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Guest post: Yorkshire Landowners question Conservative leadership candidates on fracking

In this guest post, the organisation representing farmers and both small and large landowners in Yorkshire put key questions on fracking to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

Fracking operation at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

Yorkshire Landowners wrote to Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on the 20th April 2022 following BEIS’s request to the British Geological Society to review the scientific basis for fracking.

We finally received a reply on 1st July, which was less than satisfactory. Copies of both letters are at the bottom of this post.

Both candidates for the leadership, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, are now indicating they would lift the moratorium on fracking contained in the party’s last election manifesto, subject to local support!

This begs several straightforward questions to the candidates:

  1. Why are they prepared to break an election manifesto commitment?
  2. How are they going to assess local support (or otherwise)?
  3. And are they going to encourage that support by offering financial inducement? If so, how are they going to fund it – given the questionable finances of fracking in the US, by way of prime example?  
  4. Would that financial inducement not be better spent on developing climate-friendlier alternatives, given that both candidates have both confirmed their commitment to net zero?
  5. Do they not think it disingenuous – as Liz Truss managed at the first hustings, in Leeds – to convey the impression that fracking is the answer to the elderly questioner’s concern about this winter’s energy price crisis, when UK fracked gas is 10 years or so away, at best?
  6. And how can they explain that this fracked gas is the answer to the UK’s energy security – when, at best, companies such as Ineos are likely simply to use it to underwrite their plastics business? And do they not realise the rest, if any, will be sold at global market prices?
  7. All landowners of every type and size should, by now, know about the crucial issue of residual liability – a classic sting in the tail – but have the two candidates got detailed answers to the myriad questions this raises yet, given this fundamental problem has been pointed out for at least eight years now?
  8. And given the debt mountain in the US fracked business community, as well as orphaned wells in the Canadian equivalent – meaning a sting in the tail for host communities, too – do the two candidates really want to inflict such horrors on England’s green and pleasant land, and its voting inhabitants?

We look forward to receiving their answers.

On behalf of The Yorkshire Landowners, Nick Howard and Kenelm Storey.

DrillOrDrop welcomes guest posts about the UK onshore oil and gas industry. We asked the shale gas lobbying organisation, UKOOG, for a copy of the letter it sent to the Conservative leadership candidates but it did not reply.

41 replies »

  1. Very good questions, that I suspect neither candidate has given any thought to whatsoever, as their primary focus is to throw as much red meat as possible at the voting Conservative members.

  2. I can’t see that any indication has been given that is contrary to what was contained in the letter printed. Maybe red meat to you which is probably to be found near green washing, but the letter states the science is being reviewed and then it would be a case of what happens after that. I would like to think any candidate would be open to science changing what may happen. Don’t suspect any candidate would get many votes by replying they would not be open to reviewing new science inputs, and where they may go based upon that. Hasn’t there just been a period of over two years where exactly that was expected?

      • Truss and Sunak have both stated they would lift the moratorium and allow fracking with community consent. I’ve not heard either of them mention any consideration of it also being conditional on the BGS’ report having discovered some other, safer, less disruptive method of fracking or that they have given any thought to the consequences of a whole new commercial fracking industry on our climate change targets. It’s all purely pandering to the climate change denying ERG/NZSG who seem to hold a disproportionate amount of power over the rest of the government and cynical exploitation of the present energy crisis which allowing fracking would do nothing to alleviate.

        • So, what you are indicating Pauline is that if UK fracking had been done earlier it would be alleviating the present energy crisis!

          (Together with another comment about numbers of protestors not indicating numbers of locals against, there appear to be some shocking admissions.)

          Not sure that is any sort of argument. Almost every energy policy in UK has been late. Perhaps having now experienced an energy crisis, some might like to avoid the next one.

  3. Perhaps they have seen the report, then Jono??

    Have you??

    Don’t worry, Jono, you could always lobby her against. Politicians are lobbied all the time. Isn’t that what constituency surgeries are all about?

  4. A UK shale industry would never develop. In order to survive it must continue to expand. Isolated wells soon deplete so new wells must be drilled continuously . Stand still to long and the ponzi scheme becomes apparent as seen in the US. Investors will want to see long term plans showing expansion routes for sites in the UK. I doubt they will find them. I personally know land owners who have been approached by the industry and said no and spoke to many Lancashire land owners who are opposed to to the industry. The big swathes of land with single owners do not exist in Lancashire as proven by Cuadrilla already having to approach numerous land owners. To many bottle necks and not enough room.

    • Interesting ponzi scheme in the US:

      Shale gas and tight oil plays production in the U.S. 1999-2050
      Published by N. Sönnichsen, Apr 8, 2022
      Shale gas and tight oil production in the United States is forecast to increase to nearly 34 trillion cubic feet by 2050, up from 24.91 trillion cubic feet in 2021. Shale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within dense shale formations.

    • jp:
      If your not an investor, you have no risk. huh!

