Climate change becomes fracking’s legal battle ground


The ministerial approval of plans for shale gas exploration in Lancashire is being challenged in the courts on climate change grounds.

The Local Government Secretary granted planning permission on 6 October 2016 for Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool.

This overruled the refusal by Lancashire County Council 15 months earlier, but followed the recommendation of the inspector at a 19-day planning inquiry.

Mr Javid’s decision is now the subject of two statutory challenges.

One, brought by Gayzer Frackman, a Lancashire anti-fracking campaigner (pictured above), claims the minister failed to comply with European law on the climate change effects of shale gas. DrillOrDrop plans to report in future on the other case, brought by Preston New Road Action Group, and a further challenge on Mr Javid’s ruling on Cuadrilla’s second Lancashire site at Preston New Road.

Conflicting regulation

Mr Frackman’s case, expected to go to the High Court in the Spring, centres on when the effects of hydrocarbon production on climate change should be assessed and whether regulation can control effectively the impacts on public health. It is expected to challenge arguments often used in support of oil and gas planning applications.

According to case papers seen by DrillOrDrop, the Secretary of State (described as the 1st defendant) will argue that shale gas is consistent with the aim of the UK planning policy to support the transition to a low carbon future. His case is that the Lancashire sites represented “a positive contribution towards the reduction of carbon” and so should have been approved.

The Secretary of State has relied on the Planning Policy Guidance on minerals (PPGM) in arguing that the climate change impacts of shale gas production should not be considered at this stage because Cuadrilla sought permission only for exploration.

Paragraph 120 of PPGM states:

“Individual applications for the exploratory phase should be considered on their own merits. They should not take account of hypothetical future activities for which consent has not yet been sought, since the further appraisal and production phases will be the subject of separate planning applications and assessments.”

Mr Frackman, the claimant, is expected to argue that the Secretary of State failed to consider cumulative effects, including those of shale gas production, on climate change and public health when he made his decision. The minister may not have granted planning permission if he had not made this and other errors, the claimant has argued.

Specifically, the claimant is expected to say the failure to consider cumulative effects was contrary to the European Union Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive.

The directive requires that developers provide “a description of the likely significant effects of the proposed project”. A footnote in an annex explains:

“this description should cover the direct effects and any indirect, secondary, cumulative, short, medium and long-term, permanent, temporary, positive and negative effects of the project”.

The claimant has argued:

“For the purpose of compliance with the EIA Directive, the cumulative effects should have included the likely effects of commercial shale gas production; and the 1st Defendant [the Secretary of State] erred in law by limiting the environmental assessment to the exploration proposals for which planning permission was sought”.

Is shale gas production an indirect, secondary or cumulative effect?

The papers suggest that the Secretary of State will argue that commercial shale gas production cannot

“reasonably be considered to be an indirect, secondary or cumulative effect of the application”.

But the claimant has argued that the Secretary of State relied in granting permission on the conclusion that “the projects represent a positive contribution towards the reduction of carbon”.

“The 1st Defendant could only logically reach the conclusion that the projects represent a ‘positive contribution’ by taking into account the commercial shale gas production to which the exploration phase is designed to lead. This has to be so, because the exploratory phase of the developments will not, of itself, lead to any reduction in the carbon intensity of the UK energy supply, it will only increase greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

“The 1st defendant cannot lawfully consider the cumulative positive impacts of a project while turning a blind eye to the cumulative negative impacts”.

End products and salami slicing

The claimant is also expected to support his case with a decision from the European Court of Justice on what should be included in environmental impact assessments.

The ruling in the 2008 case of Abraham v Region Wallone said an EIA should include impacts

“liable to result from the use and exploitation of the end product of works”.

The claimant argued that the EIA for Preston New Road should have included the impacts of the commercial exploitation of shale gas – the end-product of exploration – as well as the direct effects of exploration itself.

The Abraham case also ruled that EIAs should be carried out early as possible to identify and assess all the effects which the project may have on the environment.

