Gloucestershire says no to fracking and 87,000 call on Wiltshire to do the same


Gloucestershire councillors are to call on the government to ban fracking in their county.

A meeting of the full council last week agreed to write to the government “requesting that the process of exploring hydraulic fracturing in Gloucestershire be halted”.

Twenty councillors voted in favour, none voted against and 26, including all the Conservatives, abstained.

Cllr Barry Kirby

Cllr Barry Kirby

The vote follows a recommendation by the council’s environment scrutiny committee and a motion, proposed by Cllr Barry Kirby (Labour). The motion noted that hydraulic fracturing added to climate change. It also noted the instability of geology in the Forest of Dean and what it said was a “significant risk” to the local environment from fracking.

The government’s 14th oil and gas licence round awarded five blocks in Gloucestershire last year (2015). They are mostly in the Forest of Dean and were all issued to South Western Energy Ltd. The blocks are: SO50a, SO51a, SO60a, SO60b and SO61. The Oil and Gas Authority said the target hydrocarbon for all the licences was coal bed methane.

South Western Energy is based in Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, and run by Gerwyn Williams. He is a director of more than 30 companies, including Coastal Oil and Gas and UK Methane Ltd, which has interests in south Wales.

Added pressure

Witshire Council logoGloucestershire’s vote against fracking adds to pressure on Wiltshire Council to do the same, according to the Western Daily Press this week.

Wiltshire Council meets in Trowbridge on Tuesday, (23rd February 2016) when it will receive a petition with more than 87,000 signatures. This calls on the council to:

  • Agree an “urgent moratorium” on any form of unconventional oil or gas exploration in Wiltshire until there has been a complete local assessment of environmental impacts
  • Oppose unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction in Wiltshire because of the potential adverse effects on the natural environment, concerns about public health and impacts on legally-binding climate change targets.
  • Consider fully the effects on water resources and contamination before any licences or planning permissions are granted.

Wiltshire is affected by four licenses issued under the 14th round: ST84, ST85, ST94 and ST95. These licences were also awarded to South Western and identified coal bed methane as the main target, although opponents of drilling have said there are no known CBM resources in the area.

Reaction to Gloucester vote

The campaign group, Frack Off Our Forest, described the Gloucestershire council vote as a “symbolic victory for people power”. But it added “we still have a way to go to get licences withdrawn.”

The group said other councils in the Forest of Dean had also agreed to write to the government in opposition to drilling for oil and gas. These include West Dean, Cinderford, Coleford, Ruspidge & Soudley, Awre, Forest of Dean District.

Text of motion by Cllr Kirby

“This Council believes that climate change is real and that it is a serious problem that affects our communities. We note fracking (hydraulic fracturing for shale gas) adds to climate change.”

“This Council further notes the recent protests against shale gas drilling outside Shire Hall.”

“This Council notes there are areas now available in Gloucestershire particularly the Forest of Dean for fracking. This Council also recognises the instability of the geology in the Forest of Dean.”

“Furthermore this Council acknowledges that the process poses a significant risk to the local environment due to the unknown and commercially hidden information about the extraction process.”

“This Council resolves to write to the Secretary of State to remove the licensing areas within Gloucestershire with immediate effect.”

  • Link to webcast of the Gloucestershire County Council meeting, 17th February 2016
  • Wilshire Council meets on Tuesday 23rd February at 10.30am at the Council Chamber, County Hall, Trowbridge BA14 8JN Details


19 replies »

  1. Brilliant and thank goodness they are recognising the impact upon water supplies posed by this high polluting industry. Clearly Councillors in the area have done their homework, read the facts and scientific reports, as well as learned the lessons now rather than rolling over under a government diktat and in ten years time noticing how polluted the land and water is becoming.

