Autumn decision on legal challenge to Ryedale fracking plans

Third Energy meeting day 1

Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale have been told that a decision on their legal challenge to the approval of Third Energy fracking plans will be made before the end of October.

Last month, the organisations applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the planning permission granted by North Yorkshire County Council for fracking at the existing KM8 well at Kirby Misperton.

The council’s planning committee voted by seven to four to approve the application to frack, test and produce gas from KM8 well for up to nine years. There were 4,375 objections to the application and 36 letters in support.

Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale argued that the council’s decision was unlawful because it:

  • Failed properly to assess climate change by not considering the environmental impact of burning gas from KM8 at a nearby power station at Knapton;
  • Failed to secure long-term financial protection against any environmental damage.

The decision on whether to allow a judicial review is usually announced within a few weeks of the application.

Today the groups heard that their case would be dealt with as a ‘rolled up’ hearing by the end of October.

This means a High Court judge will decide whether to grant permission for the case to go-ahead at the same time as deciding on the arguments.

Rolled-up hearings are used in a variety of circumstances, particularly for urgent cases or where challenges are straightforward and won’t take long to argue.

The court will begin by considering permission for the judicial review and, if that is granted, go straight ahead to the full hearing.

Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire and Humber campaigner, said:

“The decision by seven North Yorkshire county councillors to allow fracking in Kirby Misperton was against the wishes of the local community, the district council and hundreds of local businesses who have clearly stated they don’t want fracking.”

“We also believe the decision to allow this dirty, risky proposal was unlawful and eagerly await the opportunity to make this case in the High Court later in the autumn.”

David Davis, from Frack Free Ryedale, said:

“This announcement takes us a step further towards the opportunity to challenge the North Yorkshire County Planning decision.

“Feelings against fracking and the County Council’s decision are still running high in Ryedale and North Yorkshire and we continue to campaign against this hugely invasive industry that, should it go ahead, would bring about the industrialisation of our county and risk the health and well-being of local people”.

20 replies »

  1. Odd that David Davis continues to suggest that the area will be ‘industrialsed’. I made an ASA complaint against that claim and even after taking legal advice Frack Free Ryedale were unable to sustain that claim.

    They had to withdraw the advert and promise not to repeat that claim. Although this is not part of the judicial review claim, seems FFR do not respect the authority of the ASA, and are behaving in an immoral manner.

    • It is only a short time ago that Ken Wilkinson was stating the application for a judicial review was groundless – yet the application is progressing – so presumably had legal merit for the claim irrespective of outcome.
      How or why the ASA came to its conclusion is beyond me because industrialisation of the countryside in the legal sense does not only mean built structures such as factories it also extends to intensity of operations on all counts. Many engineers in the US refer to fracking as factory drilling. Thousands of HGV journeys and hundreds or thousands of wells being drilled and fracked in rural areas are examples of intensive operations. Howard Rogers from the OEI stated in 2013 that the intensity of operations is a step change and considered the media had ignored and failed to acknowledge the issue and Professor Richard Davies (ReFine) has also stated that fracking industrialises the countryside. If fracking becomes established, I suspect the good people of Helmsley may disagree with the ASA when the frack fleets are rolling through the centre of their ancient market town – on the A170.

    • Ken – I wasn’t aware that the ASA have made a single ruling on any of the multiple complaints you have lodged – could you point me towards this one please? Or doesn’t it actually exist? Ah – I thought not.

  2. I also can’t understand the ASA’s conclusion when the government and proponents of fracking themselves often refer to ‘the shale gas industry’ and ‘ the oil and gas industry’.
    The governments’s own unredacted DEFRA Report -2015 states:
    3.3 Environmentsl Impacts.
    c. Landscape.
    Environmental impacts on the landscape are another consideration. Shale gas development may transform a previously pristine and natural region, bringing increased INDUSTRIALISATON (my capitals). As a result rural communities, businesses that rely on clean air, land and water and/ or a tranquil environment may suffer losses from this change …..
    What bit of ‘industrialisation’ don’t Ken Wilkinson and the ASA not understand?

