Live news updates: Day 4 of IGas inquiry into Ellesmere Port well test plans

Ellesmere Port tanks FFEP

IGas site at Ellesmere Port. Photo: Frack Free Ellesmere and Upton

This post has live news updates from Day 4 of the inquiry into IGas plans to test for gas flows at its well at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire. The hearing will hear objections or concerns from three local MPs, councillors, the police and crime commissioner  and members of the public.

The inquiry is examining the decision by Cheshire West and Chester Council, to refuse permission for the well test scheme in January 2018. The council said the scheme failed to mitigate the effects on climate change. 

The inquiry in Chester had been expected to end on Thursday 24 January. It is now likely to reconvene with a separate extra hearing from Tuesday 26 February to Friday 1 March.

Reporting at this inquiry has been made possible by donations from individual DrillOrDrop readers

Preview of the inquirynews updates from Day 1Day 2 and Day 3 link to inquiry page on DrillOrDrop

Key points from Day 4

  • Three local MPs oppose the scheme
    • Local democracy must be upheld – Chris Matheson MP for Chester
    • I don’t want a new housing estate to be half-built because people don’t want to live there – Justin Madders MP
    • IGas plans are step to the past that could do harm and fail to address environmental concerns – Mike Amesbury MP
  • Police and Crime Commissioner has concerns about whether Cheshire could resource policing of protests at the site
  • It is entirely illogical to explore for new sources of fossil fuels when we must take action to limit temperature rise – Friends of the Earth
  • “We cannot take any further risks with children’s health in Ellesmere Port – former teacher
  • “IGas scheme will rob Ellesmere Port communities of opportunities available to them” – local resident and councillor
  • IGas scheme is unacceptable risk that would restrict economic development of Ellesmere Port – local councillor
  • Ellesmere Port has always been considered as a convenient dumping ground for the rest of Cheshire and it is time for this to stop – local councillor
  • The IGas scheme will worsen health problems in Ellesmere Port – local opponent
  • “We cannot take any further risks with children’s health in Ellesmere Port” – local teacher
  • Why would IGas carry out testing if they did not intend to move onto production?
  • Approving the application would set a precedent for gas production in built-up areas in the UK
  • IGas consultation and community engagement does not meet industry guidelines or the Aarhus convention – local campaigner
  • No speakers in favour of the application
  • Approving the IGas scheme would reward the few at the cost of the many- local resident
  • Site location shows “fantastic lack of concern for the welfare of the communities affected” – resident

12.55pm: Inquiry session closes

The inquiry resumes at 9.30am on Tuesday 22 January 2019

12.49: Tomasina Buckeridge – opponent of the scheme


She tells the inquiry that she developed asthma within six months of arriving in Ellesmere Port and was told this was because of the environment and climate change.

She says her home is within 4.5 miles of the Stanlow, where there was a fire in August 2018. She phoned Stanlow several hours after the fire began and was told it had not been put out.

“We in Cheshire cannot survive with the addition of shale gas extraction with yet another site containing potential catastrophes, real or imagines.”

“There is a tipping point and people who can afford to leave will do so affecting employment and the economy.

12.43pm: Gayzer Frackman – opponent of the scheme

Mr Frackman says he has opposed fracking in Lancashire for 10 years.

He pays tribute to three people who he says have died trying to oppose oil and gas developments in their communities.

He commends the Cheshire West and Chester council and local campaigners for opposing the planning application.

He calls for real-time monitoring of air quality on four sides of the site. He says regulators are too slow to respond to breaches of permissions.

Mr Frackman asks that regulators from the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive attend the public inquiry to address public concerns.

Applause from the audience.

12.37pm: Stephen Savory – opponent of the scheme

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Mr Savory says he is voluntary director of Chester Community Energy Ltd, which has raised money for local solar schemes.

Mr Savory says:

“Small changes can make a difference if we act together.

“But confidence in combined action only works, globally, nationally or locally if everyone plays their part. Planning permission should not be granted for activities which clearly do no meet the test for sustainable development in the local plan.”

Mr Savory says savings on imported energy, stated by IGas, could also be achieved by insulation of homes.

“Time is running out for action needed to save our planet from damaging effects of climate change.

“This is why we should follow the requirements of the local plan and NPPF and refuse this appeal.

Applause from the audience.

12.32pm: Catherine Green – opponent of the scheme

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Ms Green, a Chester resident, is a climate change ambassador for Cafod.

She tells the inquiry that her original objection to the IGas scheme focused on climate change. She attended recent climate change talks and met people from across the world whose homes were being destroyed by floods and drought. She says:

This cannot the first time government policy and planning law has not kept pace with public knowledge.

She calls for the application to be refused and for shale gas at Ellesmere Port to be kept in the ground.

Applause from the audience.

12.27pm: Fiona Leslie – opponent of the scheme

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Ms Leslie says she lived for many years in Ellesmere Port and visits family there regularly. A year ago, she moved to back to Cheshire from London.