According to the papers, the Secretary of State appears to have discounted the use of the Abraham ruling, arguing that it dealt only with what is known as “unlawful splitting” or “salami slicing” of development.

But the claimant has responded:

“It is a type of ‘salami slicing’ to deal with the exploration stage in a vacuum, separate from the envisaged production to which the exploration is designed to lead and as though exploration were an end in itself.

“Exploration does not take place where it is recognised that recoverable reserves of a natural resource could not be exploited for production, be it for a commercial reason or because of the unacceptable environmental impact of production”.

“The effect of separating the exploration stage for hydrocarbons from their production is to require the decision-maker to be blind to relevant information about the impact of the production stage”.

Can the impacts of production be known?

According to pre-action correspondence, the defence is likely to argue it would be impossible to assess the future impacts of commercial shale gas production.

But the claimant is expected to respond that Cuadrilla must have developed a business case for its Lancashire shale gas sites, setting out the level of production needed for the projects to be profitable.

“Otherwise it would not be possible for Cuadrilla to judge whether the data received through testing of the sites showed that the recoverable reserves would be commercially viable.”

The papers refer to a witness statement made on 8 December 2016 by Francis Egan, the chief executive of Cuadrilla. In it he stated that the company would invest more than £40.5m on exploration and testing at the Preston New Road site.

The claimant argued:

“Such investment would not otherwise be approved or justified unless Cuadrilla considered that there was at least a reasonable prospect of progressing to shale gas production.

“It would clearly be possible with sufficient certainty necessary for EIA to predict the likely GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions arising from production at such a level.”

National policy or individual decisions?

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change was reached a day before the Secretary of State announced his decision in October last year.

But according to the papers, the Secretary of State has argued that the relationship between shale gas extraction and international climate change obligations was a matter for future national policy and not for planning decisions.

In contrast, the Claimant has argued there is nothing in legislation, ministerial statements or planning policy that absolve the Secretary of State from the responsibility of considering the cumulative impacts on climate change likely to arise from granting planning permission.

Precautionary principle

The case will also challenge whether the Secretary of State applied the precautionary principle when deciding if all potential impacts on public health from the development would be effectively controlled by regulators.

In the papers, the claimant refers to the 2014 autumn statement in which the government allocated £5m to provide independent evidence to the public about the “robustness” of existing shale gas regulations.

The claimant has requested disclosure of the independent evidence. According to the papers, the Secretary of State refused, replying:

“You do not explain how this relates to your proposed grounds of challenge. It does not. As such, your request is no more than a fishing expedition”.

The Secretary of State accepted the conclusion of the planning inspector that all potential impacts on health and wellbeing associated with exploration would be reduced to an acceptable level.

But the claimant is expected to argue that Secretary of State could not

“rationally and lawfully reach the conclusion that the regulatory regime system would operate effectively so as to ensure that the proposed development would not have an unacceptable impact on public health and wellbeing”.

“Without the independent evidence, which the Government indicated in its 2014 Autumn Statement it would produce to demonstrate the robustness of the existing shale gas regulatory regime, the claimant contends that the 1st defendant had an obligation to dismiss the planning appeals or alternatively adjourn them pending the provision of such evidence.”

  • Gayzer Frackman is crowdfunding for his case on the CrowdJustice platform

85 replies »

  1. It is nonsense to grant planning permission on the basis that it must be assumed that all the relevant statutory organisations will operate effectively and therefore fracking will be safe. If that was the case, would we have last year only just avoided a catastrophic explosion in the North Sea gas field, because of poor maintenance over a 30 year period? Would Ineos have been prosecuted for health and safety failings at two plants and wouldn’t the EA have known about the problems at Cuadrilla’s Prees Hall site as soon as they had happened? Just these few examples that spring to mind show we do not have this regulatory utopia.

    Coal will have been phased out by 2025, fracking will not lower CO2 emissions as coal will already have gone. But fracking may increase methane levels. If we extract new reserves of fossil fuels, it will ultimately mean more fossil fuels will be burnt and that is bad for climate change.