    I’m still waiting for the government to come clean about the i,pact upon cetaceans, particularly sperm whale pods from offshore drilling. the latest reports on the whales found in Skegness, filtering through into media, are that the whales at Skegness oozed gas sufficient for people around the carcasses to notice. A big explosion, or serial explosions took place in the North Sea, December 31st 2015, it’s time we stopped turning a deaf er and blind eyes to our sea mammals cry for help and recognise their food stocks and environment is being savaged by cavalier indulgence in raping and pillaging sea resources.

    if sea drilling is as bad as this, it should signpost to all that land drilling for oil and gas, but especially using frackng, is not to be accepted in this country, or anywhere.

    • Your comments are getting more far fetched and ridiculous each time you write. How do you expect intelligent people to believe the rubbish you come up with? It would appear you believe the oil industry is the cause of all the world’s problems, natural events, over fishing, and now somehow impregnating whales with natural gas?

  2. There is no problem with councils doing this in the long run. They vote to pause while they conduct studies into its safety, but the studies always come back saying it can be done safely so there is no big issue here.

    Note that both France and Germany put moratoriums on fracking. Germany lifted its moratorium last year allowing things to start moving slowly forward in terms of exploration and research. A major review by the German BGR reported a few weeks ago saying that it could be done safely:

    Germany obviously had a right to conduct its own scientific review of fracking before moving forward, just as the UK has done through the Royal Society. Its reporting that fracking can be done safely in Germany is a key step.

    The same goes for France. Political objections remain, but the crucial thing is that the French scientific institutions are now reporting the same – that it can be done safely, and it should be seen as no small things that French political parties are now starting to shift towards arguing for shale gas.

    Anti frackers love to ignore details, but here is one: The French shale moratorium was brought in under a bill tabled by Les Republicains in 2011 citing the “extremely harmful impact” of the hydraulic fracturing.
    Now we have this: ‘February 14, Luc Chatel, stated that “Les Republicains must be the party that chooses the innovation principle over the precautionary principle – the party of shale gas, GMOs, biotechnologies. It’s my firm conviction.”

    So the French party that brought in the French moratorium on shale gas has now had a total reversal. Germany is slowly reversing its position, and now does allow fracking under certain circumstances. The New York moratorium has been highly critisised as being anti scientific, and has been proven to have been based on false/dodgy science that was peer reviewed by anti frackers who hid their conflicts of interest from the publishing journal. The Scottish moratorium happened just before the election and the Scottish government is now under fire from anti frackers for looking as if it is moving forward with shale gas – just in the background. Either way, on the first day of the Scottish moratorium two of the scientists who had conducted the review for the Scottish government that said it could be done safely came forward in the press and declared that the Scottish government had ignored all the science and was playing politics – Professor Younger even declared that he felt ‘violated’ as a professional.

    So sure, Gloucestershire can do this. It’s no big deal in the long run because the science always wins in the end – as per all the other pauses, including our own. Lets not forget that the UK has had a moratorium on shale development itself, which was only lifted after our won scientific institutions said it could be done safely.

    • The science tells me the UKCS has enough reserves to last us for decades. The Government tell me that they will alter the Offshore tax regime.Logic tells me investors will like seeing gas produced at 25.8p per therm rather than shale at an average of 62p per therm. Dong Energy have 3.7 GW of offshore wind in the Uk and are confident of 30GW by 2030 at fossil fuel price. Climate change and fossil fuel divestment will see permanent demand destruction by renewables. There won’t be any market for UK shale. 5 years ago you could have possibly started the shale ponzi scheme. Not now. Shale will fail.

      • If you repeat it enough maybe it’ll come true. Meanwhile, the rest of us can listen to National Grid and the DECC 🙂

      • Don’t forget to mention you are listening to Cuadrilla as well. They are doing such a great job. Their proven technical abilities really put the US drillers to shame and they have done such a great job of convincing the public. Another 87000 objections originating from Cuadrilla PR machine.
        Dong Energy have just made their final decision to build Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm. Worlds largest by far. Energy supply for 1 million homes. Last week Shetland Laggan Development came on line.17% of UK reserves in 1 field. 8% of UK gas needs. Energy for 2 million homes. (and stated can still make a profit at today’s low prices) New offshore seismic surveys underway.
        It’s here now and it’s working. The shale boat may well set sail but It won’t leave the harbour.

