Our digest of February’s about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and reaction to them
- Daily updates and key points from the Cuadrilla fracking inquiry
- Greenpeace installs “fracking rig” outside parliament on inquiry’s opening day
- Flow test results and opposition at Horse Hill near Gatwick
- IGas pulls out of Chester
- Cheshire police chief demands £200,000 from IGas for eviction operation
- Government accused of attacking democracy over leaked letter to take fracking applications away from councils
- Councils say yes to local decisions and no to fracking
- Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo urges David Cameron to ban fracking
- Gas has minor role in bridge to low carbon energy – reseach
- Fracking firms promise to reveal plans for Yorkshire after MP’s meeting
- Former top civil servants now lobbying government for oil and gas
- Cuadrilla wins appeal over Grange Hill
- Policing a Barton Moss protest accused of using sexualised violence
- Scottish Government announces fracking research contracts then ditches pro-fracking consultant
29th February 2016
50+ events about fracking and onshore oil and gas in March 2016. DrillOrDrop Drilling Diary
What politicians said about waste re-injection and earthquakes in Fracking Week in Westminster from DrillOrDrop?
Revealed: The 15 former UK civil servants now lobbying Government for oil and gas. DeSmogUK reports on a Greenpeace investigation that found more than a dozen employees currently working in government relations for oil and gas companies used to work for the British government. The blog looks in more detail at the individual lobbyists and their past links to government.
Oil drilling can go ahead near Belfast reservoir, says NI Water. The Telegraph reports that Northern Ireland’s sole water utility has given the green light for onshore oil exploration to take place next to a key reservoir that supplies 130,000 people in Belfast and its surrounding areas. NI Water will lease the land for the controversial oil project, led by developer Infrastrata, despite public protest over fears that drinking water could be at risk of contamination, and that the surrounding Woodburn Forest could be damaged. Protesters have crowd-funded £3,000 to fight the plans and secured the support of Hollywood actor, Mark Ruffalo.
Council postpones fracking meeting. Pocklington Town Council has decided to postpone a meeting on fracking n 2nd March as it is unable to get anybody from the energy firm Cuadrilla to attend, the Pocklington Post reports.
28th February 2016
Weekly round-up of fracking news from DrillOrDrop on the independent journalism website Byline.com
Top lobbying group in historic green energy U-turn. The Guardian reports that Energy UK, which represents big six providers, says it now supports phasing out coal-fired stations, after years of defending use of fossil fuel. It will now start campaigning for low carbon alternatives. Chief executive, Lawrence Slade, said the shift was urgent in order not to be left behind.
Top Drillers Shut Down U.S. Fracking Operations as Oil Prices Continue to Tank. DeSmogblog reports a few of the biggest shale gas and oil companies in the US have announced temporary shutdowns until oil prices rise again. They include Chesapeake Energy, Continental Resources and Whiting Petroleum.
US shale frackers eye world conquest despite bloodbath. The Telegraph reports that dozens of indebted US shale companies face annihilation over the coming months as their hedge protection runs out and creditors pull the plug. But veteran frackers insist that the slump will not stop the industry’s “march to world conquest.”
Anti fracking protesters lobby Wiltshire Council with 87,000 strong petition. The Wiltshire Times reports on the presentation of a petition urging councillors to write to the Government complaining about four licences in the area. The council agreed to form a taskforce to research hydraulic fracturing and coal bed methane drilling.
YP Letters: Ryedale MP fails those who have to live with fracking. Anne Nightingale, in a letter to The Yorkshire Post, says “I feel that Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, who was voted in to be our representative in Westminster, has failed to represent the majority of his constituents who are against this industry coming to our area.”
27th February 2016
Frack Free Cotswolds joins protests in Lancashire. The Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard reports that Frack Free Cotswold travelled to Blackpool on 9th February to support opponents of fracking in Lancashire at the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s shale gas plans.
26th February 2016
Live updates from Day 11 of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry DrillOrDrop report
Top 10 points on climate change from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 11 DrillOrDrop report including shale gas is not low carbon and to meet its carbon targets the UK has to come off gas by 2030.
Top 10 points on waste from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 11 DrillOrDrop report including questions over whether ear-marked waste treatment sites could deal with flowback from the proposed wells.
Fracking could bring in more community funding. The Barnsley Chronicle reports fracking could mean hundreds of pounds a year for homeowners and tens of millions of pounds in community funding, according to Tom Pickering, operations director at INEOS.
Cheshire police chief accuses fracking firm IGas of ‘irresponsible’ behaviour. The Guardian reports that Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, John Dwyer, has accused IGas of irresponsible behaviour and risking serious injury by persisting in the eviction of protesters from a site near Chester and weeks before abandoning it. In a letter to the IGas chief executive, Stephen Bowler, Mr Dwyer demands IGas reimburse the £200,000 cost of the eviction operation.
UKOG looks to Horse Hill as it reports bigger loss in 2015. Energy Voice reports UK Oil & Gas announced a pre-tax loss in the year ended 30th September 2015 of £1.7m, up from a loss of £906,000 in the previous year. Revenue increase to £240,000 from £7,000. It said the widened loss was due mainly to costs of acquisition and development of assets in the Weald Basin and Isle of Wight.
Standing room only at Frack Free public meeting in Totland. OnTheWight reports that more than 60 people gathered in Totland Church Hall on 23rd February for a public meeting about oil and gas drilling on the island. The meeting, hosted by Frack Free Isle of Wight, came after an announcement by UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC (UKOG) at the end of January that, “we are well advanced in our plans” to drill on the Island, firstly at Arreton.
In full flow: The oilman who wants to pump billions of barrels from beneath Gatwick. The Evening Standard interviews Steve Sanderson, chief executive of UK Oil and Gas about the Horse Hill well near Gatwick.
Green charities seek clarity on ‘counter-productive’ lobbying rule changes. The Ends Report says UK charities have warned that a new anti-lobbying clause in government grant offers could compromise environmental policy-making. NGOs reacted strongly against a government decision, announced on 6 February, to insert a new clause into grant agreements excluding “activity intended to influence or attempt to influence parliament, government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action” from eligible expenditure.
