Industry

Updated: Council says Cuadrilla breached planning condition by delivering rig to Lancs shale site overnight

pnr 170727 Frack Free

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas, 27 July 2017. Photo: still from drone picture by Frack Free

Cuadrilla breached conditions of its planning permission when it brought the drilling rig into its site near Blackpool early this morning, according to Lancashire County Council.

The authority said it was writing to Cuadrilla and considering what action to take after the company announced today the drilling rig had arrived at its Preston New Road site.

The planning permission, granted in October 2016 by the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, included a condition which limited lorry movements to the period 7.30am-6pm Monday to Friday, except public holidays. (Link to decision document)

DrillOrDrop understands that sections of the drilling rig were brought onto the site in containers in a convoy at about 4.15am today. A small number of campaigners outside the site at the time reported they were surrounded by police and unable to prevent the delivery.

In a statement, Lancashire County Council said:

“We’re currently investigating the vehicle movements which we understand took place overnight and are in breach of planning permission.

“We are writing to the operator requiring them to put measures in place to prevent a recurrence, as well as considering what further action to take.”

Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said:

“With the recently increased, aggressive protest activity outside our site in Lancashire, directed by London based Reclaim the Power, we decided, following consultation with the Lancashire Police, to take delivery of the rig in the early daylight hours of the morning.

“This was done to avoid yet another major road blockage by protestors with the attendant prolonged inconvenience to local road users and potential impacts on commuter and protestor safety.”

The company said it fully co-operated with the Council’s investigation.

Supt Richard Robertshaw, of Lancashire Police, said in a statement:

“As a result of Cuadrilla’s decision to carry out deliveries in the early hours of this morning, a policing operation was put in place to ensure safety and to minimise disruption to the local community, particularly given recent increased protestor activity at the Preston New Road site which is still on-going.

“A contraflow has been in place on the road for the past two days due to protestors climbing on top of seven trucks, four of which were moved on successfully during this morning’s operation. Police are still currently dealing with the other three.

“Our aim as always is to ensure is a consistent and coordinated policing response and ensure a balance between the rights of people to peacefully protest, together with the rights of the wider public, including local businesses, to go about their lawful activities.

“We aim to prevent, where possible, crime and disorder, but if it does occur we will provide an effective, lawful and proportionate response.”

An opponent of Cuadrilla’s activities said:

“We do feel that this will strengthen our fight because they have gone out of the permitted hours.”

See also reaction at the end of this post.

First UK horizontal shale gas wells

In a statement this morning, the company said the rig would be used on the first two horizontal shale gas wells to be drilled in the UK.

Mr Egan, said:

“We are very pleased to have taken delivery of the drilling rig to our shale gas exploration site.

“The drilling of the first horizontal exploration wells into UK shale rock will be an important milestone in unlocking a vital new source of natural gas for the country.

“With the decline of North Sea gas and our ever increasing reliance on gas imports, including shale gas imported from the US, developing an indigenous source of natural gas is critical for UK energy security, our economy, jobs and the environment.

“We are proud as a Lancashire company to be at the forefront of that effort.”

The company said it would begin drilling in August. The first borehole would be a pilot well to about 3,500 metres deep. Samples would be takenat various levels within the shale rock to decide where best to drill the horizontal wells.

The first two of four horizontal wells permitted at the site would then be drilled at depths of between 2,000m and 3,500m, the company said.

A spokesperson said:

“There is no precedent in the UK on how long the horizontal wells through the shale will take to drill however Cuadrilla currently estimates these will be completed before the end of 2017.”

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s activities said police escorted a large convoy into the Preston New Road site at about 4.15am today.

DrillOrDrop understands the rig was transported in sections in containers and will be constructed on site.

Cuadrilla’s original plan was for a 52m rig. But a condition of the planning permission, approved by Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, in October 2016, was for a maximum height of 36m (more details).

Reaction

Frack Free Lancashire

““We understand that early this morning, Lancashire Police facilitated Cuadrilla bringing in a mass convoy of equipment onto the site at Preston New Road, under the cover of darkness and in direct contravention of the planning conditions.”

“We note that Mr Egan has claimed this week that his project is “progressing to plan”. However, even if Cuadrilla have managed to get their drilling rig onto the site it is hard to see how they will be able to start drilling in the second quarter of 2017 (as their web site still claims under latest news), unless they have managed to get a time machine onto the site at the same time.

“It is abundantly clear that community protest has had a major impact on Cuadrilla’s attempts at making progress at this site and it will continue to do so.

“As Cuadrilla’s work on this site intensifies and its predicted impacts start to be felt, our protest will continue, as is our legal right.”

