Regulation

Lancashire fracking votes: “watershed moment for shale” or “political manipulation”?

pnr 181116 Eddie Thornton

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 16 November 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Two sides of the fracking debate have responded strongly today following votes on earth tremors and protest policing at last night’s meeting of Lancashire County Council. 

See DrillOrDrop reports on the meeting here and here

One vote called on the government to pay the costs of protest policing at Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool. During that debate some Conservative councillors described anti-fracking protesters as a“rent-a-mob” and accused them of causing significant traffic disruption. One councillor said protests prevented the passage of emergency vehicles. This was described today as “inflammatory misinformation”.

A second vote expressed appreciation for monitoring in the wake of fracking-related earth tremors near Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road.

The pro-fracking group, Lancashire for Shale, described this vote as “a watershed moment” and a “vote of confidence” in fracking. Roseacre Awareness Group, which opposes fracking in the Fylde, said the earth tremors were a “serious and genuine concern” and said the vote showed how people were being “politically manipulated”.

Tremors

The Labour group had proposed a motion to the full council meeting calling for a halt to fracking at Preston New Road to allow for an independent inquiry into recent earth tremors.

At the time of writing, there had been 48 seismic events since fracking started at the site on 15 October 2018. Most have been very small. But the most powerful, described by one person as like “a car hitting his office building at speed”, was on Tuesday (11 December 2018) and measured 1.5ML.

The Labour motion was not voted on because it was replaced by an amendment from a member of the council’s ruling Conservative group. This expressed appreciation for monitoring by regulators and requested the Secretary of State to ask Cuadrilla and the regulatory agencies to

“continue all efforts to ensure the safety of everyone and to close down operations immediately should any part of the operation become unsafe.”

181213 tremor amendment

Lee Petts, of Lancashire for Shale, described the vote as a “watershed moment” for shale gas:

“Last night’s Full Council vote was ultimately about the principle of fracking in Lancashire more widely.

“A clear majority of elected representatives obviously recognise that adequately regulated and properly conducted, shale gas operations in Lancashire do not pose an unacceptable risk to their constituents, many of whom could actually stand to benefit from them through the creation of skilled jobs and contracting opportunities.

“Hopefully, Councillors will continue to be reassured by the work of the various regulatory bodies that have made the Preston New Road site the most heavily scrutinised in Europe and allow Cuadrilla to continue its work in accordance with all the approvals it has in place.”

Lancashire for Shale said shale gas supporters had submitted a petition to County Councillors with over 330 signatures calling on them to vote against Councillor Fillis’ motion. Separately, over 80 local business people wrote to Cabinet Members with a similar plea, the organisation said.

Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) responded to the Lancashire for Shale statement:

“This is just what we would expect from a pro-shale group. It is utter claptrap. They are using yesterday’s debate to twist the story.

“This industry does not have the support of the local communities affected.

“The fiasco at Lancashire County Council just shows how we are being politically manipulated. The Conservative Councillors who spoke have never even engaged with any of us despite repeated attempts to address them.

“I suspect the industry PR machine is fully underway.”

In an open letter to Conservative councillors, the chair of RAG, Barbara Richardson, said their comments demonstrated “a complete misunderstanding and disregard” for concerns raised by local people.

“To ignore residents’ concerns is not only disingenuous but also foolhardy especially with local council elections due in May. Are you so sure ordinary people really support this industry? Not in my experience, if the amount of support from residents is anything to go by.”

Referring to previous earthquakes linked to fracking in 2011, Mrs Richardson said:

“The recent spate of earthquakes at Preston New Road is a serious and genuine concern. Fracking should be suspended until a full independent inquiry takes place or the problems at Preese Hall will repeat themselves.

“To vote against such a motion is extremely short sighted.”

Protest policing

Commenting on Conservative comments during the debate about protest policing, Mrs Richardson said in her letter:

“To make claims about significant traffic disruption, and rent-a-mob protestors, most of whom are ordinary local residents, need to be substantiated. “

She urged Conservative councillors to visit the site and take part in a “rational” and “meaningful dialogue”, rather than “bandy about such disingenuous comments”.

