Tories again block council’s call to protect rules on fracking earth tremors

190718 lcc tls amendment vote favour

Councillors voting in favour of the Conservative amendment. Photo: Lancashire County Council webcast

Conservative councillors in Lancashire have been accused of using a “wrecking amendment” for a second time to block support for their government’s policy on the rules on seismic activity induced by fracking.

A motion before the county council this afternoon welcomed government statements that there were no plans to relax the limits in the traffic light system regulations.

This was a revised version of a motion at the council’s previous meeting, which had been adjourned by the ruling Conservative group before it could be debated.

Fracking by Cuadrilla in Lancashire last year was forced to stop prematurely at least four times because seismic activity exceeded the traffic light system threshold of 0.5 on the local magnitude (ML) scale.

The company has urged the government to lift the limit. It has referred to levels of up to 4.5ML allowed in some other countries. Fracking is due to resume at the Preston New Road site at the end of August.

Today’s motion, by Green Party councillor, Gina Dowding (below left), asked the council to write to the prime minister welcoming the government’s resolve not to change the thresholds.

But a Conservative councillor, Michael Green (below right), proposed an amendment which removed all reference to the traffic light system.

Under council rules, this was voted on and approved by eight votes, blocking Cllr Dowding’s motion.

The vote was 42 in favour of the Conservative amendment, 34 against and one abstention.


After the meeting, Cllr Dowding said:

“Yet again, the local Tories are playing games with words: they have undermined an opportunity to strengthen the safety and protection for local people and their calls for the fracking industry to be properly regulated when it comes to seismic limits.

“This is the second time I have tried at the full council meeting to get councillors to actively demonstrate their support for local democracy and the concerns communities have around fracking.

“This industry is lobbying the government to change the seismic limits to the detriment of the communities in which they operate. This underhand behaviour must be resisted.”


Introducing her revised motion, Cllr Dowding had told the meeting:

“This is about prioritising the health and well-being of the citizens of Lancashire.”

She said the 0.5ML limit had been agreed by the shale gas industry. The threshold had been considered to be safest limit to protect health and environmental standards. She said:

“It is really important that we do not allow those limits to be altered.

“Every time fracking has happened it has caused seismic activity and we don’t know what effect underground.

“We want to say thank you government.

“Do not bow to pressure. Let’s keep the regulations as they are.”

Cllr Paul Hayhurst (pictured below right), who represents the Fylde where Cuadrilla’s site is based, said the industry had likened a 1.5ML earthquake caused by fracking to a melon falling on the floor. But one of his constituents described it as a car hitting a building at speed.

He said the British Geological Survey recorded the impact from a section of plane falling to ground after the Lockerbie disaster at 1.6ML.

“Before anything further goes ahead we should get an independent survey of what is going on under our feet.

“It is absolutely crucial that we keep these regulations to protect the environment and the way of life in my division.”


Introducing the amendment, Cllr Green said the Conservative administration would “always prioritise the health and wellbeing of the residents of Lancashire”.

But Liberal Democrat, David Whipp (pictured above left), described it as a “wrecking amendment” and undemocratic. He said:

“It negates the proposal and it should be ruled out of order.

“It is absolutely critical that the measures that are there now remain.”

Labour’s John Fillis said:

“It is clear that Conservatives stand for fracking and the fracking industry supports the Conservatives.”

Cllr David Howarth (Lib Dem) asked the Conservatives:

“Why do you have to bring this amendment unless it is just to trash the original motion?”

Another Liberal Democrat, John Potter (pictured above centre), said:

“Time and time again a motion brought to this chamber by any of the opposition groups is trampled on and completely reversed.

“This cannot be allowed to continue. We are destroying confidence in this chamber.”

Conservative Cllr Andrew Gardiner said the previous Labour administration had also changed motions by opposition councillors. “Grow up, get in the real world”, he said.

He asked officers to record the comments of speakers in the debate. There were “a couple”, he said, that suggested councillors had pre-determined fracking.

  • DrillOrDrop invited Cuadrilla to comment on the council meeting. This post will be updated with any response

45 replies »

  1. I think they have done that Terri and decided the majority are still not against fracking, as shown again in the Tracker published today.

    There are plenty of minority parties to represent the issues for the minorities.

    • What a load of old Collyers yet again from DoDs resident blowhard, support manages to drag its sorry arse out of an all time low as nobody is fracking and therefore its not in the news every day for repeatedly triggering earthquakes. Lets see what happens once the big C frap up the fracking pumps again. Will the Fylde be once again in the words of Johnny and the Pirates “Shaking All Over” and support for this invasive industry drop down the hit parade yet again.

      • Welcome back Pavlova. Still the insults in place of content. Do you come on DoD just to vent your anger at the world? Frackinsense is a treatment for anxiety-you should try some.

        By the way, just a suggestion. It’s not in the news for producing gas either. You might just find one could balance the other, with what is going on in the Gulf.