Letter: An open letter to MP Greg Knight. Eric Wood, writing to the Bridlington Free Press, explains why he is urging Greg Knight to apply the precautionary principle and prevent fracking in the East Riding of Yorkshire or anywhere else.
YP Letters: Fracking raises many unanswered questions. J Bore, writing in The Yorkshire Post, says satisfactory answers are needed to questions about disclosure of chemicals and safety before fracking begins in the UK.
25th February 2016
Live updates from day 10 of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrillOrDrop report on Lancashire County Council evidence on planning policy
Top 10 points on planning policy from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 10. DrillOrDrop report including whether the local development plan has policies on hydrocarbons and what takes precedence – local or national policy?
Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 10 – what the supporters say about Preston New Road? DrillOrDrop report
Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 10 – what opponents said about Preston New Road? DrillOrDrop report
The future lies in looking at new ways of creating local sources of renewable energy. Rural campaigner Colin Speakman tells The Craven Herald the southern Yorkshire Dales could be on the radar for fracking companies, especially because local protest and political pressure makes exploration in Lancashire and the North York Moors more difficult.
Bid for Worcester councillors to make a stand over fracking is rejected. The Worcester News reports Labour councillor Lynn Denham has failed in her bid to get Worcester City Council to back a motion criticising government plans to treat fracking wells as “nationally-significant infrastructure projects. Conservative councillors said there was no shale in the county and no prospect of fracking.
Could fracking be coming to where you live? The Mansfield Chad lists 11 areas where fracking licences have been granted and applications are expected soon.
Revealed: How the gas industry spent tens of millions of pounds lobbying UK & EU policymakers. A Greenpeace investigation reports that oil and gas giants spent millions of pounds lobbying key decision makers ahead of global climate talks and big changes in UK Energy policy. Oil and gas firms had more than 143 meetings with ministers between October 2013 and March 2015. At least 10 employees working in government relations for oil and gas companies used to work in politics. In one case a former private secretary to William Hague and Philip Hammond now leads “government relations” for Shell.
Broadford Bridge update. Keep Billingshurst Frack Free reports there are 126 days before Celtique Energie’s licence ends at Broadford Bridge.
The Gatwick Gusher. Oil Voice reports on interest in the Horse Hill well near Gatwick.
Upton councillor among eight anti-fracking campaigners denying charges in court. The Chester Standard reports that Upton Councillor Matt Bryan was one of eight anti-fracking campaigners who appeared in court in Chester charged with offences arising from the Upton eviction on 12th January. All pleaded not guilty. Another person charged failed to appear and a warrant was issued for his arrest. A trial has been set for 18th October and is expected to last up to seven days. Two preliminary hearings will be held on 20th April and 25th August. Cheshire Chr0nicle report
Ilkley concern over fracking and changes to planning guidance. The Ilkley Gazette reports that Independent ward councillor for Ilkley, Anne Hawkesworth, says she’s been inundated with comments from residents about fracking and Government intervention. She said: “I get the impression that, yes, they are opposed to the possibility of fracking and the unknown and intrusive element but, more to the point ,they are concerned about the Government bouncing applications through after the eight weeks given to the local planning authority. “
24th February 2016
Updates and pictures of site visits by Cuadrilla fracking inquiry, including launch of a blimp balloon to indicate the 56m rig height at Preston New Road. DrillOrDrop report Lancashire Evening Post (Balloon goes up at fracking site visit)
UK fracking traffic would increase local air pollution – ReFine study. Research by academics at Newcastle University for the ReFine consortium (Researching Fracking in Europe) concludes that traffic generated by fracking in the UK would increase air pollution substantially at a local level at the busiest times. Tankers visiting drilling sites would increase hourly levels of nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 30%. Fracking traffic would increase noise levels locally and could damage rural roads. Guardian report
INEOS boss talks fracking at Northwich Rotary meeting. The Northwich Guardian reports that Gary Haywood, chief executive of INEOS Shale, spoke at a packed meeting of Northwich Rotary Club.
Shale drillers halt Bakken fracking as Saudis send gloomy note. Bloomberg reports two Bakken shale drillers, Continental Resources and Whiting Petroleum, announced they are halting fracking in the Bakken shale, two days after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said it was time for high-cost producers to call it quits.
West Lancs councillors support local fracking decisions. West Lancashire Borough Council voted for a motion by Cllr John Hodson which said: “WLBC strongly supports Lancashire County Council as the legitimate democratic decision making body for planning applications on fracking in Lancashire”.
Protesters campaigning against Woodburn Forest drilling start crowd-funding drive to help pay for expert help and legal costs. Belfast Live reports Protesters campaigning against planned drilling for oil in a Northern Ireland forest have started a crowd-funding drive to help pay for expert help and legal costs. The push had reached almost £1,000 last night after only starting yesterday morning. The organisers are fighting against imminent drilling at Woodburn Forest outside Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.
Gatwick Gusher protestor arrests. The Mid Sussex Times reports two men were arrested after protesters climbed on a tanker going to the ‘Gatwick Gusher’ oil well near Horley. Police were called to Horse Hill at about 8.30am on Friday (February 19). The men were arrested on suspicion of ‘interfering with the vehicle’. Members of Horse Hill Protection Group (HHPG) said they were there to monitor safety issues as Government cuts had left the Environment Agency inadequately equipped for the task.
Weir Group swings to loss as shale suffers Saudi squeeze. The Times reports that the Glaswegian pump and valve maker, which services US shale companies, has reported a £200m loss as low oil and commodity prices bite into the spending power of its biggest customers.
EA expands permitting for extraction and storage at oil and gas wells. ENDS Report gives details of the Environment Agency’s new standard rule permits for handling waste and fluid at sites where companies are testing for the presence of oil and gas. One permit deals with extractive waste, such as spent drilling mud, stored before collection. Companies have new permissions to handle new types of waste such as acid wash fluids leak-off testing fluid and formation water held underground. The other permit deals with the storage and handling of crude oil.
