Legal

Campaign group urges police to stop N Yorks fracking over threat to bats

170918 KM8 Red Shell

Campaigners outside Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton fracking site on 18 September 2017. Photo: Michelle Easton

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.

Bat features near KM8 JBA Consulting for FoE

Bat features near the KM8 site. Report by JBA Consulting for Friends of the Earth, July 2017

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

 

26 replies »

  1. This is pathetic.
    Bat surveys have been done. Is it the police’s job to stop a legal operation because of made up concerns? No it isnt. Its their job to prevent people from breaking the law, such as by terrorising and blockading Third Energy.
    All of the Agencies are happy. Get on with it. This is only a temporary 2 weeks thing anyway. Perhaps FoE should concentrate on factual complaints. They failed miserably when I questioned em on the factual basis of their complaints against fracking. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-38499811

    • [Edited by moderator]

      I think you may be missing the point that the bat survey which was done is claimed to have been deficient. Surely you aren’t suggesting that a deficient survey would be good enough are you? I thought you claimed that our regulatory system was foolproof.

      • Update 21/09 12.30 Thinking about this some more, what evidence does FoE present that Third Energy’s bat survey work was inadequate? Third Energy have posted their statement above, and that survey was done by professional people

        Why was the report not sent to NYCC as the regulator?

        Why have FoE not published the report?

        Has anyone noticed that the aerial photograph published in Drill or Drop is actually incorrect – KM8 well site is not labelled and is so out of date the well site 2013 well site extension is absent. Are there similar errors throughout the report?

        This really is scraping that activists barrel of rubbish excuses to stop a well regulated and planned legal operation. Just like the imaginary snails at the Newbury bypass many years ago.

    • Ken, keep up the great work and the informative posts. I wonder how the bats would fare if we installed the energy equivalent 350 wind turbines? Hmmmmmmmm.

      • Well Peeny – as you don’t appear to realise the turbines don’t have to be installed where the bats may be – their location is not constrained by the existence of particular rock strata. Oops.

        • Well Refracktion, perhaps you have forgotten that the wind turbines needed to generate the same amount of energy as a well pad would span over approximately 6,000 hectares. What gullible soul would believe your argument that a 6,000 hectare 350 wind turbine installation would do less damage to bats than a 2 hectare well pad? How would you arrange your 6,000 hectare facility to insure that no bats flew within it? Please do educate us! ;o)

          • All installations would be constrained by the current animal protection rules. No difference. The point here is was the original survey flawed or not? If so, then it needs to be redone and findings applied to the site.

    • Update 21/09 12.30 Thinking about this some more, what evidence does FoE present that Third Energy’s bat survey work was inadequate? Third Energy have posted their statement above, and that survey was done by professional people

      Why was the report not sent to NYCC as the regulator?

      Why have FoE not published the report?

      Has anyone noticed that the aerial photograph published in Drill or Drop is actually incorrect – KM8 well site is not labelled and is so out of date the well site 2013 well site extension is absent. Are there similar errors throughout the report?

      This really is scraping that activists barrel of rubbish excuses to stop a well regulated and planned legal operation.

    • Ken (and others that seem to be somewhat obsessive about law breaking – but only in certain circumstances), how do you know the bat survey was done properly. As it states completely inaccurately that the site is ‘devoid of bats’, what confidence can we have in this survey? Is it acceptable to include false statements in planning applications? Is this part of gold standard regulation?
      What evidence do you have that these are made up concerns? I have personally seen the bats at this site and at the nearby Great Habton site. Let me assure you that I know what bats look like.
      You say it is the police job to prevent people from breaking the law. Quote from above: ‘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.)’ I would add that this disturbance would include excessive light or noise pollution. Therefore, it would become a legal matter i.e a criminal offence. In your eyes, do only certain criminal offences count as legitimate, or to be enforced? What evidence do you have of Third Energy being terrorised? That is a very serious accusation that need explaining. I trust you will not fail miserably when questioned.

  2. I thought gas was being produced around KM for the last 20 years at least?

    Perhaps they are drawn to such sites by some unknown attraction?

    In which case, the sooner fracking starts, the better for bats!

    Just don’t let the Wolf near the bats-a whole eco system could disappear, at great expense

    Sorry to be dismissive, but I have a colony of bats on my land. Lovely little chaps, but of absolutely no concern to the police. Batty.

  3. Edited by moderator]
    [
    Interesting to see the defense of the indefensible. Gas would appear to be fine with bats-but diesel, that’s another matter, refracktion. Replaced it yet?

    It will be alright in the end-the police will let them off with a caution, or welcome them to their ranks with Robin.

    I, very much like those photographed, can’t take this seriously.

    The serious bit is the credibility this sort of nonsense will erode. You really need to get FOE out of your “movement”. They are not doing you any favours, and someone will eventually investigate how much money they have raised and spent on this, and what return they have achieved. I suggest this knowing that my advice will not be followed, otherwise I would not have made it!

  4. So yesterday, Norway’s Sovereign Wealth fund broke through the $1 trillion level. And in the UK what are we doing? Trying to find any excuse not to explore for wealth, even getting confused between bats and moles/Swampies. (A clue-above or below ground?)

    Ken, your phrase was an understatement.

    It really is time this nonsense was stopped, and it should be the youngsters who do it. Do they want to be saddled with debt for the rest of their lives and not able to purchase a house because some “persons” decide for them? Good job few of them would be able to afford to travel to Norway, otherwise there could be a revolution. Maybe the Yorkshire youngsters would like a well paid job with a future in the motor industry? Well, not if this nonsense continues. They should forget about supporting JC and consider how many manufacturing companies will stay in Yorkshire with hiked Corporation Tax, so forget that, and work to encourage those there to stay, and more to come.

