Breaking: Drilling begins at Cuadrilla’s Lancashire shale gas site

pnr Cuadrilla rig Cuadrilla

The shale gas firm, Cuadrilla has confirmed that drilling began today at its site at near Blackpool.

The Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton will see the first horizontal shale gas exploration wells in the UK.

A spokesperson for the company said drilling began early this afternoon but was unable to give a precise time.

Drilling will continue 24-hours a day and the company has estimated it will be completed before the end of the year. Fracking is not expected to take place until December or early next year.

Cuadrilla’s spokesperson said the company would drill the pilot well vertically to about 3,500m. Samples would then be taken from the shale rocks. Based on analysis of the samples, Cuadrilla wold then decide where to drill the first two horizontal wells, which would be at depths of 2,000-3,500m.

pnr 170817 Frack Free Creators - Knitting Nannas Lancashire1

The Preston New Road site at about the time that drilling began. Photo: Frack Free Creators – Knitting Nannas Lancashire

A neighbour of the site said this afternoon she could hear the drilling from her home. “It sounds like an elevator going up and down intermittently”, she said.

An opponent of Cuadrilla’s operations described the news as “a sad day for Lancashire and democracy”. Lancashire County Council refused planning permission for the site but its decision was overturned after a public inquiry by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid. A case at the Court of Appeal will be heard at the end of this month.

A spokesperson from Preston New Road Action Group said:

“Preston New Road Action Group are bitterly disappointed that Cuadrilla have reportedly commenced drilling at the Preston New Road site, despite a legal challenge still being in progress.

“They seem to have a total disregard for the local community, despite on many occasions saying they wish to be good neighbours.

“Once drilling commences the local community is subjected to 24×7 drilling with the impacts that it is likely to have on their lives. As the rig was delivered during the night they have already breached planning conditions which does not bode well for the future.”

Friends of the Earth called on the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, not to give final consent for fracking at the site. The organisation began a petition this afternoon, which had reached almost 2,500 signatures by 5.10pm.

“It’s not too late for the government to admit it has got it wrong on fracking.”

Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth North West campaigner, said:

“The start of drilling means that local people will be subject to 24 hour noise, 7 days a week, from a fracking project that they don’t even want.

“Fracking is bad news for the local community, bad news for our environment and is the wrong solution to our energy needs.

“But it’s not too late for the government to admit that it has got it wrong on fracking and put an end to this risky industry before it starts. Now is the time for Greg Clark to show he’s serious about climate change and say no to fracking before it begins.”

Elisabeth Whitebread, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:

“As Cuadrilla’s drill works round the clock to bore a test well two miles deep, growing numbers of protestors will continue to oppose fracking. Residents are already reporting noise from the drill and are rightly concerned about the impact of new fracked gas on our climate.

“We already have more gas than we can afford to burn so this disruptive search for shale gas which would add to global warming is illogical. Is Theresa May really going to stand by and allow the launch of a new fossil fuel industry in the UK in 2018? That’s not the action of a climate leader.”

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF, said@

 “The Secretary of State should refuse permission for licences to frack until the companies involved can convince experts that this is part of a cleaner, greener energy future for the UK – one that respects people, nature and wildlife.”

In a statement released this afternoon, Cuadrilla 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.”

The site has planning permission to drill and hydraulically fracture a total of four wells.

pnr Cuadrilla control room Cuadrilla

Members of the Wensley family, which owns the Preston New Road site, pose in the control room on 15 August 2017. Photo: Cuadrilla

Today’s news coincided with an announcement by the company that it was releasing the first community benefit payment of £100,000.

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

“Today is an important milestone for the energy industry in the UK as well as the community in Lancashire.

“In addition to the jobs created, and the nearly £3million of investment that Lancashire has received to date as a result of our shale gas exploration, the local community will now also directly benefit.

“Following on from this Community Benefit Fund payment a consultation will now start with the community to decide how best to distribute the payment to good causes in the area.  We are very proud to be the first British onshore shale gas operator to make this happen.”

Cuadrilla said local residents would be surveyed by MES (Membership Engagement Services), an independent research, engagement and communications company, hon what the money should be spent on. The Community Benefit Fund will be managed by the Community Foundation for Lancashire.

Local residents will also be consulted on whether they wish payments for the other three wells to be paid into the fund or distributed to individual local households through a separate scheme. If these wells are also drilled, the fund would pay out another £300,000, the company said.

The industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, established the community benefit fund scheme and welcomed Cuadrilla’s first payment. Ken Cronin, the organisation’s chief executive, said:

“I am delighted the first payment under our scheme has been made and look forward to hearing and seeing the interesting ways this money will be spent in the local communities over the coming months.”

Under the UKOOG scheme, communities will receive £100,000 for sites that host exploration wells where hydraulic fracturing takes place and 1% of revenue for those sites that produce commercial quantities of gas.

A spokesperson for Backing Fracking, which describes itself as a residents’ collective that supports shale gas extraction, said this evening:

“Lancashire has already experienced an influx of cash in the form of money spent with local suppliers, but it’s important that host communities feel the benefits more deeply for themselves. The £100,000 community benefit payment is a step in the right direction and will hopefully be put to good use.”

Lancashire for Shale issued this statement on 18 August:

“Lancashire For Shale welcomes this significant drilling milestone on the journey to delivering the economic benefits from shale gas to the people of Lancashire

“It is particularly noteworthy that the start of drilling has triggered the promised donation of £100,000 to an independent community benefit fund, for community projects to be agreed with local people. Cuadrilla is once again meeting its commitments.”

This post will be updated with more reaction as it comes in

Photo diary of how Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site has changed 

64 replies »

  1. Thanks for the photo “Knitting Nannas Lancashire”. I’m no good at knitting – perhaps you should just concentrate on what you are good at. I am a grandad geoscientist.

  2. Just watched BBC NW Tonight. There were two sections. One by PNR with a protestor. She complained about the noise (I could hardly hear her because of normal traffic flow along the road. Certainly no sound from the rig picked up in the microphone. She also complained about the light pollution. I hope she also complains about Blackpool illuminations which will start soon (the traffic caused and the electricity used). The second section was very negatively framed interview in the studio with Frnacis Egan. So, as was pointed out in the review of the BBC a couple of year ago – their local news is far from balanced or impartial.

  3. there is a big difference between noise of traffic at night and when the interview was done, the illuminations generate income and not radioactive waste

    francis egan is never challenged strongly by the bbc, i’ve asked them if they’ve got any footage of him telling the truth but they’ve not responded

    • So the nightime electricity for the illuminations is not supplied at all from nuclear power (which generates low level, medium level and high level radioactive waste – and Preston New Road has lorries with nuclear fuel rods going along it from time to time, to supply nucelear power plants, as stated by the LCC Chief planning officer during the planning enquiry meetings for PNR). Get real hrb, whoever you are.

      • no lorries carrying nuclear fuel rods will ever need to go along pnr, where would they be going from and to?
        and just because radioactive waste already exists is no reason to create even more
        fracking is wrong from start to finish and we can only hope not that much damage is done by it before it is stopped

        • hrb – you may wish what you wish for – but I am quoting my notes from what the Chief Planning Officer said, as I undrstood it, So why do you stick your head in the sand? Also, the only radioactive waste from fracking is NORM, low level naturally occuring waste,, that has to be disposed of, just like conventional oil & gas operations, and medical applications, within nuclear legislation. I suggest you avoid granite work tops in your kitchen, never walk in the Bowland fells, or sunbathe on the beaches of west Cornwall, or use medical tracer applications, or fly during summer months, as well as sunbathing in your garden, patio, or whatever. Also avoid Brasil nuts at Christmas, and of course keep well clear of any Irish Sea beach, if you really are so sensitive about these issues. As for me, nd my family, life goes on!

          • thanks for all the advice nick, you mention the irish sea on the other side of which is ireland where fracking is banned
            the age of fossil fuels is coming to an end we have to move to renewables
            if any vehicle carrying nuclear fuel rods goes past the fracking site it needs a new satnav
            and also ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand

            • So, so, wrong, hrb. Move to S Australia and you’ll feel the constraints of “clean” renewable power. High prices, blackouts, unstable grid, businesses fleeing and more consumers living in fuel poverty. Enjoy your time there!