  2. If the traffic light system threshold 0.5 is lifted will the gold standard no longer be applicable?
    Hear hear Cllr Dowding well said.
    An independent survey is an excellent idea.

    • April

      Councillor Hayhurst asks for an independent survey of what is going out under their feet ( although pre emptying the result by his subsequent comments ).

      Maybe a good idea, to run concurrent with the planned fracking.

      But who is independent? Not anyone who is anti fracking, nor the industry. Maybe the HSEx, who have the data to hand?

    • April – the TLS threshold was set based on scientific ideas that have since been proved wrong. It the TLS isn’t changed it will also kill off a lot of green energy schemes but you lot are too blind to see that.

  3. Is this what we pay our County Councillors for? This motion is a joke. Cllr Dowding should get back to Brussels where she belongs. What a waste of time.

    “Today’s motion, by Green Party councillor, Gina Dowding, asked the council to write to the prime minister welcoming the government’s resolve not to change the thresholds.”

    What is this supposed to do. Another file 13 letter…..

    Cllr Dowding is an MEP, County Councillor and is or was a District Councillor. How can she manage to keep on top of all these jobs?

    Previously featured on DOD:


    “12 people, including three councillors, have been found guilty of obstructing the highway after a lock-on protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in July. But they were cleared of trades union charges which can carry a more serious penalty.

    The verdict, given by District Judge Jeff Brailsford, this morning followed a trial earlier this week at Blackpool Magistrates Court.

    The protesters included Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding, Fylde Borough Councillor Julie Brickles and Kirkham Town Councillor Miranda Cox.”

    • Paul

      Standing up for your beliefs against a corrupt Establishment is to be applauded not villified!

      Mandela, Pankhurst and all the anti-war and anti extortionate student university fees protestors were right, as is becoming obvious now!

      These Councillors are politicians playing politics which is their choice. Sadly the Establishment Tories have now helped put my family and yours in harm’s way!

      Thanks a lot!

      • Mandela used as a beacon of respectability? This typifies the blinkered way so many protestors view the world. How many innocent women and children were killed by him and his comrades?

        • How many innocent women and children were killed by the settlers just as in the USA and Australia?

          Not linked to Oil and Gas but linked to peaceful protest! Sorry!

        • More innocents were harmed and killed by the apartheid gov and security police including my husband who was psychologically abused by security police.

          • So you are to be applauded if your group only kill a few hundred innocent people?
            I just find this comparison between a green party councillor who is complaining about a democratic process and Nelson Mandela quite disconcerting.

  4. And.. should the headline of the DOD report be ..

    Council block greens call to congratulate government on its stance to retain existing seismic activity rules?

    The council is the sum of the votes, not the individuals who propose the motion.

    Had the conservative councillor proposed a motion to ask the gov to change the rules and it be defeated, would the headline be .. conservative councillor defeated in attempt to relax fracking earth tremor rules, or that the council had failed in its attempt?

  5. Fricking Lancashire Tories haven’t got the brains or decency they were ‘born’ with!

    Earthquake damage caused by fracking is all about what’s going on below ground, to the inntegrity of the wells and equipment! Problems down there cause toxic liquid fracking byproduct to be released unmonitored into the ground and onwards.

    Seriously bad news for the residents and environment of the Fylde and Lancashire.

    There again my neighbours voted the Tories into power and we have a Tory MP as well! Unbelievable!

    • Peter – could you provide us with examples of wells that have leaked through seismic activity? I won’t hold my breath

    • I thought you were in favour of local democracy, Peter?

      Or, is it just when you get what you want?

      Seems not all are Nimbys, although the implication that they are is often made.

  6. Straight away to Preese Hall [edited by moderator] Thats why it’s abandoned!

    [Edited by moderator]

  7. Judith,

    Not according to my sources and don’t forget all fracked wells are known to leak eventually, it’s just a matter of when.

    Not only that the fracking fluid that was recovered, massive amounts of it by the way, was shipped out to be dumped into the Manchester Ship Canal!

    Didn’t Impress the locals one bit!


    • Peter – I can assure you that my sources will be far better than yours. The mantra that “all wells are known to leak eventually” is complete rubbish. It is based on pressure breaches in the annular in the subsurface in wells from the deep water gulf of mexico and none of these wells showed any signs of leakage to the surface. The fluid disposed of in the Manchester ship canal was perfectly safe and even more so when it was diluted. You lot keep going on about doing research yet you seem incapable of getting anything right.

        • Peter / April – there is only one case that I am aware of a well leaking onshore UK. This was an old gas well and post abandonment, happened near a school, caused no issues and was rectified by the new licence holder as soon as they became aware of it. School not evacuated, all pupils safe, no bottled water required etc etc. Please let this BB know of other wells you have knowledge of leaking onshore UK so we can advise the OGA / HSE so appropriate action can be taken.

          I have seen this claim “that all well will leak eventually”. Probably true, just like our planet will eventually get hit by a huge meteorite, also probably true. But it is the timescale that must be confusing you all – and the ex-Executive from Chevron or Exxon who reportedly said this never worked in upstream oil & gas operations in any capacity.

