Our digest of November’s headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and reaction to them, including:
- Government announces it will take final decision on Cuadrilla fracking appeals
- Rathlin Energy gets three more years to operate West Newton A site in East Yorkshire
- IGas declares £19.3m loss in half year results
- Decision on Third Energy fracking application delayed again
- Hull, Eastbourne and Leeds councils oppose fracking
- Cuadrilla to abandon Becconsall site in Lancashire
- Amber Rudd “resets” energy policy to focus on gas and nuclear
- Date set for judicial review of approval of Cuadrilla’s monitoring scheme at Roseacre Wood
- Ongoing government survey reveals record opposition to fracking
- Court orders anti-fracking camp at Upton, Cheshire to leave within 28 days
- Government announces ban on fracking in protected areas with a drilling licence condition
- Egdon reveals plans for seven oil and gas wells in next year
30th November 2015
Fifth Cuadrilla appeal gets underway with arrangements for Singleton planning challenge. DrillOrDrop report
December Drilling Diary. 25 events and key dates in December about fracking and onshore oil and gas. Plus advanced notice of important events in 2016. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking Week In Westminster. Transcripts of parliamentary speeches, questions and replies for the week ending Friday 27th December. DrillOrDrop report
Horse Hill – flow test consent from the UK Environment Agency. UK Oil & Gas plc reports the Environment Agency has formally granted the necessary permit to flow test the Horse Hill-1 well near Gatwick Airport. The company says the necessary work-over rig and test equipment have been contracted. The Health and Safety Executive and Oil and Gas Authority still have to give permission.
Potential Chester fracking site has newts nearby. The Chester Chronicle reports IGas has revealed that newts have been found near the site of a proposed exploratory borehole at Duttons Lane in Upton. A 2009 survey showed no evidence but in a statement IGas has revealed a survey carried out earlier this year did show the presence of newts close to the site, though the company would not clarify whether they were great crested newts. The paper also says Cllr Matt Bryan has argued that Chester and Cheshire West Council should have treated the Upton plan as a major application that would be decided by a planning committee, not by officers under delegated powers.
Fracking on the agenda at Staffordshire council meeting. The Burton Mail reports fracking is set to be on the agenda of a meeting of Staffordshire County council has a 15-year plan for minerals and mining is set out. The item will be covered by the council’s planning committee on Thursday 3rd December and then the full council on Thursday 10th December.
Wind, solar power to supply more energy than shale, Goldman says. Bloomberg reports conclusions by Goldman Sachs analysis that new wind turbines and solar panels worldwide will provide more energy over the next five years than US shale-oil production has over the past five. Leading renewable energy technology will add the equivalent of 6.2m barrels of oil a day to the global energy mix, exceeding the 5.7m barrels pumped from US shale oil wells since 2010, the group predicts.
COP21: Gates fund to back development of liquid hydrocarbons. The FT reports predictions by Bill Gates that oil made from sunlight could be available within a decade under a multi-billion-dollar drive to boost clean energy research.
UK joins new international clean energy initiative. The Department of Energy and Climate Change announces David Cameron joins world leaders to launch Mission Innovation. It describes this as a “flagship international initiative which aims to accelerate clean energy investment and innovation in order to provide reliable and affordable energy for all.
Cameron’s passionate Paris speech must translate into action back home. Greenpeace UK executive director, John Sauven, responds to David Cameron’s call for a robust climate deal in Paris: “The prime minister must now persuade his Chancellor to support it with real action back home. The UK’s pioneering climate targets and the recent coal phase-out plan show that where Britain leads other countries follow. But we need to see the same UK leadership in the race to develop and invest in renewable technologies. This is what Britain’s leading businesses, scientists, and the government’s own advisers are urging Cameron to do – he should listen.”
How our shale future is affected by climate change commitments. Uisdean Vass, writing for Oil Voice, comments on UK government energy policy’s support for shale gas in the light of the Paris climate talks. He says “To realise the potential arising from this strategy will require a great deal of innovation, investment and collaboration as well as effective carbon pricing and a more competitive energy market.”
Runcorn MP Graham Evans in fracking meeting. The Liverpool Echo reports the MP was a panellist at a meeting of Helsby residents to discuss fracking proposals in the area. He was joined by John Blaymires, of IGas, which has the area’s drilling licence, Edward Cottrell, a local surveyor, Professor Robert Jackson of Salford University, and representatives from Environment Agency, Public Health England and Health and Safety Executive. Chester Chronicle report
Jim Armitage: Fracking could be the answer to our electricity supply concerns. Jim Armitage’s column in the Evening Standard says “to sustain our living standards, we need cheap, viable alternatives to coal, of which the biggest will surely be gas.”
IGas Energy Plc insider Julian Tedder acquires 140,000 shares of stock. InterCooler reports that IGas chief financial officer, Julian Tedder bought 140,000 shares at an average cost of £0.17p per share, for a total cost of £23,800.
Science and engineering fans help to launch unique £10,000 contest. The Blackpool Gazette reports the launch of its Young Engineers Challenge which will see 26 schools from across the Fylde compete for a cash prize of £10,000, sponsored by Centrica Energy and Cuadrilla Resources.
29th November 2015
Campaigners secure council fracking debate. The Lancashire Evening Post reports that campaigners have received enough signatures to trigger a debate at Chorley Council. Frack Free Chorley and South Ribble presented a petition with 2,571 signatures calling on the council to oppose any application for shale gas extraction in the borough. The topic will be discussed by the council on Tuesday 19th January, the paper says.