  4. I wonder just who the ‘community’ is that’s getting this first release of blood money….could be interesting

  5. In all of these discussions there are two major issues which are not raised. The hydraulic fracking process requires and uses up tons of fresh water to deliver the chemical cocktail to fracture the shale rock layers to release the gas. The amount of water used would serve several large cities. As we are a small densely populated island we already have low reserves and our reservoirs and rivers are severely taxed. The issue is that the fresh water that is used is permanently contaminated with a mix of lethal toxins and carcinogens such as benzine. Benzine in the minutest quantities causes mutations and cancers in humans, animals and fish. Benzine is not naturally biodegradable and persists in the environment. Once released in the fluid toxic mix it is pumped into the earth. Who knows where the water and chemicals will run to when it bursts through the strata of rock. It is not contained. It can leach into underground aquifers and contaminate precious fresh water springs, rivers, lakes and sea. See Pennsylvania and Colorado where there have been contaminated wells and rivers and dead fish. Even in remote regions this eventually reaches the food life chain. That us not all. As the gas is released and extracted a toxic mix of sludge bilges to the surface. This is not just a known risk, it is a known mass of carcinogenic poison. It can’t be filtered and decontaminated. The water in the sludge is contaminated forever. They store this in
    Sludge ponds. The more they frack the more underground soil and water is contaminated, and the more sludge comes back ti the surface. In areas of natural beauty the government is not allowing sludge ponds to blight North Yorkshire or the Lake District. Then where does it go if it cannot be disposed of as it is too dangerous to allow near to humans or animals or trees or farmland or landfill sites as it can contaminate soil and groundwater wherever it is put. How do Cuadrilla, Third Energy, Ineos propose to safely dispose of the sludge when it cannot be safely disposed of unless encased in concrete or glass which are carbon intensive in the extreme to produce – one of the problems that is just left by the frackers and the nuclear industry to local or central government. Dounreay is costing over £200milliom a year to “decommission”. The figures predicted for decommissioning never mind waste disposal rather disappearing it in disused coal mines hoping that no-one will find out that we’ve permanently poisoned the earth and water beneath our feet for millions of years. At a time when with the cladding in Grenfell and other buildings there are potential charges now of manslaughter, what is the case of governments overriding the will of local councils and communities to give land rights to largely US and Australian owned fracking corporations and holdings to wittingly poison Britain’s soil and water supplies with toxins that are known to be lethal to human and other living organisms and cause cancer and slow lingering painful death. There are already unprecedented rises in the incidence of cancers in young children in Britain and other industrialised societies. The causes cannot all be put down to life style choices. There has to be something we are doing to the environment to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we grow food on, How can we allow the use if harmful carcinogens to be injected into our land by largely foreign owned corporations fronted by UK company registration and a cooked up 10% of shareholders who are present or mostly past employees of the company who may not even be resident in the UK any longer? How can we believe the blatant deceit of these companies who advise the government that the process is safe when the sludge, the effluent, the contamination of our water supplies is not just a risk but a certainty. This will kill our precious environment and it will kill us and our children. To use these lethal substances so freely and lie about where those truck loads and tanker loads of sludge are going to end up in some brownfield landfill site is manslaughter. It has to be criminal to deceive the government about the facts of the process and the accidents and death of rivers in Pennsylvsnia and contamination of sewage in major US cities where the sludge has found its way into the chain. Will Britain have to start
    importing fresh water from Europe?!!! The economics never take irreversible contamination into consideration. But whatever the economics it is wrong to poison ground and water. At least C02 can be biodegraded if you plant enough forests and let trees grow leaves and branches in cities. But put toxins and carcinogens in our precious earth and ground water. That has to be an impermissible crime against human life and humanity. MPs and Ministers and local authorities have an absolute duty to rescind the permissions to frack on grounds of false misrepresentation of environmental and health and safety issues. Sources are Earth Matters US paper on Hydraulic Fracking and New Civil Engineer.

    • Anna
      I do not share your fear of Benzine from fracking, as, while a carcinogen, we are exposed to it from multiple other sources in our high density society. More later on this.
      I am interested in your description of sludge ponds. I was unaware that fracking brings large amounts of sludge to the surface. I know that the return frack water is/ was put in open ponds in the US, but in the UK, by law that water has to be in tanks. The solids content is low, by design and by nature in shale.
      So have you some info to share with us re sludge ponds containing frack solids. Having been in the O/G industry, solids in the oil and gas stream are certainly a problem, leading to poor performance from the separator erosion of pipeworh and so on, and followed by the happy job of digging it out, and disposing of the sand ( NORM contaminated ). But I have not come across sludge ponds as a separation technique in the UK in the OG industry.
      Yes in the mining industry, to whit the problems with tailings lagoons in parts of the world from time to time.

    • A whole lot of hype there Anna! Frack water doesn’t “burst” through anything. And the amounts are small relative to the usage for golf courses and other industrial applications. You also need to consider that frack water can be reused. We have been fracking for 60 years in the US and haven’t had significant problems, but we have benefited from a greater reduction of co2 emissions than any other industrialized nation due to the impact of fracking. We’ve also seen energy prices cut by more than half, millions of jobs created, and trillions added to GDP. Good luck with your hyperbole!