23rd February 2016
Breaking: Cuadrilla wins appeal over Grange Hill shale gas site. DrillOrDrop report
Live updates from day 9 of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrillOrDrop report
Top 10 points on noise at Preston New Road – Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 9. DrillOrDrop report
Top 10 points about traffic at Roseacre Wood – Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 9. DrillOrDrop report
Gas has limited role as bridge fuel to low carbon future – new research from UKERC. DrillOrDrop report
Police ‘used sexualised violence against fracking protesters’. The Guardian reports allegations that police at the Barton Moss anti-fracking camp near Manchester used “sexualised violence” to target female protesters. Researchers at York and Liverpool John Moores Universities were told by protesters how officers groped and pressed their groins up against women as they cleared demonstrations against test drilling at the site. They are now calling for a public inquiry to investigate the relationship between police and the fracking firm IGas, the proportionality of police tactics and the use of bail to restrict the right to protest.
Lancashire Nanas visit Horse Hill. The anti-fracking Nanas group from Lancashire met campaigners opposed to drilling at Horse Hill near Gatwick. Lancashire Nana, Tina Louise Rothery, said: “The Nanas’ want to show solidarity and respect and bring along some cake, smiles and support. There are abuses of our human right to protest taking place and as in life, Nanas have the unique ability to scold and shame the bullies; highlighting injustice.”
Anti-fracking petition taken to Wiltshire Council. White Horse News reports that the campaign group Keep Wiltshire Frack Free handed in a petition signed by more than 88,000 people, to Wiltshire Council calling on it to prohibit fracking in the county. Wiltshire Council said last year that it would not be likely to permit drilling in the county because it was concerned about environmental effects, and because it did not believe there to be a worthwhile amount of fuel.
Anti-fracking councillor among ‘Chester nine’ in court. The Chester Chronicle reports that Labour councillor, Matt Bryan, was among nine activists appearing on Wednesday 24th February charged with offences alleged committed during the eviction of the anti-fracking camp at Upton last month. Cllr Bryan told the paper all were expected to plead not guilty.
UK moving in the right direction on fracking but risks remain. Energy Live News reports on a study by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, which supported new legislation restricting fracking to below 1,200m in protected areas. The CIEWM said there were still significant risks related to the management of flowback and produced water.
Protesters use MP’s jobs fair to say no to fracking. The Northwich Guardian reports Frack Free Northwich members gathered outside jobs fair at Mid Cheshire College in Hartford on Thursday organised by Weaver Vale MP, Graham Evans. This followed Mr Evans’ comments in support of fracking during a debate about onshore oil and gas in the House of Commons.
Magellan announces preliminary results of Horse Hill flow test. Magellan Petroleum announces the preliminary results of the flow test, indicate that light, 40-degree API, sweet oil has flowed naturally to the surface from the Lower Kimmeridge limestone interval at a rate of approximately 450 bopd.
22nd February 2016
Cuadrilla fracking inquiry – what’s happening in Week 3? DrillOrDrop report
Key issues from Week 2 of the Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrillOrDrop report
Community involvement in fracking applications remains paramount, Minister says. DrillOrDrop report – Fracking Week in Westminster
Regency Mines back in the Horse Hill saddle. Proactive Investors reports Regency Mines has signed a £400,000 share deal with Angus Energy to rejoin the Horse Hill project. Regency pulled out of Horse Hill in April 2015, the website says. Regency chairman, Andrew Bell, says: ““We sold out of the same percentage of HHDL [Horse Hill Developments Ltd – the operator at Horse Hill] last year. We now buy back on broadly equivalent terms.”
Fracking U-Turns: Why fracking doesn’t make sense anymore. Freddie Van Mierlo, writing in Liberal Democrat Voice, explains why he has changed his mind about fracking. He says government policy is locking the UK into burning fossil fuels and it has failed to put in place appropriate environmental regulation. “If we invest in the wrong fuel, we will end up on the wrong side of history”, he says.
DECC underlines carbon-cutting objectives in new five year plan. Business Green reports on DECC’s five year departmental plan, detailing commitments to increase energy security, keep bills down and deliver decarbonisation.
21st February 2016
Government ditches pro-fracking consultant after Sunday Herald investigation. The Sunday Herald reports that the Scottish government has withdrawn at £36,000 research contract with Ramboll Environ to investigate the environmental impact of fracking after an investigation revealed that the company supported the technology. The paper says it revealed that Ramboll’s senior consultant, Katharine Blythe, had made it clear on social media that she supported fracking, including through her Twitter account “MiserableBallOfHate”. The accounts were deleted after Ms Blythe was asked to comment. Within 24 hours the Scottish Government dropped Ramboll as a contractor. Also The Ferret
SNP spoon-feeds MSPs fracking “lines” after discontent over Government position on unconventional oil and gas. The Herald Scotland also reports that the SNP is under fire after its MSPs were spoon-fed “lines” on the government’s position on fracking. A central office researcher supplied a list of arguments MSPs could use to back the SNP administration if contacted by members of the public, the paper says.
Wincham parish councillors quiz INEOS boss over fracking concerns. The Northwich Guardian reports on comments by Wincham councillor, Annie Makepeace, to Gary Haywood, CEO of INEOS Shale, that residents would be very concerned about the geological impact of fracking in their area. “This affects our entire village, and we have a history of things going wrong because of subsidence and all these holes. This is top of our concerns, and we must make sure this is not underestimated”, she says. Mr Haywood likened fracking to keyhole surgery. “We will come and explain every step of the way to you, and keep you informed on what we are doing,” he added.
Let’s have a public debate on fracking. Lee Jones, writing in The Northwich Guardian, responds to comments by the local MP, Graham Evans, who has argued that fracking can be carried out safely and responsibl6. Mr Jones writes: “Graham Evans claims to represent the views of his constituents, but I am certain that if there was an open public debate on the issue of fracking, he would see that his constituents don’t in fact want fracking because it will bring them no benefits”.