28th November 2015
Fury at Fylde Government fracking take-over. The Blackpool Gazette reports Fylde anti-fracking campaigners have reacted furiously to the government’s decision to take over a planning appeal on Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
Angus Energy planning to join stock market to fund expansion of drilling operations in Surrey and Sussex. This is Money reports Angus Energy, one of the companies funding the Horse Hill well near Gatwick, plans to join the UK stock market before Christmas, hoping to raise millions of pounds to expand its drilling operations in Surrey and Sussex.
Upton anti-fracking protest ahead of camp eviction. The Chester Chronicle reports that tooting motorists showed their support for anti-fracking campaigners gathering on a junction in the city to raise awareness about the eviction of a protest camp at Upton from 4th December onwards.
MP: Decision to call-in fracking is ‘more democratic’. The Lancashire Evening Post reports on comments by the Fylde MP, Mark Menzies, who says people should not read too much into the government’s decision to call in the decision on fracking. He tells the paper: “The fact that this major planning application has been recovered by the Secretary of State is a well-established process for such important developments. It is actually more democratic in that the decision will be taken by an elected representative of the UK Government, rather than an unelected civil servant with no democratic oversight.” He also says: “I will be speaking to the Secretary of State about these applications and will impress upon him my belief that the decision made by the local council should be adhered to.”
27th November 2015
Reaction from Cuadrilla Resources, Friends of the Earth and Preston New Road Action Group to announcement that minister will decision fracking appeals. DrillOrDrop report
Anti-frack campaigner goes on strike. The Lancashire Evening Post reports on a hunger strike by Fylde anti-fracking campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, in Downing Street. The action is designed to persuade David Cameron to stop fracking. The Lytham resident said he will be sitting opposite Downing Street with his protest banners and a spare chair for the Prime Minister without food for as long as possible.
SNP MP criticised over donations from fracking company. The Press and Journal reports the SNP have been criticised for accepting money from the Motherwell-based Hydracat Ltd, which describes its principal activity as test drilling and boring. The company gave £3,750 to Neil Gray, SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts, and £17,500 to the party.
No long-term future for gas without CCS. Committee on Climate Change chair, Lord Deben, tells ENDS report building infrastructure risking lock-in to unabated gas beyond the mid-2030s is not acceptable.
26th November 2015
Rathlin Energy gets three more years to operate West Newton A gas site – but East Yorkshire councillors add a no-fracking condition. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking could put tourists off Ryedale – council concerns. DrillOrDrop report
Osborne’s shale push makes no sense with oil price so low. Energy Voice asks “why on earth would the UK plunge headlong into fracking for shale gas when gas prices are rock bottom?” It says: “This is economic madness, although we are sure the OBR can tell us otherwise. The time to frack is when oil prices are high, and they will be high at some point in the future. In addition, fracking will help keep gas and oil prices low and ensure the end of our North Sea oil industry.”
Leith Hill drilling poses ‘risk to water supply’, claims water firm. BBC News reports concerns of Lester Sonden, director of Sutton and East Surrey Water, about drilling at Bury Hill Wood near Coldharbour. He says it will mean drilling through greensand rocks, from which the company extracts water. “The Environment Agency will require protection and monitoring of the site and that does reduce the risk. But protection and monitoring are not forever.”
25th November 2015
Government’s fracking regulations threaten National Park protection – Labour peer. DrillOrDrop report
UK cancels pioneering £1bn carbon capture and storage competition. The Guardian reports the UK government has broken its election pledge for a £1bn CCS competition, just six months before it was due to be awarded. Industry figures called the move “devastating” and experts said it would make meeting the UK’s binding carbon cuts “almost impossible” and more expensive, the paper reports.
Spending Review: The green economy reaction. Business Green curates reaction to the autumn statement.
Spending Review: Shale Wealth Fund. Blue and Green Tomorrow reports on the Chancellor’s announcement of a shale wealth fund, which he said could be worth up to £1bn. The website says the fund is welcomed by Colin Brown, of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Chris Lewis, a partner in EY’s energy team. Hannah Martin, of Greenpeace, says government support for fracking doesn’t make economic or environmental sense.
Autumn Statement and Spending Review 2015: Green budgets cut, RHI reform. EDIE.net reports on cuts of 22% at DECC and 15% reductions in day-to-day spending at DEFRA. It also reports on the announcement of 10% of tax revenues from shale gas to be spent in local areas. Doug Parr, of Greenpeace, says: “The Chancellor’s promise of a wealth fund for fracking flies in the face of what local people want.”
Community energy groups challenge loss of tax break. ENDS Report says the UK’s three community energy organisations have begun legal proceedings against the government for ending a tax break for investors. Community Energy England, Scotland and Wales served a ‘letter before action’ through the law firm Bates Well Braithwaite, against the Treasury on 23 November – a week before the sector stops being eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and related tax breaks. The government announced the end of the 30% tax rebate without prior notice or consultation on 26th October
North East experts fear UK won’t be able to give up fossil fuels. Chronicle Live reports comments by Ian Fells, emeritus professor of energy at Newcastle University who says: “Fossil fuels provide almost all of the energy we use in our UK heating systems and it’s unrealistic to see this change some time soon.” Dermot Roddy, chief technology officer of Five-Quarter tells the paper: “The transition to a post-fossil world will need very careful managing. And Andrew Davison, head of energy at the law firm Muckle, says coal is the cheapest form of electricity generation – “it keeps the UK competitive and the rest of the world is still using it.”
IGas Energy’s Bowler sees exciting 2016 for UK shale. Proactive Investors quotes Stephen Bowler, IGas’s chief executive, “It is a very exciting time for the industry as we move into Q1 2016. And it is really topical at the moment, given the government statements around the coal power industry and plans for power stations to come offline by 2025. We’ll need to get our UK energy from somewhere, and I very much hope UK shale will be part of that.”