      • Protectthis – I am drawing attention to the findings in the US where extensive fracking is in process and yes, the reductions in CO2 emissions will be certainly due as much to the investment and transfer to solar and other renewables and stopping coal burning. We are also a small densely populated island and our water resources are diminishing – particularly over the last year. In the US there are vast wildernesses, mountain ranges and deserts unlike anything in Lancashire or North Yorkshire – so to draw attention to what is examined in scrupulous scientific detail on the US EARTH blog – on Hydraulic Fracking which process uses vast quantities as hydraulic is what it says and fracking is what is says – using the force of water to fracture substrata. This US blog is environmentally driven. There are copious links to studies, analyses of chemicals, contamination od sewage and hence warer filtration in NY state. Also drawing attention to the contamination and water acquisition has now started to get a real exchange and referral to information on the go – and exchange and pooling of information and questioning the information sourced from offshore owned nominally UK registered companies for tax and operational loophole purposes, is essential. The money and investment and hedge funding behind the hype over fracking, nuclear power in order to secure land and drilling/mining rights in the UK and whichever other third world country in the world is what has to be contested. We all need to be better informed. Are you aware of how carbon intensive nuclear is ? Do you know the cost of decommissioning ? Do you not think there are not costs in decommissioning fracking sites. And are you not concerned about the idea in the Manchester University paper that some 40% of sludge could find its way on to agricultural land and the rest along with all the other mountain of poisons that are not tracked or regulated and transported afar in dirty diesel trucks. Has anyone calculated the diesel burning involved in powering the drills and trucking the waste . No mention of a purpose built site to “decontaminate” – how do you wash rivers clean. All that is left is dilution. But then as more and more sludge waste is having to be handled and put somewhere then companies cut corners and governments cut corners and turn a blind eye like the whole of building control and health and safety regulations and services in the UK. Fracking in the US does not have that glowing a record. We all have to act to reverse global warming and stop poisoning our land and oceans. Look into the US and Australian conglomerates who own Cuadrilla – what eske dies Riverstone Holdings do in NY?

          • Protectthis. The information that academics, scientists and engineers have collated on the EARTH website on the subject of Hydraulic Fracking is extensively researched. If you follow the many links, you will find the bases for the paper. In many instances the UK information is severely flawed, in so far as the data on water acquisition, usage and waste, the chemicals used and the disposal of the contaminated water and solid that are returned to the surface or left proximate to underground acquifers in limestone for example, is supplied to the government by the companies, Cuadrilla, Third Energy, Ineos, Igas and so on. The recent Manchester University research quotes these. Not only are they not
            independent, but the operations are concealed underground and there cannot be inspectors in site. Therefore the answers to government questions on environmental and human health safety issues, usage figures and disposal methods cannot be checked and verified on a regular basis. There are, and I am a lay person, even conflicting summaries by the same companies on how concentrated the chemicals left in the ground to seep into springs, rivers and local reservoirs, what exactly the chemicals to be used will be. They provide figures that differ vastly on the water usage issue even the measures used are not the same. Then they say of course that the water usage and chemicals will not be anything like the US usage in practice AND that
            it “may” increase when they start extraction from viable wells next year. There are such known hazards to the environment and human health that it appears unwise to take the sci fi hydraulic fracking route. One surely has to compare with the risks to the environment of conventional oil drilling and coal, as it seems that the water usage and the chemicals introduced and methane released in the process, should be considered in addition to the known CO2 and carbons hazards to the planet from burning the gas. It is the government that is misinformed and possibly even the employees or future employees of the companies. Some of the chemicals used are deadly to human, animal, plant and acquatic life and there is a problem with the diposal methods claimed. How do you dispose of harmful chemicals that do not simply biodegrade into non toxins? Isn’t nuclear waste that we are storing up in ever larger quantities not just for “reporocessing” from the UK but IMPORTING the stuff in ships from as far afield as Japan, and the millions spent on concrete to hide the stuff for future mutated generations to contend with, thanks Dad, isn’t the lesson learned? The cost of the clean up when the clean up is just not possible, is beyond imagining. We must aim to survive without fracking and without nuclear. If we harm the environment any more than our shocking record to date on plastics, petrochemical derivatives, nuclear accidents and bleached coral reefs, there won’t be any fish in the sea. Fracking only puts money in Cuadrilla owners pockets 45% Australian owned, 45%
            Riverstone Holdings N.Y. oh and the gift of 10% of shares to the UK employees to keep the ltd co,. returns looking clean. Oh or past employees of the company who might not have resided and paid taxes in the UK in any event. It is essential that the information is independently gathered and researched and that we actually study it and exchange it. US studies are relevant. They said Grenfell cladding had been subjected to tests and was safe. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also if making a documentary about fracking would you not have to independently research drill or drop?