    This government really needs to start to take climate change seriously, rather than paying lip service. Because the costs to us and future generations from the impacts of climate change will be enormous. Flooding, increased sea temperatures, raised sea levels, areas turning to desert etc etc. The poorest countries will suffer the worst impacts and the economic migrant crisis will increase. Climate change is global and it is the biggest threat we face, even the US military acknowledge this!

    I hope this action succeeds because irrespective of fracking, this government is underinvesting in climate change and not treating climate change seriously enough. Extracting further, new reserves of fossil fuels is reckless.

    • KatT, if you should argue for the opposite, that we should assume that regulations will not allow for safe operations of industrial operations, then how would any approvals be made? How would any industry continue?

      Have you seen the latest data on coal vs. gas? Coal is declining, and gas is taking its place. There are minor contributions from renewables, but the bulk of the difference is being made up by gas. Renewables have zero prospect of replacing coal by 2025, so is your suggestion that we allow people to freeze to death or that we promote the use of expensive, and more environmentally damaging imported gas? What is it going to be?

      If anything, many would argue that the government has taken climate change too seriously. I know that those who live in fuel poverty would likely have this perspective.

      • Thank you for your reply. That is absolutely not what I am saying. I am saying that coal will be gone by 2025 so gas, whether from fracking or imported will not further lower CO2 levels. There is a high risk that fracking would increase methane levels. I consider that we should import gas and/or use whatever North Sea Gas we may or may not have – until the carbon zero technologies mature. I am completely opposed to new reserves of unconventional gas being extracted when there is an abundance of hydrocarbons in the world. A fracking industry would not even be established until after 2025 and by 2030 the CCC and the Royal Academy agree that we should not be burning gas for energy without CCS. Given the undoubted progress of renewables, power storage and nuclear in this time, there is no justification for fracking as the UK’s dependence on gas should be reducing. CCS is unproven and prohibitively expensive on a large scale.
        I appreciate we cannot transition to a carbon zero economy overnight but fracking should play no part in our energy future – we have to get serious about combatting climate change.

        • Thank you KatT. First, the reserves in the UK aren’t new, they are approximately the same age as those that are being fracked elsewhere in the world. So, your objection must be to the fact that they have been discovered more recently?

          So, you claim to be concerned about the climate, and are especially sensitive to methane emissions. You admit that gas is going to be part of the energy mix for many years. But then you argue for using relatively high emissions, foreign gas over domestically sourced, lower emissions gas. Please expand on your thought process here.

          Do you believe that energy security should play a part in the decision? If not, why not. Do you believe that the economic arguments of domestic shale gas should be considered? It is obviously more expensive to buy gas that is transported long distances versus having a domestic gas supply. It is also true that sourcing gas from overseas would mean sending profits and lost tax revenue as well as jobs overseas. Do you believe that these factors should be considered?

          You doubt CCS as “unproven and prohibitively expensive on a large scale.” Yet could we not say the say the same of renewable energy storage technologies? Why are you so convinced of future progress on renewables, storage, and nuclear, and so doubtful about progress on CCS? It seems that CCS is being brought online at greater and greater scale all the time. It is also being done in a fashion that is economic. I do not believe we can say the same for renewables or storage technology.

          Please explain these apparent inconsistencies further. Thanks!

    • All should note that the Precautionary Principle, properly implemented, should also consider the risks of not taking the action under consideration. Most (including the national government) will argue that the risks of fracking are readily definable and controllable. The risks of not undertaking fracking are considerable, as it leaves the country with a gaping hole in its energy budget at a time it can ill afford it. It risks human health and safety. It risks energy security. It risks compromising air quality. The Precautionary Principle, properly applied, is a poor position for the esteemed Mr. Frackman.

        • Glad that you have found this so funny, Phil. But it is straight from the Wingspread statement on the Precautionary Principle which says: ” The statement defined the precautionary principle thus:

          When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

          In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

          The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.

          I also found these documents particularly enlightening, Phil.

