Campaigners continue their legal fight against ministerial approval of fracking in Lancashire

PNR 20170426 FrackFreeCreators - KnittingNanas 7

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 26 April 2017. Photo: Frack Free Creatives Knitting Nanas of Lancashire

Opponents of fracking are to continue their legal challenges to the decision by the Communities’ Secretary to approve Cuadrilla’s shale gas plans near Blackpool.

Last month, the anti-fracking campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, and Preston New Road Action Group lost their cases in the High Court when they tried to overturn the planning permission granted by Sajid Javid for the site at Little Plumpton.

But this afternoon, Mr Frackman announced he was applying to bring a case at the Court of Appeal and had filed papers against Mr Javid.

The residents’ organisation, Preston New Road Action Group, said it was also seeking permission to appeal and had lodged papers with the court.

Planning policy

Preston New Road Action Group had argued at the High Court that Mr Javid had misunderstood or misapplied local and national planning policy in approving the fracking plans.

A spokesperson said this afternoon:

“The Preston New Road group continues to seek justice for their community which vociferously said no to this fracking planning application.

“We seek a just and fair solution which recognises there is no social licence to frack Lancashire.

“To that end, we are considering all options which remain open to us at this point. Having taken advice from our legal team we are currently seeking permission through the courts for leave to appeal.

“We now await the court decision on whether it will allow the Preston New Road appeal to go forward.”

Climate change and regulation

Gayzer Frackman1

Gayzer Frackman

Mr Frackman’s case centred on climate change and shale gas regulation.

His team argued the regulatory system for fracking was not robust enough to protect health or the environment. It also said the Secretary of State should have taken into account the carbon emissions generated during extended flow testing of wells at Preston New Road. Cuadrilla plans to pipe the gas to the national network and the High Court ruled that the burning of this in homes and businesses would not result in additional carbon emissions.

Marc Willers QC, of Garden Court Chambers representing Mr Frackman, said:

“We are taking this case to the Court of Appeal on the basis the Government did not fully assess the impact of greenhouse gas emissions likely to be generated from the site over the next three years, before it approved fracking on the site, contrary to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

“The appeal also questions whether it was safe for the Government to grant permission for fracking in the absence of a robust regulatory system that ensures fracking can be carried out without risk to health and with minimal damage to the environment”.

Gayzer Frackman, from Lytham, said:

“This case is vitally important because it seeks to hold the Government to account for failing to protect its citizens from the health impacts of fracking and the untold damage it will cause to our environment and those living near the site.

“We do not consider the regulatory system in the UK is sufficiently robust to ensure that shale gas extraction is safe for local residents. Moreover, it is our view that the government is simply wrong to permit so-called ‘exploratory’ fracking when, in fact, the operations will amount to full-scale production in disguise.”

The government’s advisers on climate change said last year that exploitation of shale gas on a significant scale was not compatible with the UK’s carbon reduction targets, unless three tests were satisfied. The Committee on Climate Change said emissions must be strictly limited, overall gas production should not increase and measures should be taken to reduce emissions elsewhere to offset the impact of shale gas production.

The government said existing regulations meant that the tests had been satisfied. But Mr Frackman disagreed. He said:

“Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, the UK’s obligations to reduce carbon emissions are much greater. It is clear that the Government cannot meet the three tests set out by the Climate Change Committee for justifying shale gas production. The Government is simply putting corporate interests above safety, environmental concerns and the concerns of local communities”.

Court process

If the challenges in the Court of Appeal are successful, Mr Willers, for Mr Frackman, said the Government would have to reconsider its decision to approve fracking at the Preston New Road site and may be forced to strengthen its regulatory regime before granting permission for fracking elsewhere in the country.

The court will consider the applications to decide whether there is merit in the appeals.

Mr Willers said:

“If the appeal then proceeds, we expect a hearing to take place in the autumn or possibly as early as July. As Cuadrilla are currently preparing the site, it is likely the case will be expedited by the Court of Appeal.”