Lancashire For Shale

“Lancashire For Shale congratulates Cuadrilla on achieving this significant milestone in the journey to deliver a new source of natural gas supply for the UK and to ensure that Lancashire in particular benefits from the resultant opportunities, jobs and investment.

“It is time now for the national protesters to accept that shale gas exploration is a reality and necessary for our country’s energy security.  They need to move on from their unnecessary protests and lock-ons, which are achieving nothing, except causing dismay and disruption to the local population.”

Friends of the Earth

 “We have repeatedly heard about this supposed shale gas revolution, but so far the fracking industry has only stalled while opposition has increased.

“Despite the best efforts of the industry to convince us otherwise, two thirds of people in Lancashire are still against fracking. We know that it’s too late for it to even be viable as a bridging technology, and it is deeply unpopular because it will be a bad deal for Lancashire.

“Friends of the Earth is standing with the people of Lancashire to oppose fracking and call instead for investment in the industries of future – technologies that will bring jobs – and meet the challenge of climate change.

“Democracy hasn’t counted for much in Lancashire and we won’t just lie down and be a test case for an industry that has been stopped around the UK and the world due to the risks. A piece of machinery may be on site but the only thing that’s changed is opposition will get stronger as the community vows to keep fighting.”

Greenpeace UK

Elisabeth Whitebread, energy campaigner, said:

“The arrival of a fracking drill in rural Lancashire marks a new stage in the industrialisation of our countryside for the shale gas we don’t need. In defiance of its promises on climate at the G20, and despite huge losses run up by the fracking industry to date, the UK is still doing all it can to push forward this unnecessary new fossil fuel industry.

“Lancashire said no to fracking, but the government overruled the democratic process and gave Cuadrilla the go ahead to frack for gas. The first drill may be going in, but the fracking firms know that their industry is on its last legs in the UK. The government should take a fresh look at this industry’s poor financial track record, listen to the public, stick to its international climate commitments and call an end to this dirty industry for good.”

 

80 replies »

  1. bryn thomas have set out in detail why they are taking the crane back and it’s isn’t because of the bad reviews, if companies pulled out because of bad reviews the site would still be a green field

  2. “Opponents of Cuadrilla’s activities said police escorted a large convoy into the Preston New Road site at about 4.15am today.

    DrillOrDrop understands the rig was transported in sections in containers and will be constructed on site.”

    The antis failed miserably here. How can you miss a large drilling rig being moved on site? No lock ons, sitting on the highway, kale or cakes, Americans or Australian Greenies? Too early?

    Drilling rigs (which can drill to 3,500m and drill long laterals) are always tranported in sections and erected on site. Mud pumps, cement unit, solids control system, BOPs, choke manifold, diverter, drill pipe, drill collars, generators, SCR system ….. etc etc. Lots of kit to “sneak in”.

    Asleep on the job!

    • [Edited by moderator]
      Here is a little Tar Frack song (not mine, you can guess) to clear the darkness [Edited by moderator]
      Sorry these pages wont produce a little bouncing sing along ball, but i am sure you can imagine your own, but here’s one to play with anyway: (:0})

      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      On the Tarship Empathise with Mercaptan Kirk,
      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      Only going northward ’cause they cannot find their purse!

      Lt. Uhura, report.
      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, give ‘em hell, Jim!

      Analysis, Mr. Spock.
      It’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
      it’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Mercaptan.

      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, stop ‘em hard, Jim!

      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      On the Tarship Empathise under Mercaptan Kirk.
      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      Only going Downward, ’cause they cannot find reverse!

      Medical update, Dr. McCoy.
      It’s worse than that, they’re mad, Jim, mad, Jim, mad, Jim;
      it’s worse than that, they’re mad, Jim, mad, Jim, mad!

      It’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
      it’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Mercaptan.

      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, crack ‘em up, Jim!

      Tarship Mercaptan, James T. Kirk:
      Ah! They come with police, mad to drill, mad to drill, mad to drill;
      They come with police, mad to drill, mad to drill, men!

      It’s worse than that, they’re mad, Jim, mad, Jim, mad, Jim;
      it’s worse than that, they’re mad, Jim, mad, Jim, mad!

      Well, it’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
      it’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Mercaptan.

      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, scrape ’em off, Jim.

      Tar Frackin’ across the Universe,
      On the Tarship Empathise under Mercaptan Kirk.
      Tar Frackin’ across the Universe,
      Only going Downwards, and things are getting worse!

      Engineer, Mr. Scott:
      They cannot change the laws of physics, laws of physics, laws of physics;
      They cannot change the laws of physics, laws of physics, Jim.

      Ah! They come with police, mad to drill, mad to drill, mad to drill;
      They come with police, mad to drill; Scotty, beam me up!