          Click to access v25n4-9.pdf

          Happy reading!

          • Pearls of wisdom. I humbly await an example of how to apply this principle…

            Let’s say (hypothetically) that you are promoting a certain sort of activity and I have learned that that (in some far off land) your activity has bought much sickness and wailing and gnashing of teeth. For all your assurances that these things just don’t happen I keep seeing more and more examples that just make me wonder ‘how could this be?’. The science is conflicted and far from settled (as to causes) but the facts remain. In this country facts and observations count as prima facie evidence in the establishment of law. Undeniable observations, i.e. when there are several instances of similar observations then this becomes firm evidence whether or not the science has caught up with the underpinning explanations of cause and effect. Most events, judgements and findings are read in this light. Determinations have to be made (often, actually) because life has to go on, before related science gets settled. Prima Facie evidence or judgements based on observable facts, hold true unless and until some scientifically sound method of disproof arises to rule out any assumptions that could have led to a faulty judgement.

            Now some people, would-be scientists mainly, start jumping up and down saying that a fact is only a fact if it is a scientific fact and that these bad things couldn’t happen unless science said they could. That’s rather like saying the earth only started revolving around the sun when the the science told us that’s what’s happening.

            To quote you “The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.” Sounds wise to me.

  2. Poor Gayzer. Anyone who has spent more than two minutes in Brussels with anyone other than FoE, knows that counter to narrative of both right and left, the Commission has always been very, very, very supportive of shale gas. They were way ahead of Cameron on this and basically had to shame him in to supporting shale. They have been frustrated by the antis at state level, but the strongest supporters of shale gas in Europe I know have been civil servant within the various DGs Business, Environment and right to the top. Donald Tusk was instrumental in the Polish shale efforts for example.

    • Excellent challenge. The industry has clearly stated it’s intention and scale of development. The cumulative effects should be considered.

      A Habitat Regulation Assessment is a European Directive to conserve natural habitats across Europe.

      If a planning application potentially threatens a natural habitat then a full assessment (HRA) is required.

      The first consideration of an HRA is to look at any ‘cumulative’ effect and any other ‘plans and projects in combination with’

      As most of the country is under licence for development it would be common sense to look at the cumulative effect on our ‘habitat’ from thousands of wells scattered around the British countryside.

    • With a name like Gayzer Frackman, what could go wrong? [Edited by moderator]
      And it’s not like another appeal against a fracking operation on climate change grounds has been shot down by a judge already. Oh, wait a minute.

      And it’s not like the entire fallacy upon which the anti-frack movement has been built was just struck down by the independent ASA. Oh, wait.

      And it’s not like the ASA’s ruling would impact the judge’s feelings about someone named “gayzer frackman”

      I’m sure it is going to work out really, really great for gayzer and his astonishing 2,999 crowdsourced pounds.

    • But the Polish shale effort along with Denmark failed and many European countries still have a ban in place so irrespective of the civil servants and Donald Tusk – shale is a fail 🙂

    • Disgusting treatment of a peaceful protester, is Jacqui one of those extremist terrorists that the pro frackers crow about? No, just another ordinary person standing up to Goliath. This is why people protest, dictatorial state, or ordinary people? People every time for me.

      • Disgusting and unsafe behaviour attempting to prevent a company going about its lawful business. She had plenty of opportunity to make her point and not get arrested. Hopefully she will be charged, found guilty and fined. Just like I would be if I walked down the road outside my house obstructing traffic and ignoring a Police Officer. Of course I am sure you will all chip in and pay her fine, probably not for me though?

        • Peaceful protest is not an offence, it never has been, most cases of this type are quietly dropped, the intention is to intimidate, prosecution reveals too much and is all ready discredited. if you were subject to injustice Paul i would defend you too. Justice is everyone’s right, wether I agree with your politics or not, that’s called democracy, innocent until proven guilty [edited by moderator].

          • So, Phil, you believe that the police committed an injustice for protecting the rights of Cuadrilla, and other people who wished to use the road at the time? Why is it that the anti-frackers are the only ones whose rights you think should be protected?