“I now live in Weaver Vale. My mother was extremely disappointed I didn’t move close to her in Ellesmere Port.”

She says she chose not to live there because of the already noxious environment with smells and tastes in the air

“I do not think it is appropriate to start yet another dirty industrial activity so close to the town and thousands of innocent people living and working and going to school there.”

Applause from the audience.

12.20pm: Fiona Jackson – opponent of the scheme

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Ms Jackson says she has lived at Ince, near Ellesmere Port, for 30 years. She says she first heard about unconventional gas extraction when IGas drilled within 1km of her home, without notifying her.

“After talking to IGas, I found them to seem evasive and felt intimidated by their security. They seemed unable to answer some of my questions.”

She says she saw a BBC report in December 2014 showing an IGas pipe connector linked to a large storage tank with bolts missing from the connection and held in place by gaffer tape.

141217 Ellesmere Port BBC North West

Photo: BBC News

“IGas repeatedly told us, that if they had no social licence to drill and operate their bysiness in our area, that they would listen to local opinion and go elsewhere. IGas you have no social licence to be here.

Ms Jackson reads a letter from her 11-year-old daughter, Amy, to the inspector, . This includes:

“With global warming, sea level rising, seasonal patterns changing and increased rainfall and flooding, burning fossil fuels will only destroy planet.”

Applause from the audience.

12.15pm: Alan Scott – opponent of the scheme

190118 epi 1238

Mr Scott says:

“It is shocking to see a shale gas exploration site inside an industrial estate next to a busy motorway which is next to a housing estate and near to schools and Ellesmere Port town centre.”

“This shows a fantastic lack of concern for the welfare of the communities affected.”

He says if the application were approved it would could stress, fear and anxiety which would last for years in the community.

He describes opposition to another IGas scheme at Upton.

Applause from the audience.

12.10pm: Pam Bellis – opponent of the scheme

190118 epi 1218

Ms Bellis says there is a responsibility to protect the environment now and for future generations.

“Whilst this planning application is stated that it is for exploration only, IGas would not be going to these lengths and spending thousands and thousands of pounds unless they felt there were future opportunities for them to then apply for Shale Gas production to take place on this site.”

Ms Bellis says:

“We should no longer be pursuing the extraction of fossil fuels but should be actively funding and supporting sustainable renewable energy”

We have a responsibility to change our country’s habits.

“If this appeal is upheld it will be a travesty of justice and democracy, paying no heed to the impact on the environment, to the public view sought in the correct democratic manner and on the public’s health and well-being and it will be rewarding the few at the cost of the many.

Applause from the audience.

12.05pm: Drew Bells – opponent of the scheme

190118 epi 1206

Mr Bells says he lives in Ince, where IGas has also drilled a gas well.

I am painfully aware that if this appeal is successful, the likelihood is that my quiet little village will be next in line for shale gas extraction.

He says

“We are here because thousands of people in our community said no. Our council said no. The science says no. Planet Earth says no. Why won’t IGas take no for answer?”

He says IGas is wasting vast amounts of time and money at expensive public inquiries on expensive lawyers. He urges the company to direct resources at the future, not the past and stop extracting fossil fuels.

Applause from the audience.

12.03am: Linda Shuttleworth – opponent of the scheme

190118 epi 1203

Ms Shuttleworth asks:

“Where are the local residents speaking on behalf of the appellant, IGas,  I am not hearing any local people saying yes, we do want exploration, drilling, assessment and extraction of shale gas in the midst of our communities.

On the contrary, the members of the public present at this inquiry are here because the are worried about these developments. They are here to say No again.”

Applause from the audience

11.59am: Jackie Mayo – opponent of the scheme

Ms Mayo says she has lived in Ellesmere Port for six years.

She says she didn’t realise how polluted the area was until she moved there. She discovered black spots on her car from pollution from the Stanlow refinery.

Pollution is a joke in Ellesmere Port, she says. She says there was a fire at the Stanlow refinery and there is pollution from waste incineration.

She tells the inquiry:

I have to take a day off work to be here.

Other people want to be here but cannot afford to take time off and don’t want to speak publicly.

The people say no, the council said no, and now IGas expect us to pay for this appeal. I think it is disgusting.

Applause from the audience.

11.53am: Tim Budd – opponent of the scheme

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Mr Budd has lived in Ellesmere Port for more than 20 years. He says he, and local friends and family oppose the scheme.

He says it has been proposed to him that the Portside area of Ellesmere Port is the best place for the site because of the docks, industry and motorway. He asks:

Haven’t the people of Ellesmere Port suffered enough?

He says they have already had to put up with polluting industries and a motorway carved through the community.

Just as Ellesmere Port is beginning to be regenerated, IGas seems to believe it can come in an start this proposed development, hidden behind the motorway.

Local people work in the local heavy industries. They know that emissions limits, noise levels, operating procedures are sometimes breached. No one will know what the effects will be, he says.

