Opposition

Updated: Lancashire campaigner prepares for legal fight against government approval of Cuadrilla fracking plans

gayzer-frackman-edit-160919An anti-fracking campaigner launched a crowdfunding campaign tonight for a legal challenge to any government approval of Cuadrilla’s plans for shale gas exploration in Lancashire.

Gayzer Frackman, from Lytham, told an event at a London chambers he expected the government would permit fracking near Blackpool.

The Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, will announce within days whether Cuadrilla should be allowed to frack at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road.

The company appealed against Lancashire County Council’s decisions in June last year to refuse planning permission for both sites. The inspector at a six-week public inquiry in Blackpool has already submitted her recommendations to the government. The final decision by Mr Javid will be announced by 6 October 2016.

Two community groups, which took part in the appeal, have said their future action would depend on Mr Javid’s decision (see Community’s groups’ reaction at the bottom of this post).

Details

Mr Frackman, who changed his name by deedpoll, is initially seeking to raise £2,000 to begin work on a judicial review of any approval. He will argue that the decision would be unlawful on climate change and human rights grounds.

If the case went ahead he would need to raise £10,000 and then more to fund expert evidence and legal expenses for the main hearing.

He said:

“The government has made it abundantly clear that it will impose fracking on communities in England irrespective of local democratic outcomes and regardless of the known health and environmental risks to current and future generations.”

“However we can challenge them in the courts and we will do so with your help and with the expert legal team”.

 

He is represented by solicitor-advocate, Paul Stookes, of Richard Buxton solicitors, and barristers from the human rights chambers, Garden Court.

Speaking tonight, Mr Frackman said:

“Let’s get these people working so we are ready for these decisions.”

“Help them win on our behalf. Get evidence in front of judges. We can win this and we can win it in court. Let’s get it done this year. Demand the ban.”

Mr Frackman said:

“I have done every single thing that I can think of to stop fracking in our community. I do not want any other community to suffer like mine has.

“If we win, we can stop fracking in Blackpool and help to stop fracking in the rest of the country. This case will show the government that people in the UK will not be bribed nor accept spurious government information to allow unsafe fracking to go ahead.”

Environment consultant, Richard Taylor, told the launch event that shale gas was not compatible with UK commitments under the Climate Change Act. He said the government had not explained how it would meet three conditions set by the Committee on Climate Change. He added that research by the UK Energy Research Council had shown that gas could play only a modest role as a bridging fuel in the UK between now and 2020. Without carbon capture and storage there was little scope for gas use in power generation beyond 2030, he said.

“UK energy policy has to be based on the best possible science. The Committee on Climate Change has provided that and the government is ignoring it. We have to show some leadership.”

Marc Willers QC, joint head of Garden Court, said he believed there was the basis for a climate change claim against the UK government. He identified legal mechanisms that could be used, including tort, negligence, nuisance and breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said:

“If we do not bring it, who will? If we don’t bring it what hope is there for future generations? We think we can bring a claim in this country which would make everyone wake up.”

Dr Stookes said a judicial review would have to be lodged within six weeks of the government’s decision on the appeals. It was important to begin work before any announcement, he said. He added that a case was likely to go to court within about three months.

Gayzer Frackman’s appeal is supported by the Environmental Law Foundation and hosted on the CrowdJustice website at www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/demand-the-ban

If the government rejects both Cuadrilla’s appeals, any money raised would be transferred to another similar CrowdJustice fundraiser.

Community groups’ reaction

Two groups which were represented at the public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s appeals responded to Mr Frackman’s action.

A spokesperson for Preston New Road Action Group said:

“Preston New Road Action Group are a Rule 6 party on the Cuadrilla appeals case currently with the Secretary of State. We have been involved with our own legal team and expert witnesses through the planning process and public inquiry. Our future action depends on the outcome of the Secretary of State’s decision. We have had no knowledge or participation in this particular legal action. We do however, recognise the rapidly growing opposition to fracking across the UK and understand that individuals may wish to make their own personal stand against it.”

A spokesperson for Roseacre Awareness Group said:

“Roseacre Awareness Group were very surprised to hear about Mr Frackman’s legal challenge and Crowdjustice fundraiser launched last night. Whilst we admire his dedication and persistence he does not actually speak for, nor represent, our group.  Roseacre Awareness Group, together with Preston New Road Action Group and Friends of the Earth, acted as a Rule 6 party at the recent Public Inquiry and we are currently awaiting the decision from the Secretary of State before deciding on our next move. We will be taking our own legal advice, as to the best way forward, but this will very much depend on what the Secretary of State determines.”

