Campaigners make “strong objection” to Altcar Moss fracking plans

Altcar Moss planning application Aurora Resources 2

Proposed site layout for hydraulic fracturing. Source: planning application

A network of groups opposed to fracking near Formby has called for the scheme to be refused because of concerns about flooding, peat extraction, the green belt, noise, traffic and impacts on wildlife.

Consultants for the Moss Alliance have submitted a 59-page report to Lancashire County Council, which they described as a “strong objection”.

Aurora Energy Resources has applied for planning permission to drill, frack and test two shale gas wells on land near the village of Great Altcar.

The Moss Alliance’s objection, now published online, pointed to:

“Sufficient inadequacies [in Aurora’s application] and areas where insufficient information has been submitted by the applicant in order to raise significant concerns regarding the suitability of this proposal at this location.”

The network’s consultants, KVA and JBA, said Lancashire County Council, which will decide on the application, “could not satisfactorily determine that the proposals would result in no detrimental harm to the surrounding environment and nearby populations”.

A public consultation on additional information from Aurora runs until 24 February 2020. The county council has earmarked 27 March 2020 for a special meeting of its development control committee to decide the application.

180831 Moss Alliance

Main reasons for objection

Flooding and drainage

Aurora’s plans could increase the risk of flooding in the low-lying area of Altcar Moss, the Moss Alliance said.

The site is in an area classed as a 3a flood zone, where there was “a high probability of flooding”.

All developments were meant to be directed from these zones, the Moss Alliance said, unless they were categorised as essential infrastructure and unless they passed key tests.

The network said land just 400m away from the proposed site was in a lower risk flood zone.

Aurora had underestimated the impact flooding may have on the site and had not carried out the proper tests, the network said. The company had “relied heavily on inadequate descriptions and definitions” for its flood risk assessment and had reached inaccurate conclusions.

There was also “insufficient evidence to prove that the applicant’s suggested mitigation techniques will actually work and prevent a 1 in 100 flood event”, the objection said.

Aurora had relied on flood embankments, which were prone to failure and pumping stations that could cope with only relatively small flood events, the document said. After heavy rainfall, the drainage systems may reach capacity and not allow the site to drain effectively.

190920 climate strike Altcar MOss tweetWildlife

The Moss Alliance criticised Aurora’s ecological assessments. They did not follow best practice or the requirements of the professional standards organisation, the network said.

Wildlife surveys were carried at the wrong time of year, were out of date or were undertaken on inappropriate timescales, the objection said. Several surveys were invalid because they were carried out in a drought.

The Moss Alliance said the application should be refused or withdrawn until the surveys were repeated to allow a proper assessment of the impact and any mitigation.


The county council should require Aurora to prove that it had “reduced to a minimum” all noise associated with its plans, the Moss Alliance said.

The company should do more to reduce night time noise to a minimum acceptable level, particularly at Suttons Farm.

The objection said the council should give “great weight to health and amenity” of those living close to the well site who currently experience low levels of background noise, particularly at night.

190906 Altcar Moss access

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


The Moss Alliance said the application lacked information or provided inaccurate information in its assessment of the site’s impact on local transport.

The Formby bypass was already close to capacity without extra heavy goods vehicles that the site would generate, the objection said.

Other criticisms included:

  • Traffic counts were not an accurate representation of whole lorry route
  • Risk of collisions when site HGVs used a hump-backed bridge over the River Alt
  • Risk that abnormal loads could cause congestion and affect emergency traffic to Ormskirk children’s hospital
  • Limited information on road widths and how often largest vehicles would need to access the site
  • Inadequate swept path analysis
  • Unclear whether two large vehicles could access and leave the site safely from Lord Sefton’s Way onto Sutton’s Lane
  • No accident data for the junction between the B5195 and A565
  • No assessment of impact of convoys that might be needed.

The lack of a draft traffic management plan did not allow scrutiny of practicalities, the objection said. More information was needed before the application could be determined.

190906 Altcar Moss site slider


The Moss Alliance said Aurora’s archaeological survey appeared to have been written “to support the application rather than protect the archaeology”.

The network was particularly concerned that peat would have to be extracted from the site to construct the well pad. This did not comply with national or local planning policies, it said.

The proposed site is close to and shared the same geological formation as the Downholland geological site of special scientific interest. Aurora should have given careful attention to the make-up of the site but it does not appear to have been done so, the Moss Alliance said.

The proposed 60m drilling rig, 37m workover rig, 13m silos and lighting columns would have “a hugely detrimental impact on both the setting of the Conservation Area and the landscape in the area”, the objection added.

Other issues

Greenbelt: The Moss Alliance said the proposals would not preserve the openness of the green belt.

“As such, the developer should have to provide details of the ‘very special circumstances’ to allow the minerals development to take place within the Green Belt.”

