Picture post: Hundreds attend ‘Fracking in Lancashire’ event

190209 Ribby Hall gv Refracktion1

Living with Fracking event at Ribby Hall, near Blackpool, 9 February 2019. Photo: Refracktion.com

An estimated 350 people attended an event near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site to discuss the impacts of fracking on residents.

The capacity audience, at Ribby Hall holiday village near Blackpool, heard from the Texan former oil and gas worker, Sharon Wilson, who now works for the US environmental group, Earthworks. She described the loss of water and air quality in her community.  She said fracked gas was not a bridge fuel to a low carbon economy.

There were also presentations from Dr Tim Thornton, a retired GP from Ryedale, where Third Energy wanted to frack but has not yet had permission, and David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at University of Glasgow.

Professor Smythe said he had identified the critical Wakepark Fault, from a 3D geological survey, which had been missing in Cuadrilla’s documentation. But he said the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority had withheld the survey, at the request of Cuadrilla, and the report was released only following legal action.

Dr Thornton said disadvantaged and young people who live near shale gas sites were at great risk because, he said, the government did not intend to carry out baseline or ongoing monitoring  of the health impacts of residents.

There were additional presentations from local anti-fracking campaigners, Susan Holliday, chair of the Preston New Road Action Group, Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, and Maureen Mills, of the Moss Alliance.

“Ministerial intention and action are two separate things”

The event’s organisers, Concerned Residents of Lancashire, said:

“It was highly beneficial and excellent timing to hold an event of this nature.

“From what we have heard and experienced so far, it seems as though ministerial intention and ministerial action are two very separate things: the climate crisis will not be solved by the introduction of a new and dirty fossil fuel industry.

“We can’t have daily reports of climate breakdown and an air pollution crisis, and carry on with fracking, regardless.

“Our health and community safety must be paramount.”



112 replies »

    • It was an open meeting. Did you attend and ask questions Nick?
      The Cuadrilla company have never held open public discussions in their licensed areas since the very early days when Mark Milller was CEO. One at Hesketh Bank and one at Burscough come to mind, After he was replaced by Francis Egan, there’s been only a few roadshows with one to one low key Q and A’s out of the limelight and usually with PR people.
      So what is the current CEO and the Cuadrilla company frightened of?
      In this vaccuum tt’s not surprising the targeted local people have sought help from professionals and researched for themselves.
      It seemed to me that there was a large pool of specialist knowledge at the meeting. Not only on the platform, not only from those with official paper qualifications. But within a such a large audience, everyone knows something useful and there;s great deal of priceless common sense.

        • Nick — what a pity you missed it. There had been invitations sent out eg to the MP. The panel was there to be challenged if you had so wished. Open meetings are arranged regularly. Some again soon I think. I suggest you contact Frack Free Lancashire or the Preston New Rd or Rosecare Awareness Group websites and ask to be kept informed about future events.

            • Well Nick, come back to your home county where you started your fossil collecting a youngster. Sometimes with the NE Lancs Group of the GA as I recall, way back in the late 1960s. Come and explain why you are happy to wreck the lives of people who live here still. They’ve already undergone several years of worry and horrendous expense. Come to an open meeting where you could be in discussion with other chartered geologists and engineers (there are plenty about). This would be of great interest to the public. By the way, I expect you’ll know that chartered rules require the signatories to do no harm to people or the environment and warn the public if they notice any dangerous threats. I can find you the exact quotes if you’ve not your chartered documents to hand.

            • Muriel, I have do no harm to anyone & intend not to. There is a local chartered engineer who claimed that PNR would be the largest fracking rig in the world . Clearly untrue. I have heard all sorts of exaggerated claims over the years, such as shale gas wells are really being drilled for radwaste disposal, Blackpool will sink under the sea, water supplies will be contaminated etc etc. & that Preese Hall leaked (not true). I am not aware that Prof Smythe has any access to PNR’s drilling information – other than what is in the public domain, his claims about the geology can be only speculative, not fact.

            • Hasn’t Prof Smythe finally got access to the 3D seismic data – he was not referring to drilling data so you seem to be deliberately misrepresenting him there. I would have thought that meant that his claims about the geology are based on solid ground (as it were).

              I’d let you off with that as a slip of the keyboard if it were not for the fact that you also seem keen to misrepresent “a local chartered engineer” by telling us that he “claimed that PNR would be the largest fracking rig in the world “. In fact (as you surely know) he said it would be the largest fracking PAD in the world. As the surface area for the total surface pad workings was reported in the Blackpool Gazette to be 9.9 hectares he may well be right. In late 2014 it was reported that “in the Marcellus Shale, the area that is covered by these sites averages 7 acres, ranging from 5 to 10 acres total for shale gas site ” – that’s just 2-4 hectares each. Do you know of any sites of 10 ha or more elsewhere? If so where are they?

              You seem very slapdash with detail for a professional academic if you don’t mind me saying so.