Mr Willers said the team was seeking to fund the appeal through legal aid. If this was turned down, Mr Frackman would apply to the court to limit his costs under the Aarhus Convention.

DrillOrDrop invited the Department of Communities and Local Government and Cuadrilla to comment but both declined.

31 replies »

  1. What a complete joke. The judge said there was no merit in the appeals, and there certainly is not any social licence to protest, looking at the results of the local elections. The antis have lost the whole case.

    *The public are p@@sed off with their constant closing of the PNR road with their illegal antics.

    *Anyone who looks at the national protestors aggression will see [edited by moderator] people who are just taking the mick out of our national freedoms.

    * with no effect at all on the elections it’s pretty clear that most people dont give a damn. Not surprising as the regulatory bodies have given their approval. Fracking is a safe and well understood technology that has never caused any pollution.

    Give it up guys and gals! You have lost!

    • Your comment that there certainly is no social licence to protest ignores the Government’s latest quarterly survey, published yesterday, which found 19% in favour of fracking opposed to 30% against fracking. What’s more just 3% were strongly in favour of fracking compared with 12% strongly against.
      The local elections, which have notoriously low turn outs cannot be taken as an endorsement of fracking any more than the 2015 election which the Conservatives won with the votes of just 23% of those eligible to vote.

      • 50% dont care one way or the other. That comes up again and again. How many antis are informed by the scaremongering drivel from Medact, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth [edited by moderator]

      • Pauline – you clearly don’t agree with democratic elections? Lets see what happens on June 8th. I am sure you were very happy that our elected Councillors voted to Refuse the two Cuadrilla sites last year? In case you missed it:

        Lancashire County Council election results:

        Conservatives have an overall majority now (46 seats). labour 30, LibDem 3, Independents 2 (are these anti fracking candidates?), Greens 1, UKIP 1. How does this fit with most people in Lancashire don’t want fracking? Greens 1 only???? And she is from Lancaster area.

        Nationally – With all council seats now declared, the Conservatives have gained control of 11 councils and have increased their number of councillors by 558 – the only major party to increase their seat total.

        Labour, in contrast, have lost more 320 councillors while UKIP one just one seat, losing 114.

        The Conservatives have also knocked Labour into third place in Scotland, gaining more than 100 councillors there compared to 2012.

        The new Planning Committee for Lancashire County Council will now be controlled by the Conservatives….

        Sort of fits in with Martin’s comment:

        “So-70% either support or have no opinion either way. Only 30% oppose.”

  2. I would suggest that a government permit that licences Cuadrilla to burn a Wembley stadium of toxic gas largely comprising ofv methane with toxic carcinogenic components for 90 days with sampling required only 4 times is not very compatible with reducing carbon emissions or of any reassurance to local residents. Not very reassuring when the air monitoring is just one sensor!

    Nor is the effective permission to re-inject flowback fluid waste with no stipulation of testing the content or the number of times it can be re-injected, ie. the last frack – a low pressure high volume ‘frack’ is effectively disposal. This then primes the faulted topology to develop a scenario like Oklahoma’s lets take a snapshot of today’ activity shall we :-

    Magnitude 3.5 earthquake
    16 km from Anthony, Kansas, United States · 00:36
    More on
    Recent earthquakes
    M 2.7
    33 km from Enid, Oklahoma, United States
    5 May, 12:21
    M 2.8
    30 km from Edmond, Oklahoma, United States
    5 May, 00:33
    M 2.5
    20 km from Perry, Oklahoma, United States
    4 May, 16:01
    M 2.5
    38 km from Enid, Oklahoma, United States
    2 May, 19:48
    M 2.8
    11 km from Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States
    2 May, 01:46
    M 2.8
    13 km from Watonga, Oklahoma, United States
    1 May, 16:17
    M 2.6
    37 km from Enid, Oklahoma, United States
    30 Apr, 21:35
    All times are in United Kingdom Time · Sources: U.S. Geological Survey,
    What to do after an earthquake

    Expect aftershocks hours, days, or weeks after the main quake.
    Aftershocks can cause building damage and falling debris that could injure you.
    Avoid open flames in damaged buildings.
    Earthquakes can damage gas lines, so don’t use lighters or matches.
    If you live near the coast, stay away from the beach.
    Earthquakes can cause dangerous tsunamis and flooding.
    Drive carefully and plan alternative routes.
    Structural damage and traffic light outages may make it difficult to get to your destination.

    just google ‘oklahoma earthquake’ for the latest daily activity!

