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Guest Post: No social license to frack in Ryedale – the charade of democracy

Third Energy meeting day 1

Guest Post by Heather Stroud

In this guest post, Heather Stroud, who lives in Ryedale and opposes fracking in the district, reflects on this week’s decision to approve Third Energy’s shale gas plans for Kirby Misperton

While all attention is focused on how ‘alive our democratic process’ is, with regard to the EU vote, the charade of democracy was played out in full colours with trumpets, tea and cake, at North Yorkshire County Council in Northallerton. The almost festive gathering in the county gardens, of around a thousand people, were there to protest the controversial planning application by Third Energy to ‘frack’ at the village of Kirby Misperton’s, KM8 site.

The arguments against Third Energy’s application to frack in Ryedale are local, national and international. On the local level, residents face large scale industrialization of the countryside. The economy of Ryedale is largely based on tourism, farming and quality food products. The rural highways are not designed to carry the volume of heavy traffic required for full production of hydraulic shale gas extraction from well sites. For this business to be economic it requires around a thousand wells with thousands of heavy vehicle movements 24 hrs a day. The British Medical Association have warned of health risks to residents and, in particular raised concerns for unborn babies and children. Where fracking has taken place there have been reports of illness and death to animals, both domestic and livestock. There are risks of contamination to land, air and water. Our drinking water supplies come from an underground network of lakes that are interlinked. Like the butterfly wings what impacts on one, ultimately impacts on all of us.

This application sets a precedent to open the gates for fracking in over 64% of the U.K. Already Caudrilla, are setting dates to restart fracking in Lancashire after it was halted five years ago when fracking triggered two minor earthquakes. Applications cover most of Yorkshire, Lancashire and beyond – hence the festive atmosphere of protest when Lancastrians joined with Yorkshire in a heartfelt  demonstration of ‘uniting the red and white roses’. However it was not just from Lancashire that supporters came. People came from around the UK and America, while others offered support from all parts of the globe. Protesters represented people of all ages, skills, professions and wealth in a classless gathering of solidarity. There were professors, doctors, mothers, residents, a former diplomat  on climate change, a baroness, and a knight of the realm.

All the village councils had made statements to not allow fracking. Ryedale district council had already rejected this application. We all believed that, with the weight of democracy clearly on our side we could protect our environment from this toxic, last ditch effort by the gathering energy giants to bleed the earth of fossil fuels. Ryedale was suddenly seen as the front line. ‘Friends of the Earth’ spoke on the effects of methane emissions on global warming. Frackfree Ryedale and individual residents presented well researched warnings on the damage fracking would do to our rural environment. ‘Greenpeace’, ‘War on Want’, ’38 degrees’, ‘The Sum of Us’ and many other human and environmental groups all gathered evidence and pledged to stop this risky unconventional drilling.

With 4,375 letters of objection, including one from Flamingo Land and only 36 in support, the scales were heavily weighted against this application going through. Having campaigned against bombing and military occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, I’m as cynical about our nihilistic governmental leadership as one can get… yet when I left on Friday evening (the first of two days of hearings) I believed we could win this step in blocking the corporate giants’  trying to occupy and industrialize our land. It didn’t seem possible that councillors (who are charged to represent their constituents and not central government or energy companies) could let this application go through. Yet, by Monday gloom returned. By ignoring the volumes of evidence, the mass of written objections, the spoken objections and the garden full of impassioned protesters, seven councillors did just that. With smiles for Third Energy’s John Dewer, they approved the application and opened the gates to fracking applications all over the UK.

This is a battle that goes beyond stopping fracking and protecting people and our environment. It raises questions about the death of democracy itself. Neither Yorkshire, Lancashire or anywhere else for that matter, are prepared to become sacrifice zones for Westminster.

A smile that summed this charade up:

  • Heather Stroud has been involved in human rights issues for many years. She has written two novels, The Ghost Locust and Abraham’s Children, inspired by Vietnamese refugees and human rights issues in Palestine.
    A mother and grandmother, she lives in Ryedale and joined the campaign against fracking in the district. She said: “The positive side of all these campaigns is how it brings concerned individuals together in working towards a more humane and environmentally healthy world for, not only ourselves, but for future generations.”

36 replies »

  1. Are all these radicals, have they all got it wrong Bill ?

    To read about the possible dangers of fracking. Google any of the following below, as it reads and type in on their webpage were applicable the word Fracking.


    DEFRA, fracking report


    BREAST CANCER FUND, fracking

    BREAST CANCER UK, fracking

    STOP CANCER NOW, fracking and your health, 24 February

    PREVENT CANCER NOW, fracking shale gas and health, a case for precaution.

    CAPE’s position statement on fracking , June 2014.


    headlined…. Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens, skyrocket near fracking sites.

    BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL fracking ….. public health England’s draft report on shale gas extraction. The BMJ.

    Maybe you would also like to comment on the article published on the Guardian Newspaper 30th March 2015, HEADLINED. ….. Doctors And Academics Call For Ban On Inherently Risky Fracking.

    SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY fracking …. scientific review reveals public health and data gaps.

    PHYSICIANS, SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS FOR PUBLIC HEALTHY ENERGY ( PSE ) fracking ……. and read the many reports published by them regarding the dangers of fracking.

  2. To lighten the mood herewith a blast from the past;

    No Railway in Balcombe !

    It is reported that certain Capitalists, intent upon Profits regardless of the grave harm they will bring to our country, county & village, propose to drive a vile monster upon a road of steel through our hills, valleys & indeed our very village.

    This monster spewing fire & noxious gasses will set fire to our hayricks, our cornfields & the roofs over our very heads. Our cattle will cease to give milk, our chickens fail to lay eggs and all manner of vile diseases will afflict us . The monstrosity will be driven through great tunnels below our hills causing earthquakes & such disturbance of the ground that our houses, those not burned down by flying sparks, will tremble & even our Ancient Church will crack & fall.

    And for what purpose is this hell to be inflicted upon us, other than to profit the Capitalists? They will say “to provide fast and cheap travel”

    And what evils will this bring? To note but a few;

    Our Coaching Inns will fall derelict, their farriers , ostlers & pot-boys become a charge on the Parish.

    Transported by this Monstrosity , Rogues & Vagabonds from the cities will besiege our homes .

    Our working men will be lured by this “fast & cheap “ travel to the evils of the city. Who then shall till our fields & hew our wood? Heaven forfend, our maidens may even be tempted to follow. And should they return, as Prodigals & ruined what use will they be?

    Eminent men of science ( but recently assembled in East Anglia) concur that a human body transported at above the speed of a good horse will suffer so grievous a mixing of vapours as to render it zombie –like or moronic. ( It has been claimed that certain so- called men of science cast doubt on this truth but they are certainly in the pay of the Capitalists).

    But enough! The evils are certain and proved, the supposed benefits the illusions of greedy fools.

    Concerned Residents,

    Nothing changes!

    • ROD,
      You have a classic checkmate with your above post. One can not, but fail to agree with what it tries to imply.
      That there always has and always will be people opposed to new ideas. Although this new idea ( fracking ) will be argued on provable 21st century science, I do get the point you are trying to make .

      Although we may remain poles apart with our views concerning the safety of fracking within the UK, you do make an excellent point.

      we could through detailed scientific evidence argue the safety of fracking

      • ROD,
        Please ignore the last two lines in the above post.
        They are two lines from a previous message that I thought I had fully deleted.

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