Protesters in Chester set up second anti-fracking camp. The Chester Standard reports that a second anti-fracking camp has been set up in Chester. It is at Salters Lane, Mickle Trafford, at another site where IGas has planning permission for coal bed methane drilling.
24th November 2015
Empty words and contradictions of the new dash for gas. A letter by Elizabeth Barclay, off Harrogate and District Alliance Against Fracking, in The Yorkshire Post accuses the government of a short-sighted energy strategy. She says: Never has a greater chance for rethinking the way we power our communities been presented to us; yet Mrs Rudd and her colleagues look set to squander this unique opportunity by hiding behind hot air and spin while failing to take the urgent action needed to tackle climate change.
Energy groups accused of inadequate action on carbon emissions. Lord John Browne, BP’s former chief executive, and Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, ex-chairman of Shell, tell the FT there is a “significant disconnect” between the changes needed to curb global warming and current efforts by fossil fuel companies. They advised on a report on how oil, gas and coal groups can survive and profit in the face of pressure to cut fossil fuel use. The report recommends companies should take the lead in developing systems such as CCS.
Energy Secretary feels “unfairly picked on” by “enemies”. Energy Voice reports Energy Secretary Amber Rudd she feels her “enemies” are trying to portray her as anti-green over the UK Government’s plans to cut support for renewables.
Ryedale application opposed. The Yorkshire Post reports that Ryedale Council’s planning committee is expected to formally register its opposition to fracking plans at Kirby Misperton at a meeting next week.
The indigenous way of life in the outback at risk from fracking – in pictures. The Guardian shows pictures by Dean Sewell of life in Australia’s Northern Territory where traditional owners of land believe fracking could cause sacred water holes to dry up.
Campaigners step up fight against fracking. The Kirkintilloch Herald reports anti-fracking campaigners in Kirkintilloch, Torrance and North Lanarkshire are preparing to “dig in for a long battle” against the controversial underground drilling practice for gas.
Column: Residents must be consulted on possible Wolds fracking. Don Laing, writing in Driffield Today, says the supposed benefits and probable adverse effects which fracking could have, both on our beautiful Wolds and its inhabitants, do seem to beg many questions. Why don’t we hear from companies, like Cuadrilla, who want to carry out this process in our area? Where are the independent scientists, geologists, hydraulic specialists and environmentalists who can give us an unbiased opinion on the dangers and benefits of fracking? What are the county council and our MP doing to ensure the safety of us Wolds folk? Surely before any permission to frack is granted, the people should be properly informed and consulted.
23rd November 2015
Hull City Council approves no-fracking policy. Minutes confirm the council’s cabinet backed a policy opposing unconventional oil and gas using extraction techniques. Under the policy the council “will not encourage applications” that use fracking or mini-fracking technology. The council will also “take such action as necessary to protect the community’s interests where impacts of proposed unconventional oil and gas development pose a threat to Hull’s water resources, adversely affect traffic movements or require the movement of hazardous waste through the city.”
Reject gas exploration plan, councillors urged. The Yorkshire Post reports a call to councillors to turn down an application to allow another three years of exploration at a gas well in East Yorkshire. Opponents of the scheme say it will lead to industrialisation of the area. Rathlin Energy seeks permission on Thursday for a 36-extension which will allow for the drilling of a second well at its West Newton A site in Holderness.
Acquisition of additional interest in PEDL143 Holmwood Prospect UK Oil & Gas reports it has executed a farm-in agreement with Warwick Energy Exploration and Production Limited to acquire a further 10% interest PEDL143 which contains the Holmwood Prospect. This second farm-in increases UKOG’s interest in the Licence to 30%. UKOG will participate in the drilling of the planned Holmwood-1 exploration well at Bury Hill Wood, which will test the Holmwood Prospect’s identified Portland sandstone, Kimmeridge limestone and Corallian sandstone reservoir objectives.
Don’t Frack with Sussex protests at Amber Rudd’s surgery. The Hastings Observer reports that anti-fracking activists demonstrated outside the constituency office of the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd on Friday (20/11/15). Dressed as tea ladies and presenting Ms Rudd with huge cakes bearing the messages Stop Backing Fracking and Start Being Green, the group descended upon the Hastings and Rye MP to deliver a 1,069 name petition, demanding she halts plans to frack in the UK and starts supporting renewable energy.
Could the Forest of Dean become an Area of Outstanding Area of Beauty? The Gloucester Citizen reports on a campaign to declare an AONB in the Forest of Dean. One of the campaigners, Cllr Alan Preest tells the paper: “We’ve got to protect the area from stuff going on like fracking and turbines.”
Oil slides back lower after spike on Saudi statement. Reuters reports the fall in oil prices today. It released the fleeting gains made after the Saudi cabinet reiterated its commitment to work with other producers as a firm dollar and concern over global oversupply reasserted themselves.
Oil price crash good for UK-wide economy but bad for Scotland, unions claim. Herald Scotland reports on a submission by the Scottish TUC to the Scottish parliament’s economy committee. The STUC says the economic benefits of plummeting oil costs to businesses and consumers in Scotland are not offset by the impact of a growing industry and jobs crisis caused by the price crash. The net impact on the UK economy of the falling price – from around $115 a barrel last summer to well under $50 – had been positive as falling tax revenues were more than compensated for by a boost to household spending and businesses reliant on oil, it says.
MSP John Wilson to chair open meeting on fracking in Airdrie village. The Daily Record reports on a meeting organised by the Green Party’s North Lanarkshire branch, chaired by the independent MSP, John Wilson. The event is on 24th November at 7.30pm at Plains community centre.