            • Refracktion. Here is the definition of a pad. It relates to a single rig that drills multiple wells from the pad

              “Pad drilling, sometimes called multi-well pad drilling, is a drilling practice that allows multiple wellbores to be drilled from a single, compact piece of land known as a pad. To be considered pad drilling, multiple wells must be drilled on a single pad, and those wells must be drilled during the same visit of a drilling rig. For example, if a drilling rig drilled three wellbores on a pad and then left, those wells would be considered pad-drilled. If it returned a year later and drilled another on the same pad, the wellbore would not be pad-drilled.”

              Preston New Rd had planning permission in the public domain about how many wells may be drilled (as some wells are dependent on the results of previous ones) & the surface dimensions of the rig pad. There are lots of drone pictures on DOD & as you can see it is relatively small. It was Preston New Road that Mr Hill was referring to as the largest in the world. Clearly untrue, whatever the local rag, or he reported.

              Regarding Prof Smythe, his diagram clearly shows the trajectories of the wells, and he claims as fact that Cuadrilla still got it wrong regarding the geology on that diagram with a February date. I was not at the meeting had I been I would have asked what data sets he had used (and its vintage). If as you say he has had access to the 3D seismic data, that would be a geological model derived from an interpretation of the seismic – his interpretation I assume? These are not facts. The whole reason for drilling is to ground truth what the geology actually is. So as I doubt very much that he has access to Cuadrilla’s suite of drilling logs etc., he does not know what the geology actually is. So how can he definitively claim Cuadrilla “still got it wrong”

    • Dr. Riley,
      This was an open, well advertised event with good security.
      When the panel was convened after the presentations a request was made for any members of the oil and gas industry or any members of the Constabulary present to make themselves known and be invited to join the panel.
      Nobody did!

    • Dr Riley – now you have the perfect opportunity to set up your own meeting in Lancashire. I for one would love to attend. In fact I think I can guarantee that you would also have hundreds in attendance.

      Please let us know when you have organised it and we will make sure it is well publicised for you.

      Or if you are not going to bother then maybe you should stop whining about this one?

  1. I think that Fylde residents have lived with the threat of Fracking for so long that they have heard all the balanced views possible.

    • Mr. Wakefield,
      the presentations were actually very worthwhile because of the quality of the speakers and their up to date knowledge. I was astounded to learn that no active local Health Professionals had attended to listen to the retired GP in particular and also the lady from America with first hand testimony of her experience in a fracking zones!

  2. Dr Nick it looks no less an echo chamber than the much vaunted Lancashire for Shale road show recently held at Bartle Hall and attended by the Governments Fracking Tsar Natasha Engel. Or Caudrillas Chrismas Party held at AFC Fylde Mill Farm for local lackeys.

    The difference here is the people turning up to the Ribby Hall event have nothing to gain from the industry and there were significantly more of them.

  3. Nothing to gain? NW England has a very high level of domestic gas meters. Bye the way I was not at Bartle Hall either. Pity that the residents of the Fylde also opposed gas storage in salt caverns on the Fylde . Pity – because those facilities will be essential for energy storage with renewable energy. I think campaigners are short changing the people of Fylde & limiting their options for a sustainable future.

    • I attended a Cuadrilla event years ago. It was televised. Cuadrilla said that house prices next to fracking sites would rise. I kid you not. They actually said that. Apparently people move to the countryside to live as close as they can to heavily industrialised sites dealing in toxic explosive material.

      You could hear a pin drop before the roars of laughter.

      It was a good example of a panel presenting totally farcical nonsense.

        • You should know better Martin , im a retired man who spends 24/7 caring for my 88 year old father with dementia , I post here and anywhere else without remuneration and I wouldn’t have it any other way .

          • Sorry to hear about your father Jono, its a privilege and an honour to care for our parents isnt it? We only get one chance at that.

            No doubt those who only think of money would quietly farm them out to a care home as far away as possible.

            That is the difference between the exploiters and the carers and is displayed here every day of the week.

            Cue an imaginary fantasy relative perhaps…….?

            • Thank you Phil , i came for 2 months to help out and 2 years later im still here. Its not the sort of thing that i can walk away from and i wouldn’t have it any other way. Its like a lot of things in life , you either care or you don’t.

          • Well, Jono, as you demonstrate that possibility so well, why do you need to speculate so often that others do not?

            My father passed away a short while ago, aged 95, and he too suffered from dementia in his final years.

            One thing it taught me, is that at that age and in such a frail condition, the difference in the need for a reliable and cheap energy source. He had lived a life with frugal use of energy until around 82/83 and after that required constant warmth-22/23 C, 24/7. He was fortunate that he had the funds and relatives that could provide that. Others, are not that fortunate.

            • Im sorry for your loss Martin as i would be for anyone losing family or friends but i would feel a lot worse to find out that someone died as a result of something i could have spoken up against. Both of our fathers have had long lives , we owe it to our children and grandchildren to make sure they too have a chance to live life fully without the diseases that pollution causes and the worries of irreversible climate change. Personally im not about to gamble that future on the advice of a greedy industry or its paid experts. Cheap fuel ? You are having a laugh , it will be sold to the highest bidder if it ever gets going. I may be wrong but i say that UK onshore fracking is over and the 31st round of offshore production which is being promoted by a collaboration of industry and ITN later this year will be the nail in the coffin .

