Legal

Rotherham: Protest, application and fracking vote

171022 INEOS protest picture

Photo: Adela Redston

Residents of a village near Worksop, where INEOS wants to drill a shale gas well, are planning a protest next week against the company’s proposals and a legal action it has taken against demonstrators. 

The halloween-themed event at Woodsetts in Rotherham Borough is a rally against shale gas exploration and the interim injunction granted to INEOS to prevent protests interrupting its operations.

Opponents argue that the injunction breaches articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act.

One of two challengers to the injunction, Joe Corre, will be at the event at Woodsetts recreation ground.

Mr Corre, son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, is expected to talk about the injunction and his opposition to fracking.

Joe Corre 170912

Joe Corre at the High Court for a hearing on the INEOS injunction on 12 September. Photo: DrillOrDrop

He said today:

“I’m proud to be going to meet and support the people of Woodsetts as they stand up against this enormous bully.”

He criticised the company for its portrayal of opponents of fracking:

“INEOS has been trying to paint a picture that its opponents are all dangerous, irrational fanatics, trying to ‘game’ the system.

“This is far from the truth. Ineos have attempted to ‘game’ the system through the court case. And a quick glance at the INEOS health, safety and environmental record shows beyond doubt who is gaming the system here”.

Tom Pickering, Operations Director of INEOS, has previously defended the injunction:

“It is our duty to do all we can to ensure the safety of everyone on and around our sites including the protesters themselves. We are also clear that our people and suppliers have the right to come to work free from harassment and intimidation.”

The protest, organised by Woodsetts Against Fracking, starts at 6pm on Wednesday 25 October. Details

Mr Corre and another campaigner, Joe Boyd, are to challenge the injunction at a hearing provisionally scheduled for 30 and 31 October 2017 at the High Court in London.

INEOS Shale application imminent

INEOS has confirmed it is preparing to submit the planning application to drill at Woodsetts.

The company’s planning consultant, Turley, posted an official notice at the site off Dinnington Lane in the village last week.

The proposals, which will go to Rotherham Borough Council, include:

  • New access track
  • Mobilisation of a drilling and other equipment and welfare facilities
  • Drilling and pressure testing a vertical shale gas well
  • Listening well operations
  • Retention of the site and wellhead assembly for five years

171018 Woodsetts application notice

The plans are very similar to those planned by INEOS for a site at Common Road, Harthill, also in Rotherham Borough. But the Woodsetts application also includes a pressure transient test to measure flow rates and pressures of gas in the shale rock.

The official notice (see above) is required under Article 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2015. This obliges people proposing to apply for planning permission for mineral working to inform formally the owners or tenants of land to which the application relates.

Under the order, the notice must be displayed for not less than seven days in the period of 21 days immediately before the application is made to the local planning authority.

It does not replace the public consultation period when the application has been submitted and published.

When submitted, the planning application must be validated by planners at Rotherham Borough Council. This means the company has completed the application form, supplied the required information and paid the correct fee.

The application will then be posted on the council’s planning website and open for public comments. The consultation period usually lasts at least three weeks but can be six weeks or more. DrillOrDrop will report on the contents on the application when it becomes public.

Ban on fracking on council land

rotherham_metropolitan_borough_council1.jpg

Rotherham Borough has voted to ban fracking and seismic testing on council-owned land.

At a meeting last week (18 October 2017), members approved a motion proposed by councillors for areas where INEOS is applying for permission to explore for shale gas.

Dominic BeckDominic Beck (Labour) represents Harthill, the location for the first exploratory site in the borough, which is likely to be decided next month.

He told a meeting of the council, there were too many risks in fracking.

“It’s all about the mitigation of risk to the external environment, rather than the eradication of risk.”

He said shale gas was “not proven to create vast amounts of jobs to benefit local job markets, as coal mining once did here in Rotherham.” And he said:

“We shouldn’t still be supporting industries that proliferates the extraction and use of fossil fuels. Instead we should be encouraging the growth and investment in renewable energy sources.

“The concerns and well-being of local communities and the residents who live in them should without compromise always be a sacrosanct priority for us.

