Photos: Anti-fracking demonstrations outside shale gas seminar

Scarborough 1Several hundred opponents of fracking from across northern England protested outside a seminar in Scarborough featuring senior executives of shale gas companies.

One group lay down blocking the main entrance of the Scarborough Spa conference centtre. Others shouted “shame on you” as speakers and delegates arrived.

Part of the protest included a “line in the sand” on the beach just outside the building.

Scarborough 3

The invitation-only event was targeted at businesses that could be part of the supply chain of a shale gas industry. Representatives of Scarborough Borough, Hambleton District and North Yorkshire County Councils had also been invited.

Some of the opponents were angry that the event had been held near Ryedale where a planning application by Third Energy for fracking which will be decided next month. But representatives of Ryedale District Council, which recommended refusal of the application, had not been invited.

One anti-fracking campaigner described the decision to hold the seminar in Scarborough as “rubbing out noses in it”.


Sue Gough, from Frack Free Ryedale, said:

“It is appalling that this event is being held in Scarborough, inviting councillors and businesses from the town and from Hambleton, but completely ignoring Ryedale, where Third Energy has its application in to frack at Kirby Misperton.”

“Ryedale is at the forefront of the opposition to fracking and the devastation it will bring to the countryside, local business and agriculture. It is inexcusable that local people have been excluded from this meeting”

Frack Free Scarborough said the protest was vital:  “It’s the community’s health versus the gas companies’ profits. We won’t stop until the community wins.”

Scarborough 2

Local Green Party councillor, Mark Vesey, said: “We don’t want anyone coming to Scarborough promoting an industry that threatens our beautiful countryside and so callously puts profit before people and the planet.”

We are reporting the event live. Check here for updates.

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22 replies »

    • There were a couple of angry protestors who were “in the face” of the delegates (out of 200 to 300 or so largely peaceful if somewhat noisy), but it was in fact one of the delegates who pushed one of said protestors to the floor. Technically an assault BY a delegate, but under some provocation. No intervention by the police, either before or after.

    • Technically ‘assaulted’: true. I wonder if the delegate might fairly claim to have been similarly assaulted by the screaming protestor who repeatedly accosted delegates in this manner, his face two or three inches from the delegates’ faces in some cases, his hands studiously behind his back. I saw this as provocation and I think I feel at least as strongly as this demonstrator that fracking is not to be countenanced anywhere. I feel that the Police response was exemplary, courteous, good-humoured and fair to both sides. I really cannot be bothered to respond to the comments of Ms.Allanson below, apart from to point out that Math is what the American frackers use, not the British.

      • At least you could understand what my comment was about even if there was a typo of one missing letter. Of course, one missing letter is minor compared to the missing several hundred anti fracking protesters that the opponents claim attended. Where were they? No one can seem to produce any pictures with them on. I am glad you acknowledge that the professional agitator that was present and presumably it was one of those that, as you admit ‘saw it as provocation’ I wonder if you can answer this question, it was clear yesterday that there was a more ‘aggressive’ element present within the opponents who are doubtful to have been locals. How do you intend to keep control of them once they come into our area?

      • ” …it was clear yesterday that there was a more ‘aggressive’ element present within the opponents who are doubtful to have been locals.” How do you know they weren’t local? Speculation to fit in with your prejudice?

  1. Citizen Smith – I gather the police said there were about 300 there, which is a lot of people as the weather looked dreadful. So your comments would seem to concur with the other reliable reports I have read and heard.

  2. Where is the evidence of ‘several hundred’ The only pictures and video available filmed by the protesters themselves just shows around 60 to 70 protesters. Math is never their good point and now apparently yours neither, Ruth. Why the media pander to the minority is a mystery unless of course they have a bias even though they may claim to be unbiased. Funding by an ‘anti fossil fuel organisation is hardly the way to appear unbiased. All the media does is destroy any opportunities in the UK by playing into the hands of these ill informed minority groups who clearly have no ability to absorb information, the media is guilty of perpetuating their fairy stories. It is just a vicious circle. Why have you also not reported the lack of ‘decency’ by the protesters who had men laid on the floor of the entrance looking up female delegates skirts. Hardly decent behaviour. The conference was a huge success and if there are 5.3 million people living in Yorkshire the very low turnout of the protesters shows that they have little support at all. There were the same few, and yesterday a few more hardened protesters showed their faces. Their tactics are what will ruin the economy, tourism and the peace of our area. They called their protest ‘drawing a line in the sand’ The only line that was stepped over yesterday was the line of decency.

    • Dear Lorraine Thank you for your comment. My estimate of several hundred was based on what I saw outside the Scarborough Spa before the event began. I’d also like to respond to your comment that I am funded by an anti-fossil fuel organisation. I can’t speak for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust but I’d be grateful if you use this link: https://drillordrop.com/2015/10/02/drillordrop-wins-grant-for-new-project/ This page explains that the grant is to attend and report on meetings at which planning applications and appeals are decided. No other part of my work, including yesterday’s event, is covered by this grant. The grant pays for train travel and budget overnight accommodation only. Much of it was spent reporting on the Cuadrilla planning appeal in Blackpool. I was the only reporter at every session and my work at the inquiry was supported by proponents and opponents of shale gas developments who found it useful and unbiased.