20th February 2016
Gloucestershire votes no to fracking and 87,000+ call on Wiltshire to do the same. DrillOrDrop report. Western Daily Press (Fracking pressure on Wiltshire council chiefs intensifies with Gloucestershire’s ‘symbolic’ victory)
Wakefield Council says no to fracking – unanimous vote to oppose the government. The Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express reports Wakefield Council unanimously agreed that all licences to frack in the district should be removed until “serious concerns about the environment and health have been comprehensively addressed”. They also said they would fight to give local people a say on all fracking planning applications and called on the government to scrap its “fast track” policy allowing the Secretary of State to decide applications.
Scientists attack their ‘muzzling’ by government. The Observer reports senior scientists have denounced a potential move to “muzzle” colleagues whose findings are disliked by the government. The proposal, announced by the Cabinet Office earlier this month, would block researchers who receive government grants from using their results to lobby for changes to laws or regulations. Examples in the article include results that might undermine energy policy.
19th February 2016
Live updates from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 8 – landscape. DrillOrDrop report
140 Yorkshire heritage spots covered by fracking exploration licences The Yorkshire Post reports on research by Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, which she says shows that 1/6th of Yorkshire’s protected landscapes, including 140 SSSIs, are covered by Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences. Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, says it is against the law to drill on the surface of a protected landscape, the paper reports.
18th February 2016
Will shale gas frack the Lancs economy? DrillOrDrop review of the business cases to the Cuadrilla inquiry. Lancashire Evening Post (Lancashire business owners question fracking support claims, 19/2/16)
Live updates from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 7 – business and the economy. DrillOrDrop report
Environment Agency statement on Horse Hill smell. DrillOrDrop report
Woodburn oil well: ‘Stand-off’ between police and protestors at drill site. The BBC reports environmentalists blocked entrance to Woodburn Forest in Carrickfergus. They have maintained a presence at InfraStrata’s proposed exploratory oil site since Monday and blocked the entrance when contractors arrived on Thursday morning. A man was arrested for allegedly causing an obstruction. Belfast Telegraph report.
Funding from IGas awarded to Gainsborough community café. The Gainsborough Standard reports The IGas Energy Community Fund has awarded a £7,720 grant to Slumgothic Ltd in Gainsborough to provide an accessible toilet for their community café, x-church kitchen.
Hundreds sign petition against fracking in Barnsley. The Star reports that more than 2,000 people have signed a petition opposing fracking in Barnsley.
Council calls for clarity on effect of fracking on planning policy. Scottish Construction Now reports Fife Council Is calling for clarity on planning policy on fracking in Scotland after concern was raised over UK government proposals to remove councils from the decision-making process. Although these proposals appear to chiefly apply in England, Fife Council’s depute leader, Councillor Lesley Laird, said the situation for nationally significant infrastructure projects is unclear. She has written to UK government ministers asking for clarities.
Anti-fracking campaigners sentenced after chaining themselves to plastic piping. GetSurrey.co.uk reports that five environmentalists, including one from Surrey, who chained themselves to plastic piping as part of an anti-fracking protest, have received a conditional discharge. Godalming resident Alexander Biancardi, 25, James Farndon, 24, John Simmonds, 35, Laurie Whittaker, 24, and Jacob Wright, 22, occupied the offices of MediaZoo in Chelsea’s Imperial Wharf, Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday (February 17). MediaZoo represents chemical firm Ineos, which had recently been granted 729 square miles worth of fracking licences.
17th February 2016
First evening public session of the Cuadrilla fracking inquiry- what the opponents said about Roseacre Wood. DrillOrDrop report. Lancashire Evening Post (Anti-fracking protesters have their say at inquiry)
First evening public session of the Cuadrilla fracking inquiry- what the supporters said about Roseacre Wood. DrillOrDrop report
Live updates from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 6 – traffic. DrillOrDrop report
Who said what about the traffic route to Roseacre Wood – key issues from the fracking inquiry Day 6? DrillOrDrop report
52% of Lancashire businesses think fracking will boost local economy – poll commissioned by pro-shale North West Energy Task Force. DrillOrDrop report
Hundreds sign Fracking petition. Leek News reports that 392 people have signed a petition opposing fracking in North Staffordshire.
16th February 2016
Live updates from Cuadrilla fracking inquiry Day 5 – traffic and landscape. DrillOrDrop report
Horse Hill neighbours complain about smell as oil company celebrates “significant” test result. DrillOrDrop report
Get your fracking facts or face the consequence. On the first anniversary of the Welsh moratorium on fracking, Abbie Wightwick explains for Walesonline why it is cause for celebration.
Fracking and climate change. South Leeds Life on the impact of fracking on global warming.
15th February 2016
Work begins on Egdon’s Laughton well in Lincolnshire. DrillOrDrop report
Catch up with what MPs and peers said about local decision-making on fracking. Fracking Week in Westminster – week ending 12th February 2016. DrillOrDrop report
Cuadrilla fracking inquiry – what’s happening this week? DrillOrDrop preview of week 2
Protest to take place at site of oil drilling in Woodburn Forest. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Stop The Drill campaign is to protest today at a proposed oil exploration site at Woodburn Forest. The site is near a reservoir that supplies much of north Belfast’s drinking water. Activists tell the paper they are concerned that the drilling company, InfraStrata, is poised to start work but does not have a waste management plan in place.
Fracking research contracts tendered after SNP reject motion calling for complete ban. The National reports the tendering of the first set of research contracts to study the potential effects of fracking in Scotland have been announced. The BGS will look at induced seismic activity. AECOM will study decommissioning, KPMG economic impacts and Ramboll Environ UK Ltd transport impacts. The SNP recently rejected a motion calling for a complete ban on fracking for their spring conference which was put forward by over 20 branches.
Chester anti-frackers throw victory party. The Chester Chronicle reports a Valentine’s Day party thrown by opponents of IGas’s proposals to drill for coal bed methane at Upton and Mickle Trafford, near Chester.