      So the real question is why do you care, if your not going to invest but you reap the benefits of gas and oil central heating, fuel for you car and airline travel and global groceries, or are you anti’ due to some other reason! If fracking has not currently practised in the UK, what do you know about the risks?
      The UK, USA and Australia are all different beasts! But we will always require gas, for at least the next 50 years, and I can assure you locally produced gas is the best and lower carbon efficient, compared to the current USA fracked gas currently being consumed in this country!!

  5. I know land owners who would not accept wind turbines. They soon changed their minds when the deal became too good to resist.

    Now in USA a whole new industry has grown up around re-fracs. And according to another anti who also tried the ponzi scheme nonsense, he now states fortunes are being made!

    Meanwhile, those poor Germans with their unheated swimming pools, heating turned off and purchasing thicker bed covers they are switching energy sources-to coal!

    Switching to coal if there are not too many reliable alternatives, John. Maybe a little lesson there?

    • ‘I know land owners who would not accept wind turbines. They soon changed their minds when the deal became too good to resist’

      Maybe wind turbine companies offer good money to land owners who can still use all their land.

      Check out the land registry and see how much money Cuadrilla offered to the owner of the land at Preese Hall (where the first earthquakes from fracking took place)

      Less than £9,000. That’s correct. Less than £9,000. Do take the trouble to check it out. About enough to buy a second hand fiat Panda and of course you can’t farm the land.

      What an excellent business venture.

      • Nope, JP, it was the energy consumer who offered land owners a guaranteed £100k net profit/turbine per year so that it could be stated how welcome they were, by Government-even if they were turned off.

        So, what you are stating is that with gas prices at record highs then landowners would not be offered good deals? Then you have nothing to worry about, do you?

        • Great news for landowners who take on turbines. They still get to use their land and have none of the health risks or mess from fracking. Not forgetting that fracking sites deplete to nothing and leave the landowner with a toxic legacy whereas the wind turbine keeps turning forever producing clean energy and revenue to landowners for generations. Last I looked the wind isn’t owned by anyone so that should help keep prices low.

          UK shale gas. The dirtiest, dearest, and most unreliable source of natural gas…….and a nightmare for land owners who are mad enough to think otherwise

          • jp: maybe you should rent out your land and then your a happy camper rolling in all this money, as YOU SAY! Great news… So great news is in money making! Ahem, Wind Turbines aren’t even half the energy production means for this country, you forget that the needs of the UK runs on more than electricity John!!

        • Martin,
          You have quoted the £100k figure many times in comments, but I couldn’t find a link to the source of this figure. Could you post some more details/ a link so we can find out more about it?


          • No link. Straight from the horse’s mouth from a landowner who then was in a relationship with a colleague, who was a Yorkshire farmer’s daughter (ironically), who had sworn (the father) he would never have one of those noisy, bird mincing monstrosities on his land despoiling the views.

            Then prospective son in law provided the father with the costings and showed how he had become a multi millionaire so quickly-multiple sites with 4 turbines each.. Last I heard daughter had invested £175 in a set of lingerie, and they rapidly had three children. Not sure whether the money, rather than lingerie, finally tempted father, but he was teetering.

            That was in the good old days (lol) when funding was there to try and encourage something that was unpopular. Still is unpopular in many areas. In France, some turbines were turned off when the noise during lockdown became too conspicuous. (Link previously provided.)

            Now there are other issues, that JP also forgot to mention, so I will provide the detail:

            “Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa lowered it’s 2022 profitability expectations even further on Tuesday (today) and said it would remain negative through 2023, citing expensive raw materials, component failures and geopolitical uncertainty.

            Launching “staffing and footprint optimization actions” ie. considering cutting around 2500 jobs or 9% of it’s workforce.

            Expects full year core earnings margin, excluding certain costs, to be MINUS 5.5%.”

            • Recent figures on renewable generation

              ‘Renewable generation increased by 9.3 per cent on the same period last year due to increased capacity and more favourable weather conditions, particularly for wind and solar PV. Generation reached 38.2 TWh, second only to the first quarter of 2020 when the UK experienced exceptionally high wind speeds. Renewables’ share of electricity generation was 45.5 per cent, again, the second highest compared to the record in Quarter 1 2020’

              Page 12 covers it at a glance


              Click to access Energy_Trends_June_2022.pdf

              Gas exports on the rise. Page 9

              ‘Gas exports more than doubled in quarter 1 2022, as interconnectors with Belgium and the Netherlands were utilised to export gas to mainland Europe. This reduced interconnector capacity for pipeline imports to the UK, resulting in a 22 per cent decrease in net imports in comparison with quarter 1 2021’


              Click to access Energy_Trends_June_2022.pdf

              • So, JP, thanks for demonstrating that renewable generation is dependent upon the weather. Hmm, I think that was already known and is a problem.

                And thanks for also demonstrating how countries that made unreliable energy provision decisions are now having to be helped out. Good job the UK has those terminals for LNG.

                The geopolitical uncertainty reference in my post above. Might that be countries caught out with unreliable energy provision looking to replace it with reliable energy provision?