21st November 2015
Chester councillor hopes a tiny creature could yet stop the frackers. The Chester Chronicle reports that Labour councillor Matt Bryan believes IGas and the local planning authority should not be relying on a six year old survey which found no evidence of great crested newts at a site earmarked for shale extraction at Duttons Lane, Upton.
20th November 2015
Stand-off near Chester as second anti-fracking camp is established. The Chester Chronicle reports on “verbal exchanges” between campaigners and High Court enforcement agents at a second anti-fracking camp near Chester. The camp, at Salters Lane, Mickle Trafford, is a spin-off from the nearby Upton camp at Dutton’s Lane. It is also based on a field where energy firm IGas has planning permission to drill a coal bed methane exploratory well. The agents said campaigners were trespassing but they left after police arrived at the site.
Fracking rules for National Parks. Martin Dale, in a letter to the West Sussex County Times, writes that it seems ministers are as confused as the public on what is fracking and what is a ban. He says: “It will, it appears, still be possible to drill and frack in protected landscapes such as the South Downs National Park so long as less than 10,000 cubic metres of fluids are used or a different method of drilling is employed.”
UKOG boss looks ahead to crucial Horse Hill flow test. Proactive Investors interviews Stephen Sanderson, chief executive of UK Oil & Gas. He says a flow test at the Horse Hill well near Gatwick in the next few months will determine how much oil can be extracted.
Decision delayed on Yorkshire carbon capture pipeline. Planning Resource reports that a ministerial planning decision on a critical part of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Yorkshire has been delayed by six months. Energy secretary Amber Rudd was due to rule on National Grid Carbon’s development consent application for the Yorkshire and Humber CCS Cross-Country Pipeline by yesterday. But minister, Andrea Leadsom, told the Commons the deadline had been extended until 19th May 2016.
Friday 19th November
Leeds fracking debate continues. The Yorkshire Post reports Leeds City Council has come under fire for how it opposes fracking applications. The council recently voted in favour of calling on the government to withdraw the current licences for fracking in the Leeds area. But councillors rejected a Lib Dem amendment to develop its own policy to help it oppose individual applications from fracking companies.
Amber Rudd cites climate denier Lord Lawson as inspiration for new energy policy. DesmogUK reports that Amber Rudd’s energy policy ‘reset’ hinges on a last-century vision championed by none other than Lord Lawson, the one-time chancellor to Margaret Thatcher and Britain’s leading climate denier. The blog says: She argued that Lord Lawson’s approach “is the Conservative way. Allowing markets to flourish. Open to trading. Independent regulation to provide confidence to investors. Competition keeping prices as low as possible.”
Thursday 18th November
Lancashire fracking inquiry plans confirmed. Wendy McKay, of the Planning Inspectorate, tells a meeting at Blackpool Football Club that the inquiry to hear Cuadrilla’s appeals will begin on 9th February and last for 12 working days. Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Evening Post
Backing Fracking protest. Supporters of fracking park a truck outside Blackpool FC during the meeting to demonstrate in favour of fracking. James Mansell, director of the Shropshire-based drilling fluid company, Clear Solutions, tells BBC North West: “Local residents want to get jobs and better security for themselves and their families out of this industry and it seemed right that as local businesses and companies we should come and support that”. 2BR report
Eastbourne opposes fracking. Minutes of Eastbourne Borough Council confirm voted (15 in favour and 9 abstentions) to support a motion opposing fracking in the area “until satisfactory answers are scientifically proven not to have an adverse effect on the general wellbeing of not only the natural habitat directly affected by fracking but the surrounding plant life and wildlife in neighbouring sites.”
Fracking firm reveals it blasted North Yorkshire rocks for gas in 1980s. The Northern Echo reports Third Energy says it fracked for gas on a smaller scale at Kirby Misperton in 1987. Its operations director Shaun Zablocki said there had been no adverse impact from the operation. A spokesman for campaign group Frack Free Ryedale said Third Energy’s claims over fracking 28 years ago were misleading as the term referred to well stimulation using high pressure.
Fracking consultation extended. The Doncaster Star reports that the consultation period for IGas’s Misson Springs application will now stay open until 23rd December, following a request for an extension by IGas. The application is for shale gas exploration but does not include fracking.
Meeting about fracking being held in Mansfield. Mansfield Chad reports on details of a meeting at 7.30pm on Wednesday 25th November at St Peter’s Centre, Churchside, Mansfield to inform residents about fracking.
Friends of the Earth stage fracking meeting in Skipton Town Hall. The Craven Herald and Pioneer reports a public meeting is planned from 7pm on Friday 20th November. The speakers include Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth campaigner, and GP, Dr Tim Thornton.
EPA finding on fracking’s water pollution disputed by its own scientists. Inside Climate News reports an Environmental Protection Agency panel of independent scientific advisers has challenged core conclusions of a major study the agency issued in June that minimized the potential risks to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing. The panel particularly criticized the EPA’s central finding that fracking has not led to “to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” It said conclusions in the executive summary were ambiguous or inconsistent “with the observations/data presented in the body of the report.”
Wednesday 18th November
Amber Rudd’s energy policy speech: analysis and reaction. DrillOrDrop report
Planners recommend three more years for Rathlin Energy’s East Yorkshire drill site. DrillOrDrop report
East Riding of Yorkshire Council confirms decision date for Rathlin Energy’s planning application for West Newton A. Details on DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch page
Cuadrilla to abandon Becconsall site in Lancashire. DrillOrDrop report
Anti-fracking campaigners gather outside shale gas firm’s Nottinghamshire exhibition. The Nottingham Post reports anti-fracking protesters campaigned outside an exhibition by IGas in Blyth, close to the proposed Tinker Lane site which the firm wants to explore for shale gas. The protest continues on 18th November at the site of another IGas exhibition.