Teaching assistant spends half-term fighting against fracking. 2BR reports that teaching assistant Barbara Richardson, a member of Roseacre Awareness Group, is to spend half-term at the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s fracking applications. She tells the website the first week has gone well for opponents of the scheme. “Cuadrilla’s experts have presented their evidence in quite a lot of detail but I feel quite happy with the legal representation from Lancashire County Council and all of the opposing groups. They’ve questioned the detailed evidence and raised lots of issues with the evidence that’s been presented by Cuadrilla. I feel fairly confident that we’ve got some good arguments to put forward.”
Letter: MP cannot rely on monitoring to protect us. The Malton Mercury has a letter by David Cragg-James in which he says the regulatory system has apparently failed to monitor the pipeline system proposed to carry fracked gas from Pickering to Knapton, which has not been inspected by the HSE despite a leak of gas in 2014.
Star: ‘Fracking in county would be an injustice’. The Blackpool Gazette reports that BAFTA nominee Mark Ruffalo wore a Frack Free Lancashire badge on the red carpet at the awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London. Writing in the Guardian, he said “The only way fracking could go forward in Lancashire now is against the wishes of the people who live there, a terrible injustice.
Fracking and polluting of democracy. Daryl Morris, writing in the Lancashire Evening Post, said To so much as suggest that people can’t be trusted to make their own decisions is as alarming as it is bafflingly wrong – this, too, in an age of devolution, when letting people make their own choices is quite the fashionable stance.
14th February 2016
Three Sussex oil exploration licences are risk in legal battle, investor warns. DrillOrDrop report
SNP Government announces controversial fracking research. The Herald Scotland reports Scottish ministers have announced three pieces of research on fracking. The paper says this has fuelled fears that the government will back the extraction method after the election. The work covers decommissioning of fracking facilities and estimating the seismic activity associated with the technique.
Anti-frackers set up mini camp at Lower Kinnerton. The Chester Chronicle reports campaigners intend to remain at a new protest camp at Lower Kinnerton until an energy company confirms the land has been abandoned as a potential coal bed methane (CBM) site. A handful of campaigners who lived at the Upton protest camp until its recent eviction have moved to Lesters Lane where in 2011 Greenpark Energy drilled a borehole for purposes of CBM appraisal and production.
13th February 2016
Battleground issues in Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrillOrDrop review of week 1
Update on Horse Hill oil site: March plan, money, Greens visit and arrest. DrillOrDrop report. BBC News (Protesters set up camp at Horse Hill oil drill site); Get Surrey (Horse Hill protesters voice feats to leader of Green Party)
Fracking ‘would not ruin rural landscape near rural sites. The Blackpool Gazette reports on evidence by Cuadrilla’s landscape expert that proposed drilling sites would not cause permanent significant damage to the visual character of the area.
12th February 2016
Live updates from day 4 of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry. DrilllOrDrop report
FRACKING INQUIRY: No reason to reject fracking in Lancashire on noise grounds say expert. The Leyland Guardian reports on comments by Cuadrilla’s noise expert that drilling for shale gas could be carried out without unacceptable noise levels.
Barclays Branches in Five Cities Occupied Over Investments in Fracking and Other Extreme Energies. Blue & Green tomorrow and ITV News reports that Barclay’s branches in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Lancaster and Oxford closed for two hours after being occupied by protesters over investments in fracking and other extreme energies.
Letter: I am not worried about fracking on my doorstep. Chris Butlin, writing in The Pocklington Post, says it seems perverse to continue with imports from Belgium, Netherlands and Norway, when there is potentially available gas in the UK.
More than 70 people attend anti-fracking meeting in Oxted. The Surrey Mirror reports on a meeting by Surrey Against Fracking on Saturday 6th February. The speakers included former climate diplomat, John Ashton, and Lancashire campaigner, Tina Rothery.
11th February 2016
A few nights of lost sleep can make you ill, inquiry hears. DrillOrDrop report
Anti-fracking groups criticise arrangements at Cuadrilla inquiry. DrillOrDrop report
MP says fracking refusal was right. The Blackpool Gazette says local MP, Gordon Marsden, has called on the fracking planning inquiry to respect the decision of Lancashire County Council and local people in Lancashire, and reject Cuadrilla’s plans for fracking on the Fylde.
Protesters reassume positions at Horse Hill drill site, as oil company begins further tests. The Surrey Mirror reports anti-fracking protesters have taken up position outside the Horse Hill oil site where flow testing started on Monday.
10th February 2016
Fracking damage to tourism, but only short-term, inquiry hears. Full DrillOrDrop report from Day 2
UK could face increased climate costs without CCS, MPs warn. DrillOrDrop report
Add fracking to the mix, advises chief scientist. The Times reports the government’s chief scientific advisor has urged politicians to embrace fracking as part of a mixed energy policy, alongside renewables technology, conventional gas and nuclear power. After the Paris conference on climate change, Sir Mark Walport insisted it would be essential for Britain to embrace a range of energy options, if tough carbon emissions targets were to be achieved without incurring huge costs.
Tumbling gas price blows hole in UK shale industry’s ambitions. The FT reports on comments by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies that there could not be a worse time to be embarking on challenging gas projects. UK shale might commercially successful but I struggle to see that it is going to be of material scale”
MP Kevin Hollinrake is not a “campaigner or cheerleader” for fracking industry. The Gazette and Herald reports comments by Kevin Hollinrake that he is not a “campaigner or cheerleader” for the fracking industry, after holding a private meeting with representatives of INEOS, Cuadrilla, Northern Gas Networks, Third Energy and IGas in a “producers’ summit”.
Big turnout at fracking event in Pocklington. The Pocklington Post reports more than 150 people packed out Pocklington’s Christian Fellowship Church to learn about fracking and were warned about the possible effects it could have on communities. Hull Daily Mail
Doncaster fracking plans halted as council asks for more information. The South Yorkshire Times reports Nottinghamshire County Council has asked for more information about IGas’s plans to explore for shale gas near Misson. More than 2,000 people have taken part in a consultation on the scheme. The council wants more information on site selection, testing, surface water run-off and ecology. A second consultation will take place when the information is provided.