      • 87,000… So basically just put out to Greenpeace’s and Friends of the Earth’s global email lists then…

        These numbers are very familiar to everyone now. There are around 20-30 hardcore protesters in the UK. At weekends they get their friends up and there are around 100. For major protests the UK movement buses people up and can pull about 1500. Online petitions get around 90-150 thousand.

        Even if that 87,000 were just from the UK, the UK has online penetration of above 95% with nearly 30,000,000 on social media, and the planning applications in the UK had objections from people as far away as New Zealand.
        That 87,000 represents a highly motivated bunch of people that will never vote for the government under any circumstances. They have made that very clear. Their votes are lost no matter whether the government supports fracking. 87,000 represents a tiny fraction of the electorate, but we know it is not spread across the electorate – and we know that for those 87,000 fracking is very unlikely to be their primary voting intention. Perhaps only 1000 of that 87,000 will vote primarily on fracking, and probably not even that. That 87,000 is very likely to be highly focused within the 2-4% of people who will vote Green or vote hard left. Because of these reasons its effect on the overall democracy is close to zero. Remember that shale gas was spoken about strongly by the government prior to the election and was in the manifesto.

        In the UK 2015 general election Labour got 9,347,304 votes and the Tories got 11,334,576. The Green Party got 1,157,613, or 3.8%. So 87,000 signatures represents 7.5% of people who voted Green. So your saying a poll that got less than 10% of Green voters and about 0.3% of people on social media in the UK should swing the government over an issue that was in the manifesto. I think that deep down you know that that is not going to happen, and should not happen. If 87,000 people signed an online petition against solar when a government had been voted in with solar expansion in the manifesto I would not want it to affect things. Democracy should not be so immature in the internet age as to think that 7.5% of a losing parties vote voting against the manifesto of the elected government should collapse that manifesto. That would be ridiculous.

        Its the internet age, get ready for anything a small minority care about to get 100,000 votes. The online petition for the US Government to build a DEATH STAR got 34,000.

        The online petition for the BBC to reinstate Jeremy Clarkson got over 350,000

        Surely you can understand why the government is not threatened by these online petitions and polls…

  3. Ban Fracking

    Now is the Time for Feed in Tariff Clean Kilowatts, Home Owners and Commercial Business owners selling Renewable Energy, Wind and Solar to the Utility !

    Dump Net Metering (Second Utility) Third Party Leasing.
    Protect Our Communities with Solar Policies that keep the Money in the Wallets and Purses of Head of House Holds.

    In Order to Ready Themselves for coming, Record Breaking Rain and Snow, Food Shortages, High Temps, Floods, Fire, Quakes, and Sea Level Rising 220 feet !

    With Ca. Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff
    Help Protect Hard Working, Tax Paying, Voting, Citizens from our Fossil Fueled Energy and Water Policies !

    Each 1C. Temp Rise, Atmospheric Moisture increases 7%

    We have increased Temp 1.4C. and Climbing

    1850 ppm Carbon 270

    1980 ppm carbon 350

    2015 ppm of Carbon 404 and Rising

    What will the ppm of Carbon be when Greenland All Melts ?

    Diablo Nuclear, San Onofre Fuel Rods, and All Nuclear needs to be relocated to 3000 feet above Sea Level

    We must Stop This

    Porter Ranch

    San Bruno

    Kern County Fracked Poison Drinking Water Wells

    Santa Barbra Oil Spill 2015

    Massive Sea Life Die Off on North Americas Coast !

    Greenland is keeping North America Cool, Was Arctics job, waxing and waning for over 3 million years, now almost all Gone.

    Pacific and Atlantic Oceans 4 – 16 degrees warmer than Normal

    Greenland has 20 feet of Sea Level Rise

    Antarctica has 200 feet of Sea Level Rise

    Greenland is Melting an Calving, how long before it all Melts ? Arctic Region Warming Twice as fast as the rest of the planet !