No one can deny there is potential for light pollution, noise and reduced air quality, he says.

Applause from the audience.

11.46am: Phil Coombe – opponent of the scheme

190118 epi 1150

Mr Coombe is a founder member of Frack Free Upton. He says he is speaking about public consultation.

He says local independently verified surveys show 70-80% of people surveyed in local Cheshire villages oppose oil and gas developments.

IGas claims to have engaged with the Ellesmere Port communities because of three exhibitions in the town and by leafleting. Mr Coombe says he has not met anyone who has received a leaflet.

Businesses neighbouring the site have opposed the scheme, he says. Frack Free Ellesmere and Upton has not met any residents on new estates nearest the site who have been contacted by IGas or the council, he says.

The Aarhus Convention requires that people have the chance to contribute to environmental decision-making.

Natural justice requires a much higher standard of consultation than that carried out by IGas. It does not meet the UKOOG guidelines.

The 2017 exihibition was poorly publicised and poorly attended. IGas has been disingenous and disrespectful to Ellesmere Port residents.

Applause from the audience.

11.40am: Paul Bowers – opponent of the scheme

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Mr Bowers is representing Cheshire West and Chester Green Party.

He says his objection is on climate change and air quality grounds.

He says the area already exceeds legal limits of air pollution and additional increase in traffic fumes is unacceptable.

“The existing strain upon the social and physical well-being of the local population, in which rates of mortality are significantly greater than the national average, means that the high levels of toxicity inherent to the process of extracting and flaring untreated gases must be avoid.

“The proposed development is simply too great a risk to establish so close to communities that are already sensitized to the adverse accumulative effects of heavy industry and environmental contamination.”

“The extreme proximity of the Portside site to an urban area, whilst posing various risks to the local population, also threatens communities throughout the UK, by setting a dangerous national precedent if permitted.”

Applause from the audience.

11.34am: John Tacon – opponent of the scheme

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Dr Tacon worked for the Environment Agency for 19 years until he retired in 2010.

He is speaking on behalf of the Chester World Development Forum. He says he distrusts many policies adopted by the UK government, particularly on the unconventional oil and gas industry,  which he believes are “driven not by evidence but by financial expediency, political dogma and favour special interest groups over the national interest.

Fracking for oil and gas is, he says, “dangerous, unnecessary, and unsustianable”.

He says he wants people to be aware of how the EA regulates sites.

It relies on self-monitoring by the process operator through adoption of an agreed process management system.

A breach of a permit condition would have to be reported, like an uncontrolled release of gas, within a specified period. Failure to report the release, rather than the release itself, would be grounds for a sanction by the Environment Agency. He says this is the equivalent of relying on motorists to report their own speeding.

The EA does this because of the low number of inspectors. Inspections are a rarity and control relies generally on annual submissions for the pollution inventory.

Since he left the EA, Dr Tacon says, staff numbers have fallen because funding was cut to the parent department, Defra, and staff have been seconded to government to work on Brexit. It originally has some degree of independence but is now dependent on Defra.

Dr Tacon says:

“I believe developing fracking in this crowded country, with its fractured geology,

He argues that aquifers are at risks of pollution. .

The proposed development by IGas at the EP1 location – within an urban area – is, in my personal opinion, absolutely expletive deleted bonkers, whether or not it involves the process defined as “fracking”.

“Why would they carry out expensive exploration testing if you’re not planning to move on to production to recoup your investment?

Applause from the audience.

11.28am: James Cameron – opponent of the scheme

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Mr Cameron, an architect and resident of Chester, says he is concerned about the effect of noise from flaring and about climate change. He says the ecologically-important sites on the Mersey Estuary, north of the IGas site would be more greatly affected from noise than the houses on the south, which are screened by the M53 motorway.

He says Ellesmere Port’s future regeneration should  not be “discouraged by the potential or adverse impacts of the appellant’s development with its noise, flaring, lights, heavy transport, fugitive and noxious gases, hazardous and contaminated materials, risk of fire, explosion and blow out and potential presence for a further 16 years or more under the 2010 planning approval.”

Mr Cameron said adds:

“It is disingenous to refer to this development as only short term as the appellant and others have done. It was proposed in 2009 and has been here for nine years already.”

He says IGas’s argument that the site did not discourage redevelopment was false and misleading. The site has been inactive for eight and a half years and there has been little information about the testing plans.

This appeals threatens the wellbeing of the local population, the sustainability of the town as a whole and the nearby ecological important sites, he says..

Applause from the audience

11.25am: Inquiry resumes

11.10am: Break

The inquiry resumes at 11.25am.

11.05am: Peter Benson – opponent of the scheme

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Mr Benson says he is speaking for the Cheshire branch of Friends of the Earth.

He says he joined Friends of the Earth because of concerns about climate change. He says

“Future generations and even people living within the next 12 years will judge us on whether we take we take the action to tackle climate change.”

