Scrap Fracking UK Wide: Petition ends Friday

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CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

A petition calling on the government to scrap fracking across the UK, currently stands at a little over 42,800 signatures. The petition, which ends on Friday needs 100,000 signatures to stand a chance of being debated in parliament.

Please sign the petition and share it far and wide, with friends, family, neighbours and colleagues and ask them to sign and share too. Lets do all that we can to get this petition over the line.

CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

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‘Driffield and wolds must be informed on fracking’

This story originally appeared in Driffield Times & Post.

Driffield

A member of a newly established campaign group said more Driffield and Wolds residents need to be aware of fracking developments.

Ahead of a planned public awareness meeting next week in Driffield, Catherine Lodge, of Beverley Road, Wetwang, said she hopes the event will better inform residents.

Catherine, who is a member of the group Frack Free Driffield and the Wolds, said: “ We are delighted to welcome two speakers who have spent a huge amount of time and effort into researching fracking and its health and social implications.

“We hope that the talks will help to inform people in the Driffield and Wolds area, who may not be aware of how great the impact of this industry will be.”

The group are concerned about a recent licence 
allocations to energy firm Cuadrilla, who want to explore for shale gas underneath 
Driffield and the Wolds, 
extending as far North as Filey.

The meeting will take place at the Old Town Hall, the Bell Hotel on Market Place from 7.30pm next Friday (January 22).

Speakers on the evening will include North Yorkshire GP Dr Tim Thornton and Rev Graham Cray – Honorary 
Assistant Bishop at the 
Diocese of York.

Dr Thornton, a North Yorkshire MP of 30 years, will talk about the basics of fracking and “its potential risks to human and animal health”.

He has been frequently interviewed by the national press and has also appeared on Look North, Channel 4, ITC and Radio Europe.

Rev Cray, an honorary assistant Bishop at the Diocese of York, will talk about his time spent in Pennsylvania in the US, where citizens have been “severely affected by fracking”.

More than 100 people are expected to turn up to the event after a similar evening was held at Driffield Community Hall in November.For more information visit www.frackfreeeastyorkshire.com.

Beauty spots at risk in Wakefield district, say anti-fracking campaigners

This story originally appeared in the Wakefield Express.

New licences have been handed out to fracking companies to explore for shale gas across the district.

Wakefield

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences have been issued by the government to fracking firms, which mean they could in future drill to look for shale gas in parts of Wakefield, Pontefract, Castleford and the south east.

Anti-fracking campaigners say it is “the biggest threat the district has ever faced”, with the possibility of drilling at beauty spots and nature reserves like Pugneys Country Park, Newmillerdam and Anglers Country Park.

The licences give companies the right to explore for oil and gas, but they would need to seek planning permission and pass a series of safety and regulatory checks before drilling.

Yvonne Siddal, co-ordinator at Frack Free Wakefield, said: “Licences being awarded means fracking is coming and we have to take action.

“The countryside around Wakefield is really pretty, it’s lovely. Do we want that ruined? My concern is also the health risk because it can contaminate water and food supplies.

“We will be campaigning heavily over the next few months – this is the biggest fight of my life and the greatest threat this district has ever faced.”

The licences, handed out to successful applicants in the Oil and Gas Authority’s latest round of licensing on December 17, grant exclusivity for drilling company IGas Energy PLC to explore two separate areas – also known as blocks – in the district.

One block in Wakefield covers Walton, Wintersett, Notton, Woolley, Newmillerdam, Chapelthorpe, Crigglestone, Sandal and Crofton and another block in the south east covers Hemsworth, Kinsley, Fitzwilliam, Ackworth, Thorpe Audlin, North Elmsall, South Elmsall, Upton and East Hardwick.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said: “I am very sceptical about fracking. Constituents have already contacted me about the potential impact fracking could have on the environment and on watercourses.

“I shall be contacting local parish and town councils with the aim of starting a campaign to carefully scrutinise every line in these applications.”

Hutton Energy PLC has also been awarded two exploration licences including one block in Wakefield covering Normanton, Altofts, Stanley, Outwood, Lofthouse, East Ardsley, Robin Hood, Woodlesford, Methley and Rothwell.