Can the UK ditch coal without fracking? Greenpeace Energy Desk says an electricity supply model based on locally-generated electricity supported by storage, interconnection and demand response could use much less gas (fracking or otherwise). The article also discusses locally-produced biogas and energy efficiency. But to achieve the decentralised model the UK needs new cables. And they need the government to want them to happen to create the rules within which the market will operate.
Royal Courts of Justice confirms JR date. The judicial review of Lancashire County Council’s decision to approve an application for seismic monitoring at Roseacre Wood will be heard on 12th April 2016.
OGA approves PEDL143 farm-in. UK Oil & Gas Investments confirms the Oil and Gas Authority has given final regulatory consent for the company to acquire a 20% interest in PEDL licence 143 through a previously announced farm-in with Egdon Resources. PEDL143 contains the Holmwood prospect and the proposed well site at Bury Hill Wood. It is immediately west of PEDL137 which includes the Horse Hill well near Gatwick.
Is UK climate and energy policy hypocritical or just incompetent? Craig Bennett, writing in The Guardian, says renewable energy ‘must stand on its own two feet’ yet subsidies for nuclear and fossil fuels continue unabated, and energy efficiency policies are axed with no thought as to what might replace them.
Tuesday 17th November
Leeds City Council’s ‘no’ to Leeds fracking. The Yorkshire Evening Post reports that city councillors are calling on the government to withdraw fracking exploration licences in the Leeds area. At a full meeting of the council members voted for current exploration licences for areas of south and east Leeds to be withdrawn until environment and health concerns had been addressed. The council also voted to demand the government reversed changes that could take powers away from local decision makers. [The decision was taken on 11/11/15. Link to council minutes]
Opinion: Fracking fears allayed. The Scarborough News carries an opinion piece by Malcolm Smith, chair of the Scarborough Probus Club, who visited Third Energy’s Knapton Power Station, which generates electricity from gas. “We were all impressed by the presentation and many of our fears were allayed. The degree of regulation is far greater than the American model. We came away feeling the worries are minimal and this could be a real source of energy in future years”, he said.
IGas Energy PLC sets all-time low. FinancialMagazin reports that IGAS stock reached an all-time low of 17.50 and there were indications it could fall lower. The website reports it closed at 18.25, down 39% on April 2015.
16th November 2015
Friends of the Earth fracking concerns in the Forest of Dean. The Gloucester Citizen reports comments by Friends of the Earth that government regulations on fracking put the Forest of Dean at risk. The Forest is on the edge of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but is not designated itself. The group says the drilling sites could be established on the edge of AONBs to allow fracking beneath them.
Small cap share ideas: Egdon Resources appears on target ahead of crucial year for UK shale industry. This is Money reports on the investment potential of Egdon Resources, which has interests in the IGas site at Springs Road, Misson, in Nottinghamshire.
15th November 2015
Amber Rudd: end to pursuit of green energy at all costs. The Telegraph reports on a speech by the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, expected this week, in which she will say keeping the lights on is the top priority, above green energy. The paper says she will warn that households already face paying over the odds for energy for years to come as a result of “expensive subsidies handed out to wind and solar farms” by her Labour and Lib Dem predecessors. “Energy security has to be the first priority. It is fundamental to the health of our economy and the lives of our people,” the Telegraph reports she will say.
Firm bids to stage fracking survey in North Lincolnshire. The Scunthorpe Telegraph reports comments by David Pantry, of Halsalms Farm in Haxey, who has been approached by Tesla Exploration Ltd to carrying out seismic surveying on his land for Egdon Resources. Mr Pantry says: “They are never going to get permission from the land owners – we are going to fight it, we have a right to.” “We have got to see what they are going to do and then respond accordingly – and we won’t be backing down – we don’t want it and we’re not having it,”
14th November 2015
Anti-fracking campaigners say battle to stop exploratory Pontrhydyfen borehole will continue. The South Wales Evening Post reports that campaign group Afan Nedd Against Fracking will not give up the fight against exploratory oil and gas drilling. UK Methane received planning permission for a borehole in Foel Fynyddau from Neath Port Talbot Council in March. It is now applying for an environmental permit to Natural Resources Wales.
13th November 2015
Rathlin Energy’s parent company selling up in Canada to concentrate on UK. DrillOrDrop report
Fracking Week in Westminster. DrillOrDrop report
UK scientists to lead EU fracking research. Energy News Live reports that scientists from University of Edinburgh are leading a new EU study on the risks of fracking. The three-year study will aims to improve the understanding of geological, mechanical and chemical processes of shale gas.
12th November 2015
Government names Blackpool as “energy centre of excellence” while Blackpool campaigner challenges the Prime Minister to explain need for fracking on the Fylde. DrillOrDrop report
Land rights in onshore oil and gas exploration. John Galloway, solicitor with Shepherd and Wedderburn, writing in Energy Voice discusses the issues in selecting a site for onshore drilling.
Andrea Leadsom MP: Our Energy Trilemma. The Energy Minister, writing for the Politics Home website, says “Shale gas could be an important bridge as we move away from the dirty days of unabated coal”. She says “it is vital that we explore the possibilities that the safe development of this home-grown energy source could offer”.
Upton anti-fracking camp hears defiant message from Green Party leader. The Chester Chronicle reports that the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, is encouraging campaigners to take direct action when enforcement officers move in to evict them from Upton Protection Camp near Chester. Activists have until 4th December to leave the camp but the paper says their message is “There will be resistance”. BBC News and Dee 1063 reports
Fears for Sherwood Forest from fracking. The Chad reports anti-fracking campaigners fear Sherwood Forest will be damaged by plans to frack for shale gas around it. There are nine licences around the area. Ineos has a licence for north Nottinghamshire. Its chief executive, Gary Haywood described shale gas as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”, the paper says.