          Judith is correct in that there have been issues with deepwater wells and annular breaches. There have also been issue with leaks into annuli in several old north sea production platform wells. However these are not leaks into the environment and are managed in a perfectly acceptable way and resolved at abandonment and decommisioning.

          The great advantage of shale wells vs conventional oil and gas wells is that they have very limited reservoir energy and permeability by definition so if a well were to fail a shale well would deplete very rapidly vs a conventional well. But I expect you understand this and know that this is why shale wells require hydraulic fracture stimulations.

        • April – when will you provide any comments that aren’t just sniping. The points that I’ve made are fact and based on 30 years experience of working in a wide range of industries in which we drill into the subsurface. I’ve worked on 100’s of oil and gas fields and many of these have had severe well damage at depth and not a single one has resulted in leakage to the surface. That fact might not agree with your pathetic preconceived ideas but it is a fact nevertheless

      • Judith. If “the fluid disposed of in the Manchester Ship Canal was perfectly safe and even more so when it was diluted” why has this practice now been banned? There are two perfectly good rivers close to PNR in which this fluid could be dumped. Is this about to be the next variation of the Gold Standard Regulations that Cuadrilla will be applying for? It would certainly save them a lot of cash which I am sure they would appreciate.

  8. Pauline, my understanding of it was that it went to a treatment center and that it was deemed safe to put in the ship canal. I’ve spent time with the people who cleaned up the flow back from PNR and they couldn’t believe their luck in that the flow back water was very low salinity and hardly needed any treatment. Their reaction was that it’s the least toxic fluid that they’d had to deal with for a long time. The key point here is that the reaction between the fracking fluid and the shale is exactly the same as when rain falls on the ground around Lancashire and peculates through the soil and reacts with the underlying shale. A key reaction is the oxidation of pyrite that creates sulphuric acid and fine grained iron oxide (this gives many of the brooks in the area a slightly orange colour at a certain time of the year. The sulphuric acid can mobilize heavy metals and radioactive materials. However, these get heavily diluted which is the reason that one can drink water coming off the fells. These are also the same processes that occurred in association with coal mining. The UK dealt with billions of gallons that that waste a year without any problem. Indeed, mines are still dewatered and the fluid goes into ponds in which wild life totally flourishes.

  9. Judith. As you say, the water produced by Cuadrilla in 2011 was deemed safe at the time to be treated at Daveyhulme. Before October 2011 waste water from fracking was classed as “industrial effluent”. However, following EU regulations in October 2011, it was deemed to be “radioactive waste” and required a permit to be treated at a waste water works. Since the radium in the waste released into the Manchester Ship,Canal was found to be 90 times higher than that found in drinking water this appears to be very sensible.
    The way fracking supporters such as yourself seem to regard every concern shown by the public as irrelevant and brush them aside does nothing to promote confidence in this industry.

    • If we had your apparent reservations to progress, Pauline, we’d never have invented agriculture, let alone the industrial revolution.

        • Pauline, you should be telling that to the Chinese. 80% of their electricity is produced by coal fired power stations. They are expected to build 500 more coal fired power stations by 2030. India aren’t too far behind. Our impact on the world in comparison is miniscule, and forcing unrealistic targets to reduce this countries CO2 emissions will damage our economy to the advantage of our competitors. The poorest in our country will be first to pay the cost.
          Domestic gas production is the way forward until the world situation changes in my opinion.

        • Try telling that to those caught up in a natural disaster whilst they rely on the helicopters, bulldozers, diggers, generators, chain saws etc. etc., Pauline.

          You might find, if you did the research, that mortality rates around the world from natural disasters have dropped dramatically due to such rescue work. Electricity and natural disasters not good bed fellows.

          Good job fossil fuels were around during the Chernobyl disaster-otherwise you might now find the Fylde uninhabitable.

    • Maybe Pauline you antis are your own worse enemy in that you continue to bring spurious “concerns” into the debate. I have heard of the lad who kept crying wolf, and was then dismissed, but the antis don’t even find anything as alarming as a wolf but go for dirty wheels.

      I would look at belief in the antis rather than confidence in the industry.

      Nice rain here today. The local housing estate builders are busy trying to clean the slippery mud off the school road, but fighting a losing battle. Another two years of it, but that is the way building sites operate.

    • Pauline – try thinking about it logically and think of what the concentration will have been instantly – the dilution is massive just like it is when rain water reacts with shale next to your home

      • Judith. So why bother to change the regulations? You constantly defend this industry, whatever it does. We were told repeatedly that fracking in this country cannot be compared to that in the US because we have Gold Standard Regulations. How long before we have Regulations exactly the same or even worse, given our geology and population density? You can’t blame people for doubting the truth of this Gold Standard when the Regulations are constantly being amended and watered down every time the industry snaps its fingers.

Leave a Reply to Judith Green Cancel 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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s