Blue look to frontline fracking councils

LCC 2017 election

Lancashire County Council election results. Map: Lancashire County Council

The Conservatives have made big gains in the county council elections in areas in the frontline of fracking for shale gas.

They took control of Lancashire and Derbyshire, increased their seats in North Yorkshire and replaced Labour in Nottinghamshire as the largest party.

The Conservatives also did well in areas where companies are applying to drill for oil, increasing their hold on West Sussex and Surrey and gaining Lincolnshire.


The council which turned down applications by Cuadrilla for two sites near Blackpool saw a big swing to the Conservatives.

The party now holds 46 seats, up 11 on the last election. Labour is on 30, down nine. The Lib Dems lost two seats.

In Fylde, the area where Cuadrilla is now preparing its site at Preston New Road, remained Independent. The sitting councillors, Paul Hayhurst and Liz Oades, who both opposed Cuadrilla’s applications, held their seats. Gina Dowding, the Green Party councillor, who also opposes fracking, was also re-elected.

Michael Green, a Conservative on the planning committee who voted against the Preston New Road application, was returned to the council, as was Labour’s Kevin Ellard, who also voted against.

Labour’s Marcus Johnstone, the cabinet member for environment who voted for Preston New Road, narrowly lost his Padiham and Burnley West seat to UKIP, now the party’s only county council seat.

Link to results

North Yorkshire

In North Yorkshire, where Third Energy has permission to frack its KM8 shale gas well at Kirby Misperton, the Conservatives kept control of the council with an increased number of seats.

But independent Lindsay Burr, who opposed the KM8 application held her Malton seat, which includes Kirby Misperton, almost doubling her share of the vote. And in the district around the KM8 site three anti-fracking candidates came second.

The Conservatives held Kirbymoorside, followed in second place by the Liberal Democrats standing on an anti-fracking ticket and the Green Party Stop Fracking Now candidate in third.

The Conservatives held Hovingham and Sheriff Hutton with a majority of 817. Here, the Liberal Democrat, Chris Pickles, standing on anti-fracking platform, came second but the Liberal Party candidate, Mike Potter, who has also opposed fracking, received only 85 votes.

The Conservatives took Norton from the Lib Dems with a majority of 884 votes. The former GP and anti-fracking campaigner, Tim Thornton, standing for the Liberal Party, came third with 429.

In Pickering, the Liberal Party’s John Clark, who had raised concerns about fracking regulation, lost by two votes to the Conservative, Greg White.

The Conservatives also held Thornton Dale and The Wolds, where the Green Party Stop Fracking Now candidate, Sandra Bell, came second with 450 votes, ahead of Mick Johnston for Labour.

An independent, John Blackie, who voted against Third Energy’s application for Kirby Misperton, was re-elected in Upper Dales and the Lib Dem, Bill Hoult, who also voted against the application, held his seat in Knaresborough. Anti-fracking Lib Dem candidates came second in Seamer and Derwent.

Steve Mason, who stood for the Lib Dems in Kirkbymoorside, said:

 “Coming a strong second in the seats we fought in Thirsk and Malton gives us a great platform going forward in our fight to stop fracking. I think people need to get used to the idea of the Lib Dem policy to ban fracking.”

Link to results


In Nottinghamshire, where IGas has  permission for shale gas wells at two sites, the Conservatives replaced Labour was the party with the most seats – but not enough for an overall majority.

The Conservatives now have 31 seats, up from 23 at the last election. Labour are on 23, down from 31. Independent parties gained three extra seats to give them 11 seats, while the Lib Dems saw a big loss, down from eight to one.

The Conservative, Cllr Sue Saddington, kept her Farndon seat. She voted against IGas’s Tinker Lane application but for the plans at Springs Road in Misson.

Jason Zadrozny (Ashfield Independents), who was critical of Tinker Lane application, was returned to his Ashfields seat. Another Ashfield Independent, Rachel Madden, who voted against Springs Road, Misson application, was also re-elected in Kirkby South. Labour’s Yvonne Woodhead, who also voted against Springs Road, Misson, was returned for Blidworth.

Link to results


In the county where INEOS is set to apply for a vertical shale gas well at Marsh Lane, there was a big swing to the Conservatives at the expense of Labour.

The Conservatives now hold 37 seats, up 19. Labour was down 19 at 24. But Labour held on to Eckington and Killamarsh, which includes Marsh Lane. The Lib Dems were unchanged on three.

Link to results

West Sussex

The Conservatives increased their hold over West Sussex, where UKOG has just withdrawn its application to drill and produce oil at Markwells Wood but has permission for a site at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst. The county also saw prolonged anti-fracking protests in 2013 at Cuadrilla’s site at Balcombe, where planning permission for flow testing and restoration expired this week.

The council is now made up of 56 Conservatives (up from 43 at the last election), nine Lib Dems (up from seven) and five Labour (down from six). The big loser was UKIP, which lost all its seats, including that of the group leader, Sandra James. She had supported opponents of oil drilling at Markwells Wood and had called for a ban on acidisation in national parks to be included in the West Sussex minerals plan.

