Live updates from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 4 – noise and landscape


Live news as it happens at the fourth day of the inquiry at Blackpool Football Club into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans in the Fylde area of Lancashire. Check our Inquiry page for more information, posts and links


The inquiry ends for today and resumes on Tuesday 16th February at 9.30am

Harm to the landscape


Ashley Bowes, representing Preston New Road Action Group, begins questioning Cuadrilla’s landscape expect, Andrew Tempany.

Mr Bowes raised the Lancashire Landscape Strategy which said vertical features, such as pylons, were negative pressures on the landscape. He put it to Mr Tempany that the proposed drilling scheme had the characteristics of a “negative pressure” identified in the strategy. Mr Tempany replied: “In part, yes”.

Mr Bowes asked: “You accept there would be temporary landscape harm?”

Mr Tempany replied: “Temporary and localised, yes.”

Mr Bowes asked: “You accept there will be temporary visual harm?”

Mr Tempany replied: “I have accepted there will be temporary visual harm. I have stated that there will be some significant adverse impacts”.

Measuring landscape effects


Mr Evans, for Lancashire County Council, asked Andrew Tempany, Cuadrilla’s landscape expert, about the different assessments on the impact of drilling at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

Mr Evans said it was “hardly tenable” for Cuadrilla to conclude that the addition of fracking and drilling equipment made no change to the character assessment of the landscape.

Mr Tempany, who has worked on the Cuadrilla proposals since November 2015, said the methodology used to come to this conclusion was not the one he would have used.

Mr Evans said the character assessment came to a different conclusion to the visual impact assessment. He said:

“This is not a methodology for a lay, or even professional, person to grasp when they come up with such wildly different outcomes.”

Mr Tempany said the two assessments were looking at different things but he accepted they were related.

Mr Evans pressed Mr Tempany on whether a 53m rig would be out of character. Mr Tempany replied: “Not in the context of pylons”,which he said affected the Preston New Road site already.

Mr Evans said lighting could have an urbanising effect on landscape. But he pointed out that Cuadrilla’s landscape and visual impacts had not taken into account lighting from the proposed fracking sites.

Mr Tempany said he had based his judgement on the environmental impact statement.

Inquiry breaks until 1.45pm

Questions to landscape witness


Alan Evans, representing Lancashire County Council is questioning Cuadrilla’s landscape witness, Andrew Tempany.

Mr Evans said the proposed drilling pads at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road would measure 144m x 166m. He put it to Mr Tempany that this was bigger than the pitch at Blackpool Football Club, where the inquiry was taking place. Mr Tempany said he would have to check this.

Mr Evans referred to Cuadrilla’s environmental statement, which said the area of the proposed sites lacked tranquillity, compared with other flood plain areas. He put it to Mr Tempany that this was a relative, not absolute measure. Mr Tempany agreed.

Cuadrilla’s environmental statement suggested there might be an impact of the proposed sites on tranquillity but this would be limited to areas within 1km.

“We must assume there is some tranquillity at the sites”, Mr Evans said.

Mr Tempany said the statement was referring to landscape character areas, not the sites.

How many rigs on site?

12 noon

Alan Evans, barrister for Lancashire County Council, challenged Cuadrilla’s landscape witness on whether the 53m drilling rig would be erect on the sites at the same time as the 36m coiled tubing rig.

Andrew Tempany, a senior landscape architect with Arup, had said the two rig would not be erect at the same time. But he conceded that the shorter rig would be erected during flow testing.

Mr Evans said the proposed work programme showed that Cuadrilla intended to drill the third well at the same time as flow testing well 2.

Mr Evans asked: “On the evidence you have given, is it that both would be erect together?”

Mr Tempany replied: “I would need to check that”.


Inquiry resumes after break

“Limited landscape impact”


Cuadrilla landscape’s expert, Andrew Tempany, tells the inquiry the proposed drilling and fracking at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood will have limited significant adverse impacts on the landscape.

He said the effects would be intermittent and temporary and would affect only a small number of people.

The exploration and monitoring schemes would not “materially affect the key landscape characteristics” of undulating fields and hedgerows, he said.

Mr Tempany, a senior landscape architect with Arup, said there were “urbanising influences” on both sites. These included pylon lines and the National Savings office block at Preston New Road, as well as the road itself and the M55 motorway.

Roseacre Wood was more rural but this meant fewer people would be affected, he said. The masts at Inskip Airfield detracted from the rural character of this area.