            • Of course you are a lay person, Anna. This much is obvious in your commentary. Many of the “studies” you cite are produced by anti-fracktivist activists. The theories espoused in these documents have been thoroughly debunked by empirical data and independent scientific examination.

              The FACT is that a dozen independent scientific bodies have studied fracking’s impact in depth and found that the practice has no systemic impact on human health. There is not a single case of verified fluid migration via fractures into aquifers despite the fact that we have fracked millions of wells, and despite the fact that in early days, fracking happened at levels which were in retrospect way too close to aquifers.

    • Quote “The amount of water used would serve several large cities.”

      You have got your decimal points at least 3 places out .

      A study found that even on an industrial scale full development , hydraulic fracturing would increase UK water consumption by less than 0.1% .

      • We have quoted sources of information; studies in the EARTH blog. There are conflicting figures in the recent Manchester University paper supplied by the Companies. Your figure is a fiction. You say “a study found”. Very enlightening. What study? Was it independent? What
        Was the sample? How have you checked and verified it? Civil engineers say that the figure you supply does not tally with studies undertaken of actual usage over periods of years, across different sites, depths etc across various States in the US. The fact is that the UK is vastly more densely populated per sq mile than the US. Therefore the water resources available per capita are very much less. We are none of us anywhere remote from the coast. Over extraction of reservoirs and rivers is already a problem. Do you frack when there us a drought?

  6. Is anyone training IR cameras on the site? Even from a distance you can tell if methane releases to the atmosphere are happening with IR. The amounts can be anywhere from insignificant to huge (known as the methane ‘burp’), and they can be observed happening between the drilling phase and completion of a well. Both biogenic and thermogenic methane pockets get disturbed and released along with various contaminants and particulates. Local households and communities should take a close interest in this because the drilling company won’t – it’s not in their interest to.

      • AI… Cornell and Duke universities in the States have strong engineering, geology and earth sciences departments. They have pioneered not only advanced R&D on rock fracturing but have been among the first to look at ‘top down’ measurements of emissions from O&G sites. While the shale gas industry engages a lot of science and engineering expertise it is nearly all devoted to how to get the best yields out of the rock/shale and very little to do with the emissions and side effects. Their ‘bottom up’ emissions calculations (based on lab data mostly) have been shown to be well below that recorded from actual field data – measured from land-based, airborne and satellite sensors.

        Top down measurements were aiming to establish overall leakage from gas production via seeps, venting, flaring, migration and general system leakage etc – mainly downstream from well ‘completion’ onwards. But then they (a research team led by Tony Ingraffea) got some surprising results – some really big emission readings at the early stages of drilling and before well completion. From my recollection (I can’t remember the source but will look again if time allows) the conclusion there was that it was generally due to the rupturing of old trapped pockets of methane at various depths.

        Given the recent announcement of the very convoluted nature of the UK shale formations it wouldn’t be surprising if there are many such ‘pockets’ of trapped gas, which actually wouldn’t make for a straightforward fracking operations.

        • Its drilled gas Philip – quite simple – you drill a hole through rock and the porosity in the volume of the rock you have drilled will contain something. In the shale it will generally be methane (if the shale is the correct maturity / TOC etc.) – this is removed from the drilling fluid at surface and vented via a Poor Boy degasser. It is not surprising at all, it happens with every well drilled in a hydrocarbon basin.

          • It’s not referring to those things that you take for granted Paul. How do you quantify the odourless invisible gas that sails skyward? Have you even tried to? It takes a different kind of expertise to evaluate and measure.

            Why does the industry always squirm its way out of continuous monitoring saying things like ‘it’s too expensive’. Give me a break, each well can make millions for the industry when it all goes to plan. Such monitoring gets avoided because there is no interest in being caught out on something that will incur extra costs or tightening of regulations. The UK is already well off target for it’s carbon emissions. Will the EA step up to the plate and be a responsible regulator? We’ll see.

            A short while ago you were seen to be saying there would be no flaring with onshore gas Paul. Funny how things change so fast.