“The government is supporting an industry, an industrial process and an approach that I believe falls short of this.”

Cllr Katherine Wilson

“Clear message”

Cllr Katherine Wilson (Labour) represents Woodsetts, where INEOS is planning to submit an application next week to drill and pressure test a vertical well. The company gave notice of the application last

Cllr Wilson said fracking was one of the most controversial issues in the UK.

“It is an issue which has pushed communities, such as Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, to breaking point and challenged the capacities of our police.

“I know how residents are feeling right now: worried that fracking in our local community could have an adverse effect on the place we call home.”

She said they were worried that the rural atmosphere of the Rother Valley would be lost, house prices would fall, roads and water would be affect and what would happen to the land afterwards.

“I hope that with this motion, Rotherham council can send a clear message to concerned residents across the borough that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with them and that we are on the same page.”

“After attending meetings where frackng companies could not adequately answer my questions or residents’ concerns I am even more elated to be seconding this motion today in solidarity with the people I was elected to represent and to continue fighting against something I wholeheartedly oppose.”

The motion said the council:

  • Regrets the decision of the then Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, to lift the national ban on fracking in 2012
  • Commits to not allow any fracking activities, including survey work, on Council owned or controlled land and property.

“Stand up and fight”

Cllr Brian SteeleCllr Brian Steele, Labour, told the meeting:

“I will oppose it in actions because if you don’t agree with something you stand up and fight against it.”

He said he was concerned about the impact of fracking on old mine workings:

“We don’t know what damage it will do when they start fracking in these areas.”

Cllr David RocheCllr David Roche, the cabinet member for social health, said:

“I have a really cynical disregard for big business. When they tell me something is safe I don’t know whether we can believe them.”

Cllr Roche said:

“For me there are too many unknowns with fracking, too many things which we are unsure about, too many potential risks for health and safety. Therefore, I’m not personally prepared to take the risk of that potential harm to people’s lives.

“Maybe they’re all groundless but we don’t know for sure.”

Cllr Sue EllisCllr Sue Ellis, Labour, argued for renewable energy as an alternative to fracking:

“I believe our efforts should be put into renewables and the development of storage is essential but not impossible.”

 

 

 

And Cllr Wendy Cooksey, Labour, said:

Cllr Wendy Cooksey“We should be reducing our dependency on fossil fuels to meet emission reducing targets. The only way to stop climate change is to stop burning fossil fuels not to dig up more.

“Investing in a green economy could deliver skilled jobs and lower bills and we could tackle the threat of climate change”

Opposition

Cllr Allen CowlsCllr Allen Cowls, UKIP, was one of just three members who opposed the motion. He said:

“Energy policy must be reliable, it must be secure and at a price that people can afford.

Cllr Cowls said:

“Nothing that I have heard today convinces me that you have thought through these fundamental criteria or that you can sustain energy supply meeting these criteria over the long term.”

Members of the council’s planning board abstained in the vote. A Lib Dem amendment was defeated.

33 replies »

  1. Pity the councillors seem to lack some basic science knowledge. Its all very well to suggest that we can live off renewables but that is not achievable by a long way yet. Having a vague idea that a few windmills and batteries will keep the lights on when the figures do not stack up seem a bit sad. Councillor Roche should look at proper science, not listen to propaganda. Neither is this a party thing. ‘I hate the Tories’ should not be a reason to oppose an industry that will bring money and jobs to the area. The Labour party after all were the ones that issued the licences!

    Still, this will have to go through the planning people and they have to stick to the science. The safety of the process after all is well established by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and any other number of expert independent groups. If they recommend approval, then the council will have to accept, or they would be subject to legal action.

    The pseudoscientific claims of the activist groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are using fake science to deliberately spread fear and cynically raise money. That is disgusting, as when examined their claims have no basis at all. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-38499811 For once in my life I agree with the UKIP person who seems to have some idea.