            • The police are there to protect the public who pay for them through their taxes. Cuadrilla have their finance in offshore tax havens and operate tax avoidance schemes. Who pays for this police protection of private companies? The British tax payer does, not you by the way you live in America, in your country you can be arrested for walking down the street. Do you know that in Britain it is the pedestrian that has the legal right of way not the vehicle? It is the vehicle which obstructs on a public right of way, ask the traffic police, hence the legal right for pedestrians to walk in front of a vehicle without hindrance.

              • Not according to the law, Phil. In the UK, the right to peaceful protest may be limited in situations where protest threatens to undermine the rights and freedoms of others.

                You haven’t answered my question. Why do you feel that the rights of the protesters should matter more than the rights of the general public who wish to use the road? Why should they matter more than the rights of Cuadrilla and its employees? You muttered something about taxes. Is the protection of rights in the UK proportionate to taxes paid? If so, can you please cite that statute for me?

                • Oh dear pennywise, no you are quite wrong. Hey! i just used two of your favourite words for the first time in any post!

                  Relax, sit down and read and learn, you obviously dont understand British Law. Incidentally in America, historically, all European settlers occupy land previously stolen from the native tribes, the natives had no concept of ownership, to a native you only owned the two pieces of land under your feet, and they werent too sure of that, To them all the universe was under the protection of Gitche Manitou meaning Great Spirit amongst many other names, no ownership, just responsible husbandry of the land. So i understand why you don’t know English Law.

                  What you have to remember is that all roads in the UK (apart from newly engineered roads like motorways and by-passes, etc.) grew up from footpaths, which in turn grew up from ancient rights of way, given by whoever owned the land. Often land was open and free of ownership and people could roam where they wished, only the partitioning behaviour in England changed that, but they could not overturn common Law, which is inalienable, even now.

                  Those rights of way have never been removed, so, legally, UK is in the same position as we were centuries ago – people on foot (and horseback) have a right to pass along the road. Motorists don’t (that’s why you need a licence – “licence” is a legal word meaning “permission”).

                  So, on a road which is a right of way, the pedestrian has priority, even if he’s walking in the middle of the road. That’s simply because he’s exercising his right of way, which, as a motorist, you don’t have.

                  Do you understand English Law regarding pedestrians now?

                • Pedestrians have the right of way in the US as well, Phil. But that right cannot be abused such that it infringes unreasonably on the rights of others who intend to use the road.

                  I am familiar with British law regarding protest.

                  “Article 11 is a qualified right and as such the right to protest and the freedom of association may be limited so long as the limitation:

                  is prescribed by law;
                  is necessary and proportionate; and
                  pursues a legitimate aim, namely:
                  the interests of national security or public safety;
                  the prevention of disorder or crime;
                  the protection of health or morals; or
                  the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
                  The requirement to give notice of plans to stage an assembly in advance will not necessarily breach the right to protest as long as notification doesn’t become a hidden obstacle to exercising freedom of assembly.”

            • oh dear pennywise, mutter is another of those English words you in America clearly do not understand,
              Mutter originates around 1325-75; Middle English is “moteren”, perhaps frequentative of “moot” (Old English “mōtian” to speak). So it simply means “speak” not a derogatory term as you think it is and used it incorrectly in your usual way. So i shall repeat what i said quite clearly as i did before,
              “Cuadrilla have their finance in offshore tax havens and operate tax avoidance schemes” There, is that clear enough? or am i still “speaking”
              “Is the protection of rights in the UK proportionate to taxes paid? If so, can you please cite that statute for me?” Can you state the Law (statutes are not law) which says that the British tax payer should pay for foriegn private corporations to infringe the rights of British citizens? if so can you please state that Law for me?