    Perhaps there is a little concern with the government traffic light system that is unlikely to be of any use in determining factor 3 quakes at 3 km as detailed by the current industry supporting government advisers Westaway & Younger. Try telling residents of Groningen in Holland that factor 3 at 3km depth is not a problem or Exxon & Shell having to stump up €5bn compensation. I suspect Cuadrilla won’t have that sort of dosh!

    • What a bunch of scaremongering nonsense. There isnt a single verifiable fact in what you have written!

      1. There is unlikely to be flaring seeing as part of the PNR development involves a gas grid connection.

      2. There are many air sensors around, and the positions have been publicly declared.

      3. Reinjection into the next frack job is recognised as best practice. See Pages 44 to 46

      4. Injection for disposal such as in Oklahoma is NOT permitted in the uk.

      • 1. There would be flaring. (provided they didn’t just vent gas – who’s there to check!) They’d need to get rid of the impure gas first & establish flow rates. Typically 10% of a reserve is burnt to do this. The permit to perform this action is detailed in the environment agency permit EPR/AB3101MW:-

        Click to access Cuadrilla%20Preston%20New%20Road%20Mining%20Waste%20Permit_AB3101MW.pdf

        which includes Schedule 1 – Operations:-
        A1 S5.1A(1)(a) The incineration of hazardous waste in a waste incineration plant or waste co-incineration plant with a capacity
        exceeding 10 tonnes per day Limited to flaring of waste gas, from onshore oil and gas exploration activities, produced from
        well testing activities using two enclosed ground flares.
        Flaring of gas shall be limited to a period of 90 days per well.
        Flaring of gas shall be limited to a maximum of 130,000 m3 per day
        Thereafter gas can only be flared where it is necessary to do so either as a safety measure or due to maintenance of
        surface equipment, unless otherwise approved in writing by the Environment Agency.
        There shall be no venting except where necessary for safety reasons.

      • 2) There are no sensors ‘behind’ the Cuadrilla website. It is void of any air sensors. The only air sensor that is at the site or in the vicinity is provided by a similarly scantily ‘sensor driven’ site provided by the BGS that has admitted in writing to Mike Hill that it is not performing baseline monitoring, despite the title of their web page.

        One air sensor.
        Please advise as to where the ‘many air sensors ‘are!

        • Cuadrilla do have 4 air sensors according to their eportal. It is interesting to note that the readings for both PM 2.5 and PM10 exceed the baseline at the sensor nearest the site in March (the last month published), which was the wettest March on record in Lancashire – rain is expected to have a “scavenging” effect on PM levels, thus reducing them, so we might have expected relatively low readings.

          • Humble apologies, I was a bit flippant and meant ‘live’ sensors driving the website; I must confess to being a little suspicious of any retrospectively recorded data. The BGS particulate ‘live data’ count would make disturbing reading to myself if I was younger and planning a family. Averaging well over ten ug/cm3 for 1, 2,5, 4 &, & 10 um particles in the first week of May – infers an appropriate 90% increased risk of cancer. Not scaremongering of course – just look at the figures and infer yourself. I suspect the situation at the roadside is far worse – the BGS sensor is well away, I think at the Wensley Farm 300 metres from the pad activity and alot higher. Please all diligently check and advise as to my figures if not correct…..

