At our public meeting in Lytham in June we asked people to write down any questions that they had and were unable to ask at the meeting so that we could respond to them. We have compiled a list and here are the first answers. There are still one or two where we are checking the facts before we publish, and we will add these as we go along.
Q. Aren’t we committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emission for climate change?
A. Yes the Government is committed to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (see https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/reducing-the-uk-s-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-80-by-2050 ). However the Government failed to set targets for the fifth carbon budget in the recent Energy Bill, and it is unclear how they would reach the target committed to if they were to burn all the gas that the BGS claim is available to us. Given currently available technology the two things are simply incompatible.
Timescale / Planning
Q. Why does local planning authority have no control over the number of well pads?
A. The local authority (Lancashire County Council) currently does have say in the number of well pads via the planning process. What is not clear is how many wells Cuadrilla (or their successors) will seek permission for.
Q. What timescale are we looking at for it all to begin?
A. Given the levels of uncertainty around resources, the lack of technical infrastructure and the likelihood and scale of local opposition it is unlikely that production would begin for some time. However exploratory work has been undertaken in the Fylde already. This is what caused the earth tremors at Preese Hall in 2011.
Q. When will planning permission be given or not for fracking at Annas Road?
A. Planning permission has already been given for exploratory work but will expire before
Cuadrilla can perform any test fracking. They are in the process of performing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). They will need to apply again to continue working at Anna’s Road.
Q. Would Bowland bores be contaminated if a leak due to migration of fracking fluid occurred?
A. We believe that it is quite possible that any leakage of fracking fluid could affect local bore holes. Most of us do not source our water from bore holes but United Utilities has confirmed that up to 11% of drinking water in the area is sourced from bore holes, so this is an issue which does need to concern us.
Q. Where will the radioactive waste water and chemicals be taken after the fracking and what happens to contaminated water?
A. This question has been open since United Utilities treatment facility at Davyhulme refused to take any more of the flowback. Remsol, based on Preston Docks, are looking at a novel way of removing the NORM (radioactive sludge). They will not be storing or treating any toxic waste. Defend Lytham have asked the Environment Agency, as part of the public consultation, who will be treating this toxic waste, where will it be treated, how will it be treated and where will it be disposed of. Note over 840,000 gallons were “treated” and then went into the Manchester Ship canal from Preese Hall 1. The answer came back this this was commercially sensitive information and so they were not going to say ! You really have to wonder just how a state funded body can be protecting the financial interests of a private company over the health interests of the general public.
So, despite the appearance of a public consultation it appears the Environment Agency are ready to issue permits for the treatment of the flowback. However, after pressure was applied to EA Chair, Lord Smith, we can confirm that the EU Waste Directive applies to ALL the fracking fluid and not only that which flows back up the borehole and is tankered out for treatment (approx 100 million gallons per pad). This means that the 2.5 million gallons that remains down the borehole (containing lead at 1,438 times the safe level for drinking water, Cadmium, Chromium and arsenic) now must be tracked, monitored and sealed by Cuadrilla. As this waste flows to “who knows where” (official response at a FBC meeting) then this could prove a difficult task for the industry to meet.
Q. Should we worry about truck loads of contaminated water?
The impact of thousand of truck loads of flowback fluid will be massive in terms of congestion, pollution and ebar on the roads themselves. We do also need to be aware that any accidents could also release pollutants into the area.
Regulation / Inspection
Q. How do we get regulation as a mandatory requirement?
A. The government seems to believe that “light touch” regulation is sufficient. If you believe that this is not the case then you must contact your MP and make him Aware of your concerns.
Q. Will inspections be independent?
A. Defend Lytham and other groups have called for an independent panel of regulators to be set up. Mark Menzies MP echoed that call last year in Parliament, saying that we needed “an independent panel of experts to be set up without delay. Many questions and concerns still surround the shale gas process, and it is vital that we have a panel for three purposes: to look at each issue in detail; to fully appraise the risk; and to ensure that specific regulations are in place to deal with that.”
What we got though is the Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil (OFFUGO) – a body which is a subsidiary of the DECC and which was set up to “streamline” regulation and promote the industry. Hardly the “independent panel of experts” which Mr Menzies said was so vital.
Q. Is EU risk sheet based on health or contamination?
The EU risk assessment table shown at the meeting covered both health and contamination risks. The specific risks analysed were Groundwater Contamination, Surface Water Contamination, Water Resources, Release To Air, Land Take, Risk to Biodiversity, Noise Impacts, Visual Impact, Seismicity. Traffic
Q. What will farmers be paid for concreted hectares? Will they be uniformly on side?
Any commercial deal between Cuadrilla and any local land owner is likely to remain confidential. However, it is clear that no all local farmers are in favour of taking cash in exchange for land access. One local farmer appeared on Dutch TV recently explaining why. You can hear what he has to say here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNN7dWqV1pc
Q. Given the instability of the land in Lytham and St Annes, who would be liable if houses are affected by the drilling the council or Cuadrilla?
A. If any commercial activity results in damage to your property we understand that insurers are likely to instruct you to take civil action against the perpetrator. In this case that would seem to be Cuadrilla.
Q. Can they drill under home and workplaces?
Our understanding is that under English law Cuadrilla would be trespassing if the drilled under your property without your consent. Having said that you would be unlikely to get any significant recompense if you sued them as the law merely attempts to reinstate your position as it would be if they had had your permission. As you don’t own the mineral rights under your property any damages awarded would be very small.
Q. How do we increase awareness 90% of local residents are apathetic and unconcerned?
A. That is a very good question! We are doing all we can to raise awareness but we need you to spread the word. If you can help with leaflet distribution or in any other way please contact us. And tell your friends!
Q. Why is it banned in New York USA?
A. A moratorium on fracking has been in place in New York State since 2008 because of concerns that the practice, which involves pumping chemical-laced water and sand deep below the surface to extract natural gas from shale, can contaminate water supplies.
The current legislation applies to the Utica and Marcellus shale gas deposits, some of the most significant in the country. It requires a full review process, including a new study to look at the potential public health impact of fracking. The moratorium was recently extended to MA 2015