Top 10 posts of 2016

Bailiffs arrive

Half the 10 most viewed posts on DrillOrDrop this year were about a single company – IGas

The post at number 1 reported on the company’s decision in February to abandon its coal bed methane site at Upton, near Chester. At number 6 was the report on the eviction of a protection camp at the site, less than a month earlier.

Live updates on Nottinghamshire County Council’s meetings on IGas’s planning application at Misson – the first shale gas permission in the East Midlands – ranked at number 3 and 4.

The post on another application – Third Energy’s fracking plans for Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire – ranked number 5. Third Energy also featured at number 8 in a post about a protests against the company’s funder, Barclays.

DrillOrDrop’s interview with the prominent anti-fracking campaigner, Ian Crane, about his detention under the Terrorism Act, was the second most read post of the year. At number 9, was the report of another leading figure, Tina Rothery, when she refused to pay legal costs of more than £55,000 incurred by Cuadrilla in a long-running dispute.

Just one post made the top 10 from the six-week public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at Preston New and Roseacre Wood.

Here’s our top10 list of most-viewed posts on DrillOrDrop in 2016, starting with the best performer.

  1. IGas pulls out of Chester

5 February 2016

In a surprise move, IGas confirmed it would not drill for coal bed methane at its Dutton’s Lane site at Upton, nor at Salters Lane, Mickle Trafford, both near Chester. The company said neither site met its criteria for commercial development. The decision prompted criticism from the local MP and the Police and Crime Commissioner because it came 25 days after the eviction of a camp at Upton (see post number 6). Link to post

  1. Fracking opponent detained under the Terrorism Act

6 January 2016

Ian Crane told DrillOrDrop that he was detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 after he went through passport control at Exeter Airport. He said two plain clothes police officers told him it was a random check. He said he was interviewed for about an hour and then officers examined his phone for another hour. He was released without charge. The Network for Police Monitoring, Netpol, said the incident was further “alarming evidence” that opponents of fracking were being targeted as “domestic extremists”. Link to post

  1. Live updates from Misson shale gas decision day

5 October 2016

DrillOrDrop reported live from the meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council’s planning committee which was scheduled to decide the IGas application for drilling two shale gas wells at Springs Lane, Misson. The meeting adjourned before making decision after receiving a last-minute letter from Friends of the Earth. This concerned a restrictive covenant which, the charity said, applied to the site and a neighbouring nature reserve. The council decided to take legal advice before voting on the application. Link to post

  1. Live updates: IGas shale plans for Springs Road, Misson approved

15 November 2016

Nottinghamshire’s planning committee reconvened over a month later to decide the IGas application for Springs Road. DrillOrDrop reported live on the discussion and the vote, by seven in favour and four against. The decision was the first approval of a shale gas site in the East Midlands. Link to post

  1. Live updates from Decision Day on Third Energy fracking plans

23 May 2016

DrillOrDrop also reported live from the meeting of North Yorkshire’s planning committee which decided Third Energy’s plans to frack at Kirby Misperton. This post from the second day included the final vote, by seven in favour and four against, which came at 6.51pm. Over the two days, councillors heard statements from 73 people against the application and 15 in favour. Link to post

  1. Live updates on eviction of Upton protection camp

12 January 2016

At 9.56am, there were reports of large numbers of police at the site. An hour later, Cheshire Police confirmed the road had closed and at 11.13am the force tweeted that High Court officials had moved onto the site to enforce an eviction order. By just after 5pm, the camp had been cleared of people. Nine people were arrested. At trials later this year, the cases against five people were dismissed. Another two were found guilty and an eighth person was acquitted. The final trial is due to go ahead next year. Link to post

  1. What’s happening when at Cuadrilla’s fracking inquiry?

4 February 2016

This post gave a day-day preview of the public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s application to frack for shale gas at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood in the Fylde area of Lancashire. The inquiry at Blackpool Football Club eventually ran to 19 days and heard from 26 expert witnesses and 143 members of the public. Link to post

  1. Fracking protest sees Ryedale mother and daughter set up home in Barclays

24 October 2016

Nicky Hollins and her daughter Ruby attracted international attention when they installed a sofa, plants and coffee table at a branch of Barclays in York. They said they wanted to bring home their opposition to the bank’s investment in Third Energy, which by then had permission to frack at Kirby Misperton (see post 5). Link to post

  1. Anti-fracking campaigner tells court “I won’t pay Cuadrilla’s £55k legal bill

24 June 2016

Several hundred people gathered at Blackpool Law Courts when the prominent anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery, was ordered to provide information about her finances. She faced legal costs of more than £55,000 in a long-running legal dispute with Cuadrilla. Miss Rothery told the court she would not comply with the order because she regarded the action as an abuse of the court. She was later ruled to be in contempt of court and threatened with prison but the case was discharged just before Christmas (see runners-up, number 2). Link to post

  1. Leaked letter reveals Government plan to take over fracking decisions

31 January 2016

A leaked letter by the then secretaries of state for energy, environment and local government, confirmed that the government proposed to take decisions on fracking away from local councils. The letter, sent to the then chancellor, George Osborne, was written days after Lancashire County Council refused permission to Cuadrilla to frack in the Fylde. It proposed classifying shale gas sites as nationally significant infrastructure. Link to post

And the runners-up were …

11. Cuadrilla accused of “aggressive and sustained” pursuit of costs against anti-fracking campaigner facing jail (7 December 2016)

12. Breaking: No jail for anti-fracking campaigner, Tina Rothery – case discharged (9 December 2016)

13. No national limits on density of fracking sites, says Minister (15 June 2016)

14. Judgement reserved in High Court challenge over fracking in North Yorkshire (23 November 2016)

15. UK MPs put on legal notice of fracking risks (26 April 2016)

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