She added:

“It is time you stopped listening to industry lobbyists and started listening to those directly affected so you can better understand why thousands of ordinary residents, not rent-a-mob as you so kindly referred to us, have genuine concerns over this industry.”

Kirkham Town Councillor, Miranda Cox, who campaigns against fracking at Preston New Road, described Conservative councillors’ comments about protesters as “inflammatory misinformation”.

She said “every effort was made to respect the emergency services” and on rare occasions that a contraflow was created by the police the situation was “well managed”.

“Over the past 18 months United Utilities work has created more delays and the traffic is halted briefly several times daily by the police themselves, as they direct traffic out of the site and not the protesters.”

  • The recorded vote on the Conservative amendment on earth tremors was approved by 39 votes to 34. It then became the substantive motion, which was approved by 38 votes to 31 with 4 abstentions. The vote on policing was by a show of hands.

26 replies »

  1. JMNS. – You accuse Drill or Drop,of being a mouthpiece for the anti- frackers but have conveniently omitted that the Lancashire for Shale website states that it receives funding support from Cuadrilla and Spirit Energy (Centrica) and people and business organisations connected with or who hope to gain from the fracking industry.

  2. I can’t speak to the online petition, but I can say that the signatories to the letter comprised of 58.53% residents living in the PR and FY postcode districts, with 79.26% overall residing in the county of Lancashire. They, just like Barbara and members of RAG, are quite entitled to engage with their elected members using the democratic process, and I think it is quite wrong to suggest otherwise.

  3. Whoops.

    Looks as if local democracy has shown it’s true hand, and when it does it is “politically manipulated”.

    Hey ho. Puts a giant fissure through the middle of how democratic decisions should be honoured. That’s another anti foundation stone eroded.

    Yes, Pauline, and the antis use crowd funding to pay some of their costs. And who are the crowd??

    • YES ladies and gentleman, shale gas supporters have submitted a petition.

      330 signatures…….. Yes that’s right, 330 signatures .

      330, I’ve had more sheets on a toilet roll.

  4. I wonder if Ms Cox could tell us who is camped at Maple Farm or is in the squat in Blackpool. No local person would need these facilities!

    • That’s funny? Councillors seem to have grown an awful lot of support suddenly in the last 48 hours according to GBH? Either that or they received a sudden donation? Transplant maybe? From whom, or what one wonders?

      Suddenly public opinion is taken into account, but only if it opposes the motion to stop fracking? Where was this sudden pubic recognition on previous motions? And what was the public vote in support of the motion? Or was that “replaced” by the opposing motion too?

      “Kirkham Town Councillor, Miranda Cox, who campaigns against fracking at Preston New Road, described Conservative councillors’ comments about protesters as “inflammatory misinformation”.”

      We see a lot of that here dont we boys and girls? Often directed against theirs and our hosts Drill or Drop too?

      An interesting comment from someone on 3rd December however, when asked for a list of pro fracking organisations, gave no mention Lancashire for Shale? Perhaps the individual wasn’t previously aware of their existence? But what was said was this:

      “Don’t worry yourself about pro fracking – Shell for example have 86,000 employees, BP 74,000, Exxon Mobil 70,000 (globally) why not ask them?”

      So, there we see it ladies and gentlemen, that support comes primarily from employees keeping their jobs or else? What do we see here every day boys and girls?

      What is not mentioned there of course is the number of lobbying groups and individuals within central, and by this evidence, local government, that have that same incentive, and how many internal PR hot deskers and hired external PR companies and various social media operators and paid protagonists?

      Interesting isnt it? This section was also interesting for those who noticed: apologies for copying part of the text from Drill or Drop.

      “Tremors
      The Labour group had proposed a motion to the full council meeting calling for a halt to fracking at Preston New Road to allow for an independent inquiry into recent earth tremors.