Applause from the audience

10.56am: Helen Rimmer – opponent of the scheme

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Ms Rimmer, north west campaigner for Friends of the Earth, objects that the application is incompatible with the original application. She says there is also insufficient information about the environmental and health impacts, and local and government policy on planning and climate change.

She says the proposal does not make a positive contribution to local poor air quality. It will exacerbate problems, she says.

The proposal goes against the regeneration scheme for Ellesmere Port, which seeks to address negative perceptions and promote clean energy.

It also conflicts local planning policies, particularly on air quality, residential amenity and local environment.

On climate change, she says rapid and unprecedented changes are needed to limit temperature rise.

High-carbon fossil fuel development is not compatible to the aspiration to a low-carbon economy. Shale gas is not low carbon, Ms Rimmer says. This makes the case against fossil fuels is even greater, she says.

In this context, it is entirely illogical to explore for new sources of fossil fuels. Councils have a crucial role to reach climate targets. The council should be applauded for leading the way.

Worryingly, the air quality impact assessment concedes there could be period of venting, she says. Key information on the test process was excluded until after the original public consultation. IGas is unclear on how it will stimulate or what pressures it will use to extract gas trapped in the shale.

This proposal will have adverse impacts on climate change mitigation on air quality. It has been thoroughly rejected by local people and it should be refused.

Applause from the audience

10.50am: Chris Hesketh – opponent of the scheme


Mr Hesketh is speaking about his experience of IGas at a site 17 miles from Chester, at Duddleston.

He says Dart Energy, later bought by IGas, applied to drill for gas at Duddleston in Shropshire.

Mr Hesketh says Frack Free Duddleston showed how the geology of the area was unsafe to extract gas. IGas published a letter which derided the expertise of the group and rejected its conclusions.

IGas appealed against non-determination of the application. The appeal was to be heard by written representation, on IGas’s request, then upgraded to a hearing. It was later downgraded after complaints from IGas, and finally upgraded again.

IGas then withdrew the appeal on the grounds that the geology was unsuitable. The company did not apologise to local campaigners and then gave up the licence, Mr Hesketh says.

He says the experience involved the community in a lot of work and caused considerable stress.

Applause from the audience.

10.43am: Tony Walsh – opponent of the scheme

190118_104422Mr Walsh, a resident of Ellesmere Port, is a former head teacher.

As a teacher I was very concerned to promote environmental studies, aware of a need to foster in the pupils to care for the natural world and play our part in conservation.

The children were taught we have only one world and to ensure its sustainable. They have their lives in front of them.

Mr Walsh says the IPCC says there could be less than 12 years to address the affects of climate change and to keep temperature rise to 1.5C.

I oppose the application for climate change reasons. We should be giving all our attention to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

He says there are other major issues on the proposals. These include the regeneration proposals for Ellesmere Port, providing jobs, housing and social infrastructure. Nothing was said in a public consultation on the regeneration about the IGas plans, he says.

Mr Walsh says he is also concerned about the proximity of the site to local housing. Granting permission could have impacts on proposed new estates, he says.

He is also concerned about extra traffic generated by the scheme. Ellesmere Port already experienced traffic congestion and there could be grid lock in the town, he says.

Mr Walsh says there is ambiguity about the type of acid. He also raises concern about hydrogen sulphide gas. This is a risk to local residents.

Applause from the audience.

10.34: Felicity Dowling- opponent of the scheme


Ms Dowling says she is speaking as a teacher and trades unionist.

She says the proximity of the well to local housing and industries is a major concern.

She says there will be an impact on sub-structure of the industry in the area. It is ridiculous that it would not affect a pipeline that crosses the area to Liverpool.

This is not a little industrial estate. It is heavy industry, she says.

To allow this in an area with heavy toxic industry and the pipeline is ridiculous.

It is dangerous

There is also a risk to the structure of the Victorian Ellesmere Canal, she says.

Ms Dowling says burning fossil fuels is the leading cause of childhood asthma.

She says that when she first started teaching she might see one asthma inhaler. Now there is a line of inhalers on a teacher’s desk.

“We cannot take any further risks with children’s health in Ellesmere Port. The statistics are a very clear. We need to improve the health of our children. There is no greater responsibility but to look after the health of children.”

We think the oil and gas industry is something that needs to be campaigned against, as asbestos was in the past, Ms Dowling says. Our children are suffering now. No further risk is acceptable.

Fossil fuels should be left in the ground. People who care about children in Ellesmere Port want clean air and a safe environment for them to grow up in.

Applause from the audience

Giles Cannock, for IGas, repeats that the scheme does not include fracking.

10.29am: Barbara Gegg – opponent of the scheme

Mrs Gegg says the IGas scheme could adversely affect the health of local people, in an area where there is already poor health.

She says traffic would be increased, adding to pollution. Lorries are already using unsuitable roads, causing noise and vibration.

There is already more than enough pollution in the area. There is already light pollution, which means she has to use black-out curtains in their bedroom.

People with respiratory illnesses on new housing estates will be affected by increased traffic.

