Senior executives representing five shale gas companies are heading to North Yorkshire next week to promote onshore drilling to business.
Opponents of fracking have described the event as a lobbying exercise for plans to frack in the county. And they accuse the organisers of side-ling business figures from the district which could see the UK’s first fracked well since 2011.
The half-day conference in Scarborough promises presentations from Third Energy, Cuadrilla Resources, IGas, INEOS and Egdon Resources, all of which won licences to explore for shale gas last year.
It has been organised by the Onshore Energy Services Group, which represents British businesses in the oil and gas supply chain. The group’s chief executive is Lee Petts, managing director of Remsol Limited, which has worked with Cuadrilla Resources on waste water treatment.
Mr Petts, who is due to open the event, said more than 100 businesses had registered to attend. He said:
“This invitation only event – by the supply chain, for the supply chain – aims to give North Yorkshire businesses a glimpse of the opportunities that a rejuvenated onshore oil and gas industry could one day bring.”
“The Onshore Energy Services Group is particularly eager to see small, local companies play a big role in the supply chain that supports onshore oil and gas, and that’s exactly what this event is all about.
“We’ll be using it to help North Yorkshire businesses understand the sorts of roles that could one day be on offer, and about the exacting standards of health, safety and environmental protection that all suppliers will have to comply with, so that they’re better prepared to occupy their place in the supply chain.”
Mr Petts added that local councils with a specific economic development remit had been invited to attend.
Councillors from Hambleton District and Scarborough Borough Councils have received invitations. DrillOrDrop also understands invitations have gone to representatives of North Yorkshire County Council, which will decide a planning application by Third Energy to frack its existing KM8 well at Kirby Misperton.
But so far, we haven’t found anyone from Ryedale District Council, which includes Kirby Misperton, who has received an invitation.
Last month, Ryedale District’s planning committee voted to recommend refusal of the KM8 fracking application. In a report to councillors, the economic and community manager expressed concerns about the potential impact of fracking on the local visitor economy.
Cllr Mike Potter, who represents Derwent Ward on Ryedale District, said today:
“As the district councillor for a large rural ward covered by license blocks to frack, I need hard evidence that profit from the industry for the few will not greatly outweigh the future risks to agriculture and tourism, and even more importantly, the health and wellbeing of my constituents.”
“I find it interesting that such an amount of money can be made available to spend on a major event before a small test frack has even been granted planning permission by NYCC.”
“If permission is granted, the impacts could be with us this year, although the full benefits to such a supply chain must be at least 10-15 years away.”
“Does this suggest that the government’s openly stated aim of ‘going all out for shale’ means that local democracy and safeguards will be overruled come what may?”
Lobbying guide for North Yorkshire
The OESG has published what it called a lobbying guide for North Yorkshire. It contains advice to businesses which want to make their support for shale gas known to local political leaders and decision makers, including how to engage with local political leaders and respond to public consultations.
A spokesperson for Frack Free Ryedale said:
“This shows the true intent of the OESG, particularly as they have invited a number of North Yorkshire councillors to their event in Scarborough.”
“Having attended many networking business events in the past, I have never known the hosts think information like that is necessary or relevant.”
“The role of economic development within local authorities is to attract sustainable and suitable new businesses to an area and to further develop their existing economies. This [event] seems to be completely the wrong way round. The shale industry clearly feels the need to lobby officials in order to try and cajole and pressure them into accepting fracking in North Yorkshire.”
“Fracking does not appear to be a part of the Local Enterprise Partnerships. It has been rejected by most parish and town councils, including Ryedale District Council, and is unpopular with the community. Also around 200 businesses in Ryedale have declared their opposition to fracking as they consider it will have a negative impact on their business.”
“This isn’t a networking event – it is a huge PR/lobbying event to promote shale gas”.
The future business opportunities of North Yorkshire onshore oil and gas is on Monday 25 April, from 12 noon to 5.30pm, followed by a drinks reception at 6pm. The speakers include: John Dewar, operations director, and Andy Mortimer, company director, Third Energy; Paul Matich, senior project manager, PR Marriott Drilling; Tom Pickering, operations director, INEOS Upstream; Eric Vaughan, former chief operations officer, Cuadrilla Resources; John Blaymires, chief operating officer, IGas Energy; Mark Abbott, managing director, Egdon Resources; Ken Cronin, chief executive, UK Onshore Oil and Gas; Lorraine Allanson, owner, Rains Farm Holidays. Link to programme
Opponents of shale gas and fracking have organised two protests in response to the event. The line in the sand event is at 10am at Scarborough Spa, South Bay, Scarborough, YO11 2DA on Monday 25 April. Link to details The Line the Road event is from 11am, also at the Scarborough Spa on Monday. Link to details
DrillorDrop in Scarborough?
DrillOrDrop hopes to report at the event if we can persuade the organisers to let us have a ticket.
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