It was also handed a licence for another block covering Castleford, New Fryston, Ferrybridge, Featherstone, Ackton, Allerton Bywater, Pontefract and parts of Knottingley.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said: “Fracking has the potential to create over 64,000 skilled jobs in Britain and to give us a secure gas supply. However the planning process for fracking needs robust regulation to ensure that our beautiful local landscape is protected.”

Wakefield Council said it had not received any applications for fracking or test drilling at this stage.

Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “I have stated before that, personally, I am against fracking and I know, from when I started the debate about this in my Express column last year, that I share the view of many other people in the district.

“So far, we have received no applications for test drilling or fracking, however, if we do, the applicant must seek formal planning approval from the council.

“As part of this process the committee will scrutinise the environmental impact of any application and people would get the chance to comment.

“I can assure you that, if we ever reach this stage, you can make your voices heard and we will listen.”

Licences for a total of 159 blocks were handed out to fracking companies across the UK during the gas and oil regulator’s latest licensing round.

Chairman of Friends of Newmillerdam, Jeff Stimpson, said: “I can see no justification for fracking in any area like Newmillerdam.

“The area is absolutely beautiful and it would destroy it, we completely oppose fracking and we will use all the means we have available to campaign against it here.”

A spokeswoman for IGas said the company has no immediate plans to start work until its licence is formally issued in spring.

She said the company would work with communities to minimise environmental impacts.

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “Round here we’ve a long history of energy generation and real expertise as part of our coal mining history. But that’s why we urgently need far more information – because there are real concerns about the environmental consequences, and I am very concerned that proper safeguards aren’t in place.”

Planners recommend IGas monitoring boreholes for Misson shale site

This story by Ruth Hayhurst originally appeared on Drill or Drop.

Councillors are being recommended to approve IGas’s plan for up to 12 groundwater monitoring boreholes at a proposed shale gas site in north Nottinghamshire.

Plan of the proposed site. Scale 1:20,000

Plan of the proposed site. Scale 1:20,000

The application, which goes before the county council’s planning committee next week (Tuesday 19th January), is the first step towards fracking at the former Cold War missile base near the village of Misson.

There have been more than 300 objections to the application. Concerns included risk to local heritage, as well as contamination and noise.

There have been doubts about whether the proposed boreholes would produce useful data. And some objectors have argued that the plans should be considered at the same time as a separate IGas application for two exploratory shale gas wells. Approving the monitoring boreholes would, they said, amount to pre-determination of the exploration application.

A report by planning officers, which will go before the committee meeting, concluded that the application should be approved. The application complied with planning policies, the planners said, and no adverse impacts significantly outweighed the benefits.

This could be one of the last times a planning authority decides an application for ground monitoring boreholes. The government proposes to make these boreholes a permitted development that don’t need planning permission.

Background

The site off Springs Road is about 3km from the centre of Misson. During the 1960s it was the launch site for the mark 1 Bloodhound surface-to-air guided missile. It is next to the fenland area of Misson Carr Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and within 2km of two other SSSIs.

IGas has no current applications to frack at the site. But its website makes clear that if it gets permission for two exploratory shale gas wells (application ES/3379) and they are successful it will apply to frack.

The application is for up to 12 boreholes, with three each at four different locations. Four boreholes would be drilled to depths of up to 40m into Nottingham Castle sandstone, another four to depths of up to 10m into sand and gravels and the final four down to 3m into marls and clays.

According to the application, the drilling and installation of each set of boreholes would take up to two weeks and total drilling would last up to eight weeks. Drilling would be carried out between 7am and 7pm on weekdays. Access to the site would be off Springs Road.

The nearest property is 30m away but this is unoccupied and described as “in the control of IGas”. The next nearest property is about 130m away.

Under the Infrastructure Act 2015, IGas is required to monitor methane in groundwater for 12 months before carrying out hydraulic fracturing. The planners’ report said:

“The proposed groundwater monitoring boreholes are not exclusively proposed for, but would assist in, meeting the identified requirement of the Infrastructure Act”.

Concerns

The planners said there had been 314 public objections to the application. Misson and Blaxton parish councils objected and CPRE Nottinghamshire recommended refusal.

Drilling the boreholes The parish councils and others said the depths of boreholes and their locations were inadequate to provide confident and comprehensive data.

Yorkshire Water said its drinking water boreholes in the Sherwood Sandstone Group were between 144m and 175m deep. It recommended the monitoring boreholes should be at least 150m deep. Emeritus professor David Smythe recommended boreholes at least 1,500m deep and some should be at least 1.5km away from the site.

