Politics

Lancs fracking site not safe, sustainable or supported, local councillor tells MPs

cyclists-large-group

Photo: Roseacre Awareness Group

Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at Roseacre Wood are neither safe, sustainable nor supported, a parish councillor told politicians yesterday.

Gordon Smith, a member of Treales, Roseacre and Wharles Parish Council, made his comments during evidence to a session on community impacts at the All Party Parliamentary Group on shale gas regulation and planning.

He said councillors had “initially in ignorance” supported a shale gas application in 2010, which received permission but was not implemented.

Members changed their minds, he said, when Cuadrilla applied to drill, frack and test four wells at Roseacre Wood in 2014.

“As a council, we have worked hard to understand the benefits and adverse impacts arising from fracking.

“We concluded that the applications before us are not sustainable, they are not safe and they are not supported. They unacceptably adversely affect our community.”

The Roseacre Wood proposals were refused in 2015 by Lancashire County Council and this year were recommended for refusal by the inspector at a planning inquiry. Last month, the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced he was minded to approve the application if concerns about road safety could be addressed and he reopened the inquiry.

Cllr Smith said the parish council believed the application was not safe because the government had not implemented all the safety recommendations made by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, along with others made by Public Health England, the Committee on Climate Change and the Director of Public Health for Lancashire.

He said the application were not sustainable because the approval of heavy industrial processes in the countryside was against the National Planning Policy Framework. He said the application did not follow the government’s strategy of siting shale gas developments in areas supported by the local authority.

“Dismissed and ignored”

Cllr Smith added:

“[The application] is not supported because we’ve not been asked about whether we want it. Despite our attempts to communicate, we get no engagement. We have been dismissed and ignored.”

“We know that the government shale gas strategy indicates that it wants to engage local community and have transparency.

“Despite making multiple attempts to engage with government, through the efforts of our MP, Mark Menzies, we have found that we have been denied any reply or these replies do not answer the questions.”

Kevin Hollinrake

The APPG’s chairman, Kevin Hollinrake (left), asked Cllr Smith whether the council would support shale gas if safety recommendations had been implemented and the site locations were appropriate.

Mr Smith said there was a lack of trust and confidence in regulators.

“We know that the government is directing regulators to promote shale gas. We know that local authorities are not in a position to enforce and manage the conditions. There is not a sound regulatory framework.”

He said the regulator should be answerable to parliament, rather than government.

Mr Hollinrake, whose North Yorkshire constituency includes the fracking site at Kirby Misperton, asked if there were any conditions under which the parish council would support shale gas exploration.

Cllr Smith replied:

“If you are saying that there’s a magic wand that makes everything perfect then of course it would go ahead. But we are talking about reality. As things stand today, there are things that could be controlled by the government that haven’t been. It is not supported and it is not safe.”

Mr Hollinrake put it to him: “In a perfect world, you would support shale gas?”

Cllr Smith replied:

“In a perfect world, any development would be supported if it complied with the regulations but we don’t have that world.”

Alternative sites

He said shale gas companies had shown that they could drill horizontally for up to 11km. They were no longer constrained by geology, he said, and it was no longer necessary to drill for oil and gas exactly where it was found.

He said the parish council had identified alternative suitable sites to Roseacre Wood. They had direct access to the motorway network, connections to utilities, communications infrastructure, 24-hour operations and planning permission for heavy industry. But he said:

“None of these have been considered, never mind rejected, by the applicant.”

  • Campaigners from Cuadrilla’s other fracking site at Preston New Road – approved by Mr Javid last month – attended the APPG but said they were disappointed that they had not been asked to speak.

Pennsylvania mother urges UK politicians to insist on 1-mile gap between children and fracking sites

19 replies »

  1. Mr Hollinrake put it to him: “In a perfect world, you would support shale gas?”

    Desperate attempts to gain support.

    Does he mean if it does not emit methane, emit carbon dioxide when burnt, use millions of gallons of water, require thousands of heavy tanker movements, does not need hundreds of sites in greenbelt next to peoples homes, does not require toxic chemicals to maximise gas yields, does not produce radioactive and toxic flowback, never pollutes air, water, or land and is the cheapest fuel source.

    Well, so long as none of the above, then yes, shale would be good for the UK and the tens of thousands who oppose the industry, the Labour party, the unite union, the liberal party, the SNP, the green party, green peace, friends of the earth etc will likely change their stance.

    Bit of work to do yet Kevin

  2. Well it seems the enquiry launched by the Scottish government doesn’t seem to agree with Mr Smith, at least according to the UKOOG site.

    Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said:

    “The studies by experts including Health Protection Scotland, KPMG and the British Geological Survey, clearly demonstrate the case for lifting the moratorium on unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland.

    “The experts show that the Scottish economy could benefit by over £11bn including up to £6.5 billion of spending in Scotland, creating over 3000 much needed jobs from unconventional oil and gas development and meeting up to 18 years of current Scottish gas consumption. This excludes the additional and important economic benefits to the chemical industry in Scotland including Grangemouth. In addition, local communities could be expected to receive up to £1bn in community benefits. The risks for issues like seismicity are said to be low, there is “inadequate evidence” of any detrimental health impacts and in all cases the risks can be mitigated by good industry practice – much of which is already in place – with industry guidance already published – and the strong regulation.”

    I guess the Scottish government realises the importance of investing in onshore energy resources as part of their effort to develop a strong independent Scottish economy.

    BTW just to repeat, that’s an expectation of £1bn pounds of community benefits. If we read across to the Fylde or Yorkshire then that equals a lot of new schools, hospitals etc. If the local communities invested as much effort into negotiating a good deal with the developers as they do into Luddite opposition then the future for the areas would look a lot brighter.

