Minister quizzed on Aurora’s fracking withdrawal

Altcar Moss planning application Aurora Resources 6

Photomontage of Aurora’s proposed Altcar Moss site from the Trans Pennine Trail. Source: planning application

The government has been asked what assessment it has made of the decision by Aurora Energy Resources to drop its plans to frack near Formby in Lancashire.

The company announced the decision last month, blaming a “de facto ban on shale gas activity”. It said the moratorium on fracking in England was “out of line” with the regulation of other industries.

Lord GreavesIn a parliamentary question last week, the Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Greaves, asked the government:

“what assessment they have made of the withdrawal by Aurora Energy Resources of their planning application for fracking at Altcar Moss, Lancashire; and what advice they will give to companies about future fracking projects in the light of this withdrawal.”

Lord CallananThe energy minister, Lord Callanan, replied:

“The Government cannot comment on individual planning applications. The Government’s position on shale gas policy remains unchanged, as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement on 4 November 2019. Planning authorities should continue to take national planning policy and guidance into account in considering any relevant applications.”

Aurora wanted to drill and frack two shale gas wells at Altcar Moss, near the village of Great Altcar. It was the first planning application in the UK for fracking since Cuadrilla caused a series of small earthquakes following fracks at Preston New Road near Blackpool in 2018.

Lancashire County Council had been expected to make a decision on Aurora’s plans in August or September.

Three parish councils, West Lancashire Borough Council, campaign groups and individuals had objected.

A consultant to the county council recommended the application should not be approved because “insufficient evidence has been provided to support the conclusion of no likely significant effects” on protected wildlife.

The government’s nature conservation adviser, Natural England, said it “may need to object” unless Aurora provided more information on the impact of the plans on wildlife.

Aurora said it would “address the issue” of the fracking moratorium with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

7 replies »

  1. My take on this is that the government is dishonest. Well, there’s a surprise! I wonder if the Gov. thinks that if they formally banned fracking they would be sued by the companies that paid license fees & made commitments to drill & test, under the exploration licences they successfully applied to the governenment & paid for?

    • It certainly seems that way Nick, the UK government and the OGA have opened the door and allowed company’s to apply, take seismic data, then research, write-up and submit plans to support, (although there will be keyboard warrior opposed to that effect), and then trust on grant/or/refusal is swiftly removed and filed in to bottom tray as a moratorium? (Not a Ban?!).
      I wonder if the government have their chequebook out, this could cost them dearly.

      • Only trouble is Eli-Goth the cheque book you refers draws on OUR account not that of the elected politicians responsible for the safe and prudent running of the UK.
        They just move on to cosy, lucrative positions elsewhere.

      • Maybe Aurora didn’t understand what they have bought.

        The Secretary of State issues landward production licences (Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences) under powers granted by the Petroleum Act 1998. They confer the right to search for, bore for and get hydrocarbons, but do not confer any exemption from other legal/regulatory requirements such as:

        any need to gain access rights from landowners

        health and safety regulations

        planning permission from relevant local authorities.

        Damaging wildlife and being responsible for causing earthquakes is not something that is granted when you take on the licence. Looks like Aurora and other start up UK fracking companies will be and already have been losing millions.

  2. The same cheque book that was used to pay for all those police at PNR, Peter!

    Not a very rewarding thread for the antis, but hypocrisy comes easy.

    I suspect the Government have just decided to park the whole issue for the time being whilst energy prices are low. Probably be more extensions to keep some companies interested. Gas will still be there when it becomes time to work out where the gas will come from for hydrogen, and energy prices are, by then, likely to be much higher.

  3. ‘I suspect the Government have just decided to park the whole issue for the time being whilst energy prices are low’

    I suspect the reason Statoil (now Equinor), Centrica, and Riverstone now have no interest in UK fracking is because there is no money in UK shale gas even when energy prices are high. They would have stayed on board and rode through low prices if they thought it had a viable future.

    I suspect the Government have taken note.

  4. Well, you once again seem to be able to know what the economics are of UK shale gas even before the required testing has taken place, jP.

    Once again, speculating like Mystic Meg. (Mind you, occasionally, she got it right.)

    “Stayed on board and rode through low prices if they thought it had a viable future.” Oh really? With a moratorium in place? DOH.

    Such companies will simply carry on with other interests and can always buy back in if/when the time is right.

    You must be really rubbish at jigsaws. Don’t mess about at getting the pieces to fit, just hammer them in.

    Start up companies nearly always lose money, jP-WHILST THEY START UP! There is a little item called INCOME, that comes after start up. The clue is in the name. DOH.

Add a comment

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s