Derbyshire village votes ‘No’ in debate on the role of fracking in UK energy

171208 vote debate EAF2

People voting against fracking at debate at Eckington, 7 December 2017. Photo: Still from video by The People Against Fracking

Fracking was rejected by the vast majority of people at a debate on its role in Britain’s energy mix.

More than 150 people attended the event in a Derbyshire village near the county’s first proposed shale gas site.

Tom Pickering, operations director of INEOS Shale, the company behind the proposal, made the case for fracking. David Kesteven, chair of Eckington Against Fracking put the opposing arguments.

Both made a 10-minute statement (see below) and answered questions submitted in advance and from the audience.

The debate last night at Eckington Civic Centre was chaired by the local Conservative MP, Lee Rowley. He has opposed INEOS’s plans to explore for shale gas at the site at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane.

At the end of the debate, a large majority of the audience said “no” in a show-of-hands vote on the question Does fracking have a role to play in the British energy mix?

Video of questions section of the debate

Video by The People Against Fracking

  • Before the debate, DrillOrDrop invited Mr Pickering and Mr Kesteven to send us a summary of their arguments or a copy of their statement. See below.

The case against fracking, David Kesteven, Chair, Eckington Against Fracking

Why we don’t need shale gas

The Gas Security of Supply strategic assessment, published in October 2017, assumed no shale contributions in the forecast period. It said:

“our security of supply does not depend on new indigenous supplies”

“We are secure now, and the GB gas system is well placed to continue to be secure and robust in a range of supply and demand outcomes over the next two decades.”

The Clean Growth Strategy, published in October 2017 with a forward from the Prime Minister, said the UK needs to “increase the pace of decarbonisation to meet the carbon budgets for the period 2023-2032. It refers to

“decarbonising the gas grid by substituting natural gas with low carbon gases like biogas and hydrogen”.

The National Grid future energy scenarios, published in July 2017, includes shale gas in just two of its four scenarios. In the scenario which assumes emissions reductions need to hold temperature rise to 2 degrees C, there’s a move away from gas as a heating source

The Northern Energy Strategy, published in October 2017, says shale gas “may be too environmentally risky to proceed with”. It says the pursuit of shale gas exploitation “can only happen in conjunction with a major step forward in carbon capture and storage”.

Why we must not have shale gas

171208 Temperature charts David Kesteven

171208 Daffodils David Kesteven

Daffodils flowering in December. Photo: David Kesteven

Climate change: Charts of global annual temperature show continuing rises. Daffodils that would be expected to flower in March are now flowering in Derbyshire in December.

Industrialisation and infrastructure: INEOS is proposing 30 well sites in a 10km square. It has said there could be 12-14 wells per site – resulting in up to 360 wells. At Bramleymoor Lane, INEOS is estimating more than 14,000 vehicle movements for its proposed exploration well.

Health: In 2016, members of the Pennsylvania Medical Society voted unanimously for a resolution which called for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling and fracking and a study on its public health impacts. The UK’s Public Health England review on the public health impacts of shale gas extraction looked only at exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants. It did not review impacts from traffic or noise.

Social licence: A poll of attitudes to INEOS’s Bramleymoor Lane site found that 86% objected, 14% neither supported or objected and 0% supported it.

What we could do instead of shale gas and fracking

Examples of alternatives to shale gas include:

  • Blackburn Meadows biomass project
  • Solar panels on warehouses, for example in Telford
  • Commercial gas generation from waste and grass

Lord Adair Turner said prices for green electricity and batteries have fallen so sharply that even projections for an 85-90% renewables energy system in 2035 now look “ludicrously conservative”.


We should use the decline in North Sea gas as a stimulus to do something better, not an excuse to do something worse. Shale gas does not have a role to play in the British energy mix.

The case for shale gas, Tom Pickering, Operations Director, INEOS Shale

UK gas production is in rapid decline

171207 gas chart2 Tom Pickering171207 gas chart1 Tom Pickering

Total North Sea gas and oil production has been rapidly declining since 2000 while UK reliance on gas imports has grown to over 50% of demand.

We need a mix of energy sources to generate electricity. Coal is being phased out. Wind and solar are intermittent. Gas provides the flexibility to balance the mix. It’s not just about electricity generation.

Why do we need gas?

Heat energy and power generation: 84% of UK homes rely upon gas heating.

Gas is used to produce many items that we use every day: Clothing, packaging, auto, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, electronics.

To support the switch to renewables: Gas supports intermittent renewables energy production and growth of renewable capacity takes time.

What are the benefits of a local shale gas industry?

Energy Security: We rely upon imports for more than 50% of our gas demand and this is forecast to increase to 80% by 2035.

Climate Change: Local shale gas emits 10% less greenhouse gases than imported gas. For power generation, shale gas has less than half the emissions of coal.

Jobs, Investment and Community Benefits: Potential for £33b investment and 64,000 new jobs. 6% of revenues (£1m per well) to landowners, residents and local communities.

