Minister’s Lancashire fracking decision has “unleashed a dragon” says community group

Barbara Richardson and Pat Davies

Barbara Richardson (left) with Pat Davies of the Preston New Road campaign group when they received an environmental justice award earlier this year

Last week’s decision by a government minister to reopen the planning inquiry into one of Cuadrilla’s fracking sites in Lancashire has made local people more determined to fight it, a spokesperson for the community has told DrillOrDrop.

Barbara Richardson, who lives 550m from the proposed Roseacre Wood site, said people were very angry that the Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, had not accepted the recommendation of an independent inspector to refuse planning permission.

“What it’s done, it’s unleashed a dragon.

“We’ve got more and more people now saying ‘what can we do, how can we stop it?’ So we’ve got lots more determined people full of resolve to do what they can.”

Cuadrilla’s application for Roseacre Wood was opposed for road safety reasons by Lancashire County Council’s highways and planning officers. It was refused by the council’s Development Control committee in June 2015. And the inspector at a planning inquiry earlier this year recommended refusal because all other issues were “strongly outweighed by the harm that would result to highway safety”.

But last Thursday, Mr Javid said he was minded to approve the application to drill, frack and test up to four wells at Roseacre Wood if Cuadrilla could show it had addressed road safety issues. He also overturned Lancashire County Council’s refusal of permission for fracking at another site at Preston New Road.

Mrs Richardson, a spokesperson for Roseacre Awareness Group which has fought the application for two-and-a-half years, said:

“To me, the government just doesn’t care about even valid planning arguments.

“Everyone says there’s going to be significant road safety issues [at Roseacre Wood] but the government is going to push it through anyway.

“It just highlights how desperate they are to push this through. And because of that, I feel angry. I’m not the only one. People here are even more determined.”

She said local people felt they had been “totally disregarded”.

“No matter what we do it’s almost like they’re just going to railroad it through.”

Support from strangers

Roseacre Awareness Group was now determined to harness the anger, she said.

“People don’t want to roll over and die”.

“People who supported us but didn’t actually give the time before are now prepared to make more of an effort to stop it.

“We’ve been approached by strangers, basically. They said ‘how can we help you?’


Campaigners at the Lancashire Responds event

Mrs Richardson said:

“We’ve had messages through the Lancashire Responds event [held last weekend] and through our websites.

“We’ve had more donations coming in without even having to ask – nothing huge but we’ve had offers of help. I’ve had a lady who runs a PR company who said can she be of any use to us.”

Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) is now engaging consultants to help it oppose Cuadrilla at the reopened public inquiry.

The group said it spent tens of thousands of pounds on consultants at the original inquiry, which ran for five weeks in February and March. A team of about 12 people from villages neighbouring the site worked on the case, some of them full-time around the inquiry.

Lorry route “unsuitable and unsafe”

One of the key points in RAG’s argument was that the proposed route of heavy goods vehicles (pictured above) was unsafe. It went along narrow rural roads, which were also used by cyclists, walkers and horse riders.

The inspector’s report, released on Thursday, concluded there were “inherent physical deficiencies” in the route.

The inspector, Wendy McKay, said concerns about the safety of people using the route “have not been adequately addressed by the proposed mitigation” and she said the route was “unsuitable for its intended purpose”.

Ms McKay concluded:

“In the absence of satisfactory mitigation measures, I am unable to conclude that the use of the preferred route would represent a safe and sustainable approach.  The proposed development would have a serious and very significant adverse impact on the safety of people using the public highway. The demonstrable harm that would result would not be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level.”

Mrs Richardson said the final decision on Roseacre Wood would have implications for other rural shale gas sites across the country.

“The Secretary of State knows if he dismisses this one that every single country location that’s not near a main road will use the same argument to try to get it defeated. If they want to exploit shale gas in the UK they can’t afford for that to happen.

“If Roseacre can get a win [and the application is refused] on the traffic issue there’s quite a lot of communities that could be in the same boat.”

“Get out of jail free card”

In allowing Cuadrilla another opportunity to make its case, the Secretary of State has given them a ‘get out of jail free card’, Mrs Richardson said.

“It’s like they’ve been given another bite of the cherry. They’re trying to put a square peg into a round hole. They’re trying to shove something in and completely disregarding local road safety.

“But what rabbits are Cuadrilla likely to pull out of the hat. What can they do to bypass what are already significant issues relating to the route? I don’t know. Unless they’re going to drop something on us that we’re not expecting.”