      • Hi Dale, it has been banned in some based on ill informed and political lobbying from groups like Friends of the Earth. These seem to be on ‘public health’ and ‘water pollution’ scare stories. Same in New York, Maryland, and France. Oddly, after 14 months of trying to justify them Friends of the Earth had to agree not to repeat these false stories as there was no evidence after my complaint. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-38499811
        So should decisions be based on scientifically inaccurate scaremongering? Or should they be based on reliable independent science? Should an ill informed baying mob rule the country? Do we vote in new plane designs? Or do we leave it to the engineers? There are a shed load of studies by engineering and geological experts that show there are no serious issues with shale gas extraction. In Scotland recently, they had several reviews that confirmed there were no significant engineering issues, but as the SNP are a minority Govt, they had to cave in to the Greens to get support. Opposers will claim it was done on scientific reasoning, but it was nothing to do with that!

      • Dale, most of your anti information is long outdated and is pre 2013. The latest study into fracking was carried out in Scotland, the scientists and even environmentalists gave their consent however, the lobbying of FoE and Greenpeace managed to get 60k signatures of which 99% opposed fracking. This is considered a weak government when they are swayed by populism. The SNP need the Green party on their side if they are to proceed with their main ambition of independence. Only 17.5k voters voted for the Green party at last election in Scotland.
        So in answer to your question, DYOR that is not outdated and don’t become a sheep and follow people that say we are the sheep!

        • YES, I agree GBK,

          Do your own research Dale.

          Try a couple of variations of the words you put in to Google search, like , Fracking Dangers, Fracking Pollution, Fracking Contamination .

          Pleasel put a few days aside to read the almost endless, Peer Reviewed reports/studies from the many highly respected, world leading organisations headed by Professors and Doctors of science , medicine and engineering who are all warning of the dangers..

          A lot of reports you will find are right up to date.

          Best Wishes.

      • Dale, if we were to apply your logic, then it would be obvious that fracking is safe. I can name ten jurisdictions where fracking is not banned for every one you name where it is banned.

    • The interesting comment here suggest we should all remain in the past. We have come a long way since the report in 2010 and so has clean energy generation and storage. There are many links on this blog which demonstrate the success and future operations of alternative energy generation.

      It is right and proper that the Labour Party of 2017 has turned its back on fracking, mainly because of the fossil fuel contribution to climate change. Only the old ‘fossil’ oil investors and con party supporters want to drag everyone through the toxic sh*t before they too realise that shale is not the future.

      The council of Rotherham will stand up and be counted. If the decision is grabbed out of their hands like Lancashire then it will be another nail in the coffin for the present government.

      Whatever supporters of this dirty industry believe, the truth is the opposition will not go away and will indeed become bigger with each bully tactic, earth tremor, leak, well failure, condition breach, permit breach and on and on an on……

      Cllr Wendy Cooksey is correct, we need to move forward and not backwards. Positive energy not negative.

      • So how do you keep the lights on in a cold dull windless period in January? (Peak time for energy usage). Gas is the go to support that. http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/index.php Maybe in future we will have battery tech that could do that but we are nowhere close to that now.
        Thats going to continue for decades according to all projections. Thats disregarding the 84% of homes that are heated with gas…..

          • 15 times the radon content? Source? That is just made up Lock the Gate as a scaremongering ploy. It has exactly the same as it comes from the same source rock (Kimmeridge). Public Health England looked into this and found no issues. See point 5 of https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/about-shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing-fracking/developing-shale-oil-and-gas-in-the-uk

            As you can see surface radon emissions vary on where you live, dependant on source rock under your feet. http://www.ukradon.org/information/ukmaps

            • Ken, you forget to mention that we don’t need shale gas in the UK to keep the lights on. All your arguments seem to use the same “we can’t power the country from renewables and we need fracking” We don’t need fracking at all, the world has more gas at the moment than it knows what to do with, new pipelines to Europe coming on stream. Can you not come up with a better argument as to why we need fracking?

            • Domestic gas is preferred to imported gas for many reasons. One is energy security. Another is environmental impact. Another is economic benefit. Another is cost.

              So there are several, highly compelling arguments as to why the UK should try and extract domestic gas.

              And be careful about your proclamations about supply and demand. First of all, they aren’t necessarily accurate. Secondly, these dynamics can change very quickly. No one can predict how they will look in 1 year much less 5 or 10 years.

