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Defend Lytham Respond to Fracking Survey

Defend Lytham read with interest the findings of the new “Britain Thinks Survey” from Cuadrilla. Two things stand out from it.

Firstly the huge discrepancy between these reported survey results and national polls by YouGov, executed at about the same time, which show clearly that local people are very wary of fracking their local area. YouGov suggest that 46% oppose fracking their own area whilst only 25% support it.

Secondly the supposed benefits that most local people identify are jobs and cheaper energy.

It is ironic that these survey results were issued the day after job estimates for the entire UK industry were slashed by more than two thirds in a study by AMEC for the DECC(2). Direct and indirect job estimates for the entire UK industry, based on a report from the Institute of Directors in June (74,000), were slashed by more than two thirds in a study by AMEC for the DECC (15,900- 24,300). The AMEC study also shows that any employment is likely to last only 4-9 years and that so far local people have only been given 17% of any jobs.

We already know that Cuadrilla have admitted that fracking won’t bring cheaper energy.

What these survey results show is the a lot of local people are going to be very disappointed if shale gas extraction is allowed in the Fylde, because research shows that the benefits they expect are extremely unlikely to materialise.

Greenpeace Launch The Wrongmove Campaign



Yesterday in Preston, saw the launch of the “Wrongmove” campaign. This campaign highlights the legal problem that Cuadrilla have if they want to drill under YOUR home, and gives you the chance to show your opposition to fracking in the Fylde.

This is how it works: if you don’t want Cuadrilla to be allowed to pump toxic fluids under your home, you can say so. Then, any drilling there becomes trespassing and Cuadrilla would be breaking the law if they did so.

IMG_2414All you have to do is declare that your home is ‘Not for Shale’ and you will be added to the growing legal block to stop fracking where you live. After just 24 hours there are already over 14,000 households in the UK who have signed up to this initiative!

But you need to act quickly, as there are hints that the government will soon try to change the law to support their dash for gas.

Input up your postcode and join the legal block now at http://www.wrongmove.org/ . It will only take a few seconds!

Please do this now as this is a very important initiative fight to ensure that the Fylde is not sacrificed for a badly regulated a short term energy fix.

Defend Lytham Media Reaction to the Annas Road Abandonment

Here are links to our radio interviews with Radio Wave and Radio Lancashire today

Radio Wave carried a short interview this morning – listen by clicking here

Radio Lancashire had a headline item featuring Mr Egan and his Pink Footed Geese and Whooper Swans (or should they be “whopper” swans?) – listen by clicking here

Radio Lancashire carried a longer piece with an interview with John Hobson of Defend Lytham in the main News section of the Drive Time programme clicking here

It is interesting to note that when asked by Judy Hobson during this interview “have there been conditions like this put on any of your other sites” Mr Egan responds with an unequivocal “No”

However, when Cuadrilla were in court in 2012 and the question of their having worked for 3 months beyond their existing planning permission was raised, we learned from Stuart Perigo Head, of Planning from Lancashire County Council, that “by drilling in winter they had failed to meet a key condition to safeguard bird life from the adjacent Ribble Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest. The defence argued that this may have resulted in a breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

It’s never easy to know how much we can expect Mr Egan to remember when he is interviewed, but we do like to remind him after the event of the things that slip his mind.

Local MP in shock announcement on fracking

Sadly, not one of our local MPs though.

We are talking about Charlie Elphicke MP for Dover.

This is how his conversion was reported in his local paper

MP now adds his support to the anti-fracking fight

MP Charlie Elphicke has opposed the applications for exploratory drilling in East Kent and says he will raise the issue with Ministers.

More than 200 residents first heard the news that they had the backing of their MP at a meeting at Shepherdswell Village Hall last Wednesday.

The meeting was held by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) with a panel consisting of chairman Richard Knox-Johnston, hydrologist Graham D. Warren, Dover MP Mr Elphicke and district councillor Mog Ovenden.

Mr Elphicke said: “Shale gas exploration offers the opportunity for lower energy bills but I’ve always said we have got to balance that against safety – the risk to the water aquifer and our drinking water is too great.

“So I oppose these applications. In other areas that are more suitable and don’t have the same risks we should explore it but we use the aquifer for all our drinking water. If it could be contaminated this is a risk I don’t think we should take.”

When asked if this was a conflict of interest for the Tory MP, whose leader David Cameron is in support of fracking, he said that as an MP he supports the needs of his constituency first.

Dover’s Labour parliamentary candidate Clair Hawkins was also at the meeting and said that Mr Elphicke’s views had “suddenly shifted”. She said: “After telling chair of CPRE Kent Richard Knox-Johnston he was ‘muddled up’ in a recent BBC Radio Kent interview, Mr Elphicke sat next to Mr Knox-Johnston on the panel and said he is now against the planning application.

