Lancashire councillors call for halt to fracking for earth tremors inquiry

pnr 181024 Eddie Thornton

Opponents of fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 24 October 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Councillors in Lancashire are calling on the government to suspend fracking at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool because of earth tremors.

The demand is part of a motion to the county’s full council meeting later this week.

The motion, by Labour’s Cllr John Fillis, also calls for an independent inquiry into the cause of the tremors that resumed yesterday.

The call comes as the British Geological Survey reported today the largest earth tremor linked so far to fracking at the Preston New Road site.

A 1.5ML (local magnitude) tremor was recorded at 11.21am, following nine much smaller seismic events. DrillOrDrop report

Cuadrilla confirmed yesterday it had begun fracking again at the Preston New Road site. It said today it would pause the operation for at least 18 hours following the 1.5ML event.

So far, the BGS has recorded 47 seismic events around the site on a total of 15 days.

Residents support

The Roseacre Awareness Group, representing people living near Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood, has urged councillors to support the council motion.

In a letter sent before the 1.5ML earthquake today, the group said:

“Since Cuadrilla commenced fracking yesterday, at the Preston New Road site, there have been a further 8 earthquakes today albeit still at a relatively low magnitude.

“However, repeated fracks tend to increase the risk, frequency and magnitude of further earthquakes.”

The group’s chair, Barbara Richardson, said:

“Lancashire is too densely populated, and has a very complicated and highly faulted geology, to sustain this industry particularly should it commence fracking at full capacity. It is only doing one cautious frack per day at present”

Mrs Richardson said of the latest series of seismic events:

“This situation is unacceptable and exacerbates the residents’ concerns over potential damage below the surface.

“We need to better understand the geology concerned and have truly independent advice on what the implications really are.

“This is why I feel you should support Councillor Fillis’s motion this Thursday to suspend all fracking until such advice is readily available.”

Funding for protest policing

Another motion to the council meeting, by a member of the ruling Conservative group, calls for the costs of anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road to be met by central government.

Lancashire Police has stated that protest policing at the site has cost £9.197m between January 2017, when work at Preston New Road began, and September 2018. According to the latest police data, there have been 429 arrests. Link to data

This policing motion, by Cllr Ed Nash, also includes a call on Lancashire’s chief constable to take measures to minimise disruption.

DrillOrDrop understands that an amendment is to be submitted to the motion to require officers to make safety the most important policing priority at protests.

  • Lancashire County Council meets on Thursday 13 December at 1.30pm at County Hall in Preston. The political make-up of the council is: 45 Conservative, 30 Labour, four Liberal Democrats, three independents, one Green and one UKIP. The council’s planning committee voted against fracking at Preston New Road in 2015 but the decision was overturned in 2016 by the then local government secretary, Sajid Javid.

Motion texts

By County Councillor John Fillis

Suspend Fracking in Lancashire

Following the earthquakes being identified around the Fracking site on Preston New Road, we call upon the Chief Executive and Director of Resources to write to the Prime Minister on behalf of Lancashire County Council requesting that:

  • Fracking on the Preston New Road site is suspended by order of the government.
  • An independent inquiry investigates the earthquakes being recorded within the local area.
  • Fracking is suspended in Lancashire until the independent inquiry publishes its findings.

By County Councillor Ed Nash

Lancashire County Council believes in the absolute right of all citizens to peaceful and lawful protest.

However, recent unlawful protest actions carried out at Preston New Road in Fylde that have resulted in obstruction to the highway and significant disruption to traffic and the lawful business of residents give cause for concern.

In particular disquiet has been voiced that Lancashire Police are slow to remove obstructions to ensure the free flow of traffic and to remove those acting unlawfully.

In addition, Council notes that the Police action has so far cost over £3million and that this impacts negatively on the Police budget and thereby frontline policing in Lancashire.

This Council therefore:

  • Calls on the Chief Constable of Lancashire to ensure that adequate provision is made and necessary measures taken to minimise disruption.
  • Requests that the Chief Executive writes to the Home Secretary to express this concern and requests that police action at this, and other similar protests, are funded by Central Government


34 replies »

  1. I call for it to proceed on current regulated system, I have more brain cells than all the councilors combined so don’t worry folks.

  2. If Nash put even a bit of effort into representing and working on behalf of his division (and ward) constituents – I speak from experience – I might have more respect for him. But he is useless as a councillor, only fit for Tory vote fodder.

    Let him step up and validate his claims of “recent” unlawful protest. And let us match those against the last 23 months of daily lawful protest.

    • I agree 100% Alan they want to stop protests so it’ll go away. Look at what the French have achieved through protesting, look at the council tax protests, it takes a certain kind of protest & protester before Government listens to the people, for the people….eventually to their own detriment. Even the Brexit Clause is a protest (debate!) by MP’s hence Theresea May wouldve gone for the the vote already to accept, much to her career curtailment.