The Environment Agency did not object to the application but it also recommended deeper groundwater monitoring, through the entire thickness of the Nottingham Castle sandstone principle aquifer. It told Nottinghamshire County Council that in the absence of data, the EA would assume the groundwater was clean and uncontaminated. If it deteriorated following future exploratory drilling IGas could be liable for cleaning it up. The planners said:

“Consideration will have to be given on whether the boreholes truly reflect up-gradient and down-gradient conditions after a period of groundwater monitoring has taken place”.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust questioned whether work on the boreholes could be completed within the eight weeks claimed.

Pre-determination 145 objections argued that the application made no sense as a stand-alone consent. They said if the monitoring boreholes were approved in advance of an application for shale gas exploration this would amount to pre-determination.

Heritage The parish councils said IGas had not considered the heritage value of the missile site and the impact of the application on archaeological features, such as crop marks. Historic England, which did not object, said there was an important historic landscape relationship between the site and the Cold War bomber base at Finningley. “Due care” should be taken to avoid damage, it said.

Contaminated land IGas had commissioned 10 test pits on the site. These revealed above recommended levels of phosphorous, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) and metals. Asbestos was also detected. Some objectors said the disturbance of the site would be an unacceptable risk to site employees and visitors to the nearby SSSI. Some objectors pointed to an inconsistency in the planning application form which said there was “no known contamination on the site” while reports supporting the application indicated that there was.

Noise Bassetlaw District Council, which did not object to the application, said 7am was too early a start time and recommended 8am. The local MP, John Mann, said the site was too close to Misson and nearby dwellings. He said fracking locations should be more remote.

Wildlife Objections included no assessment of the potential impacts of the boreholes on great crested newt, water vole and breeding birds. The site is within 2km of 12 local wildlife sites and three SSSIs. Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust said it was raising water levels in the Misson Carr SSSI and there had been no assessment in the application of the impact on hydrology. Noise levels at Misson Carr were likely to be above 55dba which can deter bird breeding.

Other concerns

  • Ground and surface water contamination
  • Risks of spillage of transported chemicals and waste
  • Impact of water extraction on local hydrology
  • General opposition to fracking (mentioned in 144 objections)
  • Risk of vibration detonating unexploded ordnance: Misson was a war-time decoy runway for RAF Finningley
  • Industrialisation of the countryside and adverse impact on tourism
  • Light and air pollution
  • Previous unacceptable performance of IGas and Dart Energy
  • Late submission of additional information and failure of IGas to inform the community liaison group about these details
  • Cumulative impact of other sites
  • Flooding

What the planners said

The planners’ report said there were three comments in support of the application. The supporters said there was a need to exploit all home-grown resources to meet energy needs and that drilling would be suitably managed and monitored.

In response to objections, the planners said:

Boreholes “If the Environment Agency do decide that additional and/or deeper boreholes are necessary, that does not make the ones that are under consideration now, unacceptable. Whilst there may be a need for additional and/or deeper monitoring boreholes, this is not a reason for those proposed thus far to be refused”.

Predetermination “Approval of this application will not prejudice the MPA’s [Mineral Planning Authority’s] ability to determine future applications.”

Heritage: The boreholes were outside the area of the site which contained the remains of the 16 missile launch pads and so would not cause direct harm. The planners said:

“The proposal would have no direct impact on the missile pads and any impact on potential archaeology would be minimal.”

“The proposed development is assessed as outweighing the significance of the missile pads as a non-designated heritage asset”.

But they recommended archaeological supervision of the drilling work.

Contamination “The proposed development is a suitable land use and there would not be an unacceptable risk to groundwater, surface water and human health”. The report said the boreholes would be not be on the missile pads where there were higher levels of contamination. The planning authority should assume that the regulatory regimes operated by the Environment Agency and others to protect human health “will operate effectively”.

Noise The noise from drilling was “within acceptable noise limits for temporary operations”, the planners said. Once the boreholes had been drilled there would be no perceptible noise. They added that short duration and temporary nature of the works allowed the proposed development to comply with national guidance.

Wildlife There were no objections from Natural England or Nottinghamshire County Council. The planners said:

“Where there are differing views between ecological bodies the Minerals Planning Authority is entitled to take the recommendation of the statutory body [Natural England]”.