Heavy industry is already affecting local people. Allowing the IGas scheme will only make things worse. These industries affect people’s health. People matter.

Applause from audience.


10.28am: Comment on applause

Brian Cook, the inspector, says the session will finish at 1pm.

He says if there is lengthy applause for each speaker fewer people will have a chance to speak.

10.19am: Jill Houlbrook – opponent of the scheme

Ms Houlbrook, while a councillor, says she is speaking as a resident. She says she has concerns about the impact of the scheme on the natural environment and local people.

She says if the refusal is overturned, Ellesmere Port will struggle to attract jobs and investment. The aspiration for the town is based on sustainability and clean growth.

There is an assumption by IGas that emissions are an acceptable result of the operation of the site.

That IGas is willing to enter into an agreement on the description of the scheme suggests there is a certain amount of eagerness by IGas to see this scheme approved.

She asks what IGas does not understand about the local opposition to its scheme

Public opinion is a material consideration. This is why our communities are here today.

The IGas scheme will rock Ellesmere Port to its core.  It will rob communities of the opportunities available to them.

Ellesmere Port deserves a clean and happy future.

Giles Cannock, for IGas, says the scheme does not include hydraulic fracturing. Without prejudice, the company is willing to discuss an amended description or a condition to allay local concern.

Applause from audience

190118_10125010.12am: Cllr Ben Powell – opponent of the scheme

Cllr Powell says

I looked at this application and think it represents an unacceptable risk to the local economy.

He refers to the National Planning Policy Framework on climate change, sustainable development and local businesses.

Cllr Powell says Ellesmere Port has succeeded in attracting local businesses recently. The site location is 270m from the Mersey Estuary SSSI, 100m from other businesses and close to the motorway and local houses.

I would submit that the application could restrict economic development and future growth of the area.

Approving this application would make the area an exclusion zone for some forms of economic development. This is against the NPPF. It carries a risk with very little economic benefit.

The council made a fair and proportionate judgement when deciding this application.

Applause from audience

10.08am: Cllr Pat Merrick – opponent of the scheme

Cllr Merrick represents the Rossmore ward which includes the well site on the Cheshire West and Chester Council.

She says she was not a councillor for the area where the drilling application was made until 2011. Cllr Merrick says:

Ellesmere Port has always been considered as a convenient dumping ground for the rest of Cheshire and it is time for this to stop.

I grew up in the shadow of Stanlow [oil refiner] and there have always been fears about an explosion or terrorist attack.

Breathing problems are a bigger problem in the local community, she says.

I am not opposed in principle to extract shale gas, she says. It is fine in open countries. It is not right in Ellesmere Port. It is not suitable anywhere in the UK. We are a very small island. We are over populated. It is the wrong place.

Applause from audience

Cllr Merrick is asked by IGas about the timescale of recent investment. He says it is in the past 5-10 years.

10.01am: David Keane, Police and crime commissioner – concerns


A representative of the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner says he has a statement to read to the inquiry.

The statement expresses concern about the impact of the scheme on police resources. The concerns are based on the police eviction of a protest camp at the IGas site, which involved 200 police officers, involved three months of planning and cost £250,000+, the statement says. Soon after the eviction, IGas abandoned the site.

Police officers have to manage protests but continue to police with consent of the local community, the statement says. The protest at Upton was peaceful and good-natured, it says.

I am concerned about the likely implications if the development goes ahead and the impact this could have on the police service where demand outweighs resources.

I have great concerns whether Cheshire police could resource this operation.

Applause from audience

The inquiry inspector, Brian Cook, asks for clarification on the responsibilities of the Police and Crime Commissioner.


9.52am: Mike Amesbury MP – opponent of the scheme

Mr Amesbury is the MP for Weaver Vale.

He says:

“My constituents love the area where they live for many reasons; high among these are its natural beauty and its proximity to important wildlife habitat.”

He says what happens in the neighbouring constituency is of huge importance to them. Nearly a thousand constituents have contacted him since he became an MP about environmental issues. He says:

IGas plans do nothing to address concerns about natural habitats and climate change.

He says the Cheshire Science Corridor is working to be at the forefront of low carbon clean technology.

Shale gas is a step to the past. It fails to take our area in the right direction. It has the potential to harm what we already have.

The proposal is close to the Site of Special Scientific Interest – if these areas aredamaged or undermined it could decades before the ecosystem recovers. It could be changed permanent.

Mr Amesbury says there are already four air quality management areas in the county.

The proposal has the potential to make air quality worse. Acidisation could also harm local regeneration.

The company has failed to reassure the council and the local area on the impacts of acid and carbon emissions.

My constituents believe the decision made by the council was the right one and was justified on the evidence.

Constituents are at a loss to understand why when politicians have got something right they are being challenged.

I believe, as a local MP, I have reflected the views of people that the three MPs and councillors represent. We hope this view will be listened to.

Applause from the audience.