Mrs Richardson criticised other aspects of the planning system which she described as unfair.

“We’re just ordinary people who just haven’t got the resources that Cuadrilla have got.”

RAG has raised thousands of pounds and individual committee members had contributed from their own funds, she said. But the experience had taken its toll on campaigners.

“I think they [the government] deliberately drag it out because they know that people get tired and a lot of people go by the wayside. We’re physically and mentally exhausted.”

She also criticised the system for restricting what the inspector could consider in making her decision. Ms McKay disagreed with RAG that the application should be refused because of its impact on noise and the landscape. She concluded that because the application was for five years it counted as temporary.

But Mrs Richardson said:

“There’s an elderly couple who have a caravan park in Roseacre village. They’ve already been told by their customers who’ve been coming year after year that if Cuadrilla starts drilling and fracking down the road they won’t be coming back. They’ll go to some other caravan site. The inspector says ‘Yes the site will impact on some local businesses but there’s only a few and it’s only temporary’. But it’s not to Marshall and his wife. It’s not a temporary thing. It could well ruin their business.”

“Not a single minister has deigned to come and speak to us”

RAG has written to the local MP, Mark Menzies, urging him to arrange a meeting between ministers and villagers. Mrs Richardson said:

“Not a single minister has deigned to come and speak to us, the people they say who matter. But they’ll listen to the oil and gas lobbyists who have got millions to spend on that. I think it’s extremely discourteous not to talk to us or to engage with us. The reason is they’ve already made up their own minds.”

She said RAG would defend Roseacre Wood and support campaigners against Cuadrilla’s site at Preston New Road and other shale gas proposals. Asked what she would do, she said:

“We’re not being listened to so it’s things like protests. I’m not saying I’d do anything illegal. But we will be there on the streets with our banners and whatever we can to try to stop it.

“We’re going to continue to lobby politicians and put pressure on them. We’re going to continue to influence public opinion and make people aware and help them fight it. The fight goes on.”

Asked whether she thought the Secretary of State would eventually approve Roseacre Wood, she said:

“My gut tells me that they’ll railroad it, whatever we do.”

But she added:

“If they do, we’ll make their lives hell.

“We will make it difficult for them. Everything that they do we’ll be watching them every way and make sure that we protect everybody, as best we can.”

31 replies »

  1. What has happened in Lancashire is wrong and undemocratic. I am sure many people will sit up and take note of this as it is very worrying. More people will sympathise and support the people of Lancashire. I certainly do.

  2. From the National Grid’s winter outlook (well worth a read). The Grid believes gas will be cheaper than coal for electricity generation this winter, however the operator also said, from November onwards the price difference between gas and coal will become narrower which may increase competition between the two fuel types. In other words you will need a backup fossil fuel for a while yet and if you have less gas you get coal. Sorry that’s the way it is.

    • ‘you will need a backup fossil fuel for a while yet’

      Please explain what is going to happen in ‘a while’ and when is the start of the ‘while’ and what is at the end of the ‘while’

      Every renewable project that comes online means less gas/coal burn’t. That’s the way it is.

      Are you worried that we ‘only’ have 20 billion plus barrels of home grown North sea oil and gas left and that it may magically disappear?
      Are you worried that the 440,000 skilled workforce that know how to extract it may all suddenly die?
      Are you worried that our secure contracted Norwegian gas supplies might suddenly dry up or the permanent pipes which supply it might be damaged beyond repair?
      Are you worried that our multiple modern LNG terminals might vanish?
      Do you believe the countries that export LNG (including Norway) may suddenly turn off the tap and decide they no longer like making money?
      Do you believe that wind turbines and solar panels do not make electricity and that all renewable energy companies run at a loss?

      If you believe the answers to the above is ‘Yes’ then you should be concerned about UK energy security. If the answer is ‘No’ then you need not worry or need to support an onshore shale gas industry.

      Information on North sea reserves, workforce, recent seismic testing, etc all readily available on internet. Norwegian contracts and numbers also readily available. Output from renewable sources also readily available. Information on UK LNG ports, capacity, workforce, Infrastructure,pricing etc also readily available.

      Well worth a read

  3. Roads are purposedly built not just for recreational horse rider, cyclists but to be shared between cars, trucks and other legal users of this public national infrastructure. They don’t belong to a particular group of users or community. The cyclists can just let the truck pass by move on to the side for a couple minutes. Surely the truck will slow down or someone will from the truck will get out and coordinate the safe passing of the truck while the cyclist stand by the road for a couple of minutes.

