Air pollution study exposes fracking risks, say campaigners

KMMG traffic 2

Heavy vehicles travelling to Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site. Photo: KMMG

Increases in air pollution linked to preparations for fracking in North Yorkshire could happen anywhere the operation is planned, shale gas opponents said today.

They were reacting to a study, reported by DrillOrDrop yesterday, which showed that air quality in Kirby Misperton deteriorated as Third Energy mobilised fracking equipment at its site in the village.

The research, by the University of York for the British Geological Survey, showed that a rise in levels of nitrogen oxides coincided with increased traffic movements and the operation of equipment at the KMA wellsite. The authors concluded that the air quality changed from that typical of a rural setting to what you would expect in an urban area.

In a statement, Third Energy told DrillOrDrop:

“This comprehensive, academic monitoring report published by the British Geological Survey highlights the complexity of measuring and monitoring baseline environmental conditions and the multiple local and non-local factors that contribute to movements in the baseline.

“As expected and identified in our Environmental Statement, as the KMA well site in Kirby Misperton became “operational” there were increases in emissions but these did not exceed any air quality limits.

“The report sets out that increases came from traffic associated with local protests and policing and not only from Third Energy Operations.”

But campaign groups warned that the decline in air quality could happen wherever fracking was carried out.

Tony Bosworth, of Friends of the Earth, ssid:

“Increased lorry movements leading to an increase in air pollution levels was an inevitable outcome. If we drill and frack the 6,100 wells needed to replace half our estimated gas imports it could mean 6 million more lorry movements, many on rural roads, so this could happen wherever fracking is proposed.”

Daniel Carey-Daws, senior infrastructure campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:

‘Fracking risks industrialising the English countryside, and these findings are a clear indication of the risks of widespread fracking.

“Heavy goods traffic, on-site machinery and the resulting increase in air pollution are key concerns of people affected by fracking, and one of the reasons it faces such strong opposition amongst local communities – concerns that are currently being side-lined by the government’s headlong push for fracking.

“As the government makes a final decision on whether to continue their push to fast-track fracking, they would do well to heed the concerns of local communities and drop these proposals.”

Steve Mason, of Frack Free United, said:

“The potential impacts of fracking on local communities are exposed by this report – a report based on the science collected around the site.

“Preparation for fracking at Kirby Misperton changed the air quality from rural to urban.

“The clean air in rural areas is a precious resource. Imagine the cumulative impact of multiple sites and the associated industrialisation and the associated pollution that will bring to areas that rely on the purity of its air for its economic future.

“This study is based around a small site in North Yorkshire. The government wants to roll out thousands of wells and pollute the green and pleasant lands of England.

“Enough is enough. Fracking is uneconomical, strangled by the inability to operate under the regulations and now it has been shown to pollute the bread baskets of the UK.”

23 replies »

  1. An increase in protestors at drilling sites also contributes to air pollution (unless they all walk there, which is unheard of). How exactly is that accounted for in these air quality measurements?

    • Ryor – maybe if you bothered to point out why you think the post by R8LMX was stupid it would be informative to readers. You’re statement offers nothing of value particularly as R8LMX is simply stating a similar interpretation as Third Energy. What information do you have that would suggest the decrease in air quality was solely down to Third Energy? Also how do the emissions compare to other developments in the area? How did emissions change for example when Flamingoland was being built?

      • Judith – if you seriously don’t understand the point, you’re either being completely disingenuous, or wouldn’t have the intelligence to understand a serious reply – which I’m therefore not going to waste my time replying to. I suggest you go and analyse the comparison between say 100 cars and 100 HGVs + the pollutants arising from the actual fracking operation itself.

        • How many fossil fuel guzzling cars does your household have???

          Fair question, are you part of the solution or the cause???

  2. R8 LMX agreed; and an increase in protestors at drilling sites also contributes to air pollution by them turning up in massive trucks splarging toxic NO2 everywhere.

  3. Just a note to report that the wholesale price of electricity rose to over £200 per megawatt hour yesterday during peak hours. We hardly saw those levels outside very cold periods last winter. Renewables, especially solar of course, made little contribution to the supply stack. The high price of gas is driving coal back into the market even with the carbon levies. All this will eventually lead to higher electricity prices which will start to impact on the health of those unable to pay bills. Now that’s a real worry about health outcomes countrywide.

  4. From an excellent article in the Independent..

    “More than one in 10 households in England – two-and-a-half million families – were living in fuel poverty, a government report said in June before the latest round of price rises.

    Separate research found that more than 3,000 people are “needlessly” dying each year in the UK because they cannot afford to properly heat their homes.

    The UK has the second-worst rate of excess winter deaths in Europe, a study by National Energy Action and environmental charity E3G found.”

    • Please provide statistics that UK shale is cheaper to produce than our North sea Gas, Norway piped gas, and LNG.

      The energy experts and professional bodies asked to look at likely costs all state North sea gas is far cheaper to produce than UK shale could ever be.