    • I wonder where ukoog get their figures from.

      Multiple sources including industry backers Centrica have shown UK shale production costs far greater than the market price of all of 2015 and 2016.

      Are ukoog saying Centrica, EY, Bloomberg and the Oxford Institute have got their sums wrong?

      Why is the US output dropping dramatically?
      Why is the US rig count down by 70%?
      How much extra would ‘gold standards cost’?

      The Scottish Government will do the maths.

      BTW just to repeat, Multiple sources including industry backers Centrica have shown UK shale production costs far greater than the market price of all of 2015 and 2016.

    • The risks for issues like seismicity are said to be low, there is “inadequate evidence” of any detrimental health impacts and in all cases the risks can be mitigated by good industry practice .
      _
      Lack of evidence of detrimental health impacts doesn’t mean there aren’t any just that there has never been any long term health impacts conducted. Strange that , don’t ya think?
      Gold standard regulation is unenforceable. That’s already been established.
      Lastly, money isn’t worth it if you don’t have your health.

  3. We should not allow the all parliamentary group for unconventional oil and gas to be so blatantly in the pocket of the oil and Gas Industry.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/unconventional-oil-and-gas.htm

    Councillor Smith rightly has not trust in government on these issues.

    Very selective quoting there Mark…

    Just copying and pasting Ruth’s key points from the reports… fracking is going to see a lot more delays at best and the more we research, the more stench is uncovered.

    Evidence of cancer-causing crystalline silica used in fracking posed a risk to workers
    Fracking on a significant scale is not compatible with Scottish climate change targets unless three tests are met
    Unconventional oil and gas could represent 0.1% of the Scottish GDP (central estimate)
    Each shale gas well pad could require 13,000-93,000 vehicle movements over 20 years
    The risk of induced earthquakes in the shale areas of central Scotland are low
    There is a gap in regulations requiring long-term mechanism and responsibility for wells

    Fracking is going to see a lot more delays at best and the more we research, the more stench is uncovered…. it’s death by a thousand cuts.

    • Mr M. If you knew the conditions of these lanes you would realise it won’t be Sajid Javid tidying up the paperwork it will be the emergency services sweeping up the pieces. Your comment just demonstrates the contempt and complete disregard fracking supporters have for local residents. So much for ‘engaging with the community.’

      • Pauline give me a break . I live in a rural area that has industry dotted throughout and HGVs are part and parcel. Your arguments are going to really have to move up a notch or several for people like myself to listen. The anti frackers movement is so far pathetic and I’ve listened to nearly every single argument put fwd. The test drilling of fracking is 100% inevitable. The only way we won’t proceed further is if we don’t find what we’re looking for when we drill.
        Don’t worry it’s not going to hurt anywhere near as much as is being made out by the doomsday merchants.

        • Mr M . Sajid Javid intends reopening the Inquiry into Roseacre Wood in order to give Cuadrilla yet another go at trying to defend the indefensible on highway safety. He is replacing Wendy McKay, the Planning Inspector who listened to almost six weeks of evidence and personally visited all the sites, because she had the professional judgement to recommend refusal of Roseacre Wood on highway safety grounds, just as Lancashire County Highways Department, Lancashire County Council Planners and democratically elected County Councillors before her. Sajid Javid says he is replacing her because ‘she has made up her mind.’ In other words he’s leaned on her but she won’t put lives in danger just to suit Cuadrilla and the government.
          Mr Javid no doubt intends to appoint a tame puppet as Inspector this time. Perhaps he will be offering you the job of Planning Inspector since you are so well informed about local conditions and regard public safety as irrelevant and just so much collateral damage.

    • The risks for issues like seismicity are said to be low, there is “inadequate evidence” of any detrimental health impacts and in all cases the risks can be mitigated by good industry practice .
      _
      Lack of evidence of detrimental health impacts doesn’t mean there aren’t any just that there has never been any long term health impacts conducted. Strange that , don’t ya think?
      Gold standard regulation is unenforceable. That’s already been established.
      Lastly, money isn’t worth it if you don’t have your health.

  4. Silicia problem is similar to builder and sand based industry. Why should it be only a major concern for fracking workers. Anyway tens of thousands of workers on USA fracking sites don’t demonstrate a cluster of illnesses.

  5. “In a perfect world …” everything would be perfect, so there would be no need for shale gas or the intractable problems it brings for local communities, the environment and the climate. What an extraordinary question this was, and it is astonishing how hard Mr Hollinrake tried again and again to put words in the Councillor’s mouth at this APPG meeting, so presumably he could then go away and quote that the Parish Council is in favour as long as it is regulated properly. Watch out for these quotes from him and others as time goes on.
    It is also unsustainable how much faith Mr Hollinrake has that regulations can ‘make everything perfect’, when all evidence points to the opposite – see the testimony from Amy Nassif on another Drill or Drop posting (where they were also promised ‘gold-standard’ regulations). Mr Hollinrake never reads reports given to him by constituents that contradict his belief that regulation can make everything OK, or wavers from his belief that everything the oil and gas industry tell him is always true.
    And the fact that representatives from the Preston New Road community, where fracking was approved when Sajid Javid overturned the Lancs CC decision recently, were not even invited to speak, is a shocking testament to the aims of this APPG.
    In a perfect world thousands of people up and down the country would not have to spend their time fighting this unwanted, unnecessary and unsafe industry … but – as we found out this week – the world is far from perfect.

    • Well said. Sadly that’s how things have been done in the US too … overriding of any local objections and sidelining of damming evedence, or rendering it as inadmissible when it comes to the crucial decision-making meetings. New areas get told ‘things will be different here – new circumstances, better regulation’ etc, but they never are.

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