Don’t approve Aurora’s fracking plan, government wildlife expert warns

190906 Altcar Moss site

Notices marking boundary of proposed fracking site, Altcar Moss, September 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A plan to drill and frack near important wildlife sites in Sefton and West Lancashire should not be approved, the government’s nature conservation adviser has warned.

Natural England said the application by Aurora Energy Resources for Altcar Moss near Formby made unjustified conclusions about the impacts on wildlife, particularly overwintering and wetland birds.

In a response to the application, Natural England said the plans “could have potential significant effects” on five protected sites in the area.

The response also pointed out other flaws in the application:

  • Bird surveys missed out key dates and did not follow suggested methods
  • Assessments of the impact of noise on birds used the wrong process
  • Air quality assessments did not take account of other local developments

Natural England warned Lancashire County Council, which will decide on the proposals:

“Your authority should not grant planning permission at this stage.”

The organisation said it required:

“further information in order to determine the significance of these impacts and the scope for mitigation.

“Without this information, Natural England may need to object to the proposal.”

Natural England said a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) submitted with the application was carried out by Aurora, rather than the competent authority, Lancashire County Council.

Aurora’s HRA concluded that the proposal was unlikely to have significant effects on sites of national and European importance. These include the Sefton Coast, Ribble and Alt Estuaries, Martin Mere, Liverpool Bay and Downholland Moss.

But Natural England responded:

“On the basis of information provided, it is the advice of Natural England that it is not possible to conclude that the proposal is unlikely to result in significant effects on the European sites in question.

Natural England said where significant effects were likely or uncertain then a competent authority should undertake an assessment to evaluate fully the implications.


190906 Altcar Moss access

Current access to proposed fracking site, Altcar Moss, September 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The response from Natural England said the HRA did not consider the impact on air quality in combination with other nearby plans in the area.

Natural England did not agree with Aurora’s conclusion that there would be no likely significant effects on protected wintering or wetland birds.

“The bird surveys undertaken [for the application] are incomplete and do not follow the suggested methodology [provided by Natural England].

“The surveys completely missed out the months of December, February, March, April and May with only one survey undertaken in January.”

The bird data needed to be reassessed, Natural England said, because Aurora used the wrong calculations to assess the significance of bird species present.

The noise assessment should be also be redone because it used the wrong methodology. Mitigation measures should be included in the plans, Natural England added.

The application’s assessment of the impacts on Downholland Moss, a geological site of special scientific interest, was inadequate, Natural England said. While not a wildlife site, “there could still be impacts from the development on the site which need to be assessed”.

The response also said Aurora wrongly stated that Natural England had concluded early in the planning process that the proposal was unlikely to affect any statutorily protected sites or landscapes. Natural England said:

“This is incorrect and needs to be amended… We did not give any judgement as to the suitability of the scheme.

Natural England also called for clarification on the source of water to be used by the development.

DrillOrDrop report on the details of the application

18 replies »

  1. The Brexit debacle descends further into a farcicle parody of itself.

    Amber Rudd quits after Boris Johnsons own brother Jo Johnson resigned the cabinet following 21 MP’s that were culled in last Tuesdays “night of the long knives” attempt to remove all reason and sanity from the cabinet leaving just the few extremists that will sell England lock stock and two empty unregulated barrels to Donald Trump.

    Time for an emergency all parties coalition before we find ourselves just another Big Brother Oil and Gas USA Airstrip One.

    • Coalition agreed – but who would lead it? Plus execute Mrs May’s Brexit deal which should have been done in the first place.

      As for oil and gas – it will come from somewhere which may or may not include the US.

      • Someone relatively independent of the main parties, Carolyn Lucas perhaps? We should also take advantage of this present chaos and restructure politics from the ground up and the top down.

        Representative democracy was always seen by the Greeks as potentially faulty and corruptible, and that has proved to be the case. So I would say while we have the chance bite the bullet and introduce direct democracy and that would take decision making out of the sole responsibility of central government and put local matters back in the hands of the people, not just local or county council’s.

        That can’t be done overnight, but a gradual process of true devolution like the cantons in Switzerland and the kibutz system in Israel should put us back on track again eventually.

        I don’t agree that the Theresa May Brexit agreement is anything other than an EU carve up that will still find ourselves deep in the pockets of the EU, and I suspect Theresa May always meant it to be Brexit in name only as does Boris Johnson.

        Boris Johnson negotiated the Defense Union, which has almost irrevocably tied the British armed forces into the EU control, whilst winding down all British armed forces so that we are defenceless.

        That must be undone as quickly as possible and the Defense Union agreement must be made public knowledge and any appropriate treason trials taken as a matter of urgency.

        We sent an MP to the USA to find out about energy deregulation, so we know what Boris Johnson intends to do about British energy regulations. We have seen what Donald Trump has done to all regulations in the USA.

    • Look at the photo that indicates the surface impact of oil and gas extraction Nick, surface impact is something that you seem to know a lot about. And that surface impact indicates a fossil fuel monoculture and not bio diversity on the surface.

