Police investigate assault claim against shale gas security guard

170704 pnr Kirsten Buus for Reclaim the Power 2

Photo: Kristian Buus for Reclaim the Power

Lancashire Police confirmed today it was investigating a complaint that a security guard assaulted an anti-fracking protester outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool.

The incident allegedly happened yesterday (Tuesday 4 July 2017) at the Preston New Road site, where drilling is expected to begin imminently.

It came at the end of a 35-hour blockade of the site by a local woman, Michelle Martin. She had been part of a 13-person lock-on protest which began early on Monday morning and involved three Lancashire councillors. See DrillOrDrop report

The action had been organised by Reclaim the Power, a national group which is organising a month of protests against fracking

A spokesperson for the group said the demonstrator allegedly assaulted was restrained in a headlock and punched, then pinned to the ground by security guards.

170704 pnr Kirsten Buus for Reclaim the Power 1

Photo: Kristian Buus for Reclaim the Power

The spokesperson said another protester was trapped in a car door and others were pushed into the road or tackled on the ground.

Reclaim the Power alleged that the incident took place on the public highway, not on private land leased to Cuadrilla.

Ellen Gibson, from the group, witnessed the incident and described the response of the security team as “totally disproportionate, violent and unnecessary”.

“While security guards may be allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to eject someone from private property; punching demonstrators in the face whilst pinning them to the ground on a public road amounts to assault.”

Lancashire Police told DrillOrDrop

“We are aware of a complaint of assault against a security guard and an investigation is underway.”

A spokesperson said she was not aware of any other complaints by protesters or security guards.

In a statement, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said:

“Our security team are used to dealing with a number of protestors, most of them peaceful, on a daily basis. However on this occasion, the protestor became aggressive.

“We understand that the protestor was appropriately restrained and then handed over to Police, who were present throughout the brief incident. The matter is now in their hands and we will assist them in any investigation which follows.

“Since the incident, the employee concerned and his family have been subjected to unacceptable harassment and intimidation, which is also under investigation by the Police.

“Cuadrilla does not tolerate any behaviour which puts our employees, our contractor or law abiding members of the public at risk. Our security team and the Police are trained in dealing with protestors and are committed to ensuring that situations such as this are dealt with in the correct way.”

Car blockade over concerns about fracking near nuclear plant

170705 pnr Kirsten Buus

Photo: Kritian Buus for Reclaim the Power

Reclaim the Power said six campaigners from south west England today locked themselves to a car and other heavy objects to prevent access to the Preston New Road site.

They said they were protesting at Cuadrilla’s plans to frack five miles from the Springfields nuclear fuel production plan.

One of the group, Nikki Clark, said:

“Fracking is dangerous and unnecessary. And fracking near a nuclear site is just madness.

“We all know that fracking causes tremors and earthquakes. If Preston New Road is allowed to go into full production, 60 wells will be sunk in close proximity to an active nuclear facility with tonnes of waste at risk of release into the open air. That is clearly not acceptable – we can’t frack with nukes.”

“Cuadrilla have been trying to stop our legitimate protest with disproportionate and unnecessary violence. We are defying that to demand an end to extreme energy sources like fracking and nuclear power. Renewables can provide the jobs and clean power we need in Lancashire and the UK.”

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said:

“I can confirm that the protestor activity is having no impact on our current operations and the conductor casing work continues.”

46 replies »

  1. My personal observation throughout this fracking debate over the years was the disappointment of the charity organizations like FoE becoming more and more resorting to fears mongering via pseudo science and sometimes sweeping misinformation tactics to spread their agendas. These tactics were often used by right wing groups or parties and occasionally by o&g and pharmaceutical companies but now they are used by both sides of the fence. These organizations via their experts scientific practises were supposed to be the line between truth and propagendas the society’ scientific and smart ‘bullshit metres’ to ‘to keep the bastards honest’. But now the line is blurred.

  2. There’s plenty of scientific fact and opinion from non charity/activist groups that denounces fracking, especially in its HVHF form TW. In fact I notice very little accuracy amongst the pro fracking community here. Their intention is to give a false sense of confidence about the safety and harmlessness (to health and environment) or simply leave out swathes of information that the public should know about.

    When this guy (Benjamin I think) said flaring was totally safe because he’s been flaring (cooking) on his gas hob for years and hasn’t died – did any of the pro’s correct his mistaken knowledge. Oh no, it was down to me to point out that methane comes out of the ground mixed with various contaminants. When the pro’s are challenged about flaring, when claiming it would be totally contained and safe in the UK (within what? – expensive portable flues with associated technology for removing noxious byproducts) things just go quiet, just as they do when you ask for some simple QS figures on the trucking involved when, say you proceed with a pad site fracking your first six wells with two mile laterals, given 10 million gallons per frack and associated chemicals, flow-back etc.