“While I welcome this change of attitude we now need to see some action. Mr Elphicke must stand up for the community against both his friend George Osborne and his dash for gas and the fracking companies and their determination to make a fast buck with big tax breaks.”

Stuart Cox, from East Kent Friends of the Earth said: “I’m pleased Charlie Elphicke now opposes fracking in Kent and agrees the risk of water contamination is too high to take but he must now reject fracking nationwide.”

There are three applications from Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd to drill for coal bed methane gas in Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone. CPRE hydrologist Graham D. Warren explained that due to high angle faults in the coal measures under the three sites, the pressure of even exploratory drilling could fracture the already thin chalk and therefore chemicals could leak into the water supply.

We are very much looking forward to similar insights from our local and national political representatives.

The Blackpool Gazette brings fracking to the fore

On Thursday 3rd October we read an editorial in the Blackpool Gazette which summed up a lot of how we believe local people feel about fracking. It was a reaction to the premature and arrogant statement by Prime Minister, David Cameron, that he wanted Blackpool to become the European capital of fracking.

We are reproducing it here because we feel it is well worth a read.

You can see it and the accompanying article here


Is arrogance behind our Frackpool rebranding?

So Blackpool is set to become the European capital of the shale gas industry is it?

Funny, I don’t ever remember the Prime Minister asking us residents before he decided to erect a new sign post at the end of the M55.

It appears David Cameron has got so far ahead of himself in his love affair with fracking that he is now declaring open season on rural Fylde’s rich shale gas potential.

“With its resources under the ground, let us make Blackpool the centre of Europe for the shale gas industry,” he told yesterday’s Tory Party conference.

Excuse me Prime Minister, who exactly are the “us” you talk of when rebranding the Fylde as New Aberdeen.

Maybe he was playing to the Manchester conference crowd, given the less than flattering remarks by one Tory peer who recently described life up here as the “desolate north”.

Or perhaps he genuinely believes the residents of South Fylde are as excited by shale gas as he is.

Sadly, as usual, when the highly contentious issue of shale gas and fracking is condensed into a soundbite nobody mentions the key issues residents here are asking, and none more so than that of regulation.

Over recent months we have heard all the rhetoric of “gold standard” regulation, but nobody in government is actually coming forward to explain exactly what that is.

There is little doubt some see shale gas as a key part of this country’s future energy make-up.

There are plenty who say it is safe, others armed with studies from around the world who vehemently argue against it.

The truth is that the jury on the reported risks versus the potential cash benefits is still well and truly out.

But what David Cameron has done in his speech yesterday is do nothing but raise the fears of those who feel they have not been given enough information or answers on either the scale of the industrialisation or how it will be policed, if indeed it is even given the go ahead.

At present shale gas firm Cuadrilla does not have permission to frack at any of its Fylde coast sites.

That has to be approved by Lancashire County Council.

It appears – given yesterday’s rebranding of Blackpool as the “European centre of shale” – this crucial local approval is seen as nothing more than a box ticking exercise by those in Westminster – even before we get to read a single Environmental Impact Assessment.

Given local councils are increasingly losing the power to decline rural housing developments, what chance of turning down a gas boom?

Wherever you stand on the issue, the people of the Fylde coast deserve better than such arrogance – we certainly deserve better than being used as a cheap conference one liner which could have major and lasting implications.

Cuadrilla abandon Anna’s Road

We have learned that Cuadrilla plan to permanently abandon their site at Anna’s Road. It seems that they would like us to believe that their concern for over-wintering birds is so great that they are prepared to forgo the rewards from the commercial exploitation of the site.

We are, of course, aware that Cuadrilla have experienced various technical issues at their site at Anna’s Road, (as they seem to have done nearly every time they have drilled so far) and that this well was effectively abandoned some time ago.

It is worth noting that the site was very visible and close to local population centres in Lytham and St Annes, and so it could easily have become a focal point for protests of the type we saw taking place in Balcombe.

It comes as no surprise to us that they have decided to cut their losses and discontinue operations there.

Defend Lytham have always maintained that the site is totally inappropriate for a shale gas development given its proximity to housing and the inadequacy of the local infrastructure. We would point out though that with over 100 well pads needed to produce the volumes of gas claimed, every site developed will inevitably be near a populated area. This is just one skirmish in what may well prove to be a long war.

We are not sure how seriously we are expected to take Cuadrilla’s suggestion that they have decided to cease operations to protect over wintering birds. It sounds rather preposterous, given that by drilling past the time specified in the planning permission for the Banks site near Southport in Winter of 2011, they had failed to meet a key condition to safeguard bird life from the adjacent Ribble Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest. Perhaps they have forgotten that already?

We would of course be interested to know what the real reason for this abandonment is.

