Legal

Update: Lancashire bill for hosting fracking inquiry stands at £330k but council escapes most of Cuadrilla’s costs

LCC

Lancashire County Council has confirmed that it will have to pay only a “relatively small” part of Cuadrilla’s costs following the decision last week to approve planning permission for fracking at Preston New Road.

Local newspaper reports at the weekend had suggested that the council faced a bill of £330,000 for the company’s fees. But the council said the figure related to the costs it has had to pay to host and participate in the public inquiry earlier this year.

Last Thursday (6 October 2016), the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, allowed Cuadrilla’s appeals against the refusal of permission for four fracked shale gas wells and a monitoring array at Preston New Road.

The company had applied for the costs against the county council for both the Preston New Road appeals. But the council confirmed that Mr Javid had awarded costs on the monitoring array appeal only.

A council spokesperson said:

“Costs have been awarded against the county council relating to one specific part of the inquiry – the part of the inquiry which dealt with the monitoring array at the Preston New Road site.

“What is significant is that costs have not been awarded against the county council relating to the main site – the drilling and fracking operation – which took up the majority of time during the inquiry – so the costs relating to the monitoring array will be relatively small compared to what they might have been.”

The level of costs is not yet known, the spokesperson said. The company has yet to submit them to the council.

The Secretary of State’s decision letter referred briefly to the application for costs. It said:

“Two applications for a full award of costs were made by Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd against Lancashire County Council in respect of Appeals A and B [Preston New Road drilling, fracking and testing and the Preston New Road monitoring scheme].”

“These applications are the subject of a separate decision letter, also being issued today.”

The Planning Inspectorate told DrillOrDrop that the information was held by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). DCLG told DrillOrDrop:

“This information is not publically [sic] available.”

Since then, the costs letters have been published on the Planning Inspectorate’s web pages for the appeal.

Mr Javid said on Thursday he was minded to approve the Roseacre Wood site, against the recommendation of the planning inspector at the public inquiry. He has reopened the inquiry to give Cuadrilla another opportunity to provide evidence on highway safety issues. At the end of the original inquiry, Cuadrilla did not apply for costs on the Roseacre Wood appeals.

More details on inquiry expense

A Freedom of Information request revealed that the £330,000 expenses of the inquiry to Lancashire County Council included costs of consultants, legal support, venue and security.

In a recent report, researcher Anna Szolucha said the council had invoices of over £110k for consultants and £116k for security.

But she said the total figure:

 

“under-represents the full costs incurred by the council because it excludes officers’ time which would be “highly significant” in the calculation of the total sum. We must also add to this all the costs incurred at earlier stages of the planning process at the council.”

Updated 11/10/2016 to include quotes from Lancashire County Council,  DCLG and Dr Szolucha

Update 18/10/2016 to include link to cost letters

 

120 replies »

  1. The councils and government make far more than this out of planning decisions. We have just been blighted by a 300 house development, they get bout £2m inn section 108 payments. They get 300x £15k stamp duty. They get £15k stamp duty from those moving away from the over development.
    They get the roads improved by the developers, the schools expanded.
    Money to look after wild life areas
    Money for onsite and off site art
    Money for electronic bus shelters.
    Money for sports facilities
    £300k is small change

    • Tony you know perfectly well that money will not be used on services, it will salted away in resources and hidden in the CAFR report. The government will use the money to bomb more civilian hospitals in Syria or dig themselves more fallout shelters.

  2. Off Topic – for those interested in future global energy demand:

    https://www.worldenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/World-Energy-Scenarios-2016_Executive-Summary.pdf

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/oct/10/global-demand-for-energy-will-peak-in-2030-says-world-energy-council

    “The report goes on to highlight that there will be a shift in final energy consumption with demand for electricity doubling by 2060. Solar and wind, which currently account for approximately four percent of power generation, will see the largest increase so that by 2060 they will represent between 20 percent and 39 percent of power generation.
    Fossil fuel usage could fall to as little as 50 percent of the primary energy mix in one of the scenarios, with very differing futures for coal, oil and natural gas. However, in all three scenarios the carbon budget is also likely to be broken within the next 30 to 40 years. Oil will continue to play a significant role in the transportation sector representing over 60 percent of the mix in all three scenarios to 2060 and natural gas will continue to increase at a steady rate.”

    “Fossil fuel usage could fall to as little as 50 percent of the primary energy mix in one of the scenarios, with very differing futures for coal, oil and natural gas. However, in all three scenarios the carbon budget is also likely to be broken within the next 30 to 40 years. Oil will continue to play a significant role in the transportation sector representing over 60 percent of the mix in all three scenarios to 2060 and natural gas will continue to increase at a steady rate.”

    “By 2060, all scenarios point to an increase in demand for gas, as well as a possible peak demand for oil within the 2035-2045 timeframe.”

  3. So it’s a good job we have enough conventional gas to meet your forecasts Paul.

    “the future of gas does not depend on shale gas – there is enough conventional gas [to meet demand] for more than a century”. Jerome Ferrier the president of the International Gas Union (IGU)

    • Depends on which scenario Mr. Ferrier believes will happen. But the point I am trying to make with the post is that global demand is on the up, fossil fuels will continue to play the major part in our fuel mix through to 2060. Renewables will also play an increasingly significant part abut they will not take over from fossil fuels but will possibly swallow up most of the increasing demand. Where the gas / oil comes from we will see. But the same report on Page 50 also notes the following:

      “Modern Jazz” open economics, free market driven scenario of the linked report:

      “RD&D and gas exploration lead to continued rapid growth of unconventional gas supplies driven by the
      US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and China. Saudi Arabia joins the fray before 2030. Unconventional
      gas production continues to grow to 2040 peaking at just under 1,200 MTOE, and reaching 26% of total
      natural gas supplies in the same year. Beyond 2040, unconventional gas production declines rapidly,
      settling at 323 MTOE in 2060. “

      • ‘fossil fuels will continue to play the major part in our fuel mix through to 2060’

        No one has said that conventional oil and gas wont be a player, but as there is already enough unconventional oil and gas to meet need, the cry of ‘the lights will go off’ is unsubstantiated.

