Council approved overnight deliveries to Cuadrilla fracking site based on “unauthorised” evidence


Evidence about 999 ambulance calls, used to support overnight deliveries to Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Lancashire, was unauthorised and not supported by official data from the ambulance service.

The information came in an email presented by Lancashire County Council officers to a meeting yesterday at which Cuadrilla’s proposals for 24-hour deliveries were narrowly approved. DrillOrDrop report

The email was among late submissions to the development control committee and summarised in a separate update sheet distributed before the item was discussed.

The writer, Graham Curry, a now-retired ambulance manager, said there had been two occasions on which 999 ambulances had been forced to divert onto the M55 because of protests outside the site on Preston New Road.

But North West Ambulance has confirmed it has no records of detailed statistics about the impact of the protests on its service.

The Trust confirmed that Mr Curry had no authorisation to provide this account. Mr Curry had also not recorded the email, as North West Ambulance Service required.

pnr 170727 Ros Wills5
Protest at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, 17 July 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

At yesterday’s meeting, Cuadrilla argued that overnight deliveries to Preston New Road were needed because the site had been targeted by anti-fracking protesters. Several local residents argued that protests were no longer closing the road and that the change was unjustified.

Cuadrilla’s application said:

“During the month of July 2017, there was a number of occasions where ambulances responding to emergency calls were unable to get to their destination using the fastest possible route due to incidents outside of the Preston New Road site. On such occasions, the ambulance returned to the M55 and used Junction 3 to arrive at their destination.”

The council’s planning officer, Jonathan Haine, referred to Mr Curry’s email as the source of this information. David Foxcroft, a Conservative councillor on the committee, asked for the email to be read in full to the committee.

Email from Graham Curry to Ian Dickinson, 2 August 2017.

Mr Curry wrote the email in August 2017 to Ian Dickinson, who works for the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner.

The first section dealt with 999 calls to attend to protesters outside the Preston New Road site. Today’s edition of The Times reported on this part of the email. (see “Fake injuries and false allegations”  below)

In the second section, Mr Curry said:

“I can also say on at least 2 occasions 999 ambulances have not been able to get through to emergencies in Wrea Green and had to return to the M55 and go via junction 3 to get to their destination. Furthermore on many occasions our patient transport vehicles have had to either collect or take patients home the long route due to the protesters. This is because they don’t have blue lights.”

A Freedom of Information request made in October by an anti-fracking campaigner asked North West Ambulance Service for the source of the statement in Cuadrilla’s application.

The service responded:

“Further to your enquiry below, I have made contact with the local area manager, Head of Service for Lancashire and our legal department and they are all unaware of any formal submission of this information. I also confirm that we are unable to provided statistics in relation to ambulance delays experienced whilst en-route to incidents, as our reporting system does not capture this level of information.”

Following yesterday’s meeting, the campaigner asked North West Ambulance Service to review its response because it contradicted the information in Mr Curry’s email.

The service replied this afternoon:

“I can confirm that the information I provided was accurate and approved by the both the Head of Service and our Legal department prior to release. Anything Graham submitted has not been formally recorded by the Trust and Graham retired on 31 October 2017.”

This evening, the campaigner wrote to members of the Development Control Committee. She said of Mr Curry’s email:

“It is, therefore, hearsay and only a personal opinion, and one that should not have been submitted to an official planning meeting. Conjecture is not to be placed into your decision-making process.”

The campaigner said:

“Only a few of you are close to our community, and it is highly disconcerting that a virtually all-male, Conservative-majority committee have made this ill-advised decision on the basis of pure misinformation, which will impact our lives in a serious manner.”

“Fake injuries and false allegations”

In the first half of the email, Mr Curry said the service received 10 emergency calls to attend Preston New Road. He said:

“On 7 occasions the patients refused to go to hospital and were released at the scene with no injuries or illnesses. 3 patients on other occasions were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

“I can say that the 7 cases who refused seemed to be more for effect and the cameras rather than for clinical need.”

Mr Curry added:

“I attended an incident yesterday when a protester said he had his neck broken by the police. When the ambulance arrived at Maple Farm he as [sic] aggressive to my crew to the point I was despatched to support them at the scene. On arrival at the scene I found the the [sic] patient was walking around and swearing at my paramedics and me. He refused to go to hospital.”

This section of the email appears to be basis of an article in today’s Times, headlined:

“Fracking protesters ‘fake police injuries for the TV cameras’”

171214 The Times

Report in The Times, 14 December 2017.

The paper’s environment editor, Ben Webster, wrote:

“Ambulance staff have accused anti-fracking protesters of faking injuries and making false allegations of police brutality in publicity stunts aimed at preventing drilling for shale gas.”

The email from Mr Curry refers to a single person who made an allegation against the police. It did not mention television cameras and it did not state who had made the 999 calls.