But he added that the landscape impact of the plans was not a valid reason for refusing the appeals, he said. 

Fracking effects on landscape


Cuadrilla landscape’s expert Andrew Tempany begins to gives evidence.

He tells the inquiry the landscapes at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road could not be considered to be regionally distinctive or rare. But he said both were likely to be valued locally.

Mr Tempany said few people would experience significant visual intrusion from the proposed operations because the sites were screened by undulating land and hedgerows.

He said there would be little greater impact on the landscape from a 53m drilling rig or one measuring 35m.

Inquiry inspector questions noise expert


The inquiry inspector, Wendy McKay, asks questions of Cuadrilla’s noise expert, Dr David Hiller.

Ms McKay asks Dr Hiller to describe how sound reduction proposals have changed since the applications were first made.

Dr Hiller said there was no proposed noise mitigation in the environmental statement when the application was submitted.

“Having the benefit of the study done at Horse Hill [an oil site in Surrey], we looked at what we could do to reduce noise.”

Following discussions with Lancashire County Council, the company then proposed surrounding each site with a 4m noise barrier.

Dr Hiller said Cuadrilla later looked at what more could be done. A 7m accoustic barrier around the rig would reduce noise by a further 3 deciibels. He added:

“It has engineering challenges to create something of that height that can be moved if the rig moves, can withstand the wind and allow the process to operate safely and efficiently.”

Ms McKay asked Dr Hiller if there would be 14 months of continuous drilling at each site. He said he expected the first well would be drilled, for about five months, followed by fracturing for two-three months. The next of the four boreholes at each site would then be drilled, he said.

Dr Hiller told the inquiry inspector he did not think reduced noise limits were necessary at weekends. There would be some low frequency noise, he said, but this would be “covered adequately” by standard assessments.

Ms McKay asked Dr Hiller how noise modelling took account of prevailing wind. Dr Hiller said he had assumed wind would be blowing out from the source of the noise.

Cuadrilla’s barrister re-examines noise witness


Inquiry opens with Nathalie Lieven reviewing the evidence of Cuadrilla’s noise expert, Dr David Hiller.

She asked Dr Hiller to respond to criticism that Cuadrilla had used British Standard BS5228, which opponents regarded as inappropriate, to assess noise at the sites. He said if he had used the alternative standard (BS4122) he would have come to the same conclusions on the noise levels at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. Dr Heller said BS5228 was more appropriate than BS4122.

Ms Lieven asked Dr Hiller what action could Lancashire County Council take if Cuadrilla breached planning conditions on noise. Dr Hiller said the council could take out an injunction to stop work at the site.

She also asked whether the benefit of extra sound proofing should be considered when deciding whether this would be an unreasonable burden on Cuadrilla. Yesterday Dr Hiller said the reduction in noise levels would be 3 decibels and would be barely perceptible. This morning he said:

“The cost complexity of the burden must be weighed against the benefits.”

Dr Hiller defended Cuadrilla’s noise survey. He said a survey carried out for the Preston New Road Action Group should not rely on lowest recorded figures as a typical assessment of night time noise.

Dr Hiller said a complaint about noise from the Horse Hill site in Surrey was not attributable to drilling. Horse Hill used a drill that might go to the Lancashire sites if they were approved.

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

12 replies »

  1. Mr Tempany is as impossible to hear over the stream as Dr Hillier. I’ll have to make the journey into Blackpool again so I can here what is actually happening. Why is the quality of sound so bad on the weblink????

  2. It is my respectful submission that Dr Hillier is talking poppycock. BS5228 is the standard for “construction sites”. The CDM Regulations specifically EXCLUDE minerals operations from the definition of “construction work”. BS4142 is specifically for “industrial premises” and involves an assessment of the increased noise over existing background noise levels. The criteria are stringent and extemely difficult to satisfy when night noise is signiticant. Is is no surprise at all that the frackers experts always dismiss BS4142 as being inappropriate. To suggest that he would have come to the same conclusion under BS4142 is, to me, jaw dropping.

    • Grant, a man after my own heart and thinking. BS4142 is the right methodology, and in particular the definite need in this case for a proper acoustic correction assessment. I have been arguing BS4142 with a County Council and a quarry application for a year and the applicants consultant is continuously trying to have BS4142 removed from the assessment.