  3. Interestingly the ASA didn’t uphold the complaint re industrialisation in the ruling they made against Cuadrilla in 2013, but that was largely because Cuadrilla were able to persuade them otherwise by saying

    “CRL said that no definitive plans had been drawn up as to whether CRL would move to development and production stage. If it were to proceed it could entail in the order of 10 to 20 development pads across the 1200 km2 area of the licence, with each pad approximately the size of a football pitch. They argued that the size and amount of wells would be considerably less than some sites in the US, which were often cited by opponents to hydraulic fracturing operations. They maintained that field development in the UK did not mean populating the countryside with new drilling locations; horizontal wells could radiate from the same well bore like the tines of a fork and in several directions, which could be repeated at different levels. One pad could manage 24-36 horizontal wells using present day technology.
    CRL said judging what would be “densely packed” was a matter of opinion and a subjective issue. They had used the term density to mean the number of sites per unit of area. They said, as the licensed operator, they were responsible for proposing the development, which they did not intend to be densely packed. They said the level of attractiveness was not capable of objective substantiation. ”

    Now even 20 pads with 36 wells each would only generate about 2.5 tcf of gas, so either Cuadrilla were having a laugh or they’ve been lying about being able to extract 10% of the 200 tcf of gas they claim is in place. The claim for each pad being the size of a football pitch is a bit questionable too – most sources now agree that pads would be at least 2 ha in size, whilst a football pitch would only be 0.6 – 0.8 hectare – Oops – I’m sure that was a mistake as well.

    (An internationally-sanctioned soccer field is 100 to 110 meters in length by 64 to 75 meters in width, comprising between 0.62 and 0.82 hectares depending on the field)

    So I for one won’t be relying on the ASA (or Cuadrilla for that matter) in determining whether fracking is going to industrialise my local area. I wouldn’t put much faith in Ken Wilkinson either come to that.

    • John (I have no plan) Hobson, let’s go ahead and inject some factual information into this discussion shall we?

      If Cuadrilla’s 20 pads with 36 wells produced EURs in line with the average in the Marcellus, the actual production would be approximately 3.4 tcf, not the 2.5 that you proclaim. This is based on DATA from a study which noted that average well production was 4.7 bcf/well.

      So, those 20 well pads, spanning a total of around 40 ha, could supply approximately 10% of the UK’s gas needs for almost 14 years.

      According to the late Dr. David Mackay, a wind installation would require approximately 700x the amount of land vs. a well pad to produce the same amount of energy. Professor Mackay’s calculations assumed only 10 horizontals per pad, however, and you have run an exercise that assumes 36, so we would want to grow the 700x by at least 3x to account for the efficiencies of more horizontals per pad. Note too, that Cuadrilla have claimed that they could go to 40-60 wells per pad because of the vast thickness of the Bowland. But let’s forget that for the time being and simply assume that a wind installation takes around 2,000x the amount of land vs. a shale well on an energy equivalent basis.

      This means that for the 40 ha used for the well pads you have described, an equivalent wind installation would approximate 80,000 ha. Talk about widespread industrialization!!

      Now, the other factor that absolutely needs to be taken into account is visual impact, right John? A fracking rig could be present for 2-3 years on a well pad at a height of 26m. According to MacKay’s work, that would be visible for approximately 77 ha around the site. Wind turbines, on the other hand, are four times as tall at 100m! One well-pad equivalent wind farm could be seen for 5,200-17,000 ha around the site, John! From a visual standpoint, wind farms don’t even come close to the minimal impact of natural gas extraction.

      And don’t forget that the amount of truck trips, land disturbance, and backup power generating facilities that wind farms require would be far greater than what 20 well pads necessitate.

      So, let’s be real shall we? The “industrialization” argument against shale gas is a very weak one in the context of the next best alternative, John. Every extraction methodology has its costs, but natural gas wins hands down vs. renewables when we talk about the industrialization argument.