    When I challenged anyone to disprove any one of the points on listed on the FoE’s controversial leaflet to be incorrect they couldn’t. That’s leaving aside the obvious mistake they’d made in their choice of cover picture which even the FoE admitted was misleading.

    I’d like to get down to the real science of risk but when challenging to reveal their maths for putting an actual percentage risks on things like cement failures, methane and fluid migration and rogue emissions nobody has the stats even though the industry ha been going for years. When nearly all studies that examine methane concentrations in groundwater show pronounced increases at closer proximity to fracking wells they just get rubbished as anti fracking propaganda. Same for the health studies.

    • [Edited by moderator]

      As for the FoE propaganda – none of the claims that they make have been demonstrated to be true. Not a single one of them. That is the consensus of the scientific community, and that is why the ASA asked the organization to stop making the claims.

  3. I think flaring has been occurring for decades at UK oil refineries. I am downwind from one, and it hasn’t caused me any ha…….

      • Phil P. Just look at the epidemiological evidence on health risk of the offshore and maybe even onshore oil/gas rig workers over the past decades. You will find that there is no clustering incidence among these workers compared to the general population even though they are more directly exposed to close proximity to flared gas. I agree some gas may contain byproduct but not at a concentration to cause harms. Also flaring is short period and these can be filtered before flaring. There are more occupational hazard risk than flaring. A friend of mine is a technicians who prepare cytotoxic drug dosages for cancer patients daily at a hospital. Another is a radiation oncologist nurse and another run mri scan unit. They are routinely exposed to some of the most hazardous chemical leak radiation and high magnetic field daily and there are high risk of infertility among these occupation and yet one still need to perform these jobs (obviously under strict OH&S regulation). And yes flow back contaminated water is an issue but can be readily managed by operations and minotored by regulatory bodies like EA and HSE. Risks and hazards need to be put in perspective. It depends on the level of reversiblity of the harm how often you are exposed to these source and the dosages of exposure. If you talk about health risk then those jobs I mentioned above and police officers and emergency unit staff are among the most hazardous occupations and I dont see the anti fracking brigades lock in themselves at the hospital or police stations o protect human health. These are the jobs that deserves more attentions for better protected working conditions than rig workers.

        • TW. The fracking ‘boom’ hasn’t happened here yet – and yes it would have to be a boom to reach the scale of energy independence that the industry (to be) is promoting as it’s major selling point. What is not coming across to the public is what will happen if the shale gas explorations turn into ‘full on’ shale gas exploitation. See my response to Martin’s humor point below too.

          I think it’s good that you are still making up your mind and exploring all sides in an open minded way. But, without being alarmist or exaggerating in any way, do you have any idea what that means of terms of the proliferation of well sites? Mike Hill was not exaggerating when he mentioned so many thousand wells between Preston and Blackpool. Did you think that was a scare tactic?

          The entire shale layer, perhaps at multiple depths, will be saturated with a herring-bone pattern of horizontal bore holes and shafts at more or less 17-20 foot intervals. And that will only achieve about a 10% yield (if they’re lucky) of the possible gas that can be extracted from those shales. I just think it’s important to picture the scale of the operation to then consider the intensity of the industrial processes that will focused in and around the pad sites. I’ll get to the point of why I’m mentioning all this below Martin’s next comment.

          • Phil P. Thanks for the head up. I do figure that this time only 2 wells but next phase it it would be at least in my opinion hundreds if not a thousand or more wells. And that would be spread out over 10 or 20 pads. That’s when regulations and robust control have to kick in.

          • Philip, can you point us to a source where the industry promotes energy independence as a selling point? I have seen plenty of rational arguments from those in industry that onshore shale gas can create a reduced dependence on foreign sources but have yet to see anyone claim that the UK will enjoy full independence due to onshore gas extraction. [Edited by moderator]
            It is worth mentioning that shale gas extraction is highly energy dense, so one of the advantages fracking brings is relatively small impact to the countryside. We have a home in one of the most densely fracked counties in PA and we hardly even notice the well pads. Once the wells are completed you don’t even notice the well pads. And with laterals extending a few miles, the well pads are spaced miles apart. Generating the same amount of energy from solar panels or wind farms would industrialize the countryside in a way that few can imagine.

        • TW
          Re offshore flaring. I think that the offshore workforce are not a good example in relation to occupational health issues from that flaring, UK offshore flares are typically situated as to not affect the workforce/ platform. Be it due to height and / or separation. Then the distance between platforms would mitigate inter platform issues.
          This would extend to venting as practiced in the Southern North Sea.
          So although close to the source, they are not exposed to the emissions.
          Onshore flaring is different, lower flare stacks and lots more people around in all directions. Once again though, those next to the flare are least likely to affected by the emissions from it.
          So we would have to look at health effects on those who are affected by emissions in similar onshore cases, wherever they are in the world. The surrounding population are the ones who are exposed, similar to most industrial stack emissions onshore.
          What they are exposed to is science, what people think about it is opinion.