    Come on you youngsters, get down to KM and stop these “persons” trying to hijack your future. Less income from industry means higher taxes for your lifetime, you pay the shortfall, not the Government (they just spend your money). You want a good future, with great welfare and health back-up, see what Norway has achieved. Don’t let that be sacrificed by a few against your wishes. I know Yorkshire well, and you get things done, you achieve things (look at Olympic medals), you graft to improve your lives and those of your children, you don’t get conned by fake news and falsehoods. Put those bats back in the belfry.

    I needed that!

    • MC
      Norway has a clean energy policy. They have a smaller and more sustainable population. Their cost of living is up to 50% higher but wages only about 25% higher as they pay higher taxes to sustain their simpler but healthier lifestyles. They also have a people first government. They have not squandered their oil revenue like the UK. They are a model of what we could have been. No wonder they have money in the bank.

      • Hi Sherwulfe,

        Not quite correct. When revenue started to flow from North Sea oil, it went into paying off the massive debt pile (including to the IMF) that was built up in the 1970’s. The tax regime that had been put into place (up to 98% on some fields) almost killed off North Sea oil before it even started and it took several years to recover. By then, revenues from production were rarely more than 5% of our GDP – not enough to form a separate sovereign wealth fund.

        On the other hand, Norway had no choice but to form one, because the income was such a massive part of their GDP if it had remained in Krone, it would have destabilised the currency. For example, their GDP was so small, the Stafjord Platforms had to be insured in $US, not Krone. They also had the advantage of having little debt to start off with, a population size 10% of the UK’s and slightly higher levels of production.

        The idea of forming BNOC (British National Oil Corporation) could – and should – have worked, but it was stuffed with political non-entities at higher management and became a byword for expensive inefficiency before it was eventually put out of it’s misery.

  5. They seem to think delays will prevent the inevitable? Not sure what trying to achieve apart from being a nuisance. We will just learn what they will get up to for future sites.

  6. GBK-some of the youngsters will be signing up for good jobs, with long term training and security up the road at Sirius Minerals, and preventing them moving out of the area for jobs. Guess what they are doing-oh yes, they are digging a whacking great hole into Yorkshire and then carrying the spoils miles underground to the coast. Billions of £s per year added to our export trade, money already being paid to the community and local land owners to become very rich. It seems the only ones to worry about a little shaking was the US military but even they found a way around any problem with the giant boring moles under the Yorkshire Moors.
    A few bats that might be around a gas site is seen as a problem? The site will be illuminated at night I presume, which means the bats will divert around it-not quite the same with wind turbines. I know real news from fake because I have friends who have installed large wind turbines on several sites they own. They have become very wealthy, but they will admit (quietly) that they see the consequences to both birds and bats.

  7. No, Sherwulfe, it is nonsense. This is an EXISTING site, there is no attempt to fell trees, pull down buildings or anything of that sort. Any bats in the vicinity ALREADY fly where they please, and their radar shows them if it is safe to do so. Fracking will not do anything to disrupt that. (You are confusing bats with moles.) If these bats are going to be “disturbed” by any new activity in the area, why allow a new camp site belching out fumes from gas burners? Did they conduct a full environmental assessment for all species, and get the required approval? Should Flamingo Land be closed because it attracts visitors who could step on a midge and reduce the food supply for bats?

    I have a colony of bats on my land, yet I have several major housing developments within half a mile. I suspect my bats keep well away from those sites whilst the sites are active but probably flutter around when they are not. Exactly the same with the deer and badgers-apart from the fluttering.

    I know there is only progression on a number of sites underway at the moment, and there is a gap to fill in with whatever can fill gaps, but this hardly qualifies even for that. It is nonsense.

    There will be plenty of real news shortly. Patience.

    • Martin and Injuneer. For the avoidance of doubt:
      ‘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’

      All bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

      Guidance from You Gov
      What you must not do. You’re breaking the law if you do certain things including:

      deliberately capture, injure or kill bats
      damage or destroy a breeding or resting place
      obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places
      possess, sell, control or transport live or dead bats, or parts of them
      intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat while it’s in a structure or place of shelter or protection
      Either or both of the following could happen if you’re found guilty of any offences:

      you could be sent to prison for up to 6 months
      you could get an unlimited fine

      Activities that can affect bats include:
      installing lighting in a roost, or outside if it lights up the entrance to the roost
      removing ‘commuting habitats’ like hedgerows, watercourses or woodland
      changing or removing bats’ foraging areas

  8. I’m sorry, but this is grasping at straws.

    In my experience, the lights of the Rig usually attract any insects in the vicinity, which then attract bats to feed on them. On several occasions on rig locations, I’ve watched with amazement just how quickly Bats can change speed and direction when they locate an insect in flight.

  9. Yes, Injuneer, and soon they will be tucked up, hibernating anyway! (perhaps a good example for the antis?)

    Someone has noticed the “snail saga” from the Newbury bypass era and rather foolishly thought, let’s follow that route. That nonsense was soon exposed to be exactly that, and people are wise to it now. So it is more than grasping at straws-it is just adding fuel to further injunctions simply by showing that there is no intention of reasonable, peaceful protest.

    Candle lit vigils and bats-now that is a whole new can of worms!

    • Oh my goodness Martin! The worms, I had forgotten about them! We truly are doomed….

      I am sure there are rare worms onsite at KM 8 and fracking must be protested against the rape of mother earth, destroying our brother worms. (I have ignored the fact that worms are hermaphrodites for effect)

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