      The inconvenient truth.

      • Peeny old boy – I don’t really get excited about whether its 3.4 tcf or 2.5 – I was using IoD figures but you probably have no idea what IoD is or why I used them do you (quick get onto Google). So with your cherry picked result of 3.4tcf the story is till the sad old same – about 1 years worth of UK demand. You just made my point for me again. Thank you so much.

        Also I don’t really give much of a stuff about your clam that Cuadrilla have said they can do 60 wells per pad (where did they say that by the way Peeny?) or your obvious ignorance of the heights of the rigs proposed in the UK.

        You obviously have no idea what is in the planning applications we are dealing with here , as is clear from your rants, so my advice would be to take a chill pill, then read the 1,000’s of pages that the rest of us here have, and the you *might* be able to come back and not make an idiot of yourself? Take a look as well at the research which show that UK citizens would vastly prefer living next to a wind farm than a fracking well before you look even sillier.

        Of course if you want to continue being the epitome of a uninformed fracking shill, do carry on. We are all amused by you, even if you are a little tiresome, but that’s no problem as you really are making out task easier.

        • In other words, you can’t refute a thing I’ve said and resort instead to name calling. This is typical of the antifactivists unfortunately.

          Face it, John. You can’t come up with a practical energy plan. All you can do is criticize those who have.

          You are losing the fight my good man and you know it. So you lash out with increasing desperation and name calling.

          I respond with facts.

          You can’t overcome the facts, John. Deep down you know it, and you know you’ve lost.

          Best of luck!

          • Keep up Peeny – I’m agreeing that even if your figure was right it’s still nothing to get excited about. I don’t need to refute something that basically backs up what I said – why would it? LOL

            Now if we strip out your silly insults what else did you say? Oh basically nothing as usual . OK 😉

            • 40 hectares of land supplying the UK with 10% of its gas needs for 14 years – that’s nothing to sneeze at. That’s from 20 well pads. Let’s increase the number to 100 well pads and we’re at 50% of needs for 14 years. Strategically, I don’t think it’s wise for the UK to use its gas at that rate. Better to supply 10-20% of the market which can have the effect of keeping gas prices low, creating a competitive local market, establishing an industry onshore with a service sector, promoting energy security for the nation, and adding wealth and jobs. It would also keep the UK secure in this supply for over one hundred years, with the ability to raise or lower production as need demanded.

              • 50% for 14years would need about 21 tcf (14 * 1.5 tcf) – Even using your extremely optimistic 4.7 EUR instead of the IoD’s still optimistic average of 3.2 you’d only squeeze 18.8 out of your 4,000 wells blighting our country Peeny my anonymous little chum. And then it would all be over bar a bit of residual production at the fag end of the decline curves.

                And the problem with your (oh so strategic lol) plan is that government would have to intervene to slow them down as they would go hell for leather to extract as much as they could before a more enlightened government stopped them in their tracks. Whether they have access to the finance and other necessary resources to extract 18.8 tcf in 14 years is, naturally, a different question.

                Of course if shale gas and its extraction were nationalised things could be different – is that what you are proposing or are you just out of touch with the commercial realities?

                • The BGS has estimated 1,300 tcf GIP in the North. I believe that the actual resource approaches more like 3,000+ TCF in the North. The UK also has the reserves in the South and in the Central Basin in Scotland. These are all simply estimates, but the UK is likely to have GIP of 2,500 tcf in total.

                  We don’t know how much of that gas can be recovered. In the US, some fields are producing near 20% last I heard. If the UK could produce 7% it would mean approximately 175tcf of gas, enough to meet all demand for approximately 60 years.

                  The government can toggle development through a number of mechanisms. This could include taxation and regulation.

                  Luckily the land impact of this development would be orders of magnitude less than under your proposal for wind/solar, John.

                • Here are some great quotes from US Secretary of Energy:

                  The oil and gas boom is reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Monday.