      It’s worse than that, they’re mad, Jim, mad, Jim, mad, Jim;
      it’s worse than that, they’re mad, Jim, mad, Jim, mad!

      Well, it’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it;
      It’s vile, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Mercaptan!

      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow;
      There’s Frackers on the starboard bow, big old rig now!

      They cannot frack the Earth Jim! Earth Jim, Earth Jim,
      They cannot frack the Earth Jim Earth Jim, Och, Aye Jimmy!

      It’s worse than that, it’s bad Physics, Jim, Physics Jim, Physics Jim,
      It’s worse than that, it’s bad Physics, Jim! Physics Jim, Physics!

      Bridge to engine room, warp factor 9!

      Och, if they frack it any more she’ll blow, Cap’n!

      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      On the Tarship Empathise with Mercaptan Kirk.
      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      Only screaming frackwords ’cause they cannot find a nurse!

      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      On the Tarship Empathise with Mercaptan Kirk.
      S’crap Frackin’ across the Universe,
      Only freakin frackwords, they really are perverse!

      Have a lovely evening!

        • Yeah, Phils a scream! Poor peeny, tragic? yeah, but funny too! The funniest and perhaps the most sad thing of all is, i think he really believes it?

        • But you see PhilC doesn’t exist, and nor do I,
          and nor do you,
          nor any of the frackers!
          None of us do, just so many 1’s and 0’s in the digital wind howling over a dystopian fracked devastated world.
          And there is no red, or blue pill.
          Welcome to the future.

  3. Cuadrilla are a Lancashire Company? Just another fracking fairytale…
    We have the (IRISH) Mr Egan heading up numerous individual limited companies under the umbrella of Cuadrilla ( whose ultimate holding is based offshore) and which is in turn part owned by AJ Lucas ( AUSTRALIAN) who in turn are part owned by various HK shareholdings ( CHINESE).
    Their much trumpeted move to Bamber Bridge ( and which according to their company accounts rather than creating jobs, actually shed personnel ), IS in Lancashire but a Lancashire company they are not!

  4. They should have held onto the chap from USA-he could have had his ear to the ground testing for the vibrations of approaching vehicles-seen it on the movies, so must be true!

    I wonder what AJLucas shares will do overnight?

    • LCC should make them remove the rig – in operative hours – and then bring it back – in operative hours. Add to that a huge fine for taking the piss….

      This is not the first time Cuadrilla have ‘done their own thing’….can’t be trusted. It’s time LCC took a stand.

      • ‘As a result of Cuadrilla’s decision to carry out deliveries in the early hours of this morning, a policing operation was put in place’….

        ….this is surely aiding and abetting Cuadrilla’s decision and subsequent action to breach the planning condition set by the Secretary of State? The Police should have refused to participate and advised Cuadrilla to apply for a change to the condition……shame.

  5. Seriously, Administrator – you must block GottaBKidding. All he does, day in and day out, is just insult people who are opposed to fracking and call them names like ‘vile’ and ‘disgusting’. Is that acceptable to your standards of comment? No wonder this person hides behind a made-up name online. How many more offensive, insulting posts must he make before you take some action?

    • Ellie, you really do not understand democracy and freedom of speech. Myself and many many others think the actions taken by certain protestors are best described by using the words I have used, I understand you don’t like what others may think. By all means turn a blind eye as you lot usually do but to call for someone AGAIN to be blocked really does not give you any credibility.
      I am not sorry to burst your little bubble.

    • Ellie, this site is at least moderated, these characters are deliberately disruptive, at least ten other swappable id’s that appear every now and then. Their own site is like the most horrendously vicious mad frackers tea party, and they make these concerted efforts to attempt dominate this site and drive everyone else out by the grossest of personal attacks. It looks like there are several of them, but fact its only a few multiple id’s.
      Its a strategy, that is all, their purpose is to divert any attention away from the o£&g’s own sad shortcomings and insult the hell out of everyone else. I do actually think sometimes that there are also some sort of AI bot interfaces, not people at all, the internet and social media are plagued with them, its a sort of destabilising intimidation factory, a Turing test perhaps.
      What you realise after a while is that their noise is just that, empty and hollow. Just stick to your guns and laugh at them, but never let them get you down. Its a tough lesson, but worth the effort. Like refraction or Sherwulfe said its the best recruiting tool for protest, so gross is the pro tracking stance portrayed here.