11th November 2015
Hull councillors approve anti-fracking policy and update on other council motions. DrillOrDrop report
Update on fracking and conventional oil and gas planning applications. DrillOrDrop report
To frack or not to frack: investing either way. Robin Andrews in The Spectator offers “hot” investment tips for fracking in Egton [sic] Oil, IGas and Europa Oil and Gas.
Angling Trust welcomes protection from fracking in Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The Angling Trust says it welcomes the Government’s consultation indicating that it now intends to ban surface fracking in England’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which include some of the UK’s most famous rivers.
Labour MSP claims Government set to end fracking moratorium. Herald Scotland reports on a freedom of information request by MSP Neil Findlay which reveals Scottish Government officials and ministers met Ineos representatives 13 times before the moratorium was announced. The MSP interprets this as evidence that the Scottish Government will drop the moratorium after the election next year. Energy Voice report (12/11/15)
Sir John Major calls for fracking to address Britain’s ‘shocking’ poverty levels. The Metro reports comments by former Prime Minister John Major that to tackle the gap between rich and poor the UK must accept fracking. Giving the Hinton lecture, he said: “As North Sea Oil fades, we need to accept fracking, so that on-shore energy can make us more self-sufficient – and competitive.
Public meeting over fracking exploration. The Loughborough Echo reports on a public meeting at East Leake for residents to comment on the possibility of fracking in the area on 16th November at 7pm in St Mary’s Parish Church. The area is in SK42, a new licence issued in the 14th round.
10th November 2015
Oil glut to swamp demand until 2020. The FT reports forecasts by the International Energy Agency which says oil demand will rise less than 1% per year between now and 2020, a slower pace than necessary to quickly mop up an oil glut that has driven prices to multi-year lows. Reuters reports that the oil price will rise only gradually to $80 by 2020.
Fracking debate needed in Scotland. The GMB Scotland called for a “rational balanced debate” on fracking following the announcement off the Ineos deal. GMB acting secretary, Gary Smith, said: “We need to get real and honest about our dependency on gas both for homes, industry and the chemicals industry.”
Tory MP praises Government over fracking double U-turn. The Darlington and Stockton Times reports the welcome by Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, on government plans to ban fracking from the surface of environmentally sensitive areas.
Chester MP to receive an apology after being denied access to fracking court case. The Chester Chronicle reports Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has agreed to write and apologise to Chester MP Chris Matheson and Chronicle chief reporter David Holmes after refusing them entry to an eviction hearing for Upton Protection Camp at Manchester High Court. Mr Matheson and Mr Holmes were later allowed into the hearing when it moved to a larger room. Mr Matheson raised the issue in parliament on Monday. Report in the Chester Standard (11/11/15)
Anti-fracking campaigners in Upton vow to carry on the fight. The Chester Standard reports anti-fracking campaigners have vowed to continue their fight against fracking, despite losing an eviction case over their camp at Duttons Lane, Upton. Alice Fraser, of Frack Free Mickle Trafford, tells the paper: “The barrister arguing the case for IGas and Tim and Piers Dutton was clear in stating that the needs of children and people who are ill do not out trump land ownership and money. Legally this may be the case but that is not a world that I want my children to grow up in. We will defend that land by any means necessary.”
9th November 2015
World’s climate about to enter ‘uncharted territory’ as it passes 1C of warming. The Guardian reports on a study by the Met Office which shows the milestone of 1C of warming since pre-industrial times will be exceeded by the end of 2015. The world’s carbon budget – the maximum CO2 that can be emitted to keep below 2C was 2/3 used up by the end of 2014. 2015 is set to be the hottest on record as temperatures beat previous records. The World Meteorological Organisation also announces that 2016 will be the first year in which the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is over 400pm on average.
Government energy policies ‘will increase CO2 emissions’. Analysis by the BBC finds government changes to energy policy since the election are likely to increase CO2 emissions. Some moves will save consumers money but others will increase bills. Decisions on onshore wind and solar are likely to step the growth of two of the cheapest sources of energy, the BBC says.
The convenient truth that is falling UK energy demand. Andrew Warren, honorary president of the Association for the Conservation of Energy (representing energy conservation equipment and services companies), rebuts comments by energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, that fracking is needed to meet the UK’s rising demand for energy. He tells Business Green UK energy consumption in 2014 was 21% lower than it was in 2000, based on DECC’s latest Energy Consumption in the UK almanac.
Leaked letter: Rudd admits 25% green energy undershoot, misled Parliament. The Ecologist reports that a leaked letter from Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, shows she deliberately misled parliament by promising the UK was “on course” to deliver on its renewable energy targets when in fact there is a delivery shortfall in 2020 of almost 25%. The Telegraph reports on Amber Rudd’s warning that the absence of a credible plan will trigger repeated fines and a judicial review
Fears raised that oil and gas licences could lead to fracking. The Dorset Echo reports comments by Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West on oil and gas licences to be issued in the region. Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation are included in the licence areas. The MEP tells the paper: “This is what happens when a Government is driven by an ideological obsession against renewables and in favour of fossil fuels. Our precious environment reduced to nothing more than blocks of land to be parcelled up and offered to companies to optimise exploitation in the name of profit.”