Defend Lytham’s Reaction to David Cameron’s Conference Speech Today

David Cameron said in his closing conference speech today “With its resources under the ground, let’s make Blackpool the centre of Europe for the shale gas industry.

Defend Lytham can understand why, after recent comments made by his ministers, Mr Cameron would want to try to persuade the “desolate” and “unloved” North West that he really does have our interests at heart, but this suggestion is totally unconvincing. The idea that Blackpool could become some sort of new Aberdeen is as fantastical and baseless as Mr Cameron’s recent claims that shale gas will reduce our domestic energy prices.

The reality is that any economic stimulus from the shale gas industry for Blackpool and the Fylde would be very short time and most of the employment opportunities would be for a small number of skilled workers imported from abroad.

The real thrust of what he wants for the shale gas industry can be found elsewhere in his speech “Regulation – down” and “Taxes – cut for businesses”. Nowhere in his speech did we hear about any concern for the blight which shale gas exploitation will inevitably bring to local communities.

Mark Menzies – Defend Lytham ask him for answers on shale gas

Mark Menzies MP

Mark Menzies MP

Defend Lytham has sent a list of 38 questions relating to shale gas extraction to local MP Mark Menzies and will publish his responses on our web site.

The extensive list of questions can be found at


John Hobson of Defend Lytham commented :

“ Shale gas operations in the UK are being forced through at breakneck speed, with little concern for regulation, and it is time we started to see exactly where our local and national politicians stand on this issue. We hope that Mr Menzies responses will give us all the reassurance that we need.”

Update 26/9/13

It seems from today’s LSE that Mark Menzies has received our list of questions

“A spokesman for Mr Menzies’ office confirmed the letter had been received and would be answered directly”

We look forward very much to receiving some reassuring answers!

Nice to see some balanced reporting

In today’s Lytham St Annes Express our letter commenting on Councillor Armit’s letter was published – slightly edited down, but it had been a detailed response.

Immediately after it (in the interests of balance we imagine) was a letter from our old friend David Haythornthwaite.

It was quite bizarre to read his comments as David, as many of you will know, was once the vice-chairman of Defend Lytham!

Now it seems David has done all the Defending he thinks is necessary and is pushing fracking with every letter he writes to the local press. (And he has written several).

It’s ironic that not very long ago he was using the threat of letting the site at Greenlands Farm be used for fracking (or David’s other bête noire – “social housing” ) as a means of getting approval for his football ground!

Greenlands farm

Greenlands farm

But that’s in the past, and as we can see, things and people change.

Now David is hoping we all get behind “the project” so we don’t miss this “golden opportunity”.

It does seem peculiar that somebody can spend two years complaining about the impact of a housing development on the town and then ignore the incalculably greater negative impact that fracking will have.

It’s like complaining about a wasp’s nest and ignoring the articulated lorry which is about to run you over from behind.

We do hope he wakes up before it’s too late!


Urgent Action – Proposed dilution of planning law

The government is proposing changes to existing planning regulations which would mean that the requirement to alert property owners, at the planning application stage, when their property may be undermined by hydraulic fracturing operations would disappear.

You can find details of the proposals by following this link

A template for an objection letter is provided below, but it is always best if you can remodel it slightly before sending

Dear Sir / Madam

I am writing to point out that your proposal to “amend the notice requirements for applications for planning permission for under ground oil and gas operation” by removing the notice requirement “for owners of land beyond this area ie the owners of land where solely underground operations may take place. ” is at odds with the law.

You will I trust be aware that any drilling under an individual’s property without consent constitutes trespass. The relevant case law can be found in “Bocardo Ltd v Star Energy Weald Basin Ltd”. I fail to see how that consent can be gained unless the applicant is made to make the interested party aware of the intention to drill. By removing this requirement you would effectively be abetting trespass.

Equally, it is essential for local communities know with reasonable accuracy where drilling takes place in order to monitor and measure impacts. Whilst having to be precise about their plans maybe slightly onerous for the drilling companies that is really no reason to propose the relaxation of necessary legislation / regulation.

Name : Adress : Date:

The opportunity to comment on these proposals is aimed primarily at developers and local authorities because of the technical content, but will have wider interest.

This paper was published on Monday 2 September 2013. We would welcome your views by Friday 14 October 2013.

Please send your views by e-mail to oil.gas@communities.gsi.gov.uk, or on survey monkey at:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TYN2ZJQ

Alternatively, paper communications should be sent to:

Planning Infrastructure and Environment Division
Department for Communities and Local Government
1/J6, Eland House
Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

Frack Free Lancashire

Fracking In the UK

Fracking The UK

If you want to learn about fracking this book comes highly recommended!

"Untrustworthy, unbalanced and potentially brain washing." - Amazon Review - Yes the industry hates this book that much :-)