      • Another strategy that is worth worth a few words, is that the strategy by the anti antis is to control the narrative flow.
        These are the tricks they use, standard procedure 101 in the book of astro turfers strategy.
        That is done by them leaping on any subject they don’t want to be concentrated on, and try to divert it into personal attacks, and also you notice they want to be first to post on any subject, thereby directing the narrative, often with the most outrageous remarks to make you reply in horror, just dont be drawn, or ridicule them.
        Another strategy will be to ignore a subject they don’t want discussed and carry on with the personal attacks as if nothing was said.
        Also they will not discuss a technical issue off the cuff, they sometimes go elsewhere for info and return to it, by that time the subject has moved on.
        There are a couple of ways of dealing with that.
        First don’t only react, always post your opinion regardless of whether it was replied to or not.
        Also back each other up, don’t leave someone to struggle by them selves, you will notice that in the event of a dodgy subject in their eyes, they will back each other up with the most outrageous attacks on the person, rarely the subject.
        Use humour and ridicule personal attacks, they do it, why not you?
        Stick to your guns, keep repeating the subject and your point.
        Don’t react negatively, these id’s are trained, or programmed to exploit that, don’t give them the opportunity.
        Change the subject to another angle, that always causes them to reset or employ another id, its often the same person trying to appear as another, and then change the angle again, better to keep the initiative.
        They will either try to attack you personally, or only concentrate on one word or phrase, ignoring everything else, return to the subject and don’t get drawn into single words or phrases, its just a diversion technique.
        They will say they don’t read your posts if they cant handle it, that’s not true, its just to try to say your point isn’t worth looking at. If that were true, they wouldn’t need to ignore it, its just a strategy, ignore it.
        The last one is repeat the same words back, but change the emphasis to your subject, they are then forced to argue against their own words, often they will just post another nonsense attack to change the subject, just repeat your point again.
        They do this all the time, its time to take the initiative and play them at their own game.
        Happy hunting.

  6. Don’t worry Ellie. People like GBH are, by their example, the best recruiters for anti-fracking that I can imagine.

    It’s strange visiting this site after a week away seeing how this old crowd of fossil fuel fans still fails to see the writing on the wall for their (particularly fracking) industry. The move towards green tech globally is so huge, and accelerating at such a pace that the economics of these developments mean they’ll not get far. A few messy steps perhaps. Still, I’m inspired by the local’s resistance – why should their area be prostituted before any other?

    • i think the day GBH learns to burst a bubble, no fizzy drink will be safe, and a few not so fizzy ones too? Not that that either last for very long anyway?

  7. I guess that when anti-frackers force Cuadrilla to breach conditions this is considered a sort of victory? My how the anti-frackers would celebrate if they caused a spill or another accident! They aren’t too short-sighted are they? :o)

  8. Ellie-do what I do. Just ignore posters you don’t like, for whatever reason. Quite simple, just don’t read them. It is a two sided street we are moving along.
    I quite like a few politically incorrect posts (think that is the modern term,) the ones that are simply constructed to incite hatred offend me. Not because I have a thin skin but they add nothing to the discussion apart from bile, so I see the name and ignore. Yes, the name will probably change, but it soon dawns as to who it is, and then repeat.

    Don’t forget, those of us who support fracking testing have had to put up with months of fake news and pseudo science. If we asked the administrator to bar those it would be a pretty bare site.

  9. I think it is a great pity that the police have been used by Cuadrilla to get around a Traffic Management Plan Condition that was set down by the Secretary of State when he issued his decision on 6 October 2016. If LCC want to set an example a punitive letter is no good but perhaps a substantial fine should be levied, that might deter them from doing something similar in the future. You can gloat at the moment Francis but you are still way behind your original timetable.

    • Agreed – a substantive fine is required – to be paid by those blocking the gates / road on a daily basis. A bit of an own goal? Perhaps LCC will withdraw the Planning Permission or perhaps they were made aware of the early morning rig mobilisation. Unlikely the Police were the only ones that knew about it?

    • Cuadrilla and the police would not have had to do this had it not been for the illegal protesting activity ie climbing on top of trucks. Cuadrilla always knew when the rig was being moved there would be a huge increase in protestor violence and would have to take appropriate counter measures. As a means to protect the public from harm this was the correct decision. You must realise that legal protesting would only have allowed a slow walk in front of the convoy so the rig would have arrived anyway, so I can only assume there were indeed other illegal plans in place to stop the rig completely.

  10. Played a blinder.

    24th: N. Wales police officers out. (Mole removal or a lull into a false sense of security?)

    25th: Eight hour road closure, as protestors interfere with a lorry convoy. (Justification for following action?)

    27th: Rig brought onto site in early morning, quietly and efficiently.

    Anyway, that’s the way it looks to the media and the public. Someone needs to write a screen play about this, a modern version of Troy. I gave a warning months ago about dragging off all the wooden horses that were presented, but it seems the Achilles heel was just too much of a weakness.

    Onto the next phase-I could predict what that will bring but will not as it is pointless, with July showing the protest has been hijacked, so now a law unto itself.

    And the winner is?

    Jim Ratcliffe.

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