  7. Anti-fracking? Feel free to die in poverty in the dark, but I will use the outputs and deal with the fake problems raised IF any occur

  8. For all the information needed about the quantities of water required and used and contaminated and the sludge tanks or ponds lined with concrete case – not as sludge ponds in sewage works where one separates the liquids and has filtration systems. The point is that the toxins cannot be filtrated except possibly by an osmosis plant (carbon intensive economically unviable). The information about release of methane, contaminated wells and springs, rivers and lakes comes from a simple of Hydraulic Fracking. There are papers and links to scientific research and data collated in the US. The transport to where and the containment of ever increasing quantites of contaminated sludge, or water which comes back to the surface is it would seem certain contamination and death to the environment and increased rates of cancer in humans, and the animals and fish that we consume, ANYWHERE that this sludge, or waste water is released by accident or on purpose. Imagine the storage currently required at Sellafield or anywhere there us the euphemistic and false claim to be able to safely reprocess and de radioactivate nuclear waste. The problem with these lethal toxins and carcinogens is the same. Petrochemicals and their byproducts and nuclear materials and waste are killing our seas and killing the planet. I live with someone who has low grade B cell follicular lymphoma who should not have contracted the disease in his forties. My best friend at Art School had Hodkins lymphoma age 25. My Mother who had a healthy diet and grew all her own vegetables died of stomach cancer age 66. Just two other film-maker artist friends are recently diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in their early firtues and fifties. The increase in the incidence of lymphomas and other cancers in the UK and the US and other industrialised societies in which petrichemicals, plastics, pesticides and all forms of noxious chemicals are used, is not co-incidental. That there is benzine present in the atmosphere or because whales are being washed up choked with plastic or because they have found deadly chemicals long since banned are persisting and carried by organisms in the deepest parts of our oceans is no reason to accept the proliferation of poisons and carcinogens into the ground.Just because wells are so deep means only that the problem is concealed “for many a long year” see Lord Denning on turning a blind eye and concealment in a fraud and negligence appeal case – no limitation to free the expert from liability. The ground water was poisoned in Serpent River, Canada in the course of uranium mining. Drilling for shale gas has all the equivalents of mining problems. I am deeply concerned that engineers and experts advising the government get real to this. We whittle on about doing our bit on CO2. It is now found that shale gas extraction as a comment so rightly brought up produces pockets of methane and methane is a far greater problem for global warming than CO2. It is not in fact all things added in extraction transport and the concrete to contain the ever increasing waste, less carbon intensive than coal. So we need to use our imagination and brains and gather the science and expose the deceit of shale gas, nuclear and the promise that any other lethal dirty energy is safe for human health or ok for the planet. It is clearly not. Chernobyl. Fukishima. Exon BP oil spills. The cost of decommissioning nuclear plants. How are you going to wash the Irish Sea and now the Channel? We need clean uncontaminated water and soil to live. Using up so much water and leaving it to find its way into ground water and into springs and rivers has to be a criminal act in breach of all health and safety regulation. Just because it is hidden and takes perhaps years to come to the surface, does not mean public officers and paid experts advising the government will be free from suit for manslaughter, fraud, or gross negligence. See Hydraulic Fracking 101 Library Media EARTHblog – Graphic: Granberg/ProPublica. This paper has many many links. We all have a responsibility artists/humanists or scientists to pool our intelligence to prevent harm to our land, to our environment. To stop lethal carcinogens and poisons, petrochemicals and plastics, being released. Clean energy and renewables are the only safe and therefore economically viable solution in the shorter and longer term. The harm to the environment and to human health (cancer treatments) has to be costed. What is the cost of decontaminating soi l and ground water to that depth and volume ?

      • Thank you for the link – I am just an artist and filmmaker and I joined with others in a share action to put questions to Barclays on their funding of third energy. As I had seen a TV documentary a number of years ago about the contamination of wells and ground water in remote areas of Pennsylvania where local populatons were getting sick and so before preparing my question I just googled poisons used in fracking and the Hydraulic Fracking 101 from Earth blog in the US came up. There were links to complex studies. But the economic argument for shale gas or nuclear just does not make sense. Contamination from the extraction, residues below ground and waste, is in my humble view a far greater issue than either methane release or CO2 emissions (I mean from the actual burning if the shake gas). My husband is a civil engineer so he constantly corrects me , just now – did I know that benzine and benzene are different. Thank you for the link. We have been writing to our MPs but I think we need to make inroads to Ministers and their expert advisers. I’m very concerned at the frequency of UK Ltd companies being registered to front major foreign financial interests, such as Cuadrilla, Deluxe Entertainment and Cambridge Analytica. The base for the larger ownership of these companies or holdings groups and hedge funds is in the US. Australia.