            • Sorry, have to disagree with you Jono. What happens off shore will not be that significant. The UK off shore industry is in decline, and the majors are pulling out. What is left will be refreshed from time to time but it will not stop UK imports of oil and gas continuing to increase.

              Have a look on the Internet regarding the distribution of aviation fuel from Fawley Refinery. If you follow the pipelines, every one of the airports is scheduling expansion. Where does the biggest proportion of UK imported oil come from now-USA, via fracking. So, UK buys US oil and provides the tax income in the USA to build walls, whilst UK might be able to keep that tax income and build the NHS. (I know it is oil, but the same applies to gas.)

    • Do you mean the Cantaxx or is it Hailite or is it HPL (Cheshire Energy) gas storage scheme over Wyre at Pressall.? The one that was bludgeoned through after years of protest by locals and repeated rejected planning inquiries? That one?

      Another case of central Government in London overriding the wishes of locals.

      • Crembrule- The Canataxx, Halite, now Cheshire Energy gas storage scheme was refused on safety grounds for around 14 years by governments of all colours. It was finally approved by Amber Rudd on the last day of Parliament in 2015. Curiously, Amber Rudd’s brother had very close connections with Halite, who were the applicants at the time. Pure coincidence of course.

    • Dr. Riley,
      It was the gas element that locals objected to! Power generated by solar, wind and tide would be most welcome if feasible.

  4. Nick, residents were not allowed to attend Cuadrilla’s events for their supporters so you can’t have it both ways. As has been said this was an open event and you were well within your rights to attend if you had wanted or do you think you are so important you need to be invited?

  5. Where does is stipulate that all meetings about fracking must have a pro and anti fracking panel? The people that pay to host a meeting are entitled to assemble a panel of their choice and it is also in their gift who attends. In this case it was an event open to the public and the public can choose whether or not they attend. The fact that the meeting was open to the public means that people with different views on fracking are able to attend and have equal opportunity to speak and challenge a panel of speakers.
    There have been many events organised by the industry where only the industry has presented and often these have been to councillors, MPs, councils and government ie closed meetings, without members of the public present. And these events have not been in connection with any planning application but for PR.
    There have been events with mixed panels and even debates held.
    In my opinion you cannot criticise this event or panel just because the speakers are opposed to fracking, it does not mean the panel is rigged or the information presented poor.
    Those criticising this event or wishing to present an alternative view are quite able to pay for and organise an event with a panel of their choice if they are concerned.

    • KatT you are quite correct if Dr Nick wishes to organise a pro frack information event for supporting members of the public on the Fylde there are plenty of phone boxes available to host it.

      • Did you ask him Martin? Oh no you don’t live on the Fylde do you, or in Lancashire, or in the North West, or in the North in fact so it’s unlikely you were there.

        You could ask him next time he posts on here if you are interested. Or maybe email him through his blog?

        • Don’t need to. It was a “mighty” analyses-which I, and others, more qualified, criticised at the time for being just that. Speculation rather than analyses, and we suggested a lot more work needed to be done before anything factual could be determined. Sound familiar?

          By the way, where does he live??? I think you will find, some distance from the Weald or the Fylde.

          • No idea where he lives but Prof Smythe’s interest is academic, mine is personal (being local to the Fylde), what’s your interest again Martin? Is it filthy lucre?

            I personally don’t think you have the academic or interllectual chops to debate with Prof Smythe as you always appear conspicuous by your absence when he does post in DoD.

            Ps where is that link from the Evening Gazette you have failed to repeatedly toncome up with?

            • “No idea”.

              Hmmm. Seems to be part of a pattern.

              I have debated with the Prof. a few times on DoD, but as with all “experts” I tend to follow their track record rather than their qualifications. Just the way it was done in the commercial world.

              So, we will see where that takes us. At the moment, from what I have observed the commercial reality is leading the academic interest, but time will tell.

              “Filthy lucre”???

              Your research letting you down again? Try Rainer Zitelmann. It seems filthy lucre is not a subject of social envy in the UK, even amongst the young. Perhaps you were thinking of another country. (You can find your own link to that.)

    • Kat, You said “it does not mean the panel is rigged or the information presented poor.” So as I look at Prof Smythe’s diagram of the PNR well attributed to the meeting, how can he deduce that Cuadrilla got it wrong? Has he access to the full data set. Did any one ask Prof Smythe on what data set he has presented his interpretation as fact?

    • The tide has turned. An industry with little support, dwindling resources, and no experience to promote it’s cause.

  6. I have told investors are pulling out of AJ Lucus left right and center so clearly the TLS problem has put a wet blanket over shale gas flare. It is contemptuous of Cuadrilla for continuing to promote the local supply chain benefits to Lancashire business in their road show while UK shale look dead in the water.

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