  6. To compare the deleterious effects of wind turbines and fracking is, of course, deliberately diversionary (or crassly ignorant ) and obfuscatory.
    Fortunes are conceivably being made in the US by refracking. Which ethical code justifies this motive? Need I expand on this?
    May be a little lesson here for those who know the cost (profit) from everything and the value of nothing.
    Some of us might like to think this or that concerning politicians’ willingness to avail themselves of the latest scientific evidence, but they managed to ignore it for long enough until seismic shocks bounced them into a realisation that their voters were not 100% reliable. They had been sustained in their reluctance to accept the scientific and mathematical evidence by their voters, some of whom were, and are equally reluctant so to do.

    • The little lesson is that Putin’s aggression can stop being funded by those desperate for gas. So, desperate some are now going back to coal. Not a good alternative, but that is what happens when good alternatives have not been explored previously.

      So, yes, fortunes will be made-according to an anti-as the buyer has fewer options. Many a supplier of coal in/into Europe will now make their profit. Perhaps buyers ought to plan to have some more options? Oh yes, that is what the UK is looking at currently. Vested interests will still try and lobby against and attempt to overcome the laws of physics and arithmetic, but the majority see the cost being applied to them and will decide for themselves. Maybe in the UK they will take note that as the most successful nuclear power station is being turned off, it’s output is going to be replaced via more demand for gas. Maybe when they observe the consequences in the Autumn, and note neighbouring countries rationing energy use, then they might ask, has our Government been looking at options?

      Looks as if Liz and Rishi have. Hopefully they realize cost is not profit, and cost to the consumer is what will determine their future.

  7. The Castle Howard letter (April 2022) clearly written with expert legal advice, is a concise useful summary of the grim realities and harmful local impacts of fracking .
    We now await with interest whether HMG will publish in full the ‘peer-reviewed’ BGS report on any ‘new ‘ scientific evidence which would permit fracking without inducing earthquakes in an area with faulted geology & relatively high population density.
    Failure to publish this document will speak for itself.

  8. Your point is quite interesting, Frank.

    I suspect any report would not suggest the possibility of lifting the moratorium without caveats. I would expect a number, and it may well be that would limit exploration in UK. Whether they would limit exploration to the point it is not deemed commercial, is the critical point.

    • Not enough room. Bottle necked. To much well organised opposition. Opposition with more money than industry. Unacceptable seismic events, Recoverable amounts totally unpredictable. Soaring energy prices increasing costs of extraction from an energy guzzling industry. Land owners getting far better deals from renewable energy deals………the list goes on and on.

      All that means a UK shale gas industry would never be commercially viable

      • The list only goes on and on if a number of dubious bits are added to it, JP. And there is a vested interest in the competition.

        However, the consumer decides whether they accept a product. They have a free choice. Some would like them not to have a free choice, but consumers do tend to react somewhat differently than some might expect if they notice their freedom of choice is being denied to them and start to ask, why? Sometimes they will agree with the why, most times they will not. They might be pressured to join the “we” club but would not be that inclined after reading the prospectus.

        They might also ask if a UK shale gas industry would never be viable why would anyone spend their time campaigning against something that will not happen?

  9. INEOS hold PEDL licences in a beautiful area of Ryedale. They use gas to produce plastics. Another form of pollution.
    The shale in Britain is different to that in the USA. Ours is in clay and very difficult to fracture.
    I wonder if all those in favour of fracking would be happy to live near a fracking site.?

  10. So, Sue, that is the same plastic you have just used as a consumer of plastic, to moan about people creating a demand-for plastic. Plastic is not the pollution, it is what individuals do with it that creates pollution.

    Ermm-if the decision is ultimately with the locals, then your wondering would become fact.

    • Yes,you are correct about how people dispose of plastics,but,if there were not so much single use plastic(which is what INEOS produce) there would not be so much plastic pollution.I am quite aware that some plastic is needed. I have spoken to a person who lives near a fracking site in Pennsylvania,she said that no-one would ever want to live near fracking sites. Britain is too small to accommodate a fracking industry and as already been said,we have the wrong type of shale.

      • She might have said that, Sue, but she was wrong. I can quote you references to those who are pleased to live near fracking sites in USA.

          • I have done so previously, Paul. I am shocked you didn’t notice!

            Pody’s BBQ in Pecos, Texas, when owned by Israel Campos. Business increased by about 800%.

        • COME ON MARTIN ,

          Quote these “references ” let’s see the evidence. Please supply LINKS to evidence that shows how all these people are happy to live in highly toxic Fracking areas……. Or are you just going to supply the readers with the usual zero evidence, just your OPINION only ?????

          Why would anyone want to live near a Fracking site

          Fracking is nothing more than a highly toxic, environmentally damaging, climate changing, dangerous to human and animal health process that devalues the value of homes in Fracking areas and leaves a costly toxic legacy for future generations maintaining abandoned wells.

          If there is anything you dispute in the above, please say …… JACK will be delighted to fill this page with factual evidence.

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