        I would suggest the speculative numbers and time frame regarding unconventional sources is based on the nature of the beast. It does not however prove need.

        And of course that ‘ole chestnut’ climate change and the Paris Agreement might just upset the analyst’s forecasts…
        ‘Although natural gas has a lower carbon content than other fossil fuels, it is not low-carbon unless used with CCS. UK unabated consumption of oil and gas (i.e. without CCS) will need to fall over the coming decades in order to meet the carbon budgets and the 2050 target’. Compatibility of onshore petroleum with meeting UK carbon budgets Committee on Climate Change Report 2016

      • Hi Paul. Thanks for that World Energy report. Very interesting. The way England is going doesn’t bode that well for the more optimistic end of those projections (‘environmental issues addressed in the context of collaborative international framework’ etc). Perhaps we’re heading for ‘Hard Rock’. I still find it hard to tell what some of the assumptions and figures are based on but it does make some good points.

        Do you know Mike Hill? (O&G consultant/engineer). He appears at 2.20 and 4.30 in the first video of my last response above. He addresses that concern about the content of waste water that you raised. Later in that doc there’s a hint that councilors were already being bought off in the Blackpool region it covers.

        I agree with your view that fracking most probably won’t fly over here because of the population density . They have a lot of space to play with in the States to ‘play’ with (many stories from there are still horrendous though).

        • Philip, no I do not know Mike Hill personally. Is this the same Mike Hill who stood in the last general election in the Fylde as a “anti-fracking” candidate? I see he got less votes than even UKIP and the Conservative pro fracker (?) won with a massive majority (21,000 votes vs just over 8,000 for Mr Hill, the Greens & Lib Dems combined). And apparently he spent more on his campaign than any of the other candidates.

          http://www.fylde.gov.uk/council/elections-and-electoral-registration/elections/parliamentary-election/

          This does not seem to demonstrate overwhelming opposition to fracking in the area?

          As I said I do not know Mr Hill. I did an internet search and the following came up:

          “Mr Hill has a more lofty opinion of himself; he has claimed on numerous occasions to be an “expert adviser” to the EU, to the Royal Society, and to government. Blogger Guido Fawkes has uncovered at least four instances of Hill claiming to be an expert adviser, including one tweet reading “I am an engineer in the industry published in the Lancet, advised UK Gov, the RS and the EU,” and another in which he claimed to have “advised DECC.”

          Hill also told the audience to a debate at the University of Canterbury that he was an “expert adviser to the EU Commission on shale gas”, and on another occasion told a Ryedale District Council meeting “I am an EU Adviser.”

          Following the Unversity of Canterbury debate, the Canterbury Times contacted the EU Commission for confirmation that Mr Hill was an adviser. The reply was unequivocal: “Mr Hill cannot speak in the name of the commission,” a spokesman said. “He is an active expert on shale gas, and a member of a Technical Working Group working on the review of EU rules on the management of extractive waste, but as a representative of the civil society. He is not currently advising the Commission per se, he is representing stakeholders’ views in this Technical Working Group managed by the Commission.”

          The spokesman added that Mr Hill is not an official EU advisor and not entitled to use such a title. Likewise, a letter seen by Guido confirmed that “Mr Hill is not an advisor to DECC,” whilst it transpired that he has merely made a submission to the Royal Society.”

          But to be fair to Mr. Hill, what is his background? It is difficult to find anything substantial about any oil industry career he may have had? Was he a geophysicist / wireline engineer? I see he has some kind of electrical engineering background?

          • I don’t know. Whether or not you’re referring to the same person I wasn’t particularly interested on an opinion/judgement on his credentials. Just thought you might have had some dealings with the chap in the video. He was involved in the Preese Hall well and his account of the waste-water (toxicity) tallied pretty much with the American accounts that I’ve seen. You said the waste water was an issue.

            • No dealings with Mr. Hill. It is the same person. As far as I can learn from the internet he had no involvement in Preese Hall except objecting to it. Apparently he had tried to get work with Cuadrilla but was turned down. I agree waste water disposal will be an issue – logistical for large scale development. But the EA have a permit granting process. In the US they tend to inject it down old or purpose built wells – this is where most of the earthquake / seismic activity is coming from according to reports. I don’t think this is allowed in UK.

  4. As expected, the costs issue is a long way off being finalised. and the £330,000 appears to be incorrect. But if it is the cost of hosting the PI, who picks up the tab?

      • Thanks Ruth. So it would appear that costs to the Council are £330,000 (hosting the PI) plus the Cuadrilla cost claim for the Preston New Road monitoring appeal which is yet to be determined, plus the legal and any expert witness costs the Council incurred fighting the appeals.

        This means that Cuadrilla were able to prove that the Council acted unreasonably in the PNR monitoring application determination only. And that the Council’s refusal of the main application was not deemed by Mr Javid to be proven unreasonable by Cuadrilla (from a cost claim point of view).

        I wonder if Cuadrilla and the Rule 6 parties all have to pay something towards the cost of hosting the PI? Or does the Council have to meet all these costs?

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