They concluded there would be no unacceptable impact on the SSSIs or the local wildlife site ditch network and the application complied with planning policy and legislation.

Flooding: Low risk of flooding from the River Idle, nearby drainage ditches, artificial water bodies or from surface water.

Planning policy The planners said it was a material consideration that counted in favour of the application that the government proposed to make monitoring boreholes a permitted development, without the need for planning permission. They said monitoring boreholes were not covered by the Nottinghamshire Minerals Local Plan, either the adopted version or the one in preparation. They were also not covered by paragraph 144 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which gives great weight to the benefits of mineral extraction. The application met the requirements of the Bassetlaw Core Strategy policy DM3 on the reuse of previously-developed land.

Landscape Three of the four borehole locations would be screened by large industrial buildings. The drilling rig, likely to be 5.5m high, and the proposed welfare unit were not in keeping with the wider countryside character but they would be temporary and have a minor impact.

Traffic There would be two lorry journeys: one to bring in the rig and one to remove it. Local roads could accommodate heavy traffic but the planners recommended avoiding Misson.

IGas The report said the previous performance of IGas or Dart Energy would not be considered in deciding the application. It added there was no statutory requirement on IGas to inform the community liaison group.

Proposed conditions

The planners recommended 21 conditions. These included:

  1. Work must start within three years and be completed within five years of the start date
  2. Boreholes should be no deeper than 40m
  3. The height of the drilling rig shall not exceed 10m
  4. Lorries visiting or leaving the site should avoid Misson
  5. Boreholes should be cleared of unexploded ordnance before drilling starts
  6. Noise shall not exceed 91Dba at a distance of 7m
  7. No one can live in Misson Springs Cottage (the nearest property) during drilling
  8. No boreholes should be drilled within 155m of the nearest occupied property
  9. Work should be between 7am and 7pm on weekdays only
  10. No drilling, vegetation clearance or restoration between 1st April and 1st September in any year
  11. Agreed plans for archaeological watch brief
  12. Work to follow Great Crested Newt precautionary working method statement

Decision meeting

The planning committee meets at 10.30am on 19th January 2016 at County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7QP.

Link to application

Link to planners’ report

Poland’s shale gas revolution evaporates in face of environmental protests

This story by Arthur Neslen originally appeared in The Guardian.

Fear and loathing stalk Poland’s shale fields, where a 400-day site occupation stopped a Chevron drill earlier this year

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Whenever Chevron organised anything, we demonstrated,” said Barbara Siegienczuk, 54, one of the leaders of the local anti-shale gas protest group Green Zurawlow in south-eastern Poland. “We made banners and placards and put posters up around the village. Only 96 people live in Zurawlow – children and old people included – but we stopped Chevron!”

For 400 days, farmers and their families from Zurawlow and four nearby villages blockaded a proposed Chevron shale drilling site with tractors and agricultural machinery. Eventually, in July, the company abandoned its plans.

The Zurawlow blockade influenced the UK’s anti-fracking protests at Balcombe in the summer of 2013, and similar battles have flared across Poland since the country became Europe’s front line for shale gas exploration.

A soon-to-be-updated study by the Polish Geological Institute in March 2012 estimated that recoverable shale gas volumes under the country at between 346bn and 768bn cubic metres – the third biggest in Europe and enough to supply the country’s gas needs for between 35 and 65 years.

Bordering volatile Ukraine and heavily reliant on gas from Putin’s Russia, the promise of secure domestically-produced energy made politicians sit up. A year earlier, in September 2011, the country’s then-prime minister Donald Tusk made a bold claim that the shale industry would begin commercial drilling in 2014.

“After years of dependence on our large neighbour (Russia), today we can say that my generation will see the day when we will be independent in the area of natural gas and we will be setting terms,” he said, adding that well conducted exploration, “would not pose a danger to the environment.”

But things haven’t turned out that way. Plans for a shale gas-fuelled economic revival appear to be evaporating as test wells have not performed as expected or have suffered regulatory delays. Foreign investors have pulled out and sustained environmental protests like that in Zurawlow have hampered drilling plans.

Officials privately talk of the shale experiment as a ‘disaster’.

In September, 3Legs Resources became the latest firm to call a halt on investments after disappointing results. Six weeks before, its chief financial officer, Alex Fraser, had said they were “potentially on the threshold of a very significant result,” involving “potentially hundreds of wells”.