      • Brian, my acoustic consultant has alway maintained that relying on an absolute noise limit to assess the effect of a new noise source is an absolute no-no.

        The typical noise level of an area is a material consideration and even a complete moron would recognise that what may be acceptable in one area may not be in another.

        This point was made clear in the case of Sturges v Bridgman by the now famous words ‘What would be a nuisance in Belgravia Square would not necessarily be so in Bermondsey…….’

        So, whilst recommended noise limits provide a useful guide, they are no substitute for comparing the source noise against the typical background noise (La90) of the locality.

        That is why BS4142 is the correct standard to use in this situation.

  3. From the website “industrial noise control” with thanks…

    Noise levels and what they mean…

    60db Conversation in restaurant, office, background music, Air conditioning unit at 100 feet.

    50db. Quiet suburb, conversation at home. Large electrical transformers at 100 feet.

    40db. Library, bird calls (44 dB); lowest limit of urban ambient sound…less than one eighth the loudness of a noise level normally experienced as annoying by most people.

    Enjoy that stiff drink – And think about the harm it’s causing you versus the benefits, as with exploration for shale gas 😉

  4. Yes Mark, we will need that stiff drink as we Google search and read the many reports on the DANGERS of fracking and the ” harm it’s causing ” from,

    NOBEL PEACE PRIZE winners, ( PSR ) Physicians For Social Responsibility.

    DEFRA fracking report.


    BREAST CANCER FUND fracking.

    BREAST CANCER UK fracking.

    Mark, make mine a double.

  5. Just wondering if the anti fracking group think the recent protestor camp at Upton was a harm and has impact on the tranquility and rural characteristics of the landscape. And the shed and makeshift is an industrialisation of rural landscape.

  6. There are some important questions to be asked yet the anti’s have chosen instead to turn this inquiry into a farce .

    Cuadrilla should not have to state in advance whether both rigs with be on site at the same time .

    Britain truly is closed for business .

  7. Re. TW’s question above. As an Upton resident I can confirm that the protest camp certainly did NOT have equipment on site that was banging out 110dB, 24hrs per day, 7 days per week. As a result the tranquility of the area was maintained throughout.

  8. Posted on behalf of a DrillOrDrop reader:

    Reading through your comments there are some points that they themselves seem to be missing.
    Preese Hall drilled to a depth of over 9000ft. If the first well drills to a similar total depth and takes about 5 months then, assuming 30 days in a month, we would have 9000ft drilled in 150 days, or 3600 hours. That gives us 2.5ft/hr. Harder formations deeper in the well might slow down to near that value, but most of the ‘slow’ formations should be double that. However, the stratigrahy is composed of formations that drill from around 30-50ft/hr peaking at around 100ft/hr.
    Clearly something is going on here. The numbers do not match.
    It seems to me that barristers are good on planning law, but not good on drilling or geology. When he says there will be ‘continuous drilling’ on the site for 5 months etc he is in error. There is absolutely no way that that is continuous drilling. A rig generally drills for maybe a little over half of the time and sometimes, well dependant, it may only be a third, not 100%. The rest is spent tripping in and out of the hole, running casing, logging the well etc. Not to mention that these wells are likely to see coring, which extends the project but is time consuming and spends more time handling the core than coring it.
    So I would contend that description. It is not accurate.
    Regarding noise. I was told that on one job in the UK, I don’t suppose I can name which one, a noise complaint was put in by someone from over 3km away from the site. The council did its dues and checked, but the rig, perhaps luckily, was able to show from its logs that it wasn’t even drilling at that time. I did get a chance to go close to that operation since it was by a public road and have a look and I personally measured the point where I could no longer hear the rig while it was drilling (which you could tell from the operation on the drill floor). I could no longer hear it over the ambient noise at just over 250m (measured using google maps ruler function). So the idea that someone complained from over 3000m… It was obviously someone trying to cause trouble.
    What I mean by this is that for it to be scientific and show that a rig was over the noise levels would require a complaint to the council and then for the council to send someone out to actually measure the noise. It would be nice if we lived in a world where we could trust every complaint made against companies, but there is a background mischief occurring currently, plainly evidenced by that noise complaint, that makes just taking a complaint at face value very unscientific.
    I don’t know the details of a noise complaint around the Horse Hill job, but the existence of a complaint is pretty meaningless in the current context. It take no more effort than a phone call or email and doesn’t require that you back it up. I could just as easily do it to a local wind farm if I didn’t like it etc

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