Giles Cannock, for IGas, asks whether the MP has confidence in the regulators. Mr Amesbury says the regulators should be strengthened. He says the government is trying to ensure that the industry, which he says should be kicked into the long grass, can march forward.

190118_0946239.46am: Justin Madders MP – opponent of the scheme

Mr Madders is the MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston.

He says he wants to object on grounds of democracy, local developments and climate change.

He says he does not support unconventional oil or gas extraction. He says the planning committee and local decision making should be supported.

He says the site is a few hundred metres from new housing and leisure facilities.

“The area is changing. I don’t want that estate to be half built because people don’t want to live there.”

My biggest concern is climate change, he adds. Temperature rise must be limited to avoid climate change. More efforts on oil and gas extraction will lead to more temperature increase.

Applause from the audience.

190118_0935549.34am:  Chris Matheson MP – opponent of the scheme

Mr Matheson is the MP for the city of Chester. He says he has questioned the record of IGas on engagement with the public, the depth of the Ellesmere Port and the eviction of a protest camp at Upton. He expresses his concern about any promises the company may make on the Ellesmere Port test plan.

Mr Matheson says local democracy must be upheld. To overturn the council’s decision would challenge local democracy. He says his increased majority in elections is in part to his position on fracking and onshore oil and gas. He says world leading climate scientists from the IPCC conclude there are just 12 years left to take action to keep temperature rise to 1.5C. The IGas scheme does not contribute to these efforts. The government has said quick action  ust be taken to tackle climate change.

This specific application will affect people adversely in Ellesmere Port – with a negative impact on air quality. The town is in the process are large-scale regeneration. The IGas scheme will affect the local economy and the health of local residents. It will also affect his constituents in Chester.  The benefits of the scheme are likely to be minimal, he says. He calls on the ispector to reject the application.

Applause from the audience.

Giles Cannock, for IGas, asks if he has followed the progress of the inquiry. Mr Matheson says parliament has been following other matters. Mr Cannock says the council’s planning witness accepted the Ellesmere Port well was drilled lawfully. He asks Mr Matheson what reliance should be placed on the weight of the council’s evidence.

Mr Matheson says IGas forced an eviction of the Upton protest camp, resulting in considerable cost and disruption and then within days decided not to go ahead with operations at that site.

That is a level of the irresponsibility which I find very difficult to comprehend

That is not relevant to the inquiry, Mr Cannock says.

Estelle Dehon, for Frack Free Ellesmere Port and Upton, says IGas was not forthcoming with the community about the depth of the Ellesmere Port well.

9.30am: Day 4 of the inquiry opens

The inquiry inspector, Brian Cook, opens the inquiry

Reporting at this inquiry has been made possible by donations from individual DrillOrDrop readers

66 replies »

  1. ‪Yes we must take action .. logically .. to stop importing oil and gas from halfway around the world and use UK sources until such time as we can survive on renewables ? @ruthhayhurst I keep asking how you heat your home gas?? Oil? Electricity ? ‬

  2. Can you imagine how far we would of come in renewables, over the least 10 years, if the same amount of tax payers money was invested in alternative energy production and systems? How many jobs that would of created? Here on my doorstep where I have been promised the “Biggest Gas field in Europe”. We have made several solar farms that are up and running. New houses are built with electric underfloor heating. The solar farms take a few months to build. Then they are tested and hooked up to the system within a year? There was also alternative energy plants being built, but the wrong horse has been backed and funding was pulled on renewables. It is the only way. If you gas lovers like your central heating so much, as I do mine can you not come up with a way of converting the boiler to electric and use renewable to operate energy systems. After all we are talking about the 6th extinction here and a need to act fast and now. You will have to come up with some other ways to drown yourselves in your trillions of DEBT.

    • Intermittent renewables will always need base load power to back them up. How do you think those subsidised solar panels are doing this time of year covering acre after acre of farm land?
      Gas is providing 50% of your electricity right now. Solar? Nothing at all, just plastic imported China panels sitting there turning fields to dust.

    • Well said Netty, about time we pinned the costs of cleaning up this planet on these fossil fuel fools isnt it? That is the true costs of this insanity and then they will suddenly claim that they are all for renewables and it was someone else who was screaming from the rooftops to preserve the insanity of the fossil fuel monoplies?

      • Well well, good morning folks, and its Sunday 20th January 2019, the 13th Sunday since fracking was supposed to have succeeded in providing fracked natural gas in the UK. The number 13 may be unlucky for fracking in the UK, and lucky for everyone else, luck, or fate, or Karma, has that effect,

        But what has happened is that the efforts to frack have failed at the very turn, Cuadrilla, Third Energy, Igas and now Cuadrilla again, all have come to nought, no doubt the lobbying to government to overturn the TLS has reached frantic proportions, but perhaps Theresa May, Greg Clark, Claire Perry and their spooksperson Natascha Engel have more pressing political survival matters on their plates and the EA are understaffed with their staff being seconded to deal with the bottled brexit debacle. And the so called regulators are dismally underfunded and understaffed as they are and there is hardly a micro plastic standard, let alone a tarnished fools gold standard competence or ability between them. Rubber stampers all.