        • Anna you have unknowingly provided the perfect template for an ‘anti stereotype’ by using the words “artist, filmmaker and googled”. Stop reading scare stories from a different country and chill out. The real world is a dark place for people like yourself. Have a good day.

          • Darker for those in the dark – EARTH blog – Hydraulic Fracking 101 – US site besides cohesive collation of current data based on ground studies, I mean on the ground – there are links embedded to studies and reports on the chemicals used – their effects on human and aquatic life – and disposal of or the non disposability of the fracking waste water/sludge which returns to the surface – and artists and musicians are quick thinking and capable of observation and complex analysis to an extent that I haven’t encountered amongst the engineers and surveyors in the technology and construction field – pooling intelligence is essential – without condescension

            • Anna

              There is nothing amiss with being concerned. You cast your net quite wide in terms of those concerns, many of which no doubt we all think about.

              In terms of hydrocarbons, it is without doubt that energy in such a concentrated form as coal, oil and gas ( oil being the best ), has enabled the population of the globe to reach the level it is.

              As friend explained in Vietnam, the difference between going hungry / starving and susceptability to disease is the one grain of fertiliser popped in with the rice plant. That fertiliser is made from offshore gas. The night soil did not cut the mustard. I think there was a lot of work on rice strains and some slackening of the market ( more capitalism ), but he was keen on that grain of fertiliser.

              Anyway, now you have asked, no doubt people will mull over your worries one by one.

              For the worried, One book worth reading is by Perrow, titled Normal Accidents. He says, if it can go wrong it will, and humans should not rely on complex systems ( as required by nuclear power plants for example ), with stories of how it did go wrong. I think he was pessimistic, but it should be read.

              I myself have an interest in cancer rates. I think that there is a lot of hype, especially in America, where lots of people think chemicals are giving them cancer. Cancer rates are going up, everyone is suffering from ‘things’, such as headaches, nosebleeds, tinnitus, brain cancer, dizziness and so on ( I took that list from an old flyer on the dangers of mobile phones, but it pops up regularly for fracking, smart meters, power lines and so on ).

              I think otherwise, so I will dip into the study you refer to. We certainly need to be careful what gets put in the atmosphere and water.

              Finally, it’s worth noting that children cancer rates went up in the U.K. From 1990 by 11%, but have levelled off in the last decade. Our child cancer rates are the lowest in N Europe. As childhood cancer is so rare, it is well studied. My information comes from cancer research uk. As ever, I would point anyone concerned about childhood cancer to read the cancer research advice first.

            • Anna, the problem is your type seem to think my type lacks knowledge. The truth is you are getting your data from Google where as I am getting it from the ‘real’ world. Like I said, relax and put your feet up as nothing catastrophic is ever going to happen in the UK should we decide to begin fracking on a larger scale.

      • With reference to the paper, the technical details of which I am as a lay person not in a position to comment on. However one assumption concerns me and that is the source of the information on the constituents of the fracking fluids – the chemicals and the variations in the estimations of water usage which details appear to be provided by the Cuadrilla fracking firm and other. I do not understand how the disposal if the waste can be spread proportionately on agricultural land an the rest in landfill where the treachery of contamination of groundwater is a major concern across the world. I cannot understand how one can wait and see what happens when the drilling is underway!!!! With so many uncertainties and clearly uncertainty and marked differences in comparative studies between the GWP of natural gas and coal etc., I think the most worrying assumption in the conclusion is the faith in health and safety regulation, that us in attendance, care and honesty/transparency on the part if the potential contaminators. Grenfell and the whole cladding issue should instruct us about human nature, pursuit of profit, cost cutting and inadequacies of LA building control and planning enforcement! Human nature and risk is not taken into account as a percentage variable as an insurance company might – but the very idea that you can spread the waste in the manner described again information from the drilling companies which cannot possibly be relied upon as independent or transparent – this worries me. I have little faith in the independent expert industry to carry out satisfactory checks and how do you possibly apply regulation thousands of metres underground. The study is incredibly comprehensive but does not compare in my view to US studies based on facts on the ground over years of drilling invluding accidents and detailed examination of the toxicity of the chemicals used, not that might be used in greater quantities once drilling starts for real and not tests. And it worries me when oh the UK situation is so very different so we can’t actually plan for worst case scensrio and we can’t use US or Australian studies and it worries me even more when the carbon footprint of nuclear and reliance on massive concrete production for pits and tanks and deep burial which is currently added into the equation in recent assessments in the US, is not calculated. Reliance on stringent regulation and human integrity and actual evidence on the ground and in the water (US studies links on the EARTH blog) would seem to be the factor not factored in – we need to pool all research

        • Anna, here is some more reading for you. I advise you download it before Mr T. issues an order to take it offline.