      • Well said Ruth – you do an excellent job with integrity. Your estimate ties up with that of the police yesterday and the BBC. All spoke of hundreds.

    • – The BBC, the police and Drill Or Drop have all consistently reported figures of 200-300 protestors. Is Lorraine Allanson’s assertion that these three organisation are all fracking opponents funded by the fossil fuel industry. Or is it just possible it’s an accurate figure?
      – Does Lorraine Allanson believe the real reason people are protesting about fracking is because it will give them an opportunity to look up ladies’ skirts?
      – Does Lorraine Allanson think that 200 to 300 people showing their displeasure at fracking logically implies that the remainder of the 5.3 million Yorkshire folk must therefore support fracking?

      This is a controversial process for extracting fossil fuels. There have been problems wherever in the world it has come into areas where people live. Do we all wear blinkers and cross fingers that (underfunded) regulatory bodies might stop the same happening here?

    • Lorraine, can you please let us know as to when the next PRO fracking rally is in the UK, as I can never seem to find any, anywhere.

      You speak like a paid PR agent, many of the usual tired words used by the pro fracking industry, none of which have any substance or value.

      I wonder what your personal vested interest is in this toxic industry.

      • Fair point Paul – there are literally hundreds of anti wind farm groups across the country, but I don’t recall seeing a demo in favour of a wind farm. You seem to be exactly where I was a couple of years ago on fracking – “for goodness sake, people will protest about anything new, it’s only a novel technique for extracting natural gas”.

        However, regardless of what you want to believe about the protective effects of (underfunded) regulation, there is little doubt from what has happened elsewhere in the world that unconventional gas does greatly transform host communities – it can’t be done quietly in a corner with only minimal disruption. It’s then a question of whether you’re happy transforming the rural areas of northern England into “mining centres of excellence” (as promised by one gas company at apublic meeting in Ryedale) with “gas farms” (same source) dotted across the landscape, or if you believe that industrial development should be appropriate in scale and character to complement existing industries of tourism and agriculture.

  3. I had asked, when are the next PRO fracking rallies in the UK ??

    But if you want to move the goal posts and not answer that difficult question, then so be it.

    I have come to expect, either complete silence or the swift changing of topics when uncomfortable questions are put forward to shale gas investors, fracking PR agents or people with thier own personal vested interest in this Toxic industry.

    • Did you miss this? Same date and time as the next pro wind farm or pro any other development rally. In the UK at least, people who support development tend not to go out and waste their time, the Police’s time and the Court’s time – and tax payer’s money.

      The point being that there are no pro fracking rallies because they are not necessary. There is a planning system. The next “pro fracking” rally will be at KM-8 or one of the Cuadrilla sites in Lancashire when the pumps are fired up and the frac fluid pumped away.

      See the linked you tube video – 220,000 HP – make sure you have the sound on.

      You could say that the last General Election was one big “pro fracking” rally. You might argue that we don’t have proportional representation – but that would have got a lot of UKIP MPs in and we don’t want that do we?

  4. Actually it’s not really me – just the biggest one I could find on You Tube. Mine were much smaller than this but a long time ago now.

  5. Paul,
    After reading a number of your previous posts, I’m under no illusion that you are clearly an educated man. What I can’t understand is why then you are backing this industry when some of world’s leading health organisations, professors, doctors of medicine, science and engineering are increasingly in growing numbers screaming louder and louder about the dangers of fracking .
    I therefore wonder, what vested interest you have in this industry, is it money??

    For my part, I stand to gain nothing. I’m just one of the millions of concerned people up and down the country who have done their own research and come to the conclusion that this fracking is far from safe.

    I take note from the above answer that there are NO pro fracking, public rallies planned in the UK. I think we have our answer as to how popular this industry is and why meetings by the fracking industry are held behind closed doors.

    What I would like to know though, if fracking is so good, then why dont the people who support it go out and make their voices heard, it would certainly not be as you say ” wasting their time ”
    Also, if you are possibly trying to suggest that they may be keeping quiet out of consideration of the Police, Courts and tax payer, then you must be trying to take us all for fools.
    The truth of the matter is, there is no public support for fracking in the UK.

    As for the general election being one large pro fracking rally, if you are trying to say that people who voted Conservative or UKIP, did so because they supported fracking. Then what you are saying is to silly for words, please once again credit us with some intelligence.