Farmland: The site is wholly within the “best and most versatile” agricultural land, the objection said. National planning policy says this land should be avoided. There is lower grade farmland to the east of the proposed site.

Fracking moratorium: The Moss Alliance said following the government’s written ministerial statement of 4 November 2019 which imposed a moratorium on fracking, no weight should be attributed to any perceived government support for the proposals.

Link to planning application










19 replies »

  1. A very detailed report prepared by professionals with expertise in shale gas developments. JBA and KVA have highlighted serious omissions, errors, and inadequate information presented by Aurora’s consultants.
    A lot to consider by Lancashires planning officers and those who make the final decision.

  2. The hypocrisy of these reports, if green belt was green belt then how towns and city’s became…. we have always and will always move wildlife, England being an island and densely populated as it is…

    • Eli-Goth,

      ‘……is totally unsuitable for industrial scale chemical processes which contaminate farmland and water supplies for generations to come.’

      I don’t like the idea of suggesting another location in the area would be more suitable. It reminds me of the ‘….don’t frack Roseacre, frack Preston New Road’ controversy! Please note, all but two of the anti-fracking signages around Roseacre and Wharles have been removed since the application by Cuadrilla to frack there was refused and withdrawn! Nimbyism at it’s worst!
      Fracking anywhere is environmentally wrong not just where you live!

      • Peter. I was told by a resident that she had queried the removal some of the signs and was told the reason was previously people daren’t put their homes on the market because of the threat of fracking but were now wanting to sell and didn’t want buyers to be reminded of fracking. I don’t know if you’d call that Nimbyism. Maybe more a sign of how much fracking invades people’s everyday lives by impacting the saleability of a property wherever fracking is mentioned.

  3. Strange that there are MANY industrial scale chemical processes which contaminate farmland and water supplies for generations to come in the UK currently, Peter. Wonder how they turned up? Yet you are worried about an industry that has NOT contaminated farmland or water supplies in UK, beyond what can be managed perfectly normally. Now, farmland has about the worst record. Cover it all over? It really is a nonsense objection.

    Washing lettuce was an industrial scale chemical process which contaminated water recently in UK.

    Any development will impinge on wildlife. Seems the Tesla factory in Germany is okay in that respect, but a small site in UK is not. These owls seem to be so vulnerable, but not considered when antis set up their camps, and cause pollution and noise. Quite standard wildlife considerations for all developments. As long as developers can show that harm is reduced to an acceptable level, then not a problem.

    • Martin,
      Firstly I wouldn’t be too sure about your claim that the fracking industry hasn’t contaminated water supplies or farmland in the UK.
      Fracking Preece Hall in 2011 lead directly to millions of litres of contaminated fluids being dumped into the Manchester Ship Canal. I wonder where all that lot has ended up?

      More recently pond water samples close to the Preston new road fracking site, where herds of cattle and flocks of sheep graze and drink, have been found to contain toluene and benzene. Now that’s a worrying thought for Public Health England, the Food Standards Agency and the Enviroment Agency!

      Obviously you are correct to say that, apart from the above examples, fracking hasn’t yet caused any notified contamination. SIMPLY BECAUSE ONSHORE UNCONVENTIONAL FRACKING HASN’T BEEN CARRIED OUT ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE UK
      Elsewhere worldwide multiple reports of contaminated drinking water, property damage and ill health due to fracking can be found.

      • Elsewhere, Peter, wind turbines have been blown over in gales, solar panels have caught fire and drivers have been burned alive in their electric cars! So, because something happens elsewhere we are supposed to believe it will SIMPLY happen here? Chernobyl? Nope.

        “Contaminated” water? Depends upon your definition of contaminated. Not a good sign for the eco warriors when their Swedish figurehead believes it okay to contaminate the Atlantic whilst travelling to USA. Meanwhile, in UK today, huge quantities of sewage STILL being discharged into rivers and the sea. If you checked water samples alongside most UK roads, especially motorways, you would be amazed at what could be found.

        “Where herds of cattle and flocks of sheep graze and drink”-and wear nappies???

        Reports about just about everything can be found, Peter. It does not necessarily make them correct. Or, make the content, if correct, a factor that could not be avoided. If you were correct, then why are you trying to produce another Torrey Canyon? Multiple reports on that, and others. But that is what Nimbyism does. Simple transference via exaggerated scares to others. “No more houses near us, but our kids need new houses”. Then the kids find the new houses are not built and the parents agree it is shocking!

      • Peter, you forgot to mention that back in 2011, regulations classed the waste water from Preese Hall, as industrial effluent and Cuadrilla was legally authorised to discharge the two million gallons into the Manchester Ship Canal, after it had been treated and processed to the required standards at the Davyhulme treatment works in Trafford.

