Council threatens to evict monitoring camp outside West Newton well site

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Road-side monitoring camp outside Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A well site, north of Hull, January 2019. Photo: Frack Free East Yorkshire

People monitoring drilling at Rathlin Energy’s East Yorkshire well site are fighting a council threat of eviction to a road-side camp.

The group, which began round-the-clock monitoring earlier this month, said the camp outside the West Newton-A site was necessary to identify any breaches of permissions or regulations.

But East Riding of Yorkshire Council said the camp must go within a month or it will take enforcement action.

Paul Bellotti, the council’s director of environment and neighbourhood services, said today:

“We have advised the protesters that, whilst we do not seek to obstruct or deny their democratic right to protest, we are concerned about safety issues of the encampment with regards to visibility and their proximity to a public highway contributing to safety concerns for both the protesters and highways users.

“We have requested the protesters to remove all the caravans, tents and wooden structures and other items deposited on the highway verges within a month.

“We have requested confirmation that the existing structures and other items will be removed from the highway verges. If the structures and other items are not removed, the council may itself remove the structures and items at a future time and recover the cost of so doing from the protesters.

“The council may also seek a disposal order to dispose of the structures and items if necessary.”

The monitoring group said it set up its project following breaches of environmental permit conditions by Rathlin Energy at the site during flow testing in 2014.

Deliveries began in December 2018 and the conductor rig is drilling the first section of the site’s second well.

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Rathlin Energy’s West Newton well site in East Yorkshire,

Local support

Local people have supported the monitoring project. Harry Clark, one of the residents living closest to the site, opposed a recent planning application for more time to drill at West Newton. He said:

“Local opinion is that the people who are here and observing and reporting back on what is happening on this site should be allowed to stay. We get to know what a great deal about what happens here and I think we need the site to be monitored.”

Another resident was quoted by East Yorkshire Frack Free as saying:

“We are all aware of how important it is to monitor activities on the West Newton well site. Without the presence of the Monitors our knowledge of what happens there will be very scant indeed.”

Andy Walker, a Yorkshire Party candidate in council elections this year, wrote to complain about the eviction notice:

“I have watched the story of Rathlin Energy at West Newton unfold over half a decade and it is clear that many documented breaches of licence conditions have occurred. I understand that East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the Environment Agency have neither the funds nor the staff to monitor what occurs at that site each day but it is clear that someone must.

“There have been documented, evidenced breaches within the last month and it is reckless to remove the only effective monitoring by seeking to evict those evidence gatherers. I will work to overturn the eviction order and look forward to the day when publicly funded, professional monitoring renders this heroic effort unnecessary – or we decide to leave fossil fuels in the ground.”

Frack Free East Yorkshire is urging people to write to the council in support of the monitoring project.

17 replies »

  1. Interesting reports from both the BBC and the Guardian tonight on the environmental effects of the protests against fracking.

    The data collected during air quality monitoring by the University of York, reveal that pollution from the burning of wood by the protest camps, the protest tactic of slow walking in front of lorries supplying the site and the number of police vehicles involved, had been a “significant” source of the pollutants at Kirby Misperton.

    • Interesting points JOHN HARRISON,

      BUT let’s face it . The study is a complete and utter load of tripe . I wonder WHICH oil company sponsored this study and what’s in it for the University of York .

      I’m stunned that such a laughable study could ever be conceived by a human being…

        • BUT KISHNEY;

          In the real world it’s silly .

          To try and discredit protesters by working out how much pollution their wood burners cause is a real rib tickler

          What next , maybe someone will working out how much rubber is wasted from the soles of protesters marching shoes and linking it with the decline of the Amazon rain forest

          [Word added at poster’s request]

          • Where’s your link, Jack??

            No science based links to support your argument?

            Tut, Tut.

            Thought “opinions” were frowned upon?

            What next you ask? Oh, maybe an assessment of how much fossil fuel is consumed by antis travelling from far and wide, often in their 3 litre diesel BMWs, to protest against???? The exploration for fossil fuel!!!!

            • MARTIN ,

              Or should I call you BOT Martin , because you are sending some very unusual posts.

              BOT meaning ……. COMPUTING
              an autonomous program on a network (especially the Internet) which can interact with systems or users,

              Exactly WHAT should I be sending a LINK to ???????? Please clearly specify

            • The “load of tripe” to start with, Jack.

              You want to be champion of “professional science” over “opinion”.

              Except, you change your stance when someone puts forward information, and suggest the report was bought, with no basis for that whatsoever.

              You are not alone. Same suggestion regarding the latest from BGS.

              Absolute standard anti approach-but, don’t be surprised if those of a different persuasion then ignore the selected links you put forward.

            • Oh MARTIN, is it silly time again ??????

              I’m really beginning to think that you really are a BOT…….Totally void of real human thinking .

              BOT meaning ……. COMPUTING
              an autonomous program on a network ( especially the Internet ) which can interact with systems or users

              It would also account as to why you can NEVER provide a link .

              AND where , in any of my above posts did I say that what I had put forward was anything but my own opinion???????? Please explain .

              I ask you this then ………. what on mother earth was the reason for doing such a pointless investigation????????? Seriously, working out how much pollution a protesters slow walking or wood burning stove is causing ….. WOW is this what it has come to ????

          • If you have protesters like Refracktion with an anti fossil fuel website then living a heavy fossil fuel lifestyle and not using eco alternatives?
            It just brings attention to the hypocrisy…

      • So a scientific study using the latest air monitoring equipment and completed by a team from the University of York lead by a professor of atmospheric chemistry is a load of tripe?

        Yet we have a post about a group of activists who have no equipment, training, knowledge, qualifications or experience in the oil and gas industry or in the regulation of said industry, receiving support to try and prevent their eviction, because their monitoring is deemed so important by those that condemn the scientific study.

        You couldn’t make it up!

  2. The truth is that these protestors are little more than vandals and saboteurs. Let’s hope a spell of -10’C forces them to pack up their pathetic eyesore of a camp before the bulldozers have to be called in. Why don’t they turn their efforts to something useful like litter picking or planting a few trees?

  3. Jack-I wouldn’t be too dismissive of such concerns from the non anti majority.

    It quickly developed during the Newbury bypass campaign and it was the nonsense around slow moving diesels that removed much of the sympathy for the protestors.

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