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Cuadrilla apply for deferral of crucial LCC DCC meeting

Defend Lytham are not surprised to hear that Cuadrilla have requested a deferral in the determination of their planning applications. No doubt they are uncomfortable about LCC councillors deciding the fate of their exploration wells in a week where the former Conservative Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman has called for a moratorium on shale gas exploration, citing concerns over climate impact, and when the fracking related proposals in the Government’s hugely unpopular Infrastructure Bill will be coming under intense scrutiny.

It is hard to understand how, having failed to satisfy the planning officers in the first instance they now expect to be allowed back for a second bite of the cherry, and we note that whilst they claim to be able to reduce the noise from their activities to a level no greater than 37dB, they appear to have had problems in Balcombe (1) keeping to the 42 Db limit imposed by the council there, and had to stop work whilst this was investigated.

We also have some serious concerns over the other impact issues with which the Planning Officers declared themselves satisfied, and we would like to raise a question as to whether some of the assumptions made in the Report are in fact acceptable under the National Planning Policy Framework.

Any deferral of this meeting will be hugely inconvenient to a large number of people, including the Councillors on the Development Control Committee and those who have arranged to speak to the various issues at the meeting. Unless Cuadrilla can come up with an altogether more convincing explanation we can see no reason why the meeting should not go ahead as originally planned

LCC planners recommend refusal for Cuadrilla Permits

Today planning officers at Lancashire County Council published their long awaited recommendations on Cuadrilla’s applications to extract shale gas at their proposed sites at Roseacre and Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The planners cited unacceptable noise and traffic impacts as the reasons for their recommendations

Edward Cook from Defend Lytham commented: “We are delighted that the council’s officers have seen sense and recommended these developments for refusal, although we are more than a little surprised that the other serious concerns expressed by the more than 27,000 people who wrote in to object, appear to have been dismissed.

These concerns are around impacts on air quality, archaeology and cultural heritage, greenhouse gas emissions, community and socio economics, ecology, hydrogeology and ground gas, induced seismicity and subsidence, land use, landscape and visual amenity, lighting, resources and waste, water resources ad public health.

Defend Lytham welcome this decision and trust that political pressure from central government will not be brought to bear on LCC councillors to vote against the recommendations of their own officers next week”

Cuadrilla, Permits and the EA

Today the Environment Agency finally granted Cuadrilla their environmental permit which was need to allow them to extract shale gas at their proposed site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The Environment Agency had made it clear last November that they were minded to grant Cuadrilla the environmental permits needed to carry out their operations so this news comes as no surprise.

In the Environment Agency’s Press Release we read that:

Steve Molyneux, Environment Manager for Lancashire, said:
“After completing a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s application and the public consultation responses, we are confident the permits issued will ensure people and the environment are protected. The right controls are in place to manage waste and the flaring of gas safely, and protect local water resources. We value the feedback received during the public consultation and will continue to work with the local community. Should Cuadrilla begin exploration, we will ensure the permit conditions are enforced.”

We have serious concerns about Mr Molyneux’s ability to ensure that the lengthy permit conditions are in fact enforced. The EA’s ability to do so is highly questionable given the recent decimation of staff as a result of the 15% budget cuts at the environment agency in 2013.

As a result it is likely that we will have to rely on Cuadrilla complying with these regulations voluntarily – effectively marking their own homework – at a time when the financial pressure on the shale gas companies is increasing with every downward lurch of the price of oil.

Defend Lytham are worried that financial pressure may lead to corners being cut (as happened in the Gulf of Mexico disaster).

Cuadrilla’s previous track record on complying with regulations at Banks near Southport and in Balcombe does not inspire much confidence.

Defend Lytham on NOS Nieuwsuur

This week Defend Lytham were delighted to host Arjen van der Horst, the UK correspondent for NOS, the Dutch national TV station. He contacted us after hearing about our public meeting and we were able to take him on a tour of the local area and introduce him to local people for interview.

A lot of the very interesting material he filmed inevitably didn’t make it into the final 7 minute film that went out on Friday night. Various interviews with local residents remain on the cutting room floor, as does the visit they made at Cuadrilla’s invitation to Elswick to see a “representative” well, but we think that the end result is very interesting.

Here is what the trailer for the segment said

The absolutely enormous reserves of shale gas beneath Great Britain are twice as large as has been thought until now. That is good news for the industry but, as in the USA and in the Netherlands, opposition in Great Britain is on the rise. Or are we on the verge of a new gas and oil bonanza in Western Europe?

New reserves

The reserves of shale gas beneath Great Britain are twice as large as has been thought until now, states a study by the British Geological Survey conducted on behalf of the British government. That is good news for British industry, which is facing the depletion of gas and oil reserves in the North Sea.

Above all, that is good news for Cuadrilla, the only company engaged in trial drilling in Great Britain. Cuadrilla hopes to start fracking operations in the Netherlands and it has already obtained permits for two exploratory drilling operations. But the company’s operations in England are certainly controversial.

Peace and calm shattered

Lytham is an idyllic village in Lancashire, a coastal area in the north-west of England. On the outskirts of the village, there is a large agricultural and nature area, where the peace and calm was shattered when the Cuadrilla rigs arrived. According to the company, sites like this can supply the United Kingdom with gas for decades to come.

Ecological impact.

But the local inhabitants in Lytham are more concerned about their safety than about high energy bills. In 2011, trial drilling by Cuadrilla resulted in two earthquakes. Experts in the gas industry believe that the implications are far-reaching.

To recover shale gas, Cuadrilla have to pump millions of litres of water into the ground under high pressure and cattle farmers like Andy Pemberton are very concerned about the possible impact on groundwater. Particularly in marshy Lancashire.

We think that local farmer Andy Pemberton’s obviously heartfelt comments sum up the situation really well.

We couldn’t help being struck though by the comments made by Mr Egan on camera

“The ground water issue is really about the well construction , how well.. , well integrity as it’s called, well construction. There have been over 2,000 wells built onshore in the UK and a well drilled for conventional oil and gas is no different than a well drilled for shale oil and gas. It’s the same techniques that you use. Now of those 2000 wells I don’t think there is a single case of water contamination in the UK. If it’s done properly in a properly regulated environment we can do this in the UK and I’m sure it can be done in Holland. We have the experience from the North Sea and the Dutch sector of the North Sea to do it.”

Did he really say “a well drilled for conventional oil and gas is no different from a well drilled for shale”? He did didn’t he?

Is he really suggesting that the 2,000 conventional wells he refers to are a valid comparison with multi-lateral horizontal High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing when it comes to the possibility of water contamination? He is isn’t he?


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 :-)