Link to results


The Conservatives gained three more seats in Surrey, where campaigners have opposed Europa’s permission to drill for oil in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Angus Energy’s production site at Brockham.

Link to results


The Conservatives also gained Lincolnshire from no overall control. Large parts of the the county was licensed for oil and gas exploration last year. There was no election in North Lincolnshire, where Egdon Resources is appealing against refusal of planning permission and submitting a new application for its site at Wressle.

Link to results


47 replies »

  1. Gina Dowding is Lancaster Central Councillor – not geographically relevant.

    The Lancashire County Council Planning Committee will now be run by the Conservatives so the next applications will be interesting.

    • NPPF and local planning policy dictate whether applications are passed. The sites that have been refused by LCC were done so by development control members from both Labour, Conservative, and others.

      The Government has already laid out the red carpet for shale and tried to strangle renewables yet many councils have rejected fossil fuel applications.

      Communities are made up of a diverse range of cultures and political followings.

      The Government will never make shale gas a National Infrastructure project. To high a risk and to many compensation pay outs.

      With members of the public making the final decision, there will always be rejection.

      The salami slicing of applications and disguising of the size of the industry is nearing the end. People are seeing the industry in it’s true form. Large, intrusive, and permanent.

      That is not what Councillors have voted on so far.


      • “With members of the public making the final decision, there will always be rejection.”

        How do “members of the public” make the final decision?

    • When a fair part of her constituency falls under the PEDL licence area, I would contest that strongly. Lancaster Central goes as far South as Glasson Dock and Cockerham.

      • If she or you knew anything about geology she would know that Glasson and even Cockerham are not suitable for shale gas exploration.

  2. The results show that either most people in the areas discussed support shale gas exploitation or it is not significant enough for them as a primary reason to vote for a candidate.

  3. When you see the quality of the councilors opposing fracking that have actually warranted the benefit bustas to get out of their bed and vote you let out a little sigh.
    The anti brigade are going to get roasted now.

    • That’s a very sweeping and offensive generalisation GottaBKidding, which appears to bear no relation to the article (oh, and there are two l’s in councillors here). Please enlighten us as to how many council meetings you’ve attended where decisions have been made about fracking, and whereabouts. I think you will find that the vast majority of councillors opposing fracking will have spent a considerable time researching the subject generally, and for the specifics of any particular decision. They will be only too aware of the potential financial consequences of turning down any application when this govt is clearly prepared to override localism, valid local plans and policies and even the decision of an independent planning inspector. If you know otherwise, please provide the evidence. Finally, please enlighten me – what are benefit bustas. Even google doesn’t seem to know.

  4. It is clear that fracking issues are not high on voters agendas and concern. Of course it is a concern when you have disruption and potential risks but the public seem to have intelligently see the science and through the smoke screen of scary myths and exaggeration of the anti fracking brigades. So clearly this is not a systemic issue by a local and nimby issues.

  5. The last point is probably the most accurate. It isn’t on people’s radar yet because there is only 2 sites approved. I wonder what the window into the future will show in the next few years.

    • You may be right but it can also work in the opposite way people will look at these two site and say what the fuss is all about and the scare mongering and vandalism tactics of the activists will work against the real concerns.

  6. Given that local elections are often a barometer for these things, one assumes this result will be mirrored at the General Election on 8th June and we’ll see the Conservatives returned with a majority, particularly on the Fylde and in North Yorkshire?

    I realise that this wasn’t a single-issue ‘referendum’ but the fact that the Conservatives did so well compared to Labour (with Corbyn’s pledge to ban fracking) and the Green Party does appear to suggest that fracking just isn’t seen as a major issue by most voters outside those of us with a keen interest in it (whether for or against).

    Which is probably to be expected when you consider that the Public Attitude Tracker shows the majority of people (circa 45-50%) have no opinion on it either way.

  7. TW said ‘It is clear that fracking issues are not high on voters agendas and concern.’
    All over Ryedale, fracking most certainly is of concern to voters. The majority are either anti fracking or concerned about the potential effects – particularly those issues that cannot be denied, such as industrialisation of the countryside, traffic and waste water treatment and transportation. Unfortunately, the majority have been conditioned to think that there is nothing they can do to stop the Tory govt and county council pushing this industry forward, so many don’t even bother to vote (or get involved in any other way). Outside Ryedale, I suspect most people think fracking is something that will not affect them as it gets so little coverage in the national media. Many folk think it’s just a localised thing in Kirby Misperton. Boy have they got a shock coming if the test frack at KM8 finds enough gas to be commercial. I also suspect that many people who voted on 4 May were rather more fixated with Brexit and other national issues.