      Make sure you don’t miss off the North sea and Norway stats as they are our biggest suppliers by far.

      Are the pro frackers aware we export huge amounts of our cheap home grown North sea gas?

      • As someone who has worked all over the World on Oil, Gas and intermittent renewable projects your wide ranging question has been answered numerous time as you are well aware…

        The title for this thread is about pollution…

        By importing Gas from Norway, Holland, Russia, Egypt, U.S.A, Qatar, Peru, Trinidad etc etc and our own depleting supplies from the North Sea. All are emitting more CO2 than producing Gas onshore…

        It is much more important to have a security of supply although the £Billions in tax revenue to the U.K Government is very important.

        Your speculation, because that is what it is that U.K shale Gas is is going to be more expensive than North Sea Gas will be played out financially as this is what will decide the industry.

        Intermittent renewables will also be dictated by cost. 9% of our energy bills is a very expensive green tax and as bills are set to rise this margin will be squeezed as hundreds of thousands more people are pushed into fuel poverty.

      • John – the point is that the UK is rapidly running out of gas. Europe is rapidly running out of gas so Norway’s gas will have to go a long way. LNG might be cheaper but higher GHG emissions. Buying gas from abroad means that the UK doesn’t get the tax or the jobs. To follow your argument through virtually everyone is cheaper when produced abroad so such the UK stop producing anything?

        • John – the point is that the UK is rapidly running out of gas.

          Play another record.

          “The UK has significant remaining petroleum reserves. The OGA’s estimate for proven and probable (2P) UK reserves is 5.7 billion
          boe. On the basis of current production forecasts1, this could sustain production from the UKCS for another 20 years or more.”

          “A higher estimate of 20 billion boe is considered reasonable given the upside potential reflected in possible reserves, contingent resources in producing fields and contingent resources on other discoveries currently on unlicensed acreage.”

          Click to access uk-reserves-and-resources-31-october-2017.pdf

          UK Energy Minister Claire Perry said: “The North Sea is crucial for the UK’s energy security and helping businesses maximise economic recovery there is an aim for this government.

          “Aided by the innovative use of technology developed in the UK and a strong UK-based supply chain worth £1.5 billion, this will allow the North Sea to continue to be a hub for the high-skilled, well-paid jobs at the centre of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

          • With Trump destroying his own economy by stupidly thinking he could get one over on OPEC and driving prices high the North sea looks like a good bet for wise energy investors.

            Looks like our North sea reserves could well last a lot longer.

            By 2035 renewables will be producing 180 TWh of electric generation whereas gas will only be producing 40 TWh.

            After 2025 our import requirements will be dropping

            Click to access Updated_energy_and_emissions_projections_2016.pdf

            To save another post. The cost of decommissioning in the North sea is irrelevant. We are all paying for that regardless. Not unreasonable seeing we have had billions in revenue over the last 40 years.

  5. Interesting little trend developing that some antis are now feeling that they have a right to shut down debate, not with serious thought out arguments but with a mixture of bile and claims to higher intelligence. Simply an indication of the change within the anti grouping over the last couple of years. No longer centred around the locals, with real concerns and questions, but a collection of activists with their various agendas seeking a means to obtain publicity for them.

    Meanwhile, the real issues ie. the examination of the fracking potential continue.

    In terms of the real issues we see PNR with very little impact upon air quality whilst KM it is different. The reasons are obvious.

    But, was it not one of the anti platforms that fracking should be excluded from proximity to built up areas? DOH. So, place a site in a rural setting, with little or infrequent previous movement of traffic, and you can measure an increase in emissions. Shock, horror-how unexpected. LOL

    Cake and eating it, very popular these days.

  6. Seems to me the real problem on these comments pages are the industry mouthpieces who repetitively spout unfounded propaganda, no matter what the point/s in question actually are. Pointless continuing. Am speaking as a local who’s never been active in any other protests.

  7. Air pollution study shows increased traffic = increased emissions. Decreased traffic = decreased emissions. Not specific to fracking like this BB implies. Build a new supermarket and traffic goes up = increase in emissions. Build a new housing estate and traffic goes up = increase in emissions…..

    The problem with the BGS report re KL is that nothing happened other than trucks mobilising equipment and trucks demobilising equipment. Nothis else to look at. Good baseline data, that’s all.

    What is missing from the DOD report is has the air quality gone vack to “rural setting” quality?

  8. A good point Paul.
    But do we want these fluctuations? There are individuals who work and live in the city most of their working lives; increases in development of asthma due to the exposure of urban pollution means that many who can migrate to the rural to breathe better air and alleviate symptoms; am not sure these, who would be termed nimbys by those who have no better argument, would support this deterioration in air quality, even for a short while?

    There is a misconception that people in the ‘countryside’ are poor and not educated. Whilst this is mainly true of many countries in the world, this is not true in the UK. This will always be the biggest mistake the government and drilling companies made; you cannot walk in a stomp over those who probably made the rules in the first place…

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