                  “The increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States has, obviously, been a major story in terms of our economy, and also our environment,” Moniz said at a field hearing in Seattle convened by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

                  “The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer [carbon dioxide] emissions,” Moniz said.

                  Moniz’s comments follow those by the head of the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s analysis arm, earlier this month, indicating that carbon emissions are lower than they have been since 1992 because of increased reliance on natural gas from hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

    • And methane and ozone levels massively increase. And beyond 2030 the UK should not be burning gas for power generation.

      There have been articles recently in the Times, a paper usually supportive of fracking, about the research in the US about battery storage – and stating that within 10 to 15 years baseboard on the grid will no longer be an issue, in other words, renewables are the way forward. New technology and investment will deliver a credible energy solution. Energy efficiency – such as upgrading insulating homes is also very important. Energy use will become smarter. Plus energy use is falling not rising.
      And if I have followed the figures in the comments above, apologies if I am mistaken. But it seems a very high price to pay for a region such as Lancashire for just 10% of the UK’s gas supply.
      Far better to continue importing gas from Norway for 10 or 15 years and investing in new technologies and moving away from fossil fuels as soon as possible.

      • KT, you have some facts wrong. Methane emissions in the US have been falling or flat while industry production has surged more than 7x over the last ten years.

        Also, methane is not as bad as you have been led to believe by the anti-factivists.

        “People are placing too much emphasis on methane,” says Raymond Pierrehumbert, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford and one of the paper’s authors. “And really, people should prove that we can actually get the CO2 emissions down first, before worrying about whether we are doing enough to get methane emissions down.”

        Battery technology will evolve over time, but it may never become economic. This is especially true due to the relative scarcity of some rare earth metals as well as lithium. Prices for these key factors will surge according to economists, when battery technology becomes more prevalent. The extraction of these metals will also impose some severe costs on the environment – opencast mining for these elements is already very destructive, but as the industry expands, some believe mining will have to move to the sea, so the oceans will also suffer.

        As long as society is ready to pay for very expensive power (remember that more expense means sacrificing the lives of many who already live in fuel poverty) with some equally serious environmental consequences (we haven’t even discussed the fact that you might have to cover a large proportion of the UK with turbines and panels to make this work) then it’s a great plan. But I certainly wouldn’t call it a “Green” option given the obvious and serious environmental and human consequences.

      • KT – I again refer you (and all the others who think we will not use gas in the near future) to the National Grid Future Scenarios. I assume you all support the “Gone Green” scenario vs the two scenarios which include UK shale gas? 2015 gas usage is approximately 80BCM/yr. For the Gone Green Scenario the gas usage forecast is 60BCM/yr – a drop of 25%. So we will still be using a lot of gas. Looking just at electricity generation:

        An extract from page 85 which discusses electricity generation in 2030 – 40:

        “As in previous decades, gas continues to play an important role in all four of our scenarios. In No Progression, in 2040, there is more gas-fired generation connected than at any other time, in excess of 38 GW. In comparison, Gone Green has 14.7 GW. This highlights
        how established technology is favoured in No Progression, but also how gas-fired generation remains a fundamental part of the supply mix in all of our scenarios, where it offers valuable services for system operation alongside high levels of renewables.”

        There are some excellent graphics demonstrating the issues we are discussing through to 2040 however I am not able to paste anything on this BB.

        But please have a look at the document and you will understand what the future really is going to look like.

        No Progression is a world where business as usual activities prevail. Society is focused on the short term, concentrating on affordability above green ambition. Traditional sources of gas and electricity dominate, with little innovation altering how energy is used.

        No Progression focuses on the here and now, with little emphasis placed on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Government intervention aimed at driving change in the energy sector is limited, with a reduction in environmental incentives and no further
        progress towards European harmonisation. Policies focus on supporting traditional, indigenous energy supplies.

        Economic conditions are restricted, with low growth rates and disposable incomes. Minimal subsidies result in low electricity retail prices.
        Gas retail prices are neither high or low, as they are influenced by both high gas demand which drives up the price and low taxes which reduce the price.

        Sound familiar?

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