    Over 400 Nuclear Reactors at Sea Level Now !

    Sign and Share for a Ca. Residential Feed in Tariff. Go to the youtube site, look six inches below video, click on Show More, then click on blue link to sign the petition.

    Attachments area
    Preview YouTube video We Need To Ban Fracking.
    We Need To Ban Fracking.

    • A dispassionate review of future energy use places wind and solar at around 4% of global energy production in 2040. Solar currently creates 0.2%.

      Even then, as you know well, solar is not much use in winter. Wind is much better, but load factors are still only around 30%.

      Come 2040 more than 60% of global energy will still be oil and gas. Coal will have fallen into third – hopefully a distant third.

      Global energy consumption is expected to be around 40% higher in 2040 than today.

      Global CO2 output is expected to peak around 2030, then start falling afterwards.

      These are the realities, and also the very obvious reason that for as much as renewables are a large part of the solution if we do not get a handle on carbon capture and storage we will not avert climate change. That much is obvious from any graph, and as I think you well know the only option is the huge reduction in global energy use many ‘extreme’ environmentalists argue for. However, the world is split between democracies, and dictatorships. The dictatorships have a very bad track record with environmentalism and none of us should place much hope in them doing much. The democracies… well, we keep voting for a different course to what the ‘extreme’ environmentalists demand.

      The result?… Pretty clear. Activists feel trapped because of their political impotence. Their continuous poor polling in general elections means that they cannot shape whole countries – never mind the whole world – and so they take it on themselves to ignore democracy and try and attack things they don’t like.

      They get nimbyism on their side – of course they do. People will fight new tennis courts being built near them so its not hard to provoke fear and opposition of energy projects. But the result – from every election and every graph is not the environmentalists utopia, it is only more imports and carrying on much the same.

      Environmental pragmatism is needed, not extremist romaticism that shows its failure with every car driving past and flight overhead by the same people happy to oppose any activity near them – happy for the wells to be drilled in someone else’s country.

    • At the Lancs Inquiry last week the public were given the opportunity to speak for or against fracking at Roseacre wood. Four spoke in favour twenty spoke against. The perfect opportunity for those in favour to state their case yet only four spoke. I wonder why that was?

  4. “These are the realities, and also the very obvious reason that for as much as renewables are a large part of the solution if we do not get a handle on carbon capture and storage we will not avert climate change”

    Gary, we need to focus here. We are digressing into a tit for tat argument using statistics.
    The scientific reality is that we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – fact
    We currently have more than enough fossil fuel reserves to kill the planet without extracting more from shale in Europe – fact
    National Grid, they are able to absorb around 80% renewables without change -fact
    Energy companies like Dong Energy believe in a mix of energy sources, including lessening fossil fuels and increasing renewable energy generation – sound business sense!
    The technology for bringing up shale reserves, including the use of carbon capture is not yet sufficient to reduce the negative social, economic and environmental effects even using ‘gold standard’ regulations..- fact
    Leave it in the ground. Educate to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Replace fossil fuel as quickly as possible with renewables, thereby stretching the reserves for centuries, so that future generations can enjoy the privileged life we all lead.
    It is clear from your statement that to ultimately avert climate change, you agree..

    • Firstly, who is ‘we’? Because it sounds like you don’t care about British people and jobs. The Middle East and Russia have huge reserves that they will sell to us. Yes, the world has more hydrocarbons than it needs, but ‘we’ do not own them. Our consumption is not effected by how many exist in the world or where they are produced from. It is set by the number of power stations we build and the number of homes heated etc. That is what needs to be reduced. More jobs created in the UK and more taxes generated here – less money leaving the country – increases our wealth here, which increases the numbers of teachers, doctors etc we can employ. Your plan seems to be to go through the energy transition just giving all our money to other countries because they have resources that we also have.