  3. The coordination of pro-fracking actions between Lancashire County Council, Cuadrilla and Lancashire Constabulary is disgusting. Permitting overnight convoys to deliver fracking equipment to Pnr and extending flaring intensity and permitting fracking related activities into the night and at weekends is just ridiculous.
    We know other limitations are just as temporary as the wheel wash too!

  4. “Lancashire councillors call for halt to fracking halt”

    A halt to the halt is exactly what they’ve got…they’re proceeding.

    Top drawer “independent journalism” at it’s finest…maybe need more pocket money from the Russian paymasters to get a fit-for-purpose Editor?

  5. Councillor Nash’s comments are largely correct, if correctly interrupted.
    I don’t think there’s much contention or ambiguity in the first two paragraphs.

    The third paragraph starts “In particular disquiet has been voiced that Lancashire Police are slow to remove obstructions to ensure the free flow of traffic”,which is actually an observation made by many protestors/protectors/campaigners themselves. Myself included. The following relating to the early days before police intimidation and boredom drove me away from regular protesting:

    Basically, once Cuadrilla had received their essential deliveries, the general tactic of the police is then to close the road or introduce unnecessary flow restrictions at every opportunity that presents itself. The traffic is slowed and/or stopped for very superfluous reasons. I suggest it is a strategy/tactic deliberately manipulated by the command on the day to attempt to alienate the protestots/protectors/campaigners from the motoring public. I remember one classic regular routine back in the days of the Lytham St Anne’s Skip Hire end of day delivery. This was an unessential item that used to be escorted into the site with great theatre and in a long slow convoy of police protection towards the end of the working day. The general idea seemed to be to slow the traffic to a crawl and ensure the ‘radical element of the protest group had time to get into the road to stop it and cause maximum disruption to traffic flow. In contrast, vital equipment would be escorted into site at breathtakingly dangerous speed with maximum haste and efficiency. Basically, if you got in front of those deliveries you’d be killed. I feigned once, outside the main gate and was then erroneously charged as a result of the dangerous situation that entailed due to the approach of an articulated lorry comfortably exceeding 30 miles per hour in the then 20 mile per hour speed limit.

    Another classic day was the hire of the Double Decker bus by Geyzer Frackman. This was in the days of requesting for slow walking in front of vehicles. The bus was largely used that day to show the site from the upper deck to puplic,counicillors etc. Geyser also used the bus to demonstrate that slow walking could be safely instigated and still maintain flow in both directions of the carriageway. The bus was slow walked in front of and traffic flowed smoothly and easily. Then the police closed the road for a couple of hours for no apparent reason!

    With respect to the fourth paragraph, I suspect that the police happily accept the situation at Preston New Road. They don’t have to do much and aren’t subject to any violence. OK it’s boring, cooped up in the vans. But you only spend a few hours in the cold and wet man handling a few campaigners before you get back into the warm but smelly van. Easy money really. Long may it continue. Don’t have to spend time answering to the public….

    Maybe it’s all changed since 2017?

  6. How can traffic flow “smoothly and easily” if it is being slow walked by those intent on disrupting the highway?

    • Well for the same reason it could flow “smoothly and easily” when it was passing a roadsweeper van clearing up the mud left by the HGVs leaving the site without having their wheels washed according to the the site construction plan of course ! Doh!

      • There’s a clue in the term “slow walking”…it’s designed to slow traffic down and disrupt. Nothing “smooth” or “easy” for those on the receiving end.

        A roadsweeper, by comparison, is not deployed with the remit of disrupting the highway. Maybe that’s why they don’t have injunctions imposed on them?

        • You don’t understand traffic flow then? Funny for somebody who goes by a number plate not a name 😉

          Slow walking is designed to slow site deliveries down, not general traffic.

          • Slow walking invariably disrupts all road users, not just site deliveries, as you well know.

            It’s not a number plate….but I’ll forgive you as I know detail isn’t a strong point, Irony, on the other hand…

            • The slow walking is probably due to the inhalation of those toxic fumes from a certain BMW diesel vehicle delivering someone for that very serious and necessary business of photographing ladies undies upon a fence, who also enjoys an odd name. Must be a “celebrity” of some sort who has not read the advice in a recent report that control of individual energy consumption can help avoid climate change!!

  7. That would be a novel turnaround! “… the ruling Conservative group calls for the costs of anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road to be met by central government”. Depends how you read it I suppose. Could the protestors could start filing for expenses or start being paid for all their efforts. 🙂

  8. All those plastic water containers shown within the anti camp!! What is the problem with a good old urn? Oops, sorry, a semantic problem.

    Perhaps photography not such a good idea at PNR.

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