Politics

“There can be no moving the fracking goalposts” – Fylde MP

The MP representing the area around Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire has opposed efforts by some fellow Conservatives to lift the moratorium on fracking and relax regulations on earthquakes.

Mark Menzies MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Mark Menzies wrote to a constituent:

“The geology is not going to change and, despite the opinions put forward by some in the industry and beyond, neither are the regulations.

”There can be no moving of the goalposts and I am not supportive of efforts by some Parliamentary colleagues to do so.”

His letter was dated two days before the industry regulator granted a year’s reprieve for the sealing of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas wells.

On the news last week, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, urged the government to also lift the fracking moratorium in England. He had previously called for looser controls on fracking-induced earthquakes.

But Mr Menzies said:

“Cuadrilla and its contractors have had 10 years to prove gas reserves under Fylde can be fracked safely and within the seismic limits they themselves helped to set.

“Given the failure to achieve this I am of the view that fracking is wholly unsuitable for Fylde. It cannot be done without risking the safely of our communities and without causing unacceptable levels of seismic activity.”

He said he did not believe the geology and population density allowed safe fracking in the Fylde.

“I have always held the view that fracking should only be carried out if it can be done safely. I insisted on clear and unequivocal measures to monitor, record and respond to seismic activity and the industry agreed to the traffic light system, which was used throughout the operation of the Preston New Road site.

Mr Menzies said the shale gas industry had agreed to traffic light system, which requires operators to stop fracking when earthquakes reach 0.5 on the local magnitude scale, known as a red event.

Chart showing a 2.9ML earthquake induced by fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site on 26 August 2019

In 2018, there were three red events caused by fracking at Preston New Road and another three 0.5ML+ earthquakes after pumping had finished.

In 2019, fracking at Preston New Road caused 12 seismic events measuring 0.5ML or above – all of them after pumping. They included the UK’s strongest fracking-induced earthquake. This led to the suspension of fracking at Preston New Road, followed by a moratorium on fracking in England which remains in force.

In 2011, Cuadrilla’s fracks at Preese Hall, also in the Fylde, caused 2.3ML and 1.5ML earthquakes.

A year later, Cuadrilla told the then energy minister, John Hayes:

“In conjunction with industry experts and your team at DECC [the then Department of Energy and Climate Change] we have developed a traffic light seismic monitoring and mitigation system.”

The company said the UK traffic light levels had set below those used in other parts of the world to “ensure that we maintain a much larger factor of safety at this exploratory stage”.

Mr Menzies said fracking would not resolve the crisis of rising energy and fuel prices in the short term.

Instead, he said, the UK should focus instead on “future technologies, to renewable energy and next generation nuclear, powered by fuel produced here in Fylde, to deliver a cleaner, reliable, sustainable future.

The government’s energy security strategy is expected next week. Today, the Daily Mail  reported that proposals to look again at fracking would be put on the back burner.

But the Telegraph said the government was to review the moratorium on fracking for safety and technology to help “accurately predict and manage seismic events”.

7 replies »

  1. Good morning folks, its Sunday 3rd April 2022, and it seems the same old attempts to overturn the government moratorium on fracking are being attempted under the excuse of increasing fossil fuel costs. And all that is being attempted under the cover all excuse of war in Ukraine by Russia and the West. So let’s examine the insane, illogical excuse for the attempted excuse to overturn the fracking moratorium in Britain and the wider aspects of why that is completely nuts in a little more detail, shall we?

    First to set the scene in its correct context, here is a report from UK Column on 1st April, which sets out some of the issues that will now beset us all by our own governments, who it may be said, are so well paid by the British taxpayer, that they are not affected in the least by the cost of energy hikes themselves. No, that is the burden that the ordinary man woman and child in the street must carry, while Party Gate, now Poverty Gate, will carry on regardless.

    Of course the usual excuse, is that anything reported on April 1st, is supposed to be a joke? But the increase in energy costs, council tax, food and drink staples, vehicle tax and general massive hikes in the cost of merely living for millions of people, and billions worldwide, is no joke at all is it? At least not to the people who are forced to pay for energy that should have moved away from the fossil fuel industries jealously guarded and protected monopolies back in the late 1970’s when Exxon and Shell scientists predicted what would happen if the world continued to depend upon fossil fuels. That was quite viciously suppressed by Exxon, Shell and the other fossil fuel corporations.

    Look where the world is now? Here is some background information, that you may want to watch all the way through before reading anything else.

    UK Column News – 1st April 2022
    https://www.ukcolumn.org/ukcolumn-news/uk-column-news-1st-april-2022

    Here is a video of an interchange in Parliament: “Sarah Champion a Labour MP called out Boris Johnson’s attempt to blame the cost of living crisis on the war in Ukraine and the pandemic when in reality it is part of a decade of cuts to supports for people both working and on benefits. Johnson used his tired old excuses and the Tory mantra of ‘get a job’.”

    “How Do You Sleep At Night” Labour MP Calls Out Boris Johnson!

