Drilling monitors take fight against eviction to council meeting

190218 West Newton Pippa Hockey5

West Newton Monitoring and Information Station, 2019. Photo: Pippa Hockey

Residents and campaigners who have been monitoring an oil and gas site in East Yorkshire for more than a month are making a direct appeal to the county council to drop its threat of eviction.

The group has had a 24-hour-a-day presence outside Rathlin Energy’s West Newton A site, near New Ellerby, north of Hull since preparations began for drilling in early January.

Members said their purpose has been to record incidents and breaches of permissions because official regulators lacked the resources to do this.

But East Riding of Yorkshire Council has told the group to remove its equipment and structures from the grass verge outside the site or face eviction. The council said last month it did not want to “obstruct or deny democratic rights to protest” but it was concerned about the safety of campaigners and road users.

Since then, well-known environmental activists have supported the case for the monitoring station.

The group said it had also received the backing of the local community and the Environment Agency. It said dozens of letters had been sent to the council opposing the eviction threat.

190218 West Newton Pippa Hockey

Members of West Newton Monitoring and Information Station, 18 February 2019. Photo: Pippa Hockey

New Ellerby resident, Harry Clark, who has campaigned against operations at West Newton for five years, has tabled a formal question for the full meeting of the council on Wednesday afternoon (20 February 2019). He is expected to ask:

‘In view of the very strong support of very many of the residents of the communities surrounding the well site at West Newton, demonstrated by the receipt of a large number of letters of support and of the admitted lack of resources preventing the Environment Agency – who welcome the monitoring station – and the Health and Safety Executive from providing acceptable levels of site monitoring, would the Leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council please withdraw the eviction order served on the Monitoring and Information Station, located adjacent to the well site at West Newton?”

Mr Clark was among local residents and campaigners who uncovered at least 14 breaches of environmental permits at the West Newton well site during flow tests in 2014.

Pippa Hockey, from the West Newton Monitoring Station, said:

“The Council have said they’re concerned for our safety. That is up to us. We don’t believe there are any issues, visibility is not impeded by our presence and if vehicles going on to site adhere to safe driving neither them nor us are at any risk.

“The council hasn’t even been to conduct a full health and safety risk assessment, whereas our own experts have said they don’t think there is any problem. We believe being here to monitor is more important and this has been proven to us by the huge support we’ve received from the local community.”

“Protect the right to stay”

Jonathan Bartley, co Leader of the Green Party, wrote to the council. He said:

“We recognise the importance of this monitoring camp and it should have your full support, as it does ours. Last time they were drilling there were many breaches of the environmental permit that were only reported because of the camp.

“Please listen to the protectors outside West Newton A well site and protect their right to stay, as they seek to protect the future for us all.”

190218 West Newton Pippa Hockey4

Member of the West Newton Monitoring and Information Station, February 2019. Photo: Pippa Hockey

“Monitoring stations hold industry to account”

Josh Fox, the Oscar nominated director of the film, Gasland, said:

“When it comes to fracking, ordinary citizens have always been just as effective than the government when it comes to monitoring and stopping pollution and toxic exposure, if not more so. It is more important than ever to have monitoring stations like the one at West Newton to hold oil and gas companies to account.

“In times of government-imposed ‘austerity’ it is clear that the government is not monitoring effectively. It is therefore up to the local community in East Yorkshire to watch Rathlin closely. They are able to achieve this with the twenty four hour presence at the monitoring station.

“The citizens should be trusted, not the industry. Local communities must step up in order to protect themselves.”

“Public service”

Joe Corré, of the campaign group, Talk Fracking, said:

“We recognise the vital importance of the monitoring camp at West Newton.

“With the current dismal state of regulation, policing and enforcement, this camp is performing a public service.

“There have been many instances already where the only reason regulators have been informed of the numerous breaches is because of the monitoring provided by the camp. This industry is so dangerous. It is completely irresponsible not to allow community monitoring.”

Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire campaigner, said:

“In 2014, monitoring activities at West Newton were instrumental in identifying and addressing the environmental problems caused by Rathlin’s drilling. It’s vital that this monitoring continues as the company drills its second well to shine the light on any further pollution incidents at this site.”

  • The meeting of East Riding of Yorkshire Council starts at 2pm on Wednesday 20 February at County Hall, Cross Street, Beverley HU17 9BA. A Call to the Hall demonstration is planned outside the council at 1pm (details)

DrillOrDrop West Newton-A site page

46 replies »

  1. ‘Monitoring station’, ‘protectors’ – what a joke. The antics with the ‘explosion incident’ showed them up for what they really are. Phil C may try to re-write history but the swampies’ own video provides compelling evidence to what really happened. Buffoonery. They’ll be gone soon and have to find another pitch for their cruddy caravan.

  2. The council have already felt the need to remind the activists in writing, that they (the council) are the planning regulator, and that they will decide if/when a breach has occurred and what action will be taken, not the activists.

    So far the activists have claimed a breach occurred due to inadequate signage to the site – signage checked and claim dismissed by the council.

    That vehicles were breaching the 25mph speed limit on the access road to the site – tachographs checked, claims dismissed.

    That vehicles were not displaying the Rathlin logo to assist with identification – the Rathlin logos had been removed following police advice, the matter had been discussed at the CLG, Rathlin had applied for a variation of the TMP, claim dismissed.

    Hose failure incident reported to HSE – minor incident not a reportable one, the HSE also confirmed that they would not be carrying out an investigation.

    Welding activities taking place on a hazardous gas site reported to the HSE – after reviewing Rathlin’s activities and safe system of work procedures, the HSE concluded that there were no issues or reasons why welding activities couldn’t be carried out, that the site was being managed professionally and to a safe system of work.

    The latest claim to the HSE involves a power line identified during a recent rig pre-mobilisation check, as being too low and requiring re-routing for safety. According to the activists this is a major breach that should have been consulted on.

    • Whoops! Manners John!

      Easily upset isn’t he boys and girls.

      Practically screaming with rage? Truth hurts after all doesn’t it.

      Never mind, we know that the nastier and louder they get, the closer we are to the truth of the matter don’t we. A knee jerk reaction, made by a knee jerker.

      Aww! Shame!

      Dear dear, how sad, never mind.

      • Clearly there is a very desperate need to prevent voluntary public monitoring of Rathlins activities and the frankly unprofessional rage a bitter abusive phraseology of these so called “professionals” merely indicates just how unprofessional these types are.

        Extend that to Rathlins dire record of regulatory breaches and you can only wonder why they do not want to be monitored by anyone.

        The EA won’t do it, Riding Council won’t do it, The OGA won’t do it, so the only rational alternative left, is for the public to do it, and that it seems is such a scary proposition to these “professionals” that they debase and embarrass themselves so thoroughly by these outrageous screams of rage and bitter bile?

        That says everything about having something to hide doesn’t it.

    • Ha! Ha! Easily upset isn’t he?

      Reality? You don’t know the meaning of the word.
      Reality is the polluted planet, the rapidly fluctuating climate change, the anthropogenic global warming, the sixth extinction of life on earth, the insanity of the fossil fuel fools who only see profit, not people, the arrogance and lies that are being revealed every day.

      That is reality.

      No, Paunchy old thing, you are so desperately wrong yet again.

      We are the tide old friend, you lot are the pretend emperors invisible clothes and the tide is turning.

      Even the children know their future has been stolen from them and are striking in protest.

      We laugh and laugh as you lot parade up and down, collywobbling and strutting and pontificating so alarmingly and scaring the horses.

      No longer, the game is up.

      Run away!

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