Council leader on fracking decision rights. The Wakefield Express reports that Wakefield Council leader, Peter Box, has defended the right of local authorities to decide fracking applications in their areas. He argued that government ministers would create a “democratic deficit” if they step in to take planning decisions over fracking out of local hands. Yorkshire Post report
Chester anti-frackers invite everyone to their ‘Bye, Bye IGas’ celebration. The Chester Chronicle reports a gathering on Valentine’s Day at Wealstone Lane, Upton from 2.30pm-5.30pm to bid farewell to IGas in Chester.
9th February 2016
Live updates from Day 1 of Cuadrilla fracking inquiry on DrillOrDrop The Guardian (Lancashire council’s fracking refusal was ‘democracy in action’); Energy Voice (Cuadrilla five-week public inquiry to begin into Lancashire licences); BBC News (Cuadrilla appeal over Lancashire fracking refusal); Lancashire Telegraph (‘No fracking’ probe begins)
Friends of the Earth ‘misled regulator’ over fracking campaign. The Times reports Friends of the Earth altered documents after questions were raised about its political campaigning against Fracking. It accuses the organisation of deceiving regulators after claiming its charitable arm was no longer lobbying against drilling for shale gas.
Charity watchdog probes Friends of the Earth over campaign against ‘toxic’ fracking giant. The Sun reports the Charity Commission has opened a compliance case into Friends of the Earth after discovering the charity has continued to criticise Cuadrilla over plans to frack for shale gas. Trustees said the fundraising campaign would stop last summer. But ads have continued to come out claiming Cuadrilla would use “toxic chemicals” and actions would cut house prices.
Friends of the Earth criticises Times after front-page attack. CivilSociety.co.uk quotes FoE as saying the Times front page as “a nonsense story designed to distract from the real threat of fracking. It is no surprise this story has appeared on the first day of a public hearing which will decide whether Lancashire’s rejection of fracking should be overturned by politicians in Westminster”. ThirdSector.co.uk and The Guardian
Fracking firms pledge to reveal plans for operations in region. The Northern Echo reports energy firms Cuadrilla, IGas, Ineos and Third Energy, have pledged to map out where fracking may be used to extract shale gas after being told remaining silent could aggravate public opposition. Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, who held the summit at Westminster, said communities in areas such as his, where numerous oil and gas exploration licences have been granted, should be given details in the coming months about future hydraulic fracturing projects.
‘Fracking rumours cost us £50,000’. Marie and Rowland Taylor tell the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire they lost £50,000 after the possibility of fracking devalued their home.
‘Give shale gas a chance in Lancashire’. The Blackpool Gazette reports on support from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership for safe and well-regulated shale gas industry. The LEP says it believes that “subject to regulatory confirmations, the shale gas sector can play an important role in contributing to economic growth in Lancashire.”
“Fracking opponents risk locking us into coal and higher CO2 gas imports for longer”. Blue and Green Tomorrow reports comments by Backing Fracking that opposition to fracking risks delaying the switch from coal to gas for electricity generation and increasing foreign imports of natural gas which has higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Poll: 62% of Brits think fracking decisions should be made by local councils. The Herald Scotland reports a survey of over 1,000 people found that nearly 2/3 thought councils, not the government, should decide whether fracking goes ahead.
Horse Hill anti-fracking protesters set up outside oil drilling site before major tests begin. Get Surrey reports on protests and flow testing at the Horse Hill wellsite near Horley.
Fracking gas leaks are no worse than conventional wells. ArsTechnica reports on a study by a Carnegie Mellon University group led by Mark Omara, which compared leaks from 18 conventional and 17 fracked wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Methane emissions from fracked sites were higher but they were producing more gas than the conventional sites, the researchers said. The study concluded that leaks are a problem at all natural gas production sites.
8th February 2016
On the eve of the Cuadrilla shale gas inquiry, the US actor, Mark Ruffalo urges David Cameron to ban fracking in the UK. DrillOrDrop report The Guardian and Daily Mail and The Guardian (Fracking in Lancashire against locals’ wishes would be a terrible injustice – Mark Ruffalo)
Horse Hill flow testing underway says operator. Proactive Investors and Energy Voice report confirmation by UK Oil and Gas that it had begun flow tests on the Horse Hill oil well near Gatwick Airport.
Opponents of the operation at the site step up their demonstrations outside.
Fracking inquiry: what you need to know. The Blackpool Gazette reports on the background and arrangements for the Cuadrilla planning inquiry which starts tomorrow (9/2/16)
So who exactly is Backing Fracking – unmasking the astroturfers. The anti-fracking website, Refracktion.com, reports on the pro-fracking group which it says claims to represent ordinary residents and not those with vested interests. It analysed email addresses of people in the group send a mailshot urging them to attend a rally. 77 of 131 addresses allowed them to identify the members. Four worked for PR companies, 10 were panellists of North West Energy Task Force or officers of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, 8 were advocates of the NWETF and 27 worked for businesses that would benefit from shale gas. Of the rest, 9 were people in public positions, 9 were students and 10 notable supporters of fracking.
US fracking: drilling stalls as firm head for bankruptcy. Greenpeace EnergyDesk reports on new data from energy analysts at Haynes and Boone which show 42 firms went bust in 2015 as industry debt topped $17bn and the Baker Hughes rig count fell by more than 60%. Baker Hughes predicts a further 30% call if the oil price stays where it is.
Cheap oil is here to stay thanks to fracking. Matt Ridley, a supporter of shale oil extraction, writes in The Times the technological innovation of the shale industry has benefits for conventional oil and will save everyone money.
7th February 2016
Prolonged oil slump sparks second wave of cuts to 2016 budgets. Reuters reports that top US shale oil companies have cut budgets for the second time in 2016 as falling oil prices continue to erode cash flows.
Campaigners rally against fracking plans across Wakefield district. The Pontefract Express reports that anti-fracking campaigners have rallied in defiance of new licences to explore for oil and gas in the district. A meeting of Frack Free Wakefield held its first meeting, attended by more than 40 people.
6th February 2016
Fracking Week in Westminster. DrillOrDrop review of parliamentary discussions in the past week in the House of Commons and the Lords.