      Your second question is a matter of perspective, we have already ransacked the planet with fossil fuel monoculture as the photo shows, just changing from fossil fuels to renewable resources is only one aspect of the problems that must be admitted to, let alone honestly addressed.

      Our greatest obstacle is the corruption greed and sheer criminal wastefulness of the present industrial attitude towards any and all exploitative natural resource on the planet, be that animal which includes humans, vegetable as in the Amazon rainforest and the dwindling forests everywhere, and mineral, as in mining and fossil fuel extraction in all its forms.

      There is an awful lot of pussy footing around going on to say that if we stop using fossil fuels, or eating meat, or buying plastics, and just concentrate on renewable resources, that it will all be hunky dory, and job done, areas out of the fire and profits back in the bank.

      In fact nothing of that addresses the real problem, it just tinkers around the edges of the problem that is fast catching up with us, and it will not go away so easily if it ever can unless we change fundamentally.

      The real problem is that our entire civilisation is based upon a suicidal fantasy, that we can go on treating the planet and the plant and animal life and our fellow human beings, like an undefended helpless exploitable set of resources that will keep a few of us in the manner to which we have become accustomed and then it will be all ok and we can go back to sheep sleep.

      We rape and ransack and destroy everything around us and use the planets resources and our own resources outrageously as if it is an endless weak and undefended slave that we can rip apart and consume and throw away as if it is worthless and free for all.

      We do that to everything and anything we feel like it, or rather more aptly, when we can make profit from it, money is now our only God and saviour, and to hell with the consequences.

      Well the consequences of that attitude are hell and it’s getting hot down here.

      That is suicidal insanity, and that attitude is what must be addressed first and foremost. Renewable resources will help us to get there, but it is really just tinkering around the edges of our real fundamental problem.

      And that Nick, is us, not the planet or its resources.

      Our real problem is that we have lost any respect for ourselves, and eachother, all natural life and the planet, and any intention to do anything but make ourselves richer as the world burns and turns to sh(!)t.

      So the Earth is bringing us up short and showing us just how far we have fallen from any form of intelligent and responsible and moral and ethical interaction with the earth and it’s prescious cargo, all life on earth is at stake.

      No Nick, we haven’t even begun to address the real problems, be they surface, deep, atmospheric or oceanic.

      What to do about that? Well there are many who know that now, maybe they are right and you are wrong?

      Now there is a rebellious notion?

  2. Phil C. Do you have you a link to your manifesto? How will all the renewable infrastructure & technologies be built without mining raw materials in vast volumes, at the supply & processing rate required. We also need to adapt our infrastuctures to the climate change effects that will ensue from the vast inertia that our ocean-atmosphere-earth system now has from the increase in green house gas emissions thus far Where will all the fabrication & workforce capacity come from? How will any of this sort of thing get done without money?

    • Ha! Ha! Still desperately fishing Nick? Do you have a link to your manifesto?

      I cant believe you don’t understand any of this? Its like one of my tutors in Uni, he spent all his adult life in academia and had a string of qualifications that needed a dictionary to translate, but he couldnt change a light bulb without a manual nor could he change a car tyre, he just paid someone else to do it. He could tell you in blinding detail the complexity of structures, but his wife banned him from ever attempting to put up a shelf, after he showered her with the contents of a vase he had just put up a shelf for.

      Money is not in itself a problem provided money (i mean real money with a gold standard exchange value) is used responsibly and with balance and regard for the purpose to which it is used. That money must be used to enhance and repair the human race and the planet around us, not just to propagate a debt bound insanity that plunges the entire planet so deep in debt that no amount of hiding the fact will save us from economic collapse and war..

      What we have now is nothing more than fiat currency, that is paper or digital lies manufactured out of thin air and based upon debt and does not deserve the name of money.

      Money has become an insane all consuming addiction that does not care for the human animal and planetary cost of its activities and is as such one of the worst of the insanities that have debased and infected human interactions in the last two thousand years and has destroyed the very concept of responsibility and survivability just so long as the profits pour in to offshore tax havens, all the subsequent effects and consequences of such an insane activity are forgotten just so long as the figures acrue from usery and tax avoidance.

      I have nothing against money as a concept in its unsullied state it is merely exchange. But what it has become is corrupted into an insane monster of fiat currency and that causes more death and destruction across the planet that almost any other institution. It is that aspect that has caused the degradation of all exchange of goods into a psychopathic self destructive parody of itself.

      You display that same combative warfare approach Nick, no doubt you will crow about it somewhere else to your acolytes how it is all to be direct challenge warfare and no quarter given or taken? No one wins a war Nick, everyone loses.

      Anyway a sane rational existence is not warfare Nick, in fact it is that warfare attitude towards the everyone and the world around us that is in fact part of those fundamental problems I was referring to. All you have done is to confirm that.