      I’m not sure if you’ve even seen the wells abroad. Many countries have close to zero environmental regulation and I have seen wells literally bubbling 24 methane 24 hours a day that were not repaired 15 years after being abandoned like that. If you want to import, or help other countries continue to import, from wells like that then be my guest. I think you know full well that this transition is going to take a long time and that the best thing for us to do over it is to take control of our energy ourselves and regulate it ourselves. That is where environmentalists are very useful. The UK’s environmental movement loses all its power throughout the entire transition – a period that might take 50 years and is likely to be crucial to climate change – if it forces the energy it knows we will be using to all be imported.

      You’re being optimistic about renewables and that is fine. There is every chance that we can push and see 80% of our electricity coming from renewables within 20-30 years. However, you also know that 80% of our electricity is far off 80% of our total energy use and that if we install enough solar to give us say 80% of our energy during summer daytime its output in winter will only be 11% of its summer peak and that wind is very typically sporadic.

      I think you are hand waving the problems away by hiding behind peak figures. The national grid absorbing 80% total capacity of renewables is not the same as us getting 80% of our energy from renewables.

      UK Oil and Gas production fits very nicely into decreasing UK consumption of fossil fuels since it is unlikely to produce more than we need. If we are not even producing what we consume even while we reduce our own fossil fuel consumption then your argument is void.

      That is not actually what I think we should worry about at all. If shale gas manages to produce 60% of UK requirement over the transition then all the better, otherwise we’ll export taxes and jobs and be a poorer country for it. Regarding climate change my main concern is the ‘locked in’ CO2 calculable by looking at other countries fossil fuel, often coal, plants. Given the unlikelihood of convincing those countries to close down power plants they have built we can again see the crucial importance of CCS. The anti fossil fuel lobby is strong, but also risks increasing climate change if it cannot come to terms with reality. It fights any attempt to do what it calls ‘burn fossil fuels for longer’ and so combats probably the most singularly important technology we need to rapidly develop when ‘burning them for longer’ is no where near as important as rapid carbon production achieved by any means necessary so long as it is actually achieved.

      Personally I want to see rapid development of CCS and implementation on a global scale. An increase in nuclear with a preference for advanced technologies like thorium, an increase in wind and solar and investigation into the ‘good’ of biomass and hydro, and more hydro where the science says it is not damaging, alongside decreasing fossil fuel burning (I’ve no issue with hydrocarbon use in products – and that is something key that the anti fossil lobby ignores, that hydrocarbons will not go away after the transition, but instead by used by increased number of consumers as global poverty decreases following the successful rollout of low carbon energy). During the transition I want us to stop sending so much money to other countries and do more to employ people in the UK and keep taxes here to improve public services and give us a better chance of keeping manufacturing here etc.

      • Sorry, obviously I meant: rapid carbon REDUCTION achieved by any means necessary so long as it is actually achieved.

        It is the long term reduction that is crucial, not how it happens, just so long as it actually happens. All countries must be brought along on this and so the politics is crucial. We can see that the ‘locked in’ CO2 by pre-existing and planned coal plants is already enough to cause serious issues. CCS is therefore mandatory, else the only option is to force countries to ‘obey’. That hasn’t worked so far, and though perhaps it is worth continuing to put pressure on I would trust something like a global carbon price alongside CCS technology to achieve far more than politics. Politics is not so hot when it comes to rapid planetary change, but technology… that can do it very quickly, so long as it is supported by the economics.

  5. It’s a shame Garry that you are all out for shale. Please use your scientific values and research the true effect of shale extraction, not what you are fed by the media and shale explorers. It’s all out there, do not ignore it.

    Regarding renewables, If there is a switch in energy investment into this energy generation there are 1,000,000 potential jobs. These are in the UK, paying UK taxes for teachers and nurses etc.

    This technology for safe generation of energy is here NOW. We do not have to wait for a fictitious ‘carbon capture’ system which has been abandoned as it just does not work.