            • Made up? Scaremongering? This is what Public Health England have said.
              You claim PHE found no issues? Another demonstrably false statement from Mr. Wilkinson:

              “A risk assessment by Public Health England (PHE) shows that shale gas would result in individual exposures to radon that are 15 times higher than through existing supplies of natural gas.”
              https://news.sky.com/story/shale-gas-radioactive-radon-risk-in-homes-10429761

              Fylde does not have properties that are “vulnerable to radon seeping up from the ground.”, so the claim that there are higher sources of radon don’t apply to Fylde:

              “Radon in Homes in England: 2016 Data Report
              Table 3a Summary data by borough, district and city councils

              Local Authority: Fylde
              Total: 36,400
              Measured: 24
              Arithmetic Average: 14
              Geometric Average: 13
              Highest 33
              At or above Action Level: 0
              https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/…/England_data_report_2016.pdf”

              Fylde homes, new and old, have never been built with radon mitigation. Fylde will never experience a bigger source of radon entering our homes than Cuadrilla’s intended “extended flow-test” which aims to pipe its shale gas into our local homes!

        • ‘Maybe in future we will have battery tech that could do that but we are nowhere close to that now.’ already here

          ‘the 84% of homes that are heated with gas’ already got the gas for this and gas requirements will reduce as more move back to electric heating as the price continues to fall for clean power generation.

          It’s pointless standing in the market place trying to sell the ‘I Phone 4G’ when you can offer the ‘I Phone 8’ 🙂

  2. Being “unsafe” is not the reason it is banned in many countries where it is banned. I would have thought the recent events in Scotland may have given a clue, but that wouldn’t fit the scaremongering agenda, so it has to be the reason!

    So, if it doesn’t Lock The Gate, why are we currently importing shale gas from USA??? Seems your voice says one thing, the market disagrees. Just maybe, we will shortly be able to replace those imports.

    I know winter is approaching, but all these comfort blankets, so early.

  3. I thought the picture of the lady was a good summing up of antis protesting, but without much of a clue what they are doing, and how it looks. I presume she is trying to indicate her rights to free speech are being stopped by Ineos (which is not the case, anyway). However, come to another injunction hearing and this would appear alongside a picture, and recording, of another woman screaming vile insults into the face of the police. I wonder which the courts would consider to most relevant within the purpose of an injunction? That’s the trouble with an internet driven “campaign”. It often produces results that are a little inconvenient, and are available to many.

  4. I suspect you may have more to worry about soon, local farmer. Recent report suggests that gas will start to become a problem re supply after 2020 and could even produce a return to more COAL. I would have thought as a farmer you are used to looking ahead to where supply/demand will take us.

    • You’d better let the government know then Martin, their last report stated that there is no problem regarding the long term supply of gas. The TAP pipeline is due to come on stream in 2020 from the massive Azeri gas field, bringing even more gas into Europe.

      • Yes, Local Farmer. And governments are usually so very accurate at predicting long-term supply and demand dynamics and geopolitical events. In fact, its kind of remarkable that any nation produces its own energy when its so much easier to just buy from someone else! You can see how such rationale would lead to great outcomes for society!

  5. You a farmer, believing what the government told you? Suspect you will still be driving a diesel, because that is what Gordon Brown told you. If so, better cancel the trips to London, unless you utilise the red diesel to compensate..
    I would suggest you look at other sources.
    We have a grain production in UK that in a bumper year produces 3m tonnes surplus, yet we are moving to using 3m tonnes of grain to produce what? Fuel! Now that is what I call really sensible, when at the same time we are spending £billions on overseas aid instead of sending that grain as overseas aid, still supporting our farmers, and then producing our own fuel from under our farmers feet. But then what do I know. You may be one of the farmers who has been netting £150k/year/wind turbine on your land whether they are producing anything, or not, apart from minced bats to ease the fertilizer bill, which will rise as the oil price does? And don’t get me started on feed prices, when US farmers suddenly decide it better to produce maize than soya because of the incentives to grow maize for fuel production and then soya prices, which dictate animal feed prices, and then animal output costs, goes through the roof-but the public will pick up that bill because they don’t get told that is ANOTHER alternative energy subsidy.
    Don’t think I have anything against farmers. My family farmed and I have been involved in agriculture all my life.