        This is David Kesteven’s Fracking Farmhouse take on the fracking situation today:

        So, what are we to make of all this? Is number 13 unlucky for fracking and lucky for the rest of us?

        Do you feel happy or sad? But we know boys and girls, don’t we? Oh yes we do!

        This is:

        Pharrell Williams


        It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
        Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
        I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
        With the air, like I don’t care, baby, by the way


        Because I’m happy
        Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
        Because I’m happy
        Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
        Because I’m happy
        Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
        Because I’m happy
        Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

        Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
        Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold it back, yeah,
        Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
        No offense to you, don’t waste your time
        Here’s why


        Bring me down
        Can’t nothing
        Bring me down
        My level’s too high
        Bring me down
        Can’t nothing
        Bring me down
        I said (let me tell you now)
        Bring me down
        Can’t nothing
        Bring me down
        My level’s too high
        Bring me down
        Can’t nothing
        Bring me down
        I said


        Bring me down… can’t nothing…
        Bring me down… my level’s too high…
        Bring me down… can’t nothing…
        Bring me down, I said (let me tell you now)


        Have a very happy frack free Sunday with family and friends and look forward to many more frack free Sundays.

  3. Netty-fine in theory but the reality is quite different.

    I have a solar farm close by. Built with Polish labour, who travelled over to do the job, and then returned home with the income. Most of the materials made in China-take a look at the energy used to make solar panels and where it comes from in China.

    Once the solar farm was completed neighbouring farmland was then free game for the planners, and the first housing estate is already being constructed. Open days start this coming week. Outside that estate is a road sign warning of road closure next week to install the new GAS main to the estate. I suspect the same might be seen close to the Igas site where housing has been built and may be built.

    Renewables are fine and most of us utilise if efficient and cost effective, but they are only a part of the overall mix. Antis have posted on here they will continue with their 3 litre diesels until someone helps subsidise a move to electric for them (good luck with that), Mr. Musk of Tesla informed the public yesterday that he had to reduce his workforce as people were not willing to pay the premium for his electric vehicles, even after he had reduced the price by $3000 per unit. All my neighbours and friends who have invested in solar indicate it was their worst decision ever-although there must be some who are of another view.

    I have tried current hybrid vehicles and rejected. I do utilise an air sourced heat unit but also use gas. Around 10,000 new houses are planned within a close radius to me and the vast majority will have gas central heating, and a few will supplement that with additional solar panels. If I take the dog to the coast I can watch the oil tankers arriving from thousands of miles away.

    Converting gas boilers to hydrogen is probably a good bet. And then, you have to think where that hydrogen will come from?? From gas- with the carbon being “captured” or utilised.

    If you want to make a difference stop on-line shopping. Great for sales of delivery vans but a significant increase in emissions.

    • I agree Martin, even if the anti brigade do have the money. ie Refracktion they still use big gas boilers to heat their home (no solar on their roofs) and won’t buy electric or hybrid and choose 3 litre diesels imported from Germany and jet off on foreign holidays? So much for eco warriors.

      • So, Kishy, you seem to be party to some specific knowledge about the home of Refracktion; did he invite you in or were you window peering?

        What are you gonna do when the gas runs out, eh?

    • Martin. “A solar farm built by Polish Labour” much like Cuadrilla’s site at PNR then, where just about everyone except security and the cleaners have been from abroad. Even Francis Egan is Irish. Indeed, Cuadrilla were forced to admit to the Planning Inspector at the Public Inquiry that there would be only 11 permanent jobs per site, mainly in security and cleaning. At least they were telling the truth about that.

      • “A solar farm built by Polish Labour”
        I wonder if Marty had a ‘friend’ in immigration who checked these subtle details? Or just another hearsay?

        • The reality Passepartout, was entering into discussion with the guys whilst they were buying their pies and biscuits in the village shop and I was buying my papers. Mind you the registration on their vans also gave a clue. And the neighbouring farmer also was quite informative.

          Goodness, you really are a long way off grid!
          Keep trying to suggest that any information contrary to your views is false. It obviously isn’t and your attempts to suggest so indicates insecurity, and a lack of ability to accommodate that.

    • all the people i know with solar panels love em n havent looked back – also yes its about time top down policy was brought in to mandate renewables on new estates not the same old estate building time n time again putting fossil tech in but we hv backward thinking local n national govt to thank for that not developers

      • Why would you need to mandate something if it was that attractive Cat?? Like the concept of driving around in a 3 litre diesel, you want someone else to pay for your view and also impose it upon others. Good luck with that. Doesn’t show a great deal of confidence that your view is that attractive. But, of course, anyone can decide the spec. of their new house, car etc, or adjust their existing dwelling as they wish. But, when they have paid for their wood burning stove to be removed, maybe they will need someone else to pay even for such adjustments!

