In a last attempt to stop fracking at Kirby Misperton, Friends of the Earth has asked North Yorkshire Police to investigate whether bats will be at risk from Third Energy’s planned operation.
DrillOrDrop has seen correspondence in which the environmental organisation says the test frack could harm species of bats which are protected by law.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) has told North Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable that a full investigation must be carried out before any operations at the fracking site begin.
The force should also contact Third Energy to prevent any further operations on site until the investigation had been concluded, FoE has requested.
According to the correspondence, FoE said planning permission had been granted on the incorrect assumption that the area was devoid of bats. But it was now known that there were significant numbers of protected bats and a real risk of harm to them.
In a statement, North Yorkshire Police said:
“We have received correspondence from Friends of the Earth raising concerns about protected species of bats at Kirby Misperton. We are working with Natural England and other relevant organisations to determine the next steps in relation to this issue.”
On Friday last week (15 September 2017, FoE launched a petition to stop work going ahead.
Bats have the highest level of protection in wildlife law. It is an offence to kill or injure a protected species, damage or destroy its place of shelter or deliberately cause disturbance. (Disturbance is anything likely to impair their ability to survive, breed, rear their young or hibernate or affect a local population.)
A wildlife method statement for Third Energy concluded that there would not be any adverse effects on foraging or commuting bats.
But FoE said the full impact of harm to bats had not been assessed by the developer, which plans to carry out operations on the site for up to 21 weeks.
Britain’s rarest bat, Alcathoe’s bat, is found in Ryedale, one of only two places in the UK. According to FoE’s experts, it could forage in the Kirby Misperton area and is prone to disturbance from light pollution.
The first equipment was moved on to the Kirby Misperton site yesterday (19 September 2017). Fracking is waiting for approval of Third Energy’s hydraulic fracture plan from the Environment Agency and Oil & Gas Authority and final consent from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The Kirby Misperton fracking site is expected to be lit during the operation and will experience what FoE described as “a very significant increase” in activity.
FoE commissioned its own report in July 2017, which concluded that Third Energy’s bat surveys lacked data, had not sufficiently assessed surrounding habitats and came to “unreliable” conclusions.
The FoE report concluded that operations at the site could interfere with the bats’ ability to feed and drink and travel to foraging grounds or roosts. This would make it harder for the local population to survive, the report said.
The authors said North Yorkshire County Council, which granted planning permission, and Natural England, the government’s wildlife adviser, could not have confidence that the fracking operation would not disturb bats and enforcement action should be taken if construction work started.
Third Energy response
A spokesperson for Third Energy said:
“Third Energy is not able to comment on the specific content of the correspondence sent by Friends of the Earth to the North Yorkshire Police as the company was not copied.
“However, the protection of wildlife, including bats, was specifically addressed in the planning process. With operations at the KM8 wellsite starting in September, Third Energy will complete a further survey in accordance with the planning consent.
“It should be remember that the KMA well site itself has been there since 1985 and provides no suitable places for bat roosts and limited foraging opportunities, because of the hardstanding and existing wellsite infrastructure. Full details of the local bat population is available in the Wildlife Protection Method Statement http://www.third-energy.com/sites/default/files/Wildlife%20Protection%20Statement.pdf“