    Take a look at today’s Times, p37. Here you will see how quickly energy statements can be blown out of the water-literally. So, energy lifetime top-up subsidies at £6billion in 2013 to £50billion this year. Not going to be much left for the farmers after 2019, at that rate.

    But a little more sensible. I see that a hydrogen powered train is now being developed. Next tractors? And how could we produce that hydrogen? Fossil fuels might turn out to be the answer if we just ask a different question. Oxford and Cambridge scientists seem to think so.

  6. I play the ball, GBK! I also recognise that the description of some of the antis on this site. from outside of this site, would suggest I debate with them in a different way, but I can’t be bothered with that either.

    It was pretty obvious for a “farmer” to be supportive of any government report was a means to a particular end, and so contrary to the opinion of most farmers. It just shows the depth some have sunk to, but then I can’t complain, with all that income I am supposed to receive from Cuadrilla, Ineos and now, it appears, BP!

  7. Jack-where is the Cuadrilla site???? Too much Giggling, and not enough thought.

    Try researching the history of the giant Sirius project in Yorkshire. As soon as the good Yorks. farmers realised there was money under their land they signed up in droves.

    That is the real crunch and why the antis are so desperate not to allow any economic assessment to be established. If, and when it is, you know it is game over. And that is even before any of the significant players offer the local and national punters a stake.

    Of course, as long as the farms are outside of STW area, there will be no problem with their water quality. LOL. (That one has really saved a lot of future Giggling, and shows just how fake news is created. Have to get back to the earthquakes now.)

    • NOOOO Martin ,

      Not my words, REAL FARMERS words.

      Doesn’t look like there’s going to be a stampede of “hooves” and farmers, rushing to sign up for cash on this one..

      OH wait, I think I can hear a tractor coming now, no sorry it’s just a road sweeper …

      Talking about ” sweeping ” statements do you honestly think they will be signing up in droves for fracking payments ….. Not many takers around the Cuadrilla site.

      I kindly suggest you click and read the ABOVE links again, to refresh yourself on what exactly the National Farmers Union are saying on behalf of their members….
      They do represent 47,000 farming businesses .

  8. Jack-sorry, you are talking about something you know nothing about. The NFU does not “represent” farmers in this type of respect, much as JC would like it to be so. Most farmers I know would not be members of the NFU, some might (probably to gain some discounts off insurance premiums), but they will all decide on these sort of matters themselves. The NFU can say what they like but it does not control their members opinions on these sort of matters. Perhaps, a little nearer home, you will see exactly the same within the NUS.
    I used to be a member of the NFU myself and the NUS. My father who owned his own farm, was not. You are simply misrepresenting that the statements from a union body speak for all their members when they certainly do not in this case.

    • I’m sorry Martin, you can try and divert/ fuzz the edges by all means, but however you want to try and dress this one up, The wording is quite clear regarding the position of the National Farmers Union ( NFU ) ” representing ” as a voice for/speaking on belalf of its members.

      Whether the NFU has the clout or legal punch of a more traditional, well established Workers Union is irrelevant in this matter.

      Now you may want to try and divert away from the real point that I was making and what the text in the above link is putting forward, namely that farmers are NOT jumping for joy at the prospect of Fracking, well that’s up to you. Other readers will correctly understand and absorb all the points the article makes .

      Maybe we can debate the legal standing and power of the NFU some other time on a different forum, but on this forum, let’s stick to the topic in question and the above link is quite clear in what it says.

      Taken from the above link, I quote, “NFU, which represents 47,000 farm businesses across England and Wales, said its members ” and ” Farmers fear they could face financial ruin ” from fracking.

      It would appear they are not happy at the prospect of fracking and are very concerned for a whole multitude of reasons.

      Martin you say, quote, ” Most farmers I know would not be members of the NFU ”
      Can you back that statement up with anything other than words ??

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