    We need British investors to invest in the renewables technology, which is not happening due to the distraction of shale and the gamble of a ‘quick buck’. Companies like Cuadrilla are financed by other countries; Australia, USA and China.

    Regarding imports of current reserves from conventional extraction, trading with other countries should not be made into a ‘dirty word’. We have done it for centuries. If you want us to be self sufficient in energy invest in UK financed renewable projects. If you can’t find one, create one!

    Caring for the British people is precisely why I do not support shale. It is a dirty and dangerous extraction process and yet another fossil fuel. It threatens UK jobs in farming, tourism, equestrian and related services already in place; we are talking tens of thousands of jobs, businesses and livelihoods just on the Fylde. How much will it cost the taxpayer to support these people in the future? It will cost cash-strapped councils exorbitant amounts of money to maintain the roads; again ultimately paid for by the taxpayer. It has already reduced the value of property effecting lives and peoples futures.

    This industry is not needed or wanted by Lancashire or anywhere else in the UK which is apparent from this original post.

  6. Fracking kills far fewer birds than windmill power. Natural gas can create energy in the dark, when it is cold and when the wind is not blowing. Fracking has been used safely for over 50 years with none of the fabricated dangers the greens claim occurring. Reactionaries hate progress like locally produced gas, and rely on deceptions about the risks of gas, while ignoring the proven limitations and folly of wind and solar.

    • You have made a lot of sweeping statements there hunter.
      I look forward to reading exactly where you have sourced your information from.

      I’m happy to present you with a list of leading physicians, scientists and research institutes that say fracking is NOT SAFE for humans or the environment.

      You can either read some of my previous posts which are all backed up with where the information was sourced from, or I will cut and re-paste them on this page in you prefer.

      • Jack, repeating incorrect hype from fear mongers with credentials is not the same as offering evidence. I pointed out that wind power kills lots of birds. Do you dispute this? Do you disagree that when the wind doesn’t blow, wind power doesn’t work? Do you disagree that the sun sets daily and that it is frequently cloudy? Do you disagree that fracking was developed over 50 years ago? Fracking is, despite green fear mongering, safe, reliable, produces good clean energy, and is a positive source of tax revenue.

  7. Hunter, after Google searching any one, or all of the following headlines, maybe you would like to contact these reputable organisations and discuss your evidence that warrants your accusation that they are “quote” fear mongers.

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

    DEFRA fracking report.


    BREAST CANCER FUND fracking.

    BREAST CANCER UK fracking.
    Stop Cancer Now, Fracking and your health, 24 February 2014

    Prevent Cancer Now, Fracking shale gas and health, a case for precaution.

    US Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) article headline, EPA Findings In Fracking Water Pollution Disputed By Its Own Scientists, 19th November 2015

    Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, CAPE’s
    CAPE’s position statement on fracking , June 2014.

    Natural Resources Defence Council, NRDC. Fracking

    United States News,
    headlined…. Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens, skyrocket near fracking sites. ( Professor Peter Rabinowitz and Doctor David Carpenter )

    Maybe you should also speak to the two thirds of the UK insurance market who have said that they would not insure, or would impose special exemptions on the policies of homeowners who live in flood areas that are in close proximity ( 5 miles ) to a fracking site.
    Buisiness and homeowners would also like to know, if they are able to obtain insurance, who will compensate them for any additional increases in the cost of their premiums.

    As far as wind turbines killing birds, I’m sure that some do perish on the blades of wind turbines.
    Could you tell me how many birds, swans/ducks perished from Cuadrillas TWO MILLION gallons of radioactive fracking waste water that was dumped in to the Manchester Ship Canal ?

    I’m not sure where you are going with this, but yes a wind turbine won’t work on a still day, nor will solar panels work at night.
    BUT I am not discusing or disputing that.
    What I am saying, is that fracking is not safe for humans or the environment. It is energy intensive and not cost effective.
    It leaves a toxic legacy which future generations of British tax payers will have to pay to clean up.

    Fracking is anything but, clean green energy.

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