      At the time of writing, there had been 48 seismic events since fracking started at the site on 15 October 2018. Most have been very small. But the most powerful, described by one person as like “a car hitting his office building at speed”, was on Tuesday (11 December 2018) and measured 1.5ML.

      The Labour motion was not voted on because it was replaced by an amendment from a member of the council’s ruling Conservative group. This expressed appreciation for monitoring by regulators and requested the Secretary of State to ask Cuadrilla and the regulatory agencies to

      “continue all efforts to ensure the safety of everyone and to close down operations immediately should any part of the operation become unsafe.”

      So there you have it, a motion was proposed but not voted upon, is that democratic? And then “it was replaced by an amendment from a member of the council’s ruling Conservative group” Replaced? How can one movement suddenly be replaced by something that resembles a climbdown? What exactly is that in democratic terms? Sounds dodgy to me?

      But there we have it.

      What is not mentioned is how many votes from the public that were in support of the labour motion as opposed to the LFS petition? Or was that not voted on and “replaced” by a another “climbdown motion”?

      By the way, what is 330 as opposed to 8000+? About 4.125% isnt it? Now that about puts a perspective on events doesn’t it?

      As usual what really counts is where those 4.125% are strategically placed isnt it?

      And that, ladles and gentlemen, boys and girls, is really what we see here.

      Such fun!

      Always a pleasure!

    • Daniel. You are suggesting that anyone who may be camped at Maple Farm is not local? I would suggest you refrain from making such a statement and actually put yourself in a position where you could actually live and bond as a group. I take it you were never a boy scout?

      • Yes I was a Boy Scout for many years and went on many camps but none of them were in walking distance of my home. I would suggest that you refrain from suggesting that Maple Farm campsite is occupied solely by residents of Blackpool or St Annes because nobody will believe you.

    • I can assure you that some on the camp at Maple Farm are indeed local. They are living there because they have given up their paid work in order to devote their full time to fighting this industry. Contrary to what you may believe they receive NO benefits – or payments from Russia or anywhere else.

      • I wrote “suggesting that Maple Farm campsite is occupied solely by residents of Blackpool or St Annes ” so some residents may be local. Another case of reading but not understanding. I listened to a gentleman speak on Tina’s live feed this morning telling us that 20,000 homes in The Netherlands had been damaged by earthquakes caused by fracking which is a bit odd as fracking isn’t allowed there. Please tell us about these payments from Russia as I know nothing about this and sounds very interesting!

        • Daniel. I read and understood what you said when you said ” I wonder if Ms Cox could tell us who is camped at Maple Farm” and intimated that no one local would need these facilities.I replied that some of those on the camp are indeed local. They have no income therefore they live on camp.
          As for payments from Russia, if you read and understood what I wrote you would realise that I said “they receive NO payments from Russia.” As you would know, if you followed what’s going on, this is one of the ridiculous tales spread about protectors by pro frackers and gullible members of the public believe it. Just as they believe many [edited by moderator] spread by the pro frackers and the right wing media.

          • So you admit that us of the residents of Maple Farm are not local!! Fewer now as some ex-locals now appear to be local to Tinker Lane. Now go on, go on, we know you want to tell us about the payments from Russia!

            • I don’t understand your problem with residents of Maple Farm being local or not. We’re all local to climate change. It’s effects are global. As for your comments on payments from Russia. Of course I want to tell you all about them. THERE ARE NONE. Is that clear enough?

  5. The pro frackers are just bit too much of themselves. The vote by the council is based on its merits and not the pro fracker good look.

  6. Another day of fracking and earthquakes at PNR.

    The culmulative effects will unfortunately soon become only too obvious I fear.

    [edited by moderator]

  7. I suspect they will feel the same warmth towards their neighbour as well, Peter.

    Probably, repeating the well known phrase:

    ” What makes a good neighbour? A good fence!”

    Might be able to purchase one with the inconvenience funding from Cuadrilla.

  8. Considering they are only “mini fracking” it will be interesting to see the level of seismic activity when they do crank up the power

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.