Leader: Let us decide fracking. The Lytham St Anne’s Express reports that the leader of Lancashire County Council has written to Government ministers urging them to let Lancashire decide its own fracking future. Jennifer Mein intervened after reading leaked reports of the Government’s determination to support shale gas. She warned the government risked undermining trust in the democratic process if it sought to snatch decision making powers from the county.
Kevin’s totally unbiased fracking survey. Frack Free Ryedale reports on the survey on shale gas developments by the Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake. A questionnaire was sent to supporters and Conservative members.
Fracking free for all creeps nearer? The Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation News reports on latest developments on fracking in Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire.
5th February 2016
Breaking: IGas pulls out of Chester. DrillOrDrop report on IGas announcement that it will not be drilling for coal bed methane at Duttons Lane, Upton, or Salters Lane, Mickle Trafford.
IGas should pay towards eviction costs at Upton – MP. Chester MP, Chris Matheson, tells DrillOrDrop the company should be asked to contribute to the £200,000 cost of the eviction operation.
The Chester Chronicle (Chester fracking U-turn: what you think of the IGas decision in Upton and Mickle Trafford); The Chester Standard (Fracking company IGas confirm they WON’T be drilling at planned Chester sites)
Warrington South MP, David Mowat, replaces Kevin Hollinrake as vice-chair of parliamentary fracking group. DrillOrDrop report
Campaigners warn of secret fracking plans that will bypass concerns of residents. The Manchester Evening News reports on local implications of the leaked letter last weekend in which ministers proposed taking decisions on fracking plans out of local hands.
4th February 2016
Row over anti-frack leaflet. The Blackpool Gazette reports that Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, has complained to the charity’s commission again about a fundraising leaflet from Friends of the Earth. Friends of the Earth said it had handed over the anti-fracking campaign to its campaigning company in June 2015 because it was “becoming a politically sensitive issue. Mr Egan tells the paper: “It is deplorable that a recognised charity is now choosing to distance itself from a misleading and fear inducing fundraising leaflet by hiding behind its non-charitable associate. The public has had enough of charities which abuse the fundraising process. We urge the Charity Commission to investigate the fiction that this charity is no longer involved in campaigning against fracking. It is a sham.”
Chester anti-fracking campaigners to greet Tory conference delegates. The Chester Chronicle reports campaigners will be expressing their opposition to fracking when they gather outside a Conservative Party regional conference in Chester this weekend. The paper says Frack Free Upton is moving its information stall to opposite the Mercure Hotel, Whitchurch Road, Christleton, Chester where the Cheshire and Wirral Area conference is taking place on Friday evening and Saturday.
‘I’ve had enough of his fracking silence’ – Tory member hits out at Forest MP. The Gloucester Citizen reports comments by lifelong Tory, Kevin Ball, who wants the local MP Mark Harper to take a stand against fracking in the Forest of Dean. Mr Ball wants Mr Harper, the government’s chief whip, to “put his constituents first”, something the MP says he already does. Mr Ball asked: “What’s more important for him: us or being Chief Whip?” Mr Harper said he had written over 1,000 letters to or on behalf of constituents in the past three months.
Anti-fracking protesters set up new camp in Upton. The Chester Standard reports a new anti-fracking camp has been set up in a roadside layby in preparation for the arrival of drilling equipment at the IGas site at Dutton’s Lane. The new camp, in Acres Lane, Upton, is near the drilling site, from where protesters were evicted last month.
YP Letters: Fracking threat to the North’s future. In a letter to The Yorkshire Post, Sue Cuthbert, writes “It was with great sadness that I read that over 70 per cent voted in favour to your recent poll question “Should we give fracking a chance? My guess is that most of these people do not live in an area where there is the threat of fracking.”
Oil bulls’ misplaced optimism. The FT questions comments by BP’s Bob Dudley that oil prices will recover later this year. It says the oil market is currently oversupplied and with Iranian targets of 500,000 b/d supply could outstrip demand by 1.5m b/d.
Royal Dutch Shell boss predicts rebound in oil price. Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Shell, tells the FT “If you look over the slightly longer run, you are not going to see structurally lower oil prices in the $30s.” He adds “We will probably see a balancing in the market later this year, maybe early next year”.
Brent crude ‘will jump by 50%’ on back of shale slide. The Times reports a forecast by analysts that oil prices will rebound by up to 50% by the end of the year as slumping US output helps to rebalance the global market. The paper says they are predicting a barrel of Brent crude will rise by more than $15 to between $46 and $48 by the end of the year.
Provision of information when granting planning permission for shale gas applications. Planning Resource reports the Director of Planning at the DCLG has written to Chief Planning Officer at Mineral Planning Authorities in England to request that Mineral Planning Authorities provide certain information to the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the applicant when granting planning permission for relevant shale gas or oil development.
3rd February 2016
Arrest warning for “slow walk” protesters at Horse Hill oil site near Gatwick. DrillOrDrop report
Pictures by Eddie Mitchell of Horse Hill well site today Link here
Cuadrilla CEO: We hope to start UK drilling by year-end. Bloomberg Business video interviews Francis Egan, who says the company is two years behind schedule but could start drilling this year and fracking in 2017 if its applications are approved.
Why fracking is a double-edged sword. Energy Voice carries an opinion piece by Phil Foster, CEO of Love Energy Savings, a business energy price comparison specialist. He says it is “worrying to see so much emphasis placed on fracking while other forms of sustainable energy generation, such as solar and onshore windfarms, have had their subsidies cut”. By fast-tracking fracking, it says the government risks alienating a large proportion of the general public at a time when it’s imperative that we’re all pulling in the same direction.”
Frack Free Ryedale agrees to withdraw advertising. The Advertising Standards Authority announces it has informally resolved a complaint against Frack Free Ryedale. The organisation has agreed to not use again a non-commercial advert, placed in a local paper.
Barometer of shale oil industry’s health warns agony to get worse. Reuters reports on what it says is the latest blow to the energy industry’s collective psyche. The oilfield equipment maker, National Oilwell Varco Inc, is warning that the pace of drilling and fracking will slow further into 2016. Its CEO, Clay Williams, told investors “We are not planning for recovery in 2016.