  4. PS.

    Not to worry, Peter.

    You will have a choice! Mini nuclear power stations from RR by 2029.

    Now, where should the first ones go? Somewhere close to a nuclear waste facility? Seems logical.

  5. Interesting point you make regarding rivers and seas contaminated by raw sewage Martin. Please address to the Environment Agency and United Utilities, The Environment Agency is also the body responsible for ensuring Cuadrilla abide by the rules regarding the testing and safety of fluids leaving site intentionally and remaining in the local environment accidentally.

    The Tesla driver you refer to crashed into a tree before his car burst into flames and he died, happens all the time with petrol cars, what’s your point?

    The Fylde is a windy coastline with many super windmills operating both onshore and offshore, none have as yet malfunctioned to the point of falling down. Worldwide in the last 5 years I’ve found reference to one damaged by a typhoon in Japan, one damaged during severe gales in France and one in Devon suffering the same fate. And three more near Huddersfield were damaged by strong winds in 2012. Really Martin, you are avoiding the issue and clutch at straws.

    Regarding fires in solar panels, apparently most in the uk were caused by poor workmanship or defective materials. All occurred in locations where the property owners had chosen, after studying the pros and cons, to have them installed.

    Here in Lancashire it was decided by Democratic process, just like Brexit, that we didn’t want Cuadrilla to start test fracking. Unlike with Brexit though the Tory government didn’t agree with our Democratic decision regarding their prospective cash cow Cuadrilla so overturned it. That hasn’t gone well has it?

    • pkr: well, you’ve answered your own questions. Ironic isn’t it, you can find faults online with every planning department, manufacturing process, disposal process, energy generation, and the protesters with their small minded tunnel vision stunting an industry which could produce more than the protesters protesting against it! It’s amazing the lives and opulence we enjoy today in the UK, but wouldn’t have been here to enjoy without the industrial revolution, the invention and processes of others to create a first world we enjoy! That said renewables aren’t the perfect pill, although green they rape the world of many processes to purvey being green technology!
      Many disasters occur globally, but you cannot process and prove actual evidence that these will will happen else where, that is just a non-argument! Bush fires in Australia, non bush fires in Antarctica! The many issues we have is regulations people do not understand, then we have business ministers and people from the House of Lords damning and condemning an industry which didn’t even have an opportunity to start! Where are we going to get our energy from if not home produced, where are the jobs for the next generation?, if not in the energy, manufacturing industry with over 70 million brits within the next 15 years?
      If China, India and the USA responsible for over 70% of world emissions do not reduce their targets, what chance has the UK or Europe got??? Nada that’s what…!!

    • Interesting Peter that your “research” on other matters shows how sparse and selective it is!

      We had already sussed that out in respect of your comments around fracking. But, good to have the confirmation that you make your points by ignoring what is obvious to others and selecting the bits that fit. Yes, to you they look like straws but without blinkers there is the whole field.

      “Poor workmanship and defective materials” Hmm. Okay for solar panels but not for dirty wheels?

      “All occurred in locations where the property owners had chosen, after studying the pros and cons to have them installed”. No different to PNR then!

      “Local democratic process”? Just the same as any other development. MOST would not happen if that was the deciding factor-including most on shore wind turbines.

      However, just defines Nimbyism. So, well done. But the “alternatives” are for someone else to sort. Apart from off shore wind, that is not going well, is it? N.Ireland was a real success??

    • Peter, here in East Yorkshire planning applications for a local onshore wind farm were refused in 2009 and again in 2016 by the council. On both occasions the planning inspector and the Secretary of State overturned the council’s decision and approved the applications.

      These decisions had nothing to do with democratic decisions or cash cows, they were made following due process as the planning system is a legal process, not a democratic one.

    • Well, Nick you could say the same about taking any exercise that would raise the respiration rate of the 7 billion plus people on the planet! A very boring and short life would result, which MAY then reduce some global warming, but probably not, due to the huge numbers of cremations.

  6. Extracts from a report looking into the effects of the Netherlands becoming a net importer of gas following the problems and subsequent reductions in output from the Groningen field. The same reasoning and figures apply to the UK.
    ” With Dutch natural gas consumption expected to be relatively constant over the next decade, gas imports will
    rise dramatically. Dutch gas is, and will be replaced by Russian piped gas and LNG imports. The total emissions of greenhouse gases for imported natural gas is about 30% higher compared to Dutch gas (due to Methane leakage and the energy used to transport gas over long distances). On a global scale, this negates all progress that is currently being made by increasing the share of wind and solar in the Dutch power mix.
    Reducing natural gas consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases, by replacing natural gas with renewables makes sense in the fight against climate change. Reducing local gas production in a country with low Methane emissions does not.”

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