  • Earlier today, Gayzer Frackman delivered a dummy £10,000 cheque to Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. It represented the money some newspapers estimated might be the amount that households near fracking sites could receive from the shale wealth fund. He said: “After the announcement last month that the new PM was offering £10.000, to be paid directly into people’s accounts if they allowed fracking in their communities, I thought it would be rude not to offer the same opportunity.” DrillOrDrop report

Updated 21/9/2016 with statements from Preston New Road Action Group and Roseacre Awareness Group

 

15 replies »

  1. Only a third of gas is used to generate electricity. Ignoring that gas produces over 50% of electricity this year, lets assume that 100% of electricity could be renewable. But what then of heat? Does importing LNG which has a 25% higher CO2 footprint, help UK climate change targets?

    The Committee on Climate Change, hardly a captive of the fossil fuel industry , noted the carbon advantages of shale over imports. Jim Watson, of Energy UK Research Centre has said the same thing.

    By the way, Gayzer also sees chemtrails as science. I imagine his crowd sourcing will be no more successful than Frack Free Ryedale’s.

    • ‘But what then of heat?’

      And up pops another one who does not know that the gas in his house comes mainly from his own North sea and secure pipelines from Norway.

      Maybe the pipes going into MrGrealy’s house are different to the rest of the country and are connected directly to the LNG terminals and the Russian gas main……or he has no idea where his gas comes from.

      As we have still got over 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent in the North sea (plus new reserves being found through technological advances in seismic as we speak) then under the Nick Grealy scenario of 100% electrical renewable, how long do you think the 20 billion boe would last us for for heating? I will tell you. A very very long time. Way past the time that fossil fuels have to be reduced significantly through climate change targets and way past the time renewable s would cover our electrical needs and contribute to space heating.

      Fast track renewable s now, conserve energy through insulation projects whilst using our own home grown North sea gas to give us total energy security. We could become world leaders in fighting climate change.

      What do you think Nick?

    • 1) Let’s go further and suppose that 400% of our electricity could be produced by renewable energy (which is perfectly possible, incidentally). Then we could heat our homes using electricity, couldn’t we ? No need for gas at all then ?

      2) What the CCC actually stated was:

      “Under best practice, UK shale gas may have a lower carbon footprint than much of the gas that we import. However, gas is a fossil fuel wherever it comes from and is not a low-carbon option, unless combined with carbon capture and storage. This report sets out the tests that must be met for shale gas development to be consistent with UK carbon budgets. Existing uncertainties over the nature of the exploitable shale gas resource and the potential size of a UK industry make it impossible to know how difficult it will be to meet the tests.”

      Which in simple language means they can’t be certain one way or another.

      Note also that the UK has ceased to fund research into carbon capture and storage research without which continued reliance on gas imported or home grown is incompatible with out climate change commitments (80% reduction by 2050) anyway.

    • Hi Nick, I can assure you that #TeamFrackFree’s crowdfunding will be very successful, Geza having the backing & support of a very well-respected legal team.

    • People supporting fracking simply do not want to understand the process and the damage it causes. I’ve had people screaming tweets at me that chemicals are not used in fracking. This is patently not true. Nor do pro frackers understand the long tern damage fracking causes, none of them reading the science reports coming from Australia, all over USA and Canada. Fracking is a damaging, short term solution and insulting anti frackers is a juvenile resort, that l’ve subject to also, even from MP’s. Go figure.

      • “Screaming Tweets”! Wow. Perhaps some of us who have actually planned, managed and executed fracking operations understand more about the process and any consequences than those that rely on TwitFace and the Internet to run their lives?

        • So Paul Tresto if you claim to be so knowledgeable would you please tell us what chemicals are used/needed in an onshore unconventional production well for shale gas? We all know there is a long list that may be used (some hazardous) or are you actually saying no chemicals will be used in the process. If so, that would be a real engineering feat! You also seem to be avoiding the point made that actual damage has been caused and yes there is actual scientific evidence of this. There is absolutely no guarantee the same won’t happen here. All it would take would be one accidental spill or even well blowout. Oh and please do not say ‘we will do it differently here’ or the other industry line ‘ we have gold standard regulations’ as quite honestly we don’t believe you .

          • Barbara, my only claim is what I said in the post, I have planned, managed and executed fracking operations. Not onshore UK but in Libya onshore and offshore in the Persian Gulf. Why don’t you ask the Environment Agency about what can be used? I did ask them (about a year ago) as I was interested to see what could be used in the UK. The specific question I asked was related to the UK regulatory regime but the reply discusses fracture stimulation fluids for UK onshore shale gas and the fluid Cuadrilla used at Preese Hall. Please find below the EA response:

            “How do we regulate which chemicals may be used in fracking fluids?
            We have the powers to require full disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. We assess the hazards presented by fracking fluid additives on a case-by-case basis. We will not permit the use of ‘hazardous substances’ for any activity, including hydraulic fracturing, where they would or might enter groundwater and cause pollution.