        Pauline-not a problem then. Multiply the employment at PNR by a few thousand sites ( anti suggestion) and the number of workers will be significant-especially during a period when the UK will decide on the source of labour. Being slightly more serious, if fracking does get going do you really believe one test site practice will be what happens across the piece? Solar farms are commercial, and numerous-quite a different matter.

  4. So, Jack, we don’t frack in UK and buy in from countries that frack-that is not the answer. Neither is it regarding conventional oil or gas.

    Problems with funding nuclear. Wonder what will take up the gap? (Certainly not intermittent alternatives.) GAS.

    Fog here today, not a breath of wind. Temperature around zero. Therefore no wind or solar generation just when you need it. Light up the wood burner? Last year 170k sold but only 30% Ecodesign . Burning wood and coal in stoves and open fires causes 38% of particulate emissions.

    But you have the choice. Fuel poverty and pneumonia, or go alternative and end up the same.

    By the way, did you check out the reality also reported regarding the NT over the weekend? Suspect not.

    • psst Marty….there is no shale gas..

      What are you gonna do when the oil and gas runs out, eh?

      I am alternative and can assure you I have never had pneumonia and definitely not in poverty 🙂

      Stick to what you know; oh hang on, that’ll be nothing…oops

    • The ‘ merry-go-round ‘

      MARTIN …………

      We have all debated this topic, endlessly on this forum, it really does feel like one’s on a ‘merry-go-round .

      Once more for the record .

      With an almost endless number of Fracking Bankruptcies in the USA, racking up hundreds of billions in loses and that in a country with almost ZERO regulations .

      PLEASE fully explain to us all, with SUPPORTING EVIDENCE , LINKS for all the members to easily access . How can it be possible, with the wildest stretch of the imagination that costly, restrictive, UK Shale ever hope to make a PROFIT ????

      Please let me show you where we get our easy supplies of gas from , here is a LINK.

      • I’m sorry MARTIN , mankind’s party is well and truly OVER .

        The easy times on this planet are FINISHED.

        WE have to, for future generations bite the bullet and switch as close as possible to 100% renewable energy.

        Scraping the very bottom of the fossil fuel barrel with costly , polluting, destructive , danger to health FRACKING will not be acceptable to anyone with more than one brain cell in their heads . The people are aware that change has to come quickly .

        Can you put in to figures, for the readers on this forum. The current financial cost of UK Climate Change so far ??????

        FUEL POVERTY will never be resolved with costly UK Shale gas , you know it , I know it , every man and his dog knows it .

  5. Anybody aware of the result of the enquiry into the appointment of the fracking linked Judge who jailed our three friends who were subsequently and very quickly released?

  6. Gosh – the people giving their opinions don’t seem to know much – are they just take it in turns to recite a few “facts” from GasLands. At least they managed to get one true expert, Mr Frackman, to give an expert opinion.

    • Thats right JUDITH

      That’s why , unlike some, I always put forward links from professionals, with proven credentials….

      We can all pretend to be something we arn’t on here …… Especially when we back up what we say with Sweet Nothing.

      Taking note of that , I may choose to be the Incredible Hulk tomorrow .

      Who is quoting from Gasland ?????

  7. No Jack. You place links to support your own speculation. Easily done. Plenty available on the Internet. Speculation, you ask.

    Yes indeed. “Costly” UK shale gas supported by what? Oh yes, the infamous 2013 piece that was shown shortly after to be misconceived.

    If it is going to be costly then there is no issue for the antis, is there?? At least you speculate there will be UK shale gas, others suggest they will be none. Some say there will be thousands of wells, others that there is no gas even for a few. All “supported” by “professionals”. And then, when reality starts to poke through those “professionals” just evaporate.

    Did you follow my reference to the NT that appeared over the weekend? You know, the one that indicated, AGAIN, that the activities of the NT are not embraced by everyone? Suspect not because it wasn’t on the Internet.

    Fuel poverty will be resolved by directing taxation to those who need the support Jack. Very simple. How much taxation do we fail to gather on potential UK gas and oil and pay out to many other countries, including USA and Russia?
    Seen the news this am? Another maritime explosion, with multiple deaths and obviously resulting pollution. What is the impact upon climate change of an exploding gas tanker? I suggested only a few days ago that some should check the numbers of oil/gas tanker disasters at sea every year, still. Did you?

    Cost of UK climate change? Probably a bit more than when it happened centuries ago, Jack. We could, of course, remove all humans and there would still be climate change. Just nobody around to calculate it. Inconvenient these volcanoes.

    • MARTIN,

      You have said a lot in your above post.

      BUT , you have backed up your comments with SWEET NOTHING .

      Are we, the readers to acknowledge that your above post is your opinion ONLY….. Or are you going to put forward some evidence to back up your Off The Cuff comments ?????

      Let’s all see your evidence.

      PS – Nobody knows what you are talking about regarding the National Trust ….. Please provide a LINK .

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