    • But TW, you miss the point here. Why should national energy security and fuel poverty issues matter more than biker access to a local lane? Barbara Richardson is a fire breathing dragon over this, and the government should take note!

      • But you too miss the point. We already have national energy security and there is no such thing as fuel poverty in the UK.

        It may interest you to know that
        ‘ Unclassified – local roads intended for local traffic. The vast majority (60%) of roads in the UK fall within this category. ‘ Note the word LOCAL.

        Click to access road-classification-guidance.pdf

        • Already have national energy security? Really? Get your head out of the ground, Sherwulfe. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/12175367/UK-energy-supply-forecasts-into-the-red-for-first-time-next-winter.html

          No such thing as fuel poverty? Perhaps you should tell that to the 10-15k in the UK who will die this winter because they cannot afford to heat their homes, Sherwulfe. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/fuel-poverty-killed-15000-people-last-winter-10217215.html

          There is a very real and direct relationship between mortality rates and energy costs. So, just keep this in mind as you politic for expensive renewable energy generation. More windmills and solar panels means more death for those who live in fuel poverty. It’s sad, and it is no joking matter.

          • Hball-There is a very real and direct relationship between the full content of a report and the outcome of the findings.

            If you care to read the FULL content of your articles…. With regard to the first one on energy generation…..
            A spokesman for National Grid said its forecasts were “not an indication that there will be supply problems next year” and stressed that
            they did not include the 3.6GW of reserve plants or imports.


            A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the data “does not reflect the situation for next winter as it fails to include extra capacity secured by National Grid or the contribution of inter connectors

            Regarding the second article.

            This is about the Conservatives reducing energy saving measures.

            Can you confirm that you are offering support to a UK shale gas Industry?

            These articles have no content in them that indicate that

            US shale Industry ticking over nicely.


          • First of all we will clarify the article of 2015 (your link) in the Independent. The article itself was about a Tory pledge to insulate homes. A positive. Did it get done , I wonder? However the figures given were an increase in deaths over the period in question and were only speculative in the attribution to ‘cold homes’. There was and is no hard evidence.

            As we ALL know in the UK people do not die from lack of fuel. Indeed the terms ‘fuel poverty’ and ‘national energy security’ are both misleading. The interpretation of both would be a lack of fuel available. We know this is not true. If you have money and throw the switch for your energy or fire up your boiler and nothing happens….that is fuel poverty. This does not occur in the UK.

            However, as I have said many times before and you strangely chose to ignore, when you have no money and you cannot pay for the your energy or fire up your boiler even though there is a supply, this is monitory poverty. This occurs when governments implement ridiculous austerity policies that penalize our elderly and those who are unable to cope with our system, who would otherwise need additional help, but are alone due to social care cuts or families that are broken. There are also a small number of folk who mismanage their money and are left without.

            ‘There is a very real and direct relationship between mortality rates and energy costs’. If this is indeed true, and I’m sure you can provide peer reviewed facts figures to support this, unfortunately shale gas being one of the most expensive extraction techniques and with additional hidden costs to communities, will not help anyone.

            ‘More windmills and solar panels means more death for those who live in fuel poverty.’ Actually they are wind turbines, windmill were buildings to grind corn or pump water. I have a wind generator and solar panels. They work fine and by using these I save the burning of fossil fuel. Others have solar panels, insulation, use energy smart and others buy in green energy; all saving fossil fuel burn. The result of this? More reserves available.

            ‘It’s sad, and it is no joking matter.’ It’s sad and definitely no joking matter that you discourage clean energy production based on current climate change escalation forecasts due to fossil fuels; perpetuate the myth that fossil fuel is good for you and we are running out of this resource, only because you want to make money for yourself at the expense of others. At the end of ‘the game’ you love to refer to, because of this it will actually be YOU who will be the cause of many deaths.

            My head is not in the ground Peeny, it’s looking in the opposite direction, to the sun and the wind. It is you who has your head and money in the bowels of the Earth….

            • “monitory”? It’s not a word, Sherwulfe.

              Deny, deny, deny. The fact is that expensive renewable policies kill people and no person who argues from logic will deny such (you will deny such).

              I’m sure you are quite comfortable, Sherwulfe, living in your nice warm home that uses solar panels and wind generation, but much of the country cannot afford the inefficient systems which you employ. But you like to impose your beliefs on others, and wish to deny low cost energy to those who desperately need it. It’s an incredibly selfish stance that you take.