Balance of Payments: Today we send over £7b pa overseas to purchase gas (£20m every day). Why import from countries with questionable regulation and human rights records when we can produce our own gas?

Gas versus renewables

84% of UK homes use gas for heating (61% for cooking). To electrify these for renewable use will cost over £250b and take several decades. To do this by 2050 means converting nearly 2000 homes every single day plus upgrades to the national power infrastructure to supply these homes.

In the future, gas could produce hydrogen by steam reforming, with the CO2 captured and sequestered. The hydrogen would be distributed via the existing gas network.

This is not a gas vs renewables debate – we need both

What is the climate performance of gas?

Locally produced shale gas has over 10% less lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than imported gas. Locally produced shale gas has less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of coal for power production.

We need gas, today we import >50%, and this is forecast to increase to 80% by 2035. The question is not whether we need gas, but where will it come from?

A steady process of science and consultation

171207 operations Tom Pickering


New and existing seismic data acquisition will inform planning applications for wells

Planning applications for vertical coring wells to understand the gas content in the shale rock


Results of core wells will inform planning applications for appraisal wells. Horizontal wells to be hydraulic fractured and flow tested


Results of flow tests will tell us if commercial production is viable

UK shale regime and regulations

Shale gas companies are regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, local planning authorities and independent well inspectors.


  • We need gas for several decades, even with aggressive renewables growth and efficiency gains
  • Energy Security – our country is importing over 50% of demand today and this import is forecast to increase
  • Gas is by far the most climate friendly fuel, and is a key part of the UK’s plans to reach climate targets
  • Local shale gas development can bring jobs, investment, community benefits, tax revenues, and improved balance of payments
  • Key independent authorities say the safety, health and environmental risks are low given our stringent UK regulatory regime

28 replies »

  1. Any loss of life is to be regretted Martin but how many died on Piper Alpha under what you would probably describe as Gold Standard regulation?

    • Save Lancs
      Quite a few deaths there. Like a number of industrial disasters in the UK, it led to a change of regulation.
      Heralding the introduction of, inter alia the safety case regime, PFEER and DCR Regulations, plus more regulatory oversight.
      Injuneer wrote a longer comment on the move from US offshore practices to UK risk based ones, and how these are seen as a high standard worldwide.

  2. The point you seem to be trying to make Save Lancs is that oil and gas exploration, and extraction, is much safer ON LAND. Hallelujah! Welcome from the dark side. Even one “sinner” converted, is welcomed. (Don’t tell John.) Next, it may be possible to lay upon that conversion, that ON LAND oil and gas production within the UK produces taxation revenue for the UK to allocate to public services, such as the NHS and Winter Fuel payments, which the current “Arctic Blast” suggests are still needed.
    Off to bash my tambourine and collect my conversion “wings”. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

  3. I did not say it was safer as a result, Martin so don’t celebrate too soon. You quote Gold Standard and I say it does not exist, what we have is a number of bodies all trying to assure a very sceptical public, and with good reason. Those bodies are under resourced so we have self regulation. Francis Egan said when PNR was given the green light it would be the most watched site in the UK, did that stop them breaching the TMP on numerous occasions, No, did it stop them breaching the EA permit, No. They do not have a very good record Martin and there is nothing to suggest that the industry is really bothered, they make the right noises and that is about it. we are clearly from different sides of the debate, and that is fine. You have your opinions, and there are many from the number of posts you make on DoD, and many others have opposing views, we should respect that if nothing else.

  4. It is you who are manufacturing that record, Save Lancs. If you really feel it is so wrong for deliveries to be made, in consultation with the police, when the antis are asleep (200+ arrests?), or that rain water is an on going problem on such a site and needs to be routinely refined in terms of management, or that lorries might depart with dirty wheels then it is a debate the wider public laugh at. Added to that are some who see a tank of diesel on such a site as proving it will be injected into aquifers rather than used to power machinery, or a water pipe damaged by a digger miles away as indicating seismic testing is to blame. The wider public laugh at that too.

    The antis have been so busy crying wolf for so long, you could all be fast asleep when/if a wolf actually appeared, and if not, run the risk of no-one believing you, thinking it is more fake news. You set up the circumstances for Ineos to be able to justify an injunction, and I suspect it will not take too many more pieces of fake news around bats, underground substances (hope all that underground Cheshire salt doesn’t cause too much contamination of your roads this weekend), uneconomic industry/ vast industrialisation of the country conflict to be featured within the media. I suspect they are simply awaiting to observe gas being produced, and then they will let rip. Yes, I know they might not produce the output required to justify production, but if they do, then I suspect it will be realised that too many scare stories were attempted too soon.

  5. They did not consult the Police Martin, they told the Police, there is a difference. The police then had to put a plan in to place to escort the vehicles and I got that from the Chief Inspector of police so yet another lie from Cuadrilla.
    Tell me honestly Martin where do you live, anywhere near one of the sites or are you like a number of posters, supporting from afar?

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