            • Oh how silly of you pennywise! Cuadrilla are only the public face in the UK of a much bigger organisation that has its funding overseas and they don’t pay any tax if they can avoid it,that’s why they have offshore accounts, the UK division will make sure they don’t make any accounting profit by creative accounting, just as all O & G industries do.
              And the the Highways act of 1980, Section 137. “To require that free passage on the highway is not willfully obstructed in any way.” refers more to pedestrians who have priority, licensed vehicles are intruders on a right of way.
              Americans are always years behind any event in UK, usually about 2 years.

              • Phil, you must work for Cuadrilla to have such insight into their corporate tax strategy? Who would’ve guessed? LOL. You haven’t the slightest clue of what you write, but that will surprise no one, will it?

                Yes, we Americans are always behind you trailblazers in the UK! That is why your country is the leader of the free world, and why you are exporting so much gas to us (and making such a handsome profit in the process). LOLOL! I lllllloooooooove it, Phil!

                • Still hallucinating pennywise? Surely you don’t think Trump is really President do you? What a bad trip! Next thing you will start believing fracking is a really good thing? But no, that would be too far fetched, even for you!

        • Rather harsh Paul, think of how many people have had to place themselves in a similar position so that you and I can enjoy rights and privileges that previously we were denied. This lady is not being violent or threatening but is prepared to make a stand for what she believes in. The government has hardly been even handed with regard to communities and public opinion on fracking. There has been an unprecedented amount of changes to planning laws, policies and statute to favour this industry, it is not surprising that local people feel they have been left with little choice but to take direct action. Consider the action of the SoS, especially in the Roseacre case, it is hardly reasonable.

          Just because something is lawful does not mean it is right. Whether it was opposition to the Poll Tax, equality, better working conditions etc. people have often had to step out of their comfort zone and make a stand. And I suspect had she not persisted, she would not have made her point. The arrest of Caroline Lucas gained far more publicity to raise the issues at Balcombe than it ever would have, had she not been arrested.

          I am not advocating that people get arrested and I appreciate that policing situations like this are not always easy, but this arrest will go nowhere. This lady will be either not charged as it is deemed not in the public interest or it will be dismissed at court. At the most, in the unlikely event of a conviction, it will only be a small fine. Policing public order situations such as this comes down to the tolerance of individual gold and silver command, which in respect of fracking has often been administered inconsistently.

  3. There will undoubtedly be a legal challenge/case, and/or a planning refusal appeal that will be viewed as the point at which punitive costs are given against the loser for creating the situation and costs. Whilst the antis expect this to work in their favour, in my opinion, they could have a nasty shock. We will then hear screams about democracy, but someone will be left feeling very sore.

  4. Hmmmm, Brussels commissioners, unelected, unaccountable, overpaid, over bureaucratic, over autocratic, and over there and soon to be over and done with from a UK perspective.
    Give me Gayzer Frackman and Friends of the Earth any day, at least they are standing up for their principles. Give me anyone who will stand up against all odds and be counted, Tina Rothery, for example, David (Davina?) to Cuadrillas Goliath.

  5. The Minister can just refer to the Parliamentary Climate Change Committee inquiry into shale gas about a year ago. It found that shale gas production is compatible to uk carbon reduction policy and climate change if the three of its recommendation are in place (something like green completion of well, replace coal but not renewables and replace imported gas.).
    So the CC Committee that is legally responsible for cumulative effects of uk has approved shale development.

  6. The claimants contradict himself by claiming that the 1st defendant (the Minister) cannot possibly predict or provide evidence of positive impact of shale or the potential of negative impact can be regulated because development has not occurred yet. Well the claimant has to asked himself can he himself predict or claim the negative impact of shale development when it has not occured yet? So his claim on negative impact of shale on climate change is just as speculative as his charge on the 1st defendant.

  7. If pre cautionary principles on cumulative effects is to be responsible by the Minister many industries will be shut down. Consider the cumulative impact of things like sugary drinks on diabetes fast food on obesity farming waste discharge on the river systems desiel engine on asthma etc. So the claims by the Frackman is just as speculative argument and the charge he claims on the defendant.