  4. It’s known as a sense of humour. I can recommend it. It has been scientifically proven to extend your life. (I will resist the obvious source of “truth”.) If you don’t have one, you live a shorter life-it just seems very much longer.

    By the way. did you see the volumes of water indicated by Third Energy a couple of days ago? I have followed a fracking drilling outside of the USA as well, and was really very surprised at the small volume of water used, and the high percentage recovered. Barrel loads was the measurement utilised, which gives a pretty good indication.

    Anyway, must get busy selecting my joint of pork, so when Donald’s gas is into our pipes, I can celebrate with some really crispy frackling, or, I might have moved into Spoonerism there. That’s the problem with a sense of humour, there are very few gold plated controls.

    • I do like a good sense of humour Martin. You’ve made me chuckle a few times. I especially like the one about the barrel loads (small volumes) of water used for fracks such as the Third energy one…. When a vertical exploration well which only has five 20 meter perforation zones, goes straight down (into a few sandstone layers) gets used as an example of what could in any way represent a high volume shale frack (I know you didn’t say that but hey, let people think it anyway), with two mile horizontal laterals, it cracks me up. Trouble is, people like TW and others who are still exploring these things may think its something like the deal you get with large scale shale fracking.

      I’m not to sure what all the protesting is about. That will probably be a safe site environmentally. If I were them I’d keep my powder dry to prevent the license turning into a much more expansive fracking zone. Mind you, horizontal drilling in sandstone, as it turns out, is trickier and less predictable than shale in terms of returns. It can be harder to drill too I was surprised to learn. Further exploiters might opt for lots of vertical wells instead. Either way that’s when the environmental risks will kick in.

      The Barclay brothers may be laughing all the way to the – er – bank if they get a good oil or gas play out of it. They’ll be able to flog Third Energy at a good price… win-win. They get the cred from divesting from fracking while scooping a profit from being bought out by big O&G. That was probably the plan all along but who needs to know that.

    • Anti anti’s, stop protesting, stop opposition, stop talking sense, stop renewables, stop debate, go back to the carboniferous era.

  5. A Lancaster county councillor has been arrested and charged following protests at the Preston New Road fracking site. Green Party County Coun Gina Dowding, 54, of Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster has been charged with obstructing a public highway and “Section 241 Trades Union Act offences”. Coun Dowding, who represents Lancaster Central on Lancashire County Council, spent 14 hours locked to the ground outside the Cuadrilla fracking site on the Fylde overnight on July 3. She is one of three councillors and several other members of the public arrested during protests which have been ongoing for several months. Lancashire County Council had refused permission for test drilling to be carried out at the site, but the decision was overturned by the government. Nicholas Danby, 55, of Preston Road, Preston, Miranda Cox, 48, of Ribby Road, Preston, Nicholas Sheldrick, 35, of Clayton Crescent, Blackpool, Julie Brickles, 52, of Harbour Lane, Preston, Catherine Jackson, 49, of Mowbray Road, Fleetwood, Daniel Huxley-Blythe, 35, of Rutland Road, Lytham St Annes, Barbara Cookson, 66, of Lawrence Grove, Liverpool and Jeanette Porter, 31, of Shepherd Road, Lytham St Annes have also been charges with the same offences. A 61 year old man from Ormskirk who was arrested was given a caution, while three other women were also reported for summons. Coun Dowding will appear at Blackpool Magistrates Court on August 7.

    Read more at: http://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/business/lancaster-politician-arrested-after-fracking-site-protest-1-8630519

  6. Actually PhilipP, I don’t think Mike Hill, or anyone else knows how many wells would be drilled if the test drills were a success. Neither do I think anyone has a clue how much gas could be extracted from each site. There are many out there speculating but it is all nonsense. This is new technology to the UK, and as we have seen in USA, it can rapidly evolve. The current sites are test sites, not to test the technology but to test output and economics.

    You only have to look at the drilling for oil in the Weald, where the technology is established and pretty much the same as utilised around the world for decades. Do the companies, with all their in-house data know how many wells might be needed and where and what the output will be? No they don’t. You can check that quite easily from the current activities. There was an RNS from UKOG today, which shows they are producing data but the final outcome is still to be determined. Maybe some wells will be gushers, some dusters and some in between. Maybe they would use octopus drilling from some sites? Maybe they would reduce output until the oil was more valuable? So, how come we are to believe persons outside of the exploration companies speculating into these areas regarding fracking? These are the same people who say the extraction will not be economical and then say there will be thousands of wells in a small area. Please explain what commercial business follows that model.