      Do you now seek to hypocritically lecture on anthropogenic climate change when less than a few years ago all the anti antis outright refused to acknowledge that climate change was even a problem? Let alone was a result of the sole reliance upon fossil fuels.

      Now suddenly it is not only admitted to but you seem to lectured as to how it must be done to mitigate it, as if it was not so obvious to the rest of us decades ago??

      Well, how times have changed? In fact as Kat T says it goes back to Shell and Exxon warning by their own scientists that this singular reliance upon fossil fuels will lead to the climate change we see around us all the time now. That was hushed up very quickly wasn’t it, and then the reverse propaganda was used to desperately deny and discredit the findings of their own scientists. Pathetic.

      No Nick, like I said your answer and subsequent questions clearly indicate you have not understood one thing, you just seek to reduce it back into that narrow box of severely limited scope just provided it preserves the present status quo.

    • This is horrible and i apologise for reporting it here, but it illustrates the problems we face quite succinctly. There was a report on the radio today that a young boy had committed an awful crime. On appeal 3 years had been taken off his “life” sentence because of his age.

      That shows the true aspect equivilant of the monetary attitude to climate change only too horribly well, because who pays for the lost life of the child? Who pays for the lost future years she would have had? Who pays the parents and their family who had their lives so cruelly wrecked by that crime? who pays for the loss of her future and how she might have lived a full and worthy life?

      That is what should be paid for and that is what this proposed adaptation which is really nothing of the sort, should really address,

      Regarding this latest little money making scheme of “adaptation” that would spend 1.7 trillion to make 7.1 trillion later? And what has been proposed? That we do nothing or less than nothing to prevent further climate change, we only adapt to a fatalistic defeatist attitude and prepare to make money from it, and lets list what is suggested we do shall we?

      “Its primary aim is to put climate change adaptation on to the political agenda around the world. And to do this, it sets out “concrete solutions” and an economic plan.
      There are, it says, five things the world should invest in over the next decade:

      Warning systems: For the vulnerable island and coastal communities in particular, early warnings about storms, very high tides and other extreme weather can save lives. Better weather monitoring and a simple app for fishing communities in the Cook Islands, for example, allows them to plan according to the sea conditions

      Infrastructure: Building better roads, buildings and bridges to suit the changing climate. One project in New York City has set out to paint rooftops white – a heat-reflecting strategy to cool buildings and neighbourhoods

      Improving dry-land agriculture: Something as simple as helping farmers to switch to more drought-resistant varieties of coffee crop could protect livelihoods and prevent hunger

      Restoring and protecting mangroves: Underwater mangrove forests protect about 18 million people from coastal flooding, but they’re being wiped out by development. Restoration projects could protect vulnerable communities from storms and boost fisheries’ productivity

      Water: Protecting water supplies – and making sure that water’s not being wasted – will be vital in a changing climate

      Each of these investments, the commission says, would contribute to what they call a “triple dividend”- avoiding future losses, generating positive economic gains through innovation, and delivering social and environmental benefits. It is that dividend that the report has valued at $7.1tn (£5.7tn).”

      There we go, all money based, profit, profit profit, no mention of the upheaval and physical and mental stress put on those who would have to move, who pays for that? who pays for all those measures? Multinational corporations? Tax payers? Is that all that motivates us anymore? The real question, is that who pays and how much people will be compensated for these massive operations, and in the end, who will be saved? The rich or the poor?

      That display illustrates the very problem that this civilisation suffers from at its very core. Unthinking greed and exploitation without consequences or mitigation or reparation. But something might be done if it makes enough profit, i warned about this months ago.

      Just go on using that same combative greed and exploitative approach to try to prevent the problem that was caused in the first place by that very same combative greed and exploitative approach.

      That is doomed to failure.

      It is that attitude that must go, we cannot afford to be reliant upon methods which do not intrinsically provide a solution to the exploitation of animal mineral and vegetable and human resources without first repairing our destructive attitude towards the entire planet and all the life on it endangered and becoming extinct as it is, and that includes our own fearfully exploited and abused human beings.

      We dont want adaptation by profiteering, we want truly deep adaptation, and that means caring for people and the planet and all life on earth first and foremost no matter how much it costs, not only doing the minimum because it potentially makes a lot of money.

      No Nick, the solutions are not just tinkering around the problem with a view of spending 1.7 trillion to get back 7.1 trillion in profits. That is merely pandering to the very same worst aspects of the problems which has brought us to this insane situation in the first place.

  3. Phil C no you did not answer all my questions, perhaps only partially Judgements about my ability regarding car repairs miss the mark & are off subject. Here are the questions again. “Phil C. Do you have you a link to your manifesto? How will all the renewable infrastructure & technologies be built without mining raw materials in vast volumes, at the supply & processing rate required. We also need to adapt our infrastuctures to the climate change effects that will ensue from the vast inertia that our ocean-atmosphere-earth system now has from the increase in green house gas emissions thus far Where will all the fabrication & workforce capacity come from? How will any of this sort of thing get done without money?”

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