    • Jack the lad, no financial interest in the O & G industry other than I do have Shell and BP shares in my portfolio – along with many other blue chip high yield companies. Dividends are pretty much the bulk of my income because I chose to retire in my mid 50’s. The only “vested interest” I have in the O & G industry is the 30 plus years I worked in upstream exploration and development drilling and production and process engineering. I was very fortunate when I worked for one of the majors that I received several years experience in several engineering disciplines before focusing on drilling. Engineering, offshore and onshore supervision, management and finally in the latter years, operations project management. Fairly unique cross skills in this industry so in my opinion, able to comment on shale gas drilling. How many people on this blog have actually witnessed a large hydraulic fracture never mind managed one?

      I stand by my position regarding protests, in my experience there have never been large groups of people out protesting in support of any developments. This was my experience when fighting a particular wind farm company for 4 years – there was no visible support for it, no letters of support etc. but clearly a lot of people do support renewable energy and wind farms. But they remained silent and allowed the planning process to take it’s course.

      As I have said many times, in my professional opinion, based on many years of hands on experience, I do not have any problem with the sub surface aspects of shale gas drilling and fracturing, and production with green completions. I think we will continue to need gas for a lot longer than people want to believe because still no one has come up with a viable, realistic and cost effective alternative. The issues I see with shale gas in the UK are our high population density, well density (depends on productivity and technology used), traffic, noise and waste water disposal. Like it or not, the regulatory regime in England is pretty robust and probably as good as it gets anywhere in the world. And I have worked in around 30 countries.

      For every anti fracking paper there would appear to be another paper contradicting it. But a lot of these are not comparing apples with apples – a prime example is chemicals in the stimulation fluid. What is wrong with pumping water, PAC and sand, possibly with a bit of soap into formations 8,000 ft below the surface? Agriculture is ruining our soil, surface water and aquifers not to mention biodiversity. Deep sea trawl fishing is wrecking our bentha. Storm sewage run off is dumped directly into our coastal seas. Why not protest against these?

      Just out of interest, are you opposed to all oil and gas production and consumption or just shale gas because of the general requirement for fracture stimulation? It is possible that the Bowland shale in certain areas will produce commercially without being “fracked”. But no one knows yet.

      In any event, if you all correct in that it is too expensive cf imported gas / LNG etc, there will not be a shale gas industry in the UK.

      I always assume everyone is intelligent, but on the flip side, most on this board clearly have no direct experience of the O & G industry other than via a computer and broadband.

      • Paul, sorry for the slow response.

        Your knowlegde within the Oil industry is not in question, the facts, figures and technical data you have put forward on this forum is far beyond that of the normal layman.

        As previously said, what I can’ t understand is as an educated man who could not fall back on blaming his errors on ignorance on stupidity, why you would not adopt the precautionary approach to this extreme form of energy extraction ?
        When you consider the ever growing list of the prominant institutes and world leading physicians, scientists and engineers who are now standing up in ever increasing numbers to warn us on the dangers of fracking, why do you continue to support it ?
        The problems associated with this industry are clear and present, you only have to look to the US where the news coming out is relentlessly bad.

        I hold my hands up, I have no experience in the Oil industry, but as a time served qualified engineer, I can read and understand the dangers that have been highlighted by these professional bodies.

        Surely with such an question mark on the safety of fracking, by such high profile, qualified people, the only sane and logical approch for any person without a vested interest would be to support a ban.

        Now please don’t take this personal, as this is not directed at you, but this does make you think.
        Many years ago the Tobacco industry had all sorts of qualified professionals who would argue that smoking was safe, some even went as far to say that the increased coughing experienced by smokers was good for them as it helped clean and clear their chest.
        We now know these claims to be complete lies fabricated by the industry.

        I’m not against Oil and Gas exploration, although I do acknowledge that we live in a world that must drastically cut its oil depenancy.
        This form of energy extraction ( fracking ) is costly, energy intensive and poses a risk to humans and the environment, for that reason I feel it is a Bridge To Far.

        We waste a lot of energy in this country and there is a lot we could and should be doing to change that. I have a lot of ideas regarding that mater, but we will leave that for another day.

        With a heavy heart, I do support nuclear energy, but would much prefer to see 100% green, carbon neutral forms of energy play an increasing role in our supply.

        Although we may remain poles apart on this issue, I will continue to read your posts with interest, as I do find some of your coments on energy and the energy industry in general very interesting and thought provoking.

      • Jackthe lad,

        I think that one of the main differences between myself and many on this board (apart from experience) is that I don’t believe a lot of what is coming out of the US via vested interests, and the methodology in the US has improved a lot with time as the industry has developed. I also believe we have much better guidance, regulation, including EU, and planning systems. Personally I don’t expect a shale gas industry to develop but not due to sub surface issues – unless the shales are not productive. If it doesn’t go ahead it will be because of planning and due to our high population density – traffic, noise and possibly waste issues. Perhaps I have more condfidence in our regulatory regime than those that will be directly impacted due to residential proximity although I have had poor experience with the EA in the past. However I understand that the EA have a large staff now dedicated to shale gas applications and permitting – somewhat positive in that only one well has been “fracked” to date and only around 4 sets of permits issued so far.

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