“Companies’ expectations were very high and now we learn that this is a long term process,” said Pawel Mikusek, a spokesman for Poland’s environment ministry. “The experience of the US is that it also took a long time to reach industrial use – 10-15 years – so we need to be more patient. We don’t have such high expectations as two or three years ago.”

But with falling oil prices, continued supplies of cheap coal and EU pressure to increase cost-competitive renewable power generation, the shale gas industry needs positive results fast, and less controversy. 2015 will be a “pivotal” year for the Polish industry, according to industry group Shale Gas Europe.

Multi-billion dollar tax incentives are in the pipeline and a new law should soon speed up permitting processes that can take years. But this has already sparked an EU legal action for allowing firms to drill at depths of up to 5,000m without first assessing environmental risks.

Seven of the 11 multinationals which invested in Poland – including Exxon, Talisman and Marathon – have already pulled out, citing permit delays and disappointing results. Most shale activity is now being led by Poland’s state-controlled PGNiG, and by Orlen and Lotos.

Just 66 wells have been drilled to date – 12 involving horizontal fracking – and permits for a further 27 drills were put on hold in the southeastern Tomaszów Lubelski region last month, pending the outcome of a lengthy inquiry.

Analysts blame regulatory hold-ups for fraying investors nerves, but in Tomaszów Lubelski, which is home to a forest protected under Europe’s gold-standard ‘Natura 2000’ scheme and a proposed Unesco biosphere, environmental protestors claim credit for throwing a pitchfork in the industry’s wheels.

Poland’s environment ministry says that shale gas is hugely popular but mobilisations against it were impressive and fuelled by claims that damage had already been done.

“Roads were damaged and destroyed when seismic tests were done with heavy machinery,” said Slawomir Damiluk, 50, a farmer in nearby Rogow. “The fact is that people’s houses had cracks in their walls afterwards. When Chevron tried to start up with their machinery, I was one who was involved. We blocked the entry roads.”

Supported by urban greens, anarchists, squatters and vegans, villagers set up a colourful protest camp – complete with a cinema, online live-streaming, samba bands and installation art – and occupied the site around the clock.

“The women who lived here began learning how to cook without meat because during the protest we had agreed that nobody would go hungry,” Siegienczuk said. “We opened our minds and hearts to people who looked and ate differently, from another culture.”

Dozens of activists are still facing a criminal lawsuit filed by Chevron, and many more were filmed by mystery cameramen whose stills were used in subsequent court cases. Siegienczuk believes that her phone was tapped.

“Once, I heard several people talking on the line and a male voice asked ‘are we going to tap this woman’s phone too?’ I was terrified and passed my phone to other protestors who heard the same voices. After that, my mobile phone turned off,” she said.

Sally Jones, a spokesperson for Chevron, told the Guardian: “Chevron respects the right of individuals to express their opinions, however it should be done within the law. Chevron remains committed to building constructive and positive relationships with the communities where we operate.”

But local people in the area covered by Chevron’s concession, claim that such relationships went beyond what might be reasonably termed constructive.

Villagers allege that one woman whose water well became polluted at the same time that seismic tests were being conducted in the area received a building renovation paid for by Chevron, and promptly stopped complaining about the issue.

Shortly after that, a local protest leader dropped out of the movement and took up work as a Chevron security guard, leading to accusations that he had been bought off.

Wojciech Zukowski, the recently re-elected mayor of Tomaszów Lubelski town, in Poland’s southeast, said that he saw no conflict of interest in accepting private or public gifts from multinationals. “I’m not trying to hide that some forms of sponsoring and support takes place here,” he told the Guardian.

“We are open for it,” he said, adding that a town sports club with 250 members would benefit from corporate sponsorship.

Chevron declined to respond to the villagers’ claims but insisted that “we comply with laws and regulations in all counties we do business in.”

The company has donated to several charities in the US and Romania, where it has also invested in shale exploration. In southeast Poland, it has provided charity services to villages at Christmas and offered gifts to residents’ children such as fluffy tigers carrying Chevron logos, and sweets.

“We demonstrate our commitment to the communities where we operate by creating jobs, employing local workforces, and developing and sourcing from local suppliers,” a company statement said.