            The environment agencies of UK and Ireland (JAGDAG, Joint Agency Groundwater Directive Advisory Group) work together to peer review chemicals assessments before we submit proposals to public consultation. You can find out more on which substances have been assessed on the JAGDAG website

            Flowback fluids, which include fracking fluids, are deemed to be a mining waste and require an environmental permit for management on site. Disposal of flowback fluids must be at a regulated waste treatment works, which will also be regulated by us.

            What is the assessment process for defining whether a chemicals is hazardous to groundwater or not?
            The way we assess whether a chemical is hazardous or not to groundwater has been developed under European Union environmental legislation. You can find more information on this methodology here.

            As part of the methodology for the assessment of chemicals, we consulted on a number of chemicals in 2013. You can find the results here, which includes our assessment of polyacrylamide (the chemical used by Cuadrilla in Preese Hall in 2011).

            Do companies have to publically disclose which chemicals they will use?
            In its document Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration in England: Regulation and Best Practice, the Government states that operators should disclose the chemical additives of fracturing fluids on a well-by-well basis. This also is promoted in the guidelines set out by industry that operators must publically disclose all chemical additives to fracturing fluids on a well-by-well basis, including regulatory authorisations, safety data and maximum concentrations and volumes.

            Which chemicals were used by Cuadrilla in Preese Hall?
            Preese Hall site is the only shale gas site to have been hydraulic fractured to date in the UK. Details of the chemicals which we assessed as non hazardous and permitted for use are listed on Cuadrilla’s website. They are:
            • 99.75% of the shale gas fracking fluid is made up of water and sand, beyond that a very limited number of chemicals are used:
            • Polyacrylamide friction reducers (0.075%), commonly used in cosmetics and facial creams, suspended in a hydrocarbon carrier;
            • Hydrochloric acid (0.125%), frequently found in swimming pools and used in developing drinking water wells,
            • Biocide (0.005%), used on rare occasions when the water provided from the local supplier needs to be further purified.

            Cuadrilla only utilised the polyacrylamide friction reducer in their operations.

            Does the Environment Agency put information about chemicals into the public domain? What about commercial confidentiality?
            If the chemicals are mentioned in the application for an environmental permit, we would place this information on the public register, subject to consideration of commercial confidentiality. If commercial confidentiality applied, this information would be excluded from the public register.

            Any request we received for environmental information would be covered under the Environmental Information Regulations. There is a statutory presumption in favour of the disclosure. There is an exception for commercial confidentiality but where this relates to information on emissions, this cannot be used. The injection of fracking fluid would be considered to be an emission and therefore we would release information on chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing.

            I hope this helps to answer your questions and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require more information or have other specific questions to ask.”

            Barbara – Farmers spray far more dangerous chemicals on their / fields / crops throughout the year. Why not focus your attentions on getting NEONICATOIDS banned. If hazardous chemicals are a major concern have a read of this (via the link):

            http://www.pan-europe.info/old/Campaigns/pesticides/documents/cut_off/list%20of%20lists.pdf

            Technically it is difficult to see how a shale gas well could blow out. If it ever happened it would deplete fairly quickly by nature of the low productivity of shale wells – and low pressure – and it would be relatively easy to kill. A conventional oil well with high gas oil ratio or HPHT wet gas well would be a much greater risk albeit still very small.

            • Mr. Tresto, have you not read any reports on the damaging effects on fracking. It’s like telling us; There is no hole in the road!’, when we’re standing in it.

            • Jeanne – clearly we are all doomed then. If you believe everything you read and you believe everything you want to believe applies to every scenario I find it surprising you can sleep at night.

              I don’t think shale gas production will go ahead in UK but not because of any subsuface or well construction / drilling issues. Traffic / noise / visual amenity are the potential issues which may stop it. And possibly the disposal of flowback liquids.

            • Jeanne, I assume your response, albeit with a different handle, has been binned by the moderator? Is there to be only one side to this discussion?

  2. Nick thinks that he can frack all of London from a warehouse in Acton run by him and his lad.

    [edited by moderator]

    Nick thinks doing car-crash interviews on Russia Today helps his cause.

    I’m not sure what Nick thinks is really particularly interesting.

    However, if he wants to laugh at some crowd sourcing take a look at the astroturfing group Backing Fracking. In spite of claiming massive local support they only managed to raise £1100 (that’s less than twice what a trio of local herbalists from Barnoldswick raised against the same issue on the same platform).

    Backing Fracking claimed it was to “help raising funds for a website, some flyers and other expenses to help us get going” but they still don’t seem to have a website 12 months later and I’ve never seen a flyer with their logo on it – perhaps those “other expenses” must have gobbled it all up! As a donor to their fund I do feel totally betrayed! LOL!

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