              If you think that fracking is such an expensive technology, how do you reconcile this stance that the US has some of the lowest gas prices in the world and that gas is predominantly supplied by fracking? Hmmmmmm?

              • I have found a link between the US shale gas industry and Blackpool

                It is the design curve of the famous ‘ Big One’ at Blackpool.

                The ride starts off relating to gas prices around 2011.
                59 seconds in relates to the result of the US trying in vain to take market share away from OPEC.
                All down hill from there except little blips as OPEC maximise on volume sales as rusting frack rigs are picked up only to be put back down a few dollars later.
                Note the hands of the investor who is riding in the front carriage. Fairly loose drip to start. Rigid and shaking by the end.

                compared to output trends in


                Maybe the real profit is in the wrist band sales to investors

                • Great write up by Stephen Tindale, former leader of Greenpeace, in the Sun. Some quotes for everyone:
                  “Anti-fracking campaigners like to say that shale gas extraction will destroy the environment. That’s simply not true. As long as the industry is effectively regulated, it will be an important part of the greenest option for the coming decades”

                  “So shale gas is good for meeting our energy needs. It’s good for protecting the environment. And it’s good for human rights.”

                  “But over the past decade, regulations have been tightened and the evidence is now clear that while there are some local impacts, they are not the devastating consequences that campaigners warn of.”


                • Interesting that you get all excited about 1 persons opinion. The current stance of Greenpeace is that they don’t support fracking.

                  The same stance as the Labour movement, the liberal Democrats, SNP, the Green party, Unite, and the majority of the UK population.
                  He is the ex head of Greenpeace and does not speak for the movement.

                  While tens of thousands turn against fracking a few appear to support.

            • Sherwulfe, here’s the former head of Greenpeace saying that you are absolutely bonkers out of your mind crazy:

              “Anti-fracking campaigners like to say that shale gas extraction will destroy the environment. That’s simply not true. As long as the industry is effectively regulated, it will be an important part of the greenest option for the coming decades”

              “So shale gas is good for meeting our energy needs. It’s good for protecting the environment. And it’s good for human rights.”

              “But over the past decade, regulations have been tightened and the evidence is now clear that while there are some local impacts, they are not the devastating consequences that campaigners warn of.”


              • Peeny. I have read right through the article and appreciate everyone has their own opinion. I expect there may be more chapters to this story.

                ‘Sherwulfe, here’s the former head of Greenpeace saying that you are absolutely bonkers out of your mind crazy’
                Oh, and have checked. There is no reference to ‘the former head of Greenpeace’ saying that anywhere in the article. Another misleading statement by you.

        • fracking is not going to provide national energy security and it won’t reduce fuel poverty, if cyclists have to dismount to allow a truck to pass, it might be that the truck is too big for that road, what if there is a truck coming the other way, what if there is a truck and cyclists going the other way , what if there are two trucks, several cyclists and a herd of cows going to be milked and some ramblers

    • A professional US study into the damage and costs to the transport network that could be expected in NYS if fracking was allowed to develop. Along with reports on health risks and shaky economics is it any wonder they said no. Bottom of page 7 regarding full field development if you do not want to read through. Neither investors or UK Tax payers would want to pick up this tab.

      Click to access Transportation-Impacts-Paper-LEAKED%5B1%5D.pdf

      Does not really sit comfortably with rural village road systems now does it.

  4. Maybe use an escort car or motorbike as the truck enter this stretch of road and run a head of the truck to coordinate the passing of the truck amd warning of cyclist ahead.

      • LOL. I also suspect that’s what the truckie want rather than the escort car. Are you offering the supply chain there Sherwulfe? If that’s the case better get in the queue and list your contact with the shale gas supply chain.

        • 😉 I think you got the wrong end of the stick!
          Talking ‘walking accompaniment’ from the residents and supporters who oppose…….

  5. AH THE nimbys I wonder if the roads would still be dangerous if all HGVs were banned from using them no deliveries full stop I bet they would soon sing a different tune & while we’re saving the planet we better cut off their gas supplies as we wouldn’t want them burning gas & polluting the air would we their argument is farcical its all ok if it suits them the fact that their gas is causing far mor pollution to the world because it has to be Liquified & shipped half way round the world using more fuel & energy to do so. while they burry their heads in the sand to the fact they are sitting on top of all the gas they need.

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