But Mr Webster quoted the Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw as saying:

“The figures raised by NWAS [North West Ambulance Service] are deeply concerning. If people are calling ambulances on an emergency basis but not using them, this is diverting important resources from actual life-or-death situations. The public will rightly be angered if resources have been wasted in this way.”

Mr Webster also quoted the pro-shale group, Backing Fracking:

“This shocking revelation about the behaviour of anti-fracking activists confirms what we’ve been saying all year — that their claims of police brutality are just a fabrication intended to sway public opinion.”

The anti-fracking group, Frack Free Lancashire, made a detailed statement to The Times before the article was published. The group said it respected the contribution to North West Ambulance Service and that its supporters made every effort not to cause any delay to any emergency services. It said:

“We are not aware of the incident of a protestor and a neck injury to which you refer”.

It said there had been a number of complaints about inappropriate behaviour from police and security staff which were being investigated. The group also gave details of the FOI response from NWAS.

31 replies »

    • What a load of pure junk with respect to the “campaigner”. Nothing in the information provided by the ambulance service contradicts information provided in the email by Mr. Curry. [Edited by moderator]

      • ….and nothing backs it up either Eat Kale…..
        ‘ also confirm that we are unable to provided statistics in relation to ambulance delays experienced whilst en-route to incidents, as our reporting system does not capture this level of information’ basically shows the email as pure fabrication.

        • But that’s not the point, is it Sherwulfe. The campaigner made a claim and that claim is simply untrue. You don’t know that Mr. Curry’s statement is untrue.

          • Okay EatKale, let’s put it to the test.

            If I as an employee say that I could not get to work because there was a traffic jam and I had to be diverted then my employer would likely 1) check with traffic services that there was in fact traffic problems at the point in question and 2) check the mileage on my vehicle. Simple and provable causative evidence. Two reporting systems to back up my claim.

            The point of this email ‘evidence’ is that it is opinion and conjecture. Without a back up reporting system in is not substantial enough for the planning officer to have referred to it let alone use it to determine ‘material change’. No back up, no proof, therefore not admissible, sorry.

  1. Jonathan Haine has failed in his statutory duty to confirm that the source material is accurate. I am sure the head of his department will be concerned about his serious failing to present the correct facts of such a serious matter.

    Had the truth been known there may well have been a different outcome than the decision to allow overnight deliveries.

    Development Control Councillors will be scrutinising their officers recommendations in more detail from now on.

  2. I have watched videos of police moving campaigners and am astonished at the lifting and carrying techniques. As an ex nurse recall training for safe lifting for evacuation, injuries could well have been experienced on both sides. There is no doubt that injuries occurred to campaigners and no doubt that police sustained injuries too from their techniques. But to use unofficial reports to change agreed procedures and cause more difficulties to the area is totally irresponsible and councillors will be held to account.

    • ‘councillors will be held to account’
      Am sure some Councillors are very angry that they have been duped by those who have a different agenda. I would expect a complaint to be made by them and this clear breech of good practice put right.

  3. I already knew this as I was detained that frightful morning at approx 3.15 am when sixty officers and the bronze officer illegally detained me for making coffee and held me against my own will. I have video footage of it all. The bronze officer told me that Cuadrilla had called an urgent early hours meeting with the head of highways, himself at 1am to discuss the how Cuadrilla was expecting a large delivery. All three parties proceeded to break their own breach. All three are clearly working together in unity. Seems Cuadrilla think they can break rules outside ‘normal’ working hours and expect everyone to tow their lines within this destructive industry. How much was paid out that night for sixty officers to stop me from enjoying my morning coffee? SHAMBLES.
    See you all in court soon.
    Video evidence will be supplied.

  4. Naughty Ben Webster – this must be why people have decided not to give him quotes any more. You’d think a Times journalist would check his sources properly before quoting them as though they were fact wouldn’t you? That Backing Fracking quote is quite hilarious!

        • Eatkaletoday, thanks for the laugh .

          ……..NEWSFLASH ……..

          Let’s look a little closer at Energy In Depth , the website that Eatkaletoday has directed us to …

          Ladies and Gentlemen let’s look at what we know …

          ( 1 ) ….. When I put up a link, like the one above , or the links from Physicians For Social Responsibility ( PSR) .. BOTH OF WHICH are from traceable, credible sources . That Professors and Doctors of medicine , science and engineering are willing to put their NAMES and POSITIONS online to , in order to back up the statements they make…….. IT’S VERY STRANGE that within 24 hours , Energy In Depth has made a counter statement, backed up with questionable information with more holes than a Swiss Cheese …….. PLEASE look at how Seth, 100% uses the ” discredited EPA ” to try and discredit PSR . Is this person trying to be serious ???

          ( 2 ) Let’s look at the creator and author of the statements on Energy In Depth, Seth Whitehead …….

          WHO IS SETH WHITEHEAD, does anybody know ????? and what are his provable credentials ???? .What have we been shown that this is a credible person who is in a position to criticize such high ranking professionals ???? The answer is SWEET NOTHING….