Ineos adds America’s booming shale gas industry to the mix. The Times reports Ineos has sealed a deal with ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell to import American shale gas for use in the chemicals industry. The shale gas will be shipped to Britain via a new import terminal, owned by Ineos, with the ethane piped as a raw material to the Mossmorran facility near Cowdenbeath, owned by Exxon. Reports by the Express and Star and the Courier. INEOS press release
Fracked off – ‘There’s a far far greater danger from historic coalmines subsiding in this country’. The Courier reports comments by Dr Ariel Bergmann of Dundee University’s Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy. He says both sides in the fracking debate are guilty of spin. He tells the paper he does not think there are any technical reasons why hydraulic fracturing should not be carried out but communities are right to be concerned about the potential environmental impacts. He says subsidence from mining is more likely than earthquakes from fracking.
Not convinced about dangers of fracking. Brian Maclaren, writing to the letters’ page of the The Edenbridge Chronicle, challenges comments by Bromley Friends of the Earth that toxic chemicals are used in fracking.
8th November 2015
‘A one-off in human history’: Stern’s warning on climate change battle. Lord Stern tells The Guardian Europeans need to end subsidies for fossil fuels, multiply energy efficiency efforts, improve mass public transport systems and accelerate the roll-out of electric cars in order to live up to their commitments. ““In human history it’s a one-off … and what we map out in the next two decades will be absolutely critical”, he says.
Demands grow for overhaul of UK energy policy. The FT reports ministers are facing calls for an urgent overhaul of UK energy policy with demands for swift investment in power plants and storage. Scotland’s energy minister, Fergus Ewing, has written to Amber Rudd, saying the government has ignored repeated warnings that critical infrastructure is near breaking point.
National Grid said to be planning sell-off of its gas distribution arm to foreign investors. The Daily Mail’s This is Money website says the planned sale would fetch £10bn. National Grid sold half of the UK’s gas distribution network 11 years ago but is considering whether to offload the rest as a whole or in part, the website says, quoting The Sunday Times.
7th November 2015
Government accused of confusion over fracking regulation plus more from the past week in parliament. DrillOrDrop’s Fracking Week in Westminster
Campaigners rally for fracking debate. Wigan Today reports calls by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy for a House of Commons debate on proposed changes to fracking regulations. She is quoted as saying: “This Government needs to listen to people’s worries and not railroad through changes to the legislation which may well have damaging and long lasting effects on our natural environment.”
You’re failing on green energy, Tory ex-minister warns Cameron. The Guardian reports comments by Lord Debden, chair of the independent Committee on Climate Change. He warns the government is “clearly failing” in key policy areas and needs to regain the confidence of investors in green technology, in the run-up to next month’s crucial global summit in Paris. He says: “In terms of heat, clearly we are failing,” he said. “It is much the most difficult thing. This is the area we have to get right. We need a mixture of renewable heat initiatives and energy efficiency. You have to get these two together. This is the area we have so far failed in. There is an awful lot of heat going to waste.
6th November 2015
Government’s double U-turn makes fracking rules even more complicated. DrillOrDrop report
Radioactive waste consultation. The government announces a consultation on what it calls National Geological Screening Guidance. The 12-week consultation, ending on 4th December 2015, looks at the programme of work to plan, build and operate geological disposal facilities underground (GDFs). The screening guidance will provide existing and relevant geological information across regions of the UK, the government says.
Bath’s MP Ben Howlett calls for greater fracking protection. The Bath Echo reports the local MP is pushing for a parliamentary debate on fracking to ensure Bath’s thermal waters are “fully protected for future generations”.
Cuadrilla optimistic about Lancashire fracking appeal. Interfax Global Energy reports comments by Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, about its appeal against planning refusals in Lancashire. “The appeal is moving quickly and we have strong chances of winning this appeal, not least because of the positive recommendations we received from the council’s own planning officers”, he is quoted as saying. Also reported by DesmogUK
Citing climate change, Obama rejects construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline. The New York Times reports Mr Obama’s denial of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, which would have carried 800,000 barrels a day of carbon-heavy petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, comes as he seeks to build an ambitious legacy on climate change. The FT says the decision was immediately condemned by the oil industry and allies in the Republican Party. The oil industry in Alberta will now look to other proposed routes, the paper says.
The only way to beat the blackouts is smart, clean, affordable energy. Writing in The Guardian, Caroline Lucas says “Plans to build gas-fired power stations and outrageously expensive nuclear plants will fail to solve the systemic problems we face as a result of an energy system that is inefficient and deeply centralised.” She also says: “Smart meters, home and grid-scale batteries that store and release excess renewable power, and other modern solutions would be cheaper and more efficient than building new power stations to meet extra demand during relatively short periods. Moreover, they’re much less polluting and more climate-friendly.”
Fracking firms in driving seat, not democracy. David Cragg-James, writing to The Yorkshire Post, responds to a reply by Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, when asked should shale gas be extracted in Ryedale. Mrs Rudd said “That’s going to be up to Third Energy”. Mr Cragg-James says “Let us hope that the planning committee feel able, after due consideration of the available evidence, to assert their prerogative against this scandalous attempt by central government to circumvent local democracy”.
5th November 2015
Joy turns to bitter disappointment in anti-fracking Balcombe. Channel 4 News and Repower Balcombe report that a last-minute change to tax relief was the final straw for community involvement in a flagship project by Balcombe in West Sussex. A village community energy scheme has already installed solar panels on two primary schools and a farm building. They also received planning permission for an 18,500 panel, 5 MGW solar farm. But the sudden withdrawal of tax relief led to the loss of investors. The scheme will go ahead but with a commercial developer.
Chester anti-frackers gear up for impending court battle. The Chester Chronicle reports on a court hearing on 6th November when lawyers for IGas and landowners Tim and Peers Dutton will seek to take possession of land being used as a camp by anti-fracking campaigners. The camp is at Dutton’s Lane, Upton and was established in 2014 to prevent IGas drilling a coal bed methane borehole.