    • TW – all of your points are without reference to the current understanding of Methane emissions and leakage from gas fields, from the drilling stage onwards. Methane is critical to Global warming and the ‘veil’ that is now building over the northern hemisphere maps onto the global warming anomalies. These are now suggesting the earth is fast approaching a tipping point that leads into unknown and uncontrollable climate feedbacks. It’s starting to look that way already from the freakish way the Arctic temperatures are behaving right now. If the real carbon costs are calculated and the unimaginable mitigation and damage control costs are projected then you’d change your tune for sure.

      Also I’m not convinced by Nick Grealy’s earlier point about EU’s positivity about fracking. It needs updating at least. After a large investigation into the American experience – with scientists and engineers actually sent to gather evidence and survey sights and data in the US – they have concluded that the risks are not worth it and have decided to ban fracking there. There’s a very thorough 30 page analysis online (if you can find it – I’ll have another look) with all the details.

      • Phil. Below is the link of the inquiry into impact of shale production on uk climate change policy by the Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change. Even they admit it is not possible to quantify the cumulative effect of shale production on climate change yet. But they found that it is compatible with climate change policies if the three tests outlined by the inquiry are met. And they also accepted the response by the industry that these tests can be met with current measures.

      • The Howarth studies purporting great methane leaks have of course been studied by many people, including the CCC and found not to be credible. Methane is certainly an issue, but it’s not unsolvable even it does exist or not. Can’t think for the life of me how Cuadrilla or anyone else would have any incentive to waste the product they want to produce.
        Howarth is an outlier and it’s bizarre (or at least no less bizarre than actually disrupting traffic to protest potential traffic disruption) that those who care about the climate use the same tactics of cherry picking, straw men, fake experts etc etc as climate change deniers often do.

        It’s inconsistent to say 97% of experts believe in anthropogenic climate change (as I do) and then choose to take as gospel the 2% or less of experts who say methane is an unsolvable issue.

        • Nick, TW. The Howarth studies (I mean post 2014 – the earlier data was limited in scope and was criticised on that basis) certainly have not been dismissed except by various CC deniers. That they could be debunked is little more than wishful thinking on their part.

          Climate Change denial has a strong lobby within government and Lords – with the likes of Lord Brown and Lord Lawson and his Global Warming Policy Foundation (a CC denying ‘educational charity’) addressing the Lords and other parliamentarians directly, and which I’m sure has been influential in shaping government thinking. The department of Energy and Climate Change didn’t last long and I wonder why. I would take the CCC opinions with a pinch of salt judging by the kinds of appointments they’ve been making for those in charge of energy and climate change today.

          There are independent studies corroborating the Cornell/Howarth data and, looking ahead, a new type of remote sensor will be on board a soon-to-be-launched european satellite which will plot methane ground sources with much higher resolution. It will take some time to gather data, correlate and calibrate the metrics but many will be very interested in these results.

          In summary Howarth et al conclude that shale gas, in terms of being a bridge from dirtier forms of fossil fuels, is still ‘a bridge to nowhere’. In many ways it creates more problems than it solves. If you can point me to valid sources that can credibly dismiss the Howarth or similar findings – and I mean their findings from 2014 on – I would be pleased to see them.

        • They may not want to waste their product but can it be stopped from happening..

          The Preese hall well casing buckling proves that things will go wrong

          The conversation between HSE and Cuadrilla highlights exactly what Cuadrilla really know about the industry.

          On 17/10/2011 (after Preese Hall) an email from HSE contains the following

          “Cuadrilla were looking for guidance on when a cement bond log was required and who was responsible for the interpretation of the logs”

          how leaks from shale wells can occur.

          Once they finally got told they had to do one

          Cuadrilla to HSE

          “From our 5.5 inch bond log we have identified some questionable cement bonds”

          The industry clearly has no idea what it is doing.

          What on earth is their geologist doing. No 3D and drilling through faults.

          Their technical ability to drill and abandon is a complete disaster.

          Anyone who questions our geologists and engineers needs to think what the ‘professionals’ working for Cuadrilla have achieved.

          They should have their licence revoked.

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