          For all we know , Seth Whitehead could be a false name, whose daytime job could be nothing more than 8 hrs of delivering Pizzas or serving Kebabs .

          • That’s it Jack. If you don’t have anything better, then attack the source. The sources you cite are so biased it is unbelievably ridiculous and hypocritical for you to point the finger at bias in the other direction. All that matters are facts and the facts say that the baby birth weight study is as flawed as can be. The data within the study show an amazing increase in birth weight for babies born to mothers living within 2km of wells versus 3km. That’s a fact. How does that square with the headline, Jack? What about the fact that the study is based on supposed pollution levels, but those pollution levels were never measured? What about the fact that one of the study’s authors has already suggested that fracking has been a net benefit to public health? What about the fact that the study made no attempt to correct for confounding variables such as smoking and education levels? What about the fact that the authors admit that they have no basis to claim causation from the data? So many facts, so many questions, Jack.

            • Whatever your bias, if there are suggestions that there could indeed be a problem, then this research should be followed up. People first, business second.

  5. Interesting.
    I think, if some bother to read, this is not about “fake news”, it is about whether the information was accurate, and there seems to be every indication that it was. There is nothing here to indicate Mr. Curry’s e-mail is fake. My son is an ambulance driver and I would look to him for accuracy as to what happens on a call out rather than a back office log. Maybe a few councillors feel the same?
    Meanwhile, continue to continuously query process and try and conflate that with information accuracy. It does seem to be the standard comfort blanket when decisions go against the antis.

    • Goodness Martin – the Times article was certainly “fake news” – it has a slanderous quote in the headline which is not supported by any evidence in the text or anywhere else for that matter. As to the accuracy of the information if Mr Curry had, for example, specified who called the ambulances he refers to – was it the police or was it the protesters – then it might have been meaningful. He didn’t so it is not. Nobody is saying Mr Curry’s email is fake, just that it should not have been used as important evidence to support a council decision. As to Cuadrilla apparently turning “at least 2 occasions” into “a number of occasions” – well I suppose it’s only what we have come to expect from them. And yes I do know 2 is a number LOL.

  6. Dusted off your FOE defence, I see refracktion!
    Feel free to sue the Times for slander then. Good luck with that, but you may find such statements “any evidence…..or anywhere else” could be exposed, and become very costly. I suspect they, and others, are sitting on a mountain of “anywhere else”. If not, they can always borrow a bit from Ineos.

    I have absolutely no sympathy with this sorry attempt. You are simply trying to support that evidence to a council is filtered to benefit your cause. I, and many others, warned many months ago that activities at PNR would surface in the media eventually and would hurt your cause. Now that a small sample of this emerges you resort to attacking process rather than any attempt to control the protest. It is why an injunction has been produced, and there again you whinge about process.

    Just waiting for the “not in the Guardian so not relevant” posts.

  7. Ah so you think you can sustain a defence that protesters have been faking police injuries for TV cameras do you. Perhaps you could give us some examples Martin? “Good luck with that”.

    I think you’ll find we are trying to ensure that evidence to a council is not filtered (or invented) to benefit the applicant. We are also trying to ensure that media coverage in decent and honest. “I, and many others” believe The Times article fell short of that. We have no need to sue the Times though. All we have to do is complain to IPSO. Even the Times isn’t allowed to make up fake news so obviously.

    Your Guardian comment is rather childish in the circumstances.

  8. Shame your previous posts contradict your current statements. But, that is par for the course. “Trying to ensure media coverage is decent and honest”-absolute nonsense with your history regarding FOE and the ASA.

    See you are still not contradicting the E mail. I think you would need to disprove that to get anywhere through IPSO. “Protestors have been faking injuries”-well, I wasn’t there at the time, and if I was, I am not a medical man. But, I see that a man was there who qualifies and he has produced a record which has not been contradicted, and there is absolutely no indication it was invented. You want to conflate that evidence that was submitted should not have been submitted, with a wild speculation that it was invented. 9.53am-“No-one is saying that Mr. Curry’s E-mail is fake.” Doesn’t match your 1.26pm post of “(or invented)” Smokescreen-but a pretty thin one.

    “Naughty Ben Webster”-pretty childish in the circumstances.

    • “absolute nonsense with your history regarding FOE and the ASA.” No idea what you mean old fruit – my history with ASA is that they have ruled against both Cuadrilla and Ineos on issues I have raised Martin – didn’t you realise that? I have a 100% better record there than any pro-fracker you might might care to name – especially if you are thinking of either Ken Wilkinson or Michael Roberts 😂

      I absolutely love the fact that you missed off the relevant “for TV cameras there”! You do understand that Mr Curry’s email could be “real” but it could be presented as speculation at Council don’t you old boy?

      I mean let’s face it Martin – you’d swear black is white if it it made fracking look good wouldn’t you?

      Naughty Martin Collyer.

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