especially in the early days of wind farms many projects were called in and granted by Westminster after being turned down locally.

    Seems hypocritical to me.

    • Are you sure about that? In 2014 Mr Pickles as Secretary of State refused 86 per cent of onshore wind farm applications that came across his desk, including at six sites where he went against the advice of his Planning Inspectorate officials. In total, the 19 rejected projects accounted for more than 520 megawatts of electricity production and more than £500m in stalled investment, according to the trade body Renewable UK. In January 2014 Eric Pickles overruled the recommendation of the planning inspector and rejected an appeal by Ecotricity for a four-turbine windfarm on the Somerset Levels. There was only one turbine in the entire county.
      The Secretary of State intervened in 50 wind farm planning applications between June 2013 and September 2014 taking decisions personally instead of allowing locally elected councillors and planning inspectors to do so.

  3. Are you sure about that? In 2014 Mr Pickles as Secretary of State refused 86 per cent of onshore wind farm applications that came across his desk, including at six sites where he went against the advice of his Planning Inspectorate officials. In total, the 19 rejected projects accounted for more than 520 megawatts of electricity production and more than £500m in stalled investment, according to the trade body Renewable UK. In January 2014 Eric Pickles overruled the recommendation of the planning inspector and rejected an appeal by Ecotricity for a four-turbine windfarm on the Somerset Levels. There was only one turbine in the entire county.
    The Secretary of State intervened in 50 wind farm planning applications between June 2013 and September 2014 taking decisions personally instead of allowing locally elected councillors and planning inspectors to do so.

  4. Thats because there is nothing much to say. If you are worried about water pollution then better to look at agriculture. Arable and dairy farming are the biggest polluters of our drinking water. As far as I am aware there are no potable aquifers targeted in the Cuadrilla wells and the stimulation (fracking) takes place several thousand feet below surface. The oil and gas industry in the UK is far better regulated than the US and pretty much anywhere else including Norway. If you are worried about air pollution sell your car and persuade everyone else to do the same. Another red herring put out by the desperate FOE and the antis. Methane is seeping into the atmosphere naturally all over the planet in exponetially greater amounts than could ever be released cold flaring from stimulated gas wells. And I expect cold flaring will be strictly limited and green burners used. If you are worried about small amounts of gas leaking from surface facilities then perhaps you should try and shut down the Nartional Gas Grid, compressors and all? And every gas cooker and boiler in the country which will release a small amount everytime they are ignited.

    DK – With regards to Caton Moor wind farm I am very sure – this took place in the mid 1990’s. The wind farm is in the FOB AONB. I went to a Renewables UK seminar which targetted planners and councillors a few years ago. Part of the day was a visit to the Caton Moor wind farm. During the seminar the then head of RUK told the audience that their members never target National Parks and AONBs. Ironic that the afternoon visit was to a wind farm several km inside an AONB!

    Personally I think Eric Pickles did a great job refusing these wind farms. We have run out of space for onshore wind turbines. The more renewables (current technology) installed, the more back up required. Now the Lib Dems are out of Government we are finally seeing a sensible and coherent energy policy coming together – albeit slowly.

    • Why you are even trying to convince these people? They already made up their political mind. Facts and related matters are not their interests. They just are interested in spread exaggerated claims and cherry pick their facts when it suit their political agenda? Like the Chinese Communist say : if you repeat the propaganda and lie loud and long enough it will be come the truth. Same go with these eco warriors.

      • Please state and cite the alleged exaggerations and cherry picking of facts. Please then pass that information to the several jurisdictions that have halted fracking. Those jurisdictions include Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain (Cantabria and Basque regions), the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Quebec in Canada and New York State in the USA.

        Please pass that information on also to the pension savers whose money has been squandered on the ten year rampage of fracking in the USA fuelled by the corrupt asset bubble blowing financial industry which has piled up losses for investors and another purifying pile of sub-prime toxic debt instruments which are destabilizing the real economies of the world once more.

        Thanks

      • Happy to do so if you do the same passing on the evidence og fracking is the cause of your exaggerated claims to independent scientific (not political driven parties like FOE) bodies like the US EPA, UK Geology Survey Royal Society and Academy HSE etc etc. Better yet as your democracy rights why not use these evidence to sue the company that you claim has to cause all of these damage. I am sure if your claims are correct the workers on fracking sites around the world and their lawyers would have a field days and got really rich with law suits from being exposed to all these nasties you claims. Fracking companies would have gone bankrupt with these law suits and not because of the abundance of natural gas they produce that drive their price down to an extent that make renewable subsidies interests panic and having to resort to spread exaggerated fears to deter the public against shale development.

      • It is strange to imply that opposition to fracking derives from exaggerated claims and cherry picking of facts and yet be unable or unwilling to state and cite them. A person of good faith would be able and willing to do so.

    • I hate to burst your bubble but the regulations in this country for on-shore drilling are appallingly poor; more especially since the introduction of standard permits instead of bespoke permits and the redefining of hdrauluc fracturing in the infrastructure bill.

      At West Bewton A the Rathlin Energy site here in Holderness the only reports to the EA and HSE was done by residents and activists. If you are not affected by the industry it’s easy to be pro but you should should live with the endless traffic, the thundering noise 24 hours a day, the light pollution and watch the total devastation wreaked on the countryside, small communities, farming and tourism. All this made much worse knowing there is permission for another 3 wells with plans for many, many more. House prices have fallen people round here are trying to sell in droves where once very few houses ever came on the market but no one wants to buy. It’s heartbreaking and totally unnecessary, driven by the greed of a few at the expense of many.

      Read the report What Went Wrong at West Newton A on the No Drill No Spill website and you may begin to understand.

    • In relation to the question of an appropriate energy policy please refer to the joint letter from Vodafone, Tesco, Ikea, Nestlé, Unilever, Panasonic, British Telecom and Marks and Spencer to the UK Prime Minister. In the letter it states

      “We would like to see policies to support the growth of renewables through the 2020’s”

      • A motley crew is an understatement. One of the world’s biggest consumers of palm oil, at least one zero corporation tax payer and another who pays far less half the amount that they should. And I only checked three companies.The corporation tax avoidance is legal and only possible due to the current President of the Eurpopean Commission in his former jobs in Luxumbourg. No one is objecting to renewables if they are cost effective and provide the energy we need when we need it. One day they will be. In the mean time we need gas.

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