      • 3 & 4 are almost answered by the writer ! When does ‘reinjection become injection for disposal’. The EA have continued to relax the legislation for these aspects. The detailed document Pages 44 to 46:-

        Re-injection of reused flowback fluid for hydraulic fracturing Flowback fluid can be treated and re-used as fresh injection fluid for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing and we consider this to be a suitable environmental option. Flowback fluid must be re-used where it is reasonably practicable to do so to meet the MWD obligation to minimise waste.
        However, waste flowback fluid may contain a concentration of NORM radionuclide’s above the out of scope values. It will then require a radioactive substances activity permit for its disposal. You must send this to an appropriate permitted waste facility for treatment or disposal.

        Re-injection of flowback fluid for disposal The Environment Agency will not generally permit the re- injection of flowback fluid for disposal into any formation, whether or not it contains a concentration of NORM radionuclide’s above the out of
        scope values. The re-injection of flowback fluid for disposal is not necessarily prohibited and may be permissible where, for example, it is injected back into formations from which hydrocarbons have been extracted and will have no impact on the status of water bodies or pose any risk to groundwater.

        So, an operator can re-inject with no stipulation with what sort of treatment before re-injection. The final frack can effectively be a ‘dispose’. The only vague stipulation appears to infer that if the NORM is too high it can’t be re-injected, but as is often the case with EA documents it is not categoric and is imprecise. Much like the second paragraph stating that ‘disposal is not necessarily prohibited’

  3. The pit. Is that a nuclear bunker or something? 5 months on and only an empty pit with fence to show for. No wonder the investors are losing money and the anti’s are skeptical of the economic of uk shale.

    • The environmental protections take time to install. The pit is where the where they will drill, its a way of reducing visual effect by dropping the level. With all the screening people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

      • Ken Wilkinson (Anon lol) the drilling cellar is 3 metres deep. How do you imagine that would realistically reduce the “visual effect” of a 35 metre rig? #justaskin ..

  4. Frackman he looks so intellectual but yet acts so silly. Of course he will lose the Appeal and more money wasted.

  5. sorry, maybe ‘tragic comedy’ is better – it’s disturbingly depressing if you think too deep, hard & long about the situation there; most of the time it’s depressive realization of the disaster pad

  6. What everyone needs to wake up to is the goverment’s agendas – it is possible that they will copy the U.S. by burying Nuclear Waste
    in the Fracking Holes. Please Note, they have positioned the Frack site only 5 miles appx, from the Nuclear Reprocessing Plant of Springfields. Any alarm bells ringing yet?

  7. None of these protest groups, along with Lush, known to be their major financial supporters will answer this- see below- and if Legal Aid is available for this type of Civil Litigation it will be in breach of the Civil Litigation Rules

    Dear Ante- Frackers,
    I write with anger and frustration that the Fracking
    potential for this Country is the best thing that has
    happened for many a generation,AND YET the negative
    outpourings about it from extremist fringe elements,
    green campaigners ( possible friends of Putin?) and the
    usual ‘tree huggers’ are all we seem to hear.

    Surely the time has come for the alternative points of view
    to be placed before the media using a robust
    strategy to highlight the weakness in the arguments used by
    these ‘nimbys,’ who, no doubt, all arrive in vehicles and
    enjoy the comfort of heated premises, when lesser folk
    dread the onset of winter and their inability to be able to
    afford the bare minimum of adequate heat- this coupled with
    many long term unemployed similarly affected,
    whose lives have been blighted and damaged by this
    unemployment possibly to be revitalised with the
    prospect of work in a vital new industry introduced to
    the UK for the first time in 30 years!

    Everyone’s fears appear to be verging on the edge
    of hysteria with the Labour Party strangely bowing to their
    arguments, despite the re-assurances of all the experts,
    and the fact that vulnerable people (Labour voters!) would benefit from the
    cheaper fuel bills too, and the UK not being dependant on, and ‘hostage to,’ expensive imports.The industrial revolution in the UK, leading to where we are today, could never have taken place if such protest movements had been allowed a ‘free rein.’

    Finally, in the interests of transparency, Ante Fracking Campaigners should declare if they have
    gas central heating, cars etc., and who finances them? It is noted some arrive onsite in smart
    vehicles powered by oil products!!!



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