          I pointed you to the Manchester study as it demonstrates that renewables are not benign with regard to human health risks and toxicity. Battery manufacture involves many toxic processes, and it seems that battery technology will need to be deployed on a wide scale if renewables are to be independent from fossil fuel back up. Thanks for your detailed posts & being transparent.

          • Thank you for the assessment of the effect of drinking water/resources. I mailed it on. Of course the US is a vast land mass with wildernesses that we just don’t have in the UK. The contaminatiion factor is critical when we are already suffering from over extraction. Yes, you are right to observe the problem with batteries when the drive is to go hybrid or fully electric. My husband is a civil engineer and constantly making comparisons of renewables. He is investing in wind (though trivial amounts) and has great hopes for wave power for Britain / which is not considered in the Manchester paper. When you speak of batteries, I think of the in built planned obsolescence of computers, cameras, hard drives. So every 3 years licences change and the masses and masses of drives and gear that ends up in landfill.

            • Anna, I have done some work on wave power and tidal. Shore based wave power is probably a way forward – but niche. Offshore wave power has been very difficult. The forces in the ocean are very destructive to any permanent engineered infrastructure. Also there is the big issue of toxic anti-fouling agents that would be needed to stop epiphytes and encrusting organisms from attaching and encrusting the infrastructure rendering it inefficient, or even impotent. Same for sea-bed tidal devices. I have also worked on tidal barrages, again niche, good if you can do it without significant environmental impacts, but perhaps only able to deliver 5% of what is needed for the UK- unless we make a choice to dramatically change estuarine ecosystems and coastal sediment processes/erosion.

  9. Well. our “examples” the Germans, have a few problems with sourcing energy. They tried the alternative energy source of geothermal in the Blackforest-and now have 270 buildings with cracks, the town has risen by 62 centimeters and moved 45 centimeters sideways. 400 claims so far. Two buildings have had to be demolished, and pumps will have to be used for years or decades to limit the damage!

    I live less than 20 miles from a long term geothermal facility in UK right in the middle of a major city-absolutely no problems. Just shows our engineering standards in the UK are pretty good-Gold Standard, you could say.

    Alternative energy sources need to considered, but not rushed into. Another example is the proposed tidal lagoon for Swansea. Apart from the high cost of energy generated (a third higher than Hinkley C) the proposal includes re-opening a granite quarry on the Lizard Peninsula to acquire the granite blocks, a mile or two from Coverack which we saw on the news suffering badly from recent floods. So, they put their tourism business back together and then the blasting starts! The quarry is also next to a diving school!

    But, of course, no earth shaking from alternative energy!

    • Martyn
      The report ‘ Damage to the historic town of Staufen ( Germany ) caused by geothermal drilling through anhydride bearing formations.’ Dated 2010 gives a good account of the issues.

      They were drilling shallow wells to obtain hot water, but maged to get water into anhydride formations. Hence swelling for uplift and, with continual water flowing through the formation, gypsum is dissolved leading to subsidence and the likely appearance of sinkholes.

      So the town is falling apart, and they cannot start fixing it until it stops moving.

      The strata is close to vertical, and the drilling was low tech ( similar to drilling a water well ), with compressed air used to blow out the cuttings.

      Looks like it was a Council project, hearing for the town hall, and a small company doing the boreholes. I expect the gov will have to bail them out. It would not be something covered by insurance.

      Let’s hope the grouting of the boreholes succeeded and they can get on with repairing the town.

      Nothing like the Southampton well I guess. 1800m deep, drilled and cased in an appropriate manner through whatever it went through in order to draw hot water from the Wessex Aquifer.

      In Staufen they fitted heat exchangers in the holes, to catch the heat flowing by (only 140m deep).

      Fascinating stuff.

  10. Fascinating reading indeed hewes62. I just think it brings into context two things, one, alternative energy is not a panacea and secondly, our engineering in the UK is not bad, whether it be for drilling holes, or making vehicles that are not designed to emit noxious fumes when no-one is monitoring them!

    And, perhaps a minor third (to some) we don’t generate 40% of our energy from coal.

    But, we are world class at whinging.

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