Shale gas in focus at NOF Energy conference. The Northern Echo, in a conference preview, says INOEOS will unveil its plans for potential UK shale gas and how it can deliver opportunities for supply chain firms. The conference is on Tuesday 8th March and Wednesday 9th March at Amec Foster Wheeler in Darlington.
The Carbon Brief Interview: Lisa Nandy. The CarbonBrief has an interview with Lisa Nandy, Labour’s energy and climate spokesperson. On planning decisions on fracking, she says the government “should show the same courtesy to communities that are concerned about fracking as they do to parts of the community that are concerned about onshore wind farms in their area.” She explains the call for a moratorium because the government “rolled back” on the commitment to safeguards made before the election. She says the government is not taking seriously the impact of fracking on the environment in the short term. “Until they’re prepared to address that and legitimate safety concerns, particularly about the integrity of drinking water sites, we don’t think that it should go ahead.”
Anti-fracking groups set to meet ahead of inquiry. The Chorley Guardian reports on a meeting of anti-fracking groups at Preston Minster on 4th February. Speakers include: Asad Rehman from Friends of the Earth; Lancashire County Councillor Steven Holgate and the residents from rural communities under threat at Preston New Road and Roseacre Woods.
LGA Lib Dems: update and materials on fracking. The Association of Liberal Democrat Campaigners and Councillors posts a draft letter that local councillors can use to respond to anti-fracking groups. The letter opposes government decisions on planning applications and says the writer recognises fracking would have “severe implications for residents”.
2nd February 2016
Rig installed for Horse Hill oil flow test. DrillOrDrop report
European Parliament makes strong statement against fracking. The plenary assembly of the European Parliament voted on a report recommending no authorisation of new hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU. DrillOrDrop report
The Telegraph’s leaked fracking letter: would a foray into DCOs help shale anyway? A blog by the law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner comments that companies can already ask the Secretary of State to direct that any energy project can be determined under the development consent order regime, rather than go through the planning process. It suggests that this hasn’t happened because it would be politically controversial and some of the procedural routes have never been used. It also adds that the certainty of the DCO regime to favour development is the presumption that schemes which comply with the National Policy Statement will be approved. But there is no NPS for fracking so it would be no better off. Applications under the DCO regime might also take longer than going through local authorities, it says.
Leaked shale gas letter sparks fury on Fylde. The Blackpool Gazette reports reaction to government plans to take fracking decisions out of local control.
Police consider investigation into Yorkshire fracking objections. The Yorkshire Post reports that North Yorkshire Police has confirmed it is assessing a complaint against the objections lodged to the planning application to frack at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. The county council expressed concern last year that objections appeared to have been sent unbeknown to the owner of the email address or named person on the letter. The force said it was not treating the matter as a criminal investigation at this stage.
Join us in Lancashire for a rally to say no to fracking. Greenpeace blog piece about a rally outside Blackpool Football Club stadium on Tuesday 9th February. This marks the opening of the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s appeals against refusal of permission to frack at two sites in the Fylde.
BP makes biggest loss for 20 years and axes thousands of jobs. The Guardian reports that BP is to cut another 3,000 jobs after reporting a loss of $6.5bn, its worst annual loss in at least 20 years. The latest job cuts are in addition to the 4,000 job cuts already announced. The group also said it has set aside a further $440m (£305m) over the last three months for liabilities associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, bringing the total bill so far to $55bn.
Anna Soubry MP says fracking is ‘a good idea’. BBC News reports that Business minister, Anna Soubry, thinks fracking would be a good idea. The MP for Broxtowe says she’s been persuaded about the process. Exploration licences have been issued for her constituency. She said: “Having a proper informed debate is critical and the industry itself has now got to step up and make that case as well as us in government, in politics, who believe it’s a great way of providing the energy that we need”.
1st February 2016
Government accused of attacking democracy and privately contradicting public statements, following publication at the weekend of a leaked letter on fracking policy. DrillOrDrop report
Pictures from No Fracking Way events. DrillOrDrop compilation and local newspaper reports: West Sussex Gazette Frack-free protesters march through Horsham; Knutsford Guardian Fracking protestors say no to drilling in Cheshire as part of national ‘solidarity against fracking’ day; Gloucester Citizen Protesters took to Coleford streets for international campaign to stop fracking at the weekend; Bridport News West Dorset campaigners say no to fracking as Frack Free Lyme Regis join national demonstration; Crawley Observer Anti-fracking demonstration at ‘Gatwick Gusher’ site; The Forester Hundreds rally in Coleford to protest against fracking; Forest of Dean Review Call for MP to ‘step up’; Daily Record (“No fracking way” is the message from Loch Lomond protesters); Mid Sussex Times (Scores gather as village joins national frack-free protest)
Government and green energy in court showdown over solar subsidies. The Independent reports that the government will clash with green energy companies at the Court of Appeal tomorrow over claims that it acted unlawfully over the sudden ending of solar subsides in 2014. Two companies, Solarcentury and Lark Energy, are appealing against a High Court ruling over the withdrawal of the solar renewables obligation two years early.
Ministers set to strip councils of the power to ban fracking. The Times picks up the story, first reported in The Telegraph (31/1/16), of leaked cabinet plans to make shale gas wells National Significant Infrastructure projects. This means they would be decided by a planning inspector, not local authorities.
Residents come out in force against new Government policy which could fast-track fracking. The Brighton Argus reports residents in the West Sussex village of Balcombe described government plans to take over fracking decisions as “an attack on democracy”.
Drilling diary for February 2016. DrillOrDrop’s compilation of key dates in the coming month
How Friends of the Earth dodge charity regulations. The political blog, Order Order, reports that fundraising leaflets by Friends of the Earth direct money to Friends of the Earth Limited, not the charitable trust. By doing this, the blog says, FoE avoids being regulated by the Charities Commission. A comment by the Commission says the FoE structure is not unique but it says it will look at whether this can cause confusion and could cause a “reputational risk to a charity”.