    I have followed companies investing hundreds of £ millions into drilling one site and coming up with nothing. Perhaps they should have paid Mike Hill a consultancy and he could have sorted it all for them beforehand? Speculation is widespread these days on all subjects, but is not factual and when it is then utilised to scaremonger it is a dangerous tactic, because if, and when, it is shown to be false the credibility will not be regained. I would have thought the FOE experience would have warned against that.

    • Oil is a different ball game to HVHF Shale fracking (for Gas). That’s the big deal that’s being trumpeted as the major asset to be developed in the UK and that’s what Mike Hill was referring to.

      Drilling formats are well established now (clustered wells, pad sites and underground bore holes, layouts etc) and the calculation of wells/pads needed quite simple if you know you have a continuous shale layer over a given area … you’ll seek to saturate the area with horizontal bore holes of a certain size and parallel layout (at the target depth). I expect that’s what the calculation was based on – to get the maximum returns.

      Of course those MH figures would be based on simple modelling and things, as you say, would never be quite the same as an idealised model, but probably not that unrealistic either.

  7. I suspect you are correct PhilipP about Third Energy. Let’s be realistic, this is a pretty old site and without further renewal would fade away.

    Quite sensible for them to see if they are able to multiply the asset value as Barclays want to achieve disposal. That disposal is not a “win” for the antis, as has been suggested, it is what all banks are being forced to do by shareholders who want their companies to concentrate on their core business. I am surprised Lloyds were not forced to dispose of Lex Autoleasing, but I suspect that is more to do with building financial bridges with some of the car manufacturers.

    We will have to disagree on Mike Hill and others. Speculation is what it is, and speculators can be spectacularly successful (rarely), or more commonly, bankrupt.

    As far as PNR is concerned, I suspect Cuadrilla have a number of progression plans and they will chose the best one when they have drilled and analysed. For others to specify what that will be before they have drilled is speculation, however it is justified.

  8. PhilipP-you might like to take another look at the UKOG site, with another RNS today stating they have received EA approval to flow test. This is after they have been drilling for some weeks, and have nearly completed that phase. So, they will complete drilling into the final potential reservoir and then flow test. Exactly what they will do after that will depend on analyses of all the data they are collecting and then they still have to acquire production consent.
    Whilst some aspects of shale are different to oil the process is basically the same. I am sure shareholders in UKOG would love to have Mike Hill’s ability to project what will happen, but they don’t, and so they are what I stated-speculating. (Mind you, your guru of economics will assure you they will all lose money, yet I see some have made a great deal over the last few weeks. Traders V long term holders just might be one answer.)

    Sorry for the sad news Ruth, but the butterfly is deceased. I’m sure some at the site will be concerned it is the fault of UKOG, but it may just have more to do with the life span of a butterfly. I suddenly have a huge number of butterflies in my garden-a result of the recent very warm weather. Global warming and UK butterflies=good, global warming and flying ants=bad. I remember it was the same 60 years ago, and even the winter of 1963 didn’t change it. What has changed it in the south of England are new housing developments with a small patch of garden (or a shed), where global warming still equals flying ants, but not butterflies.

  9. “Eco Killer”

    With sincerest apologies to David Byrne and Talking Heads

    You can’t seem to face up to the facts
    You’re tense and nervous and you
    Can’t redact
    You can’t sleep ’cause your image’s on fire
    Don’t frack me you’re a real live choir.

    Eco Killer
    Qu’est-ce que c’est
    fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra no fract’s a better way
    Run run run run run run run away
    Eco Killer
    Qu’est-ce que c’est
    fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra no fract’s a better way
    Run run run run run run run away

    You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
    You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything
    When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
    Say something once, why say it again?

    Eco Killer
    Qu’est-ce que c’est
    fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra no fract’s a better way
    Run run run run run run run away

    Eco Killer
    Qu’est-ce que c’est
    fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra no fract’s a better way
    Run run run run run run run away

    Ce que j’ai fait, ce soir-là
    Ce qu’elle a dit, ce soir-là
    Realisant mon espoir
    Je me lance, vers la gloire … OK
    You are vain and your are blind
    We hate people when they’re not polite

    Eco Killer
    Qu’est-ce que c’est
    fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra no fract’s a better way
    Run run run run run run run away

    Eco Killer
    Qu’est-ce que c’est
    fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra fra no fract’s a better way
    Run run run run run run run away
    No No No No No No No oh….

        • That was a demonstration TW, we can all pour out derogatory remarks, and disguised insults, its easy, I just do it a little more creatively, but essentially its a waste of time and space.
          I have said so, so many times, I’m tired of saying so.
          If you guys want to debate without streams of epithets and derogatory remarks, name calling and just plain abuse, then perhaps we can move on?

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