  8. Mike-I would suggest it may be worthwhile to research the subject. Giggle may help. Kirby Misperton has been producing gas for several DECADES, so I hardly think there will be a shock if the utilisation of a more recent technology happens to extend the life cycle of an existing gas field. I think you will find all gas and oil sites investigate new techniques to see if there are new ways of extending the life of the sites prior to them being abandoned. In the rush for the antis to find horrors in every situation this is a wrong choice. “Industrialisation” of the countryside has ALREADY happened in this case and the locals have found little problem with it. The plans for test fracking were passed locally without any problems. Such antics will not produce much public sympathy, quite the opposite-especially in Yorkshire where they believe in making sure they fully utilise an asset once they have brought it into play. In fact, it is a common feeling amongst neighbours of such sites, not just Kirby Misperton. Once they have been built and they have shown they can be good neighbours and not wreck the environment, there is not a great desire to see them shut down.
    I have stated before that this is very silly for the antis to focus upon this site. It will only show to the wider public where the argument is so weak eg. “industrialisation” of the countryside. The press will have a field (excuse the pun) day. The previous antics by the antis around the planning process are well known to the media already and an opportunity to obtain more print from the subject will not be ignored.

  9. It s overly simplistic to say that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for fracking. The country is facing Brexit and the local and national elections have overlapped. The general election campaign by the Conservatives has focussed on strong leadership in Brexit and many areas that voted leave have turned blue. There are also, believe it or not, Conservative voters and members of the Conservative party that oppose fracking but are loyal to their party, plus there are other issues besides fracking. The Conservatives have done well and taken Labour councils, where fracking isn’t an issue. It may be Corbyn is unpopular with many voters, there is likely to be a whole host of reasons but it is utter nonsense to infer that this was a vote for fracking. How many candidates stated on their election leaflets they were pro fracking or promoted fracking as part of their campaign, I suspect zero.

    • KatT. I agree with your argument. Yes it is true a vote for the Con aint mean a vote for fracking but it also means a vote that aint against fracking . So it seems the public understand and see through the scare mongering agendas of the anti fracking activists and view it as an economic neccessity and activities that have manageable risks and impact just like all other businesses.

      • Hello TW, many thanks for your reply. I apologies if I have misinterpreted your reply but I would say that whilst you agree with me, you nevertheless seem to be implying that the Conservative vote was a vote for fracking, (seeing through the scaremongering and economic necessity) which I don’t think any of us can claim. But I do I agree we cannot state that a Conservative vote is a vote against either. The Conservatives have done well pretty much across the UK and there are a lot of Conservatives that oppose fracking (I personally know many) so I think the reality is we have to accept and respect the outcome. I am sure Brexit is likely to be at the forefront of most voters minds.

        • Well Kat if claims like earth quale cancer causing chemical toxic fluid and gas from FoE Leaflet and FrackOff message are not more urgent and high priority local issues and agenda than Brexit than I can’t see what else can be. I am sure the public are intelligent enough to see through the spin and manipulation of the anti fracking campaign and knowledgeable enough to work out the science amd existing examples to understand the potential risks and figure out for themselves. So a vote for Con is vote for rational and pragmatic decision on fracking and probably for UK in general.

      • The people in the Desolate North, or should I say the Northern Powerhouse that are to be directly affected by this industry, DO NOT see the financial, economic benefits over their own health.

        World leading professors and doctors of medicine, science and engineering are queuing up to scream from the rooftops about the dangers of fracking. WHAT stops people blindly ignororing these warnings, is it money ???

        Any ordinary, sane person without a vested interest would quite rightly insist on a ban and a full indepth investigation in to this practice, prior to any start up.

        Here are just a couple of reports, from an ever increasing , almost endless list that are all warning of the dangers.

        Fracking Wastewater Is Cancer-Causing, New Study Confirms.


        ( Nobel Peace Prize Winners ) Physicians For Social Responsibility (PSR)

        To download their comprehensive report, fourth edition, 17 November 2016.

        Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking


        PLEASE NOTE …. When logging on the PSR homepage, if you type the word ” fracking ” in to their search engine you will find MANY MORE much shorter reports that highlight an almost endless list of dangers.

  10. A little Sunday story for you;
    There are two wolves,
    One is darkness and despair, control manipulation, and soul crushing hopelessness,
    The other is lightness and hope, kindness to all and freedom from tyranny and looks towards a better future,
    Which wolf succeeds?
    Why the wolf that you feed of course!
    So, ask yourself, which wolf is being fed here?
    What words are being spoken from the figure in grannies bed? Are they full of hope and light and kindness? Or are they full of darkness, despair, control and manipulation and soul crushing hopelessness?
    Never let anyone tell you that you are helpless, that they hold all the cards, the truth is it has always been up, or down to you, you know which wolf is being fed here, the honeyed words from grannies bed are spoken with a big toothy grin and through long sharp teeth, and a deep growly voice, is that really granny? Or is there far too much fur and long claws, and and the words far too much like a honey trap?
    I will let you make up your own mind on that. The woodsman has a very sharp axe, should you ever need it, in the meantime, there is always verbal pepper spray.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s