Academics fear fracking research could be manipulated by industry cash. The Herald Scotland reports on comments Professor Andrew Watterson, head of the Occupational and Environment Health Research Group at Stirling University. He is the co-author of a paper published today and he argues that new research that will determine whether fracking is carried out in Scotland must not be based on findings from consultants funded by the oil and gas industry. Professor Watterson’s paper, published in the health policy journal New Solutions, states that a precautionary principle should become a “lodestar” for governments deciding on whether to allow unconventional gas extraction.
Key fracking vote could pave way for Salisbury Plain drilling. The Wiltshire Times reports on a parliamentary vote on fracking regulations that would open the way for fracking companies to drill under Salisbury Plain, Cranborne Chase and the West Wiltshire Downs.
4th November 2015
Hull sets out to limit fracking impact. The Yorkshire Post reports Hull City Councillors are being asked to approve a policy that would commit the council to take action if fracking threatened to have an adverse impact on the city. A report to the council’s energy and infrastructure scrutiny commissions suggests fracking is unlikely in Hull but it could feel the impacts of increased traffic and carrying of hazardous waste through the city. HCC Policy paper
Ryedale MP plays down fears over the possibility of fracking on nature sites. The Gazette and Herald reports that the local MP, Kevin Hollinrake, has played down fears over the possibility of fracking on nature sites in the constituency. Regulations before parliament no longer ban fracking at Sites of Special Scientific Interest. He said drilling from the surface of National Parks, also not covered by the regulations, would be dealt with under separate legislation. Mr Hollinrake said “either the process is safe or it’s not. If it’s not safe, we need to be concerned about everywhere there is fracking.” He added: “As long as I’m reassured that we are not going to have surface drilling in AONBs or national parks, then it’s not something I’m concerned about.”
Carthy calls on Minister White to suspend Fracking study. Sinn Fein reports that one of its MEPs, Matt Carthy, has called on the Ireland Environment Minister Alex White to suspend a study into the effects of fracking. A Freedom of Information Request confirmed that Queen University Belfast – thought to be part of the study – is not involved. The research has been contracted to CDM Smith, a US consultancy providing services to the oil and gas industry. A second company, Amec Foster Wheeler, has clients including BP, Shell, BR Petrobas, GDF Suez and ExxonMobil.
Shale gas ‘less damaging’ than coal new report says. The Blackpool Gazette reports that the pro-fracking Onshore Energy Services Group has welcomed at study by University of Berkeley which suggested fugitive methane from fracking may not be as bad as some fear. Lee Petts, chief executive of OESG, said earlier attempts to understand the impact of fugitive emissions had not taken into account factors which may lower their global warming potential. (See details on the authors of the study in 26th October 2015 headline “The facts about fugitive methane’)
Surrey Hills could be under threat from fracking. Eagle Radio reports the Surrey Hills and other Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty could be under threat from fracking under regulations before parliament. It says Friends of the Earth has received new legal advice which says the regulations may be illegal.
Fracking consultation ‘designed to mollify concerned backbenchers’ say Greenpeace. OnTheWight.com reports comments by Greenpeace that a government consultation on fracking bans in protected areas were “designed to mollify concerned backbenchers but lacking the substance to actually protect the countryside from fracking pollution”.
3rd November 2015
Egdon Resources announces falls in output and revenue but plans for seven oil and gas wells in next year DrillOrDrop report
Goldman Sachs bets on being green. The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman Sachs is seeking to finance and invest $150 billion in clean-energy projects over the next decade. It has also outlined how it will review its role in various energy projects, from coal and oil sands to hydraulic fracturing.
Fracking delay: deadline for Yorkshire decision to be missed. The Telegraph reports that North Yorkshire County Council has begun another consultation on Third Energy’s fracking application which means it will not meet the target decision date of 18th November 2015.
Public meeting called over fracking concerns. The Barnsley Chronicle reports Frack Free South Yorkshire and Barnsley Green Party are hosting a public meeting on fracking at Barnsley YMCA at 7.30pm on 12th November 2015.
Environmental groups’ warning over Isle of Wight fracking. The Isle of Wight County Press reports warnings by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth about the risk of environmental damage from government regulations on fracking.
Good Energies Alliance in Ireland launches Stop the Study Campaign. The group wants to prevent a government-commissioned study by consultants CDM Smith and Amec Foster Wheeler into fracking in Ireland. The group says the consultants are in favour or have links with the fracking industry and this prevents the study from being independent.
Not convinced by our MP’s reassurances over fracking. Four letters to The Yorkshire Post opposing plans for fracking in Ryedale and/or the government’s support for shale gas extraction.
2nd November 2015
Shadow ministers call for debate on fracking regulations. DrillOrDrop report
Fears overs potential fracking licence for Lingfield, Horne and Blindley Heath. The Surrey Mirror reports gas and oil exploration could be allowed for the first time in Tandridge District Council area, potentially paving the way for fracking. The paper says a licence block covering the villagers was announced in August. Councillor Graham Marks, from Lingfield, said: “Gas and oil exploration can lead to a lot of upheaval and disruption. I don’t really agree with it. Ninety per cent of Tandridge is rural and we want to keep it that way. We must always support nature.”
Fracking Week In Westminster – week ending 30th October. DrillOrDrop report on events in the past week in parliament
1st November 2015
UK spends more on fossil fuel aid projects than renewables. The FT reports on research by the Overseas Development Institute think-tank for the Catholic aid agency, Cafod. According to the research, the UK spent £2.2bn in poor countries to help build coal power plans and other fossil fuel energy projects responsible for global warming. This is more than double the £1bn spent on cleaner, renewable sources of power.
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