    Then there is a report from Russel Brand, who is a bit jokey and theatrical for my liking, but he seems to be tagging along with world events lately. An acquired taste, you might say, but what he does say, when not being theatrical, in this case, is at least accurately aimed. I added an (*) in the title, in order to protect the more…sensitive(!)….of the antithesis fossil fuel protagonists.

    Russel Brand – This Is A F**cking Disgrace

    Continued next post.

    • I’ll continue that from above some other day.

      Just to lighten the mood a little, on this cold and frosty morning. I looked at some songs to illustrate what is going on at the moment in the world. It being Sunday, I thought something more spiritual might be more appropriate, than songs about the dystopian decadence of the world’s so-called “leaders” of their insane greed and megalomaniac power mongering.

      When will the people of this planet ever get over the stupidity of having these self-promoting “pack leaders” rule over us? When anyone can see that as soon they get into a situation of power and authority, that they become nothing more than little tin pot gods? Because that is really all they are. All because everyone has been fooled into thinking that some sweet-talking psychopathic fraud will do anything else than make themselves richer and more powerful at the expense of everyone else? Its the same with monopolies. It’s surely better to have local energy supplies based upon natural renewable energy systems serving local people as a shared resource. Not some vast inhuman monopolistic corporation dictating how much their primary profit motive will cost you.

      This is a song from a Monty Python sketch, which cleverly puts these wider, insane worldwide events into their true perspective with a little calm introspection. This isn’t the original sketch song, it’s a later cover, but none the worse for that.

      Galaxy Song w/Subtitled Lyrics

      Monty Python – The Galaxy Song lyrics

      Whenever life gets you down Mrs. Brown, and things seem hard, or tough
      When people are stupid, obnoxious or daft, and you feel that you’ve had quite enough…

      Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
      And revolving at 900 miles an hour
      It’s orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it’s reckoned
      The sun that is the source of all our power

      The Sun and you and me, and all the stars that we can see
      Are moving at a million miles a day
      In the outer spiral arm, at 40,000 miles an hour
      Of the Galaxy we call the Milky Way

      Our Galaxy itself contains 100 billion stars
      It’s 100,000 light-years side-to-side
      It bulges in the middle, 16 000 light-years thick
      But out by us it’s just 3 000 light-years wide

      We’re 30,000 light-years from galactic central point
      We go round every 200 million years
      And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
      In this amazing and expanding universe

      The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
      In all of the directions it can whizz
      As fast as it can go, at the speed of light you know
      Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is

      So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure
      How amazingly unlikely is your birth
      Pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space
      Because there’s bugger all down here on Earth

      Have a good Sunday with family and friends and spare a thought for those working families in energy and food poverty, the elderly and infirm who are facing this cold morning in the prospect of unaffordable energy, and real poverty from this month onwards. There are food banks, that need your contributions, and your personal help if you are willing to serve your fellow man woman and child.

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

      • OK. As someone just pointed out, the lyrics are somewhat different to the original Monty Python sketch in the American cover version. Hardly surprising considering that one word and American sensibilities. I am also reliably informed that there is also this version that has the correct lyrics and an additional ending by Professor Brian Cox and Theoretical Physicist Stephen Hawking (from 2:54).

        Galaxy Song – Monty Python Live in O2 Arena.

        As always:

        Enjoy!

        Enjoy!

  2. Like all his responses Menzies waits for an opportune moment then sends out a stereotyped response to folk who have raised issues with him. The timing of this letter (a copy of which I received myself) was clearly because he was aware that in a day or two’s time the government would issue a new statement.

    He is a craven coward whose response to the government/offshore OG agency, whatever they choose to call themselves today, announcement re Cuadrilla’s PNR wells, of “disappointment” is pathetic.

    Once again he is revealed as totally impotent to act on behalf of his constituents.

  3. Well, Alan, they elected him.

    Mind you, when has a local MP been able to act on behalf of national matters? Unless they are a Minister or the Government has such a small majority a rebel or two can make a difference.

    However, they can always act as if they do have have potency, in order to get re-elected.

    Less crazy then the current campaigning regarding national issues for local elections. But, it adds to the entertainment.

  4. So, the Government has now ordered a survey into UK fracking for gas!

    Hmmm.

    Looks as if those goalposts may be modified.

    My bet is on a change to the traffic light system, new technologies reviewed, more assessment regarding local geology (kerching, Robin!) culminating in a revised area to test.

    • We’ve already seen the traffic light system at work at PNR at 0.5 and look how that turned out. Relaxation of the TLS would just mean even more likelihood of seismic events such as those at PNR or maybe worse. Francis Egan said the other day on Radio Lancashire that he wanted the TLS raised and Graham Liver asked if the people of Lancashire would just have to put up with earthquakes then. Egan had no answer to that but claimed words to the effect that if the TLS wasn’t raised the people of Lancashire would have to put up with higher energy bills. That really was a blatant lie as we all know our energy bills would not be cheaper as gas is sold to the highest bidders on the open international market. As well as being a blatant lie, Egan’s remarks do demonstrate a staggering disregard for the peace of mind of communities involved.

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