The Tomaszów Lubelski district has been hard-hit by unemployment and jobs have been a key persuader for the industry.

Close to the exploratory shale drill in nearby Susiec, Jacek, a 40-year-old shop worker said that the shale gas plans “are going to be good as there will be jobs for us and gas will be cheaper. It’s a jobs issue. Possibly my kids might have jobs there.”

The town’s pro-shale mayor ran a campaign on the economic benefits that shale gas could offer the depressed town, hanging a ‘Putinologists – bugger off!’ banner in the town square. But in a regional trend, he was deposed in favour of a more shale-sceptic opponent in November, who advanced an alternative geothermal energy-based plan.

“We don’t need shale gas,” said Maria, a 39-year-old worker in the same store as Jacek. “It’s one big scam. Nobody informed us about what’s happening. The ex-mayor was useless. He just promised work for everyone but there was nothing. We are not going to work on the well. The people who have agro-tourism businesses know that it’s not beneficial as the environment will be destroyed and people won’t come here anymore.”

On the Natura 2000 site that borders the Susiec well, Narnia-style pine tree forests are frosted in ice and snow. Roe deers and eagles flit in and out of the fog like phantoms. But at the fence marking the shale well, the deer tracks abruptly stop and double back on themselves.

Fears that one of Poland’s last remaining redoubts of biodversity could be damaged have mobilised local feeling, as polarisation and bitterness have spread across the Tomaszów Lubelski district. Zukowski suggested that village protesters were being manipulated by dark forces.

“It could be said that their actions were inspired by the government of Mr Putin,” he said. “I don’t have such knowledge but [the protests] went hand in hand with the Kremlin’s intentions. Gas and oil are a useful tool for Russia to get involved in other countries’ energy security. It is a proxy to pressure authorities to take certain decisions along the Kremlin’s lines. It is like a political secret. Everyone knows it but no-one wants to name it.”

Jones at Chevron described such claims as speculation. But similar accusations have been levelled by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of Nato, and by pro-shale officials in Romania and Lithuania, as cold war-style tensions have ratcheted.

Even the patriotic case for pressing ahead with shale gas has been dented by claims from campaigners in Pomerania that toxic waste from shale drills was dumped in a rural stream.

Environmentalists believe that water tainted by shale salts may have entered the Radunia river used for supplying water to Gdansk, the birthplace of Poland’s Solidarity movement.

In November, the French water company, Veolia, was ordered to stop processing shale effluent in a nearby water purification centre because of permitting infractions.

The Polish environment ministry denies that Gdansk’s drinking water was ever put at risk, but such allegations undercut the energy independence case for shale gas, and feed nationalist objections. “The people of Zurawlow might have liked shale gas investment but the issue was these were Americans,” Damiluk said. “We don’t want foreign investors on a land that belongs to us.”

Chevron, the last of the big multinational shale investors is still holding on to its sole concession in Zwierzyniec, which was extended for a year in December. However, the decision’s small print limits future drilling to a small parcel of land the company has already explored.

“If Chevron’s partner PGNiG wins permission to drill in Tomaszów Lubelski, I hope the people there will use the same tactics to block new drills that we did,” Siegienczuk said. “We are open and ready to give any support we can.”

 

Councillors’ solidarity bid against fracking plan

TRAFFORD councillors have condemned the decision to award an exploratory fracking licence in the borough – and is calling on the council to ‘uphold’ its opposition to controversial gas exploration.

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Trafford Labour Party said it is deeply concerned that the Government’s Oil and Gas Authority has awarded a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) to the company Ineos covering much of the south of Trafford.

The licence is the first step towards fracking taking place in Trafford and opens up the possibility of a planning application for fracking to begin in areas such as Altrincham, Bowdon, Broadheath, Hale and Timperley.

Broadheath councillor Denise Western, the majority of whose ward falls within the licence area, said: “The Labour group is extremely concerned by the decision to award this licence. I have already been contacted by a number of residents really worried about what this will mean for the area.

“They are concerned about the safety of the process, the decision to award the licence in what is a highly populated area, and the potential impact on house prices.

“Everything I have read tells me that the technology is unproven and I absolutely cannot support fracking taking place in Trafford until we know for certain that the process is safe.”

Trafford Labour is planning to propose a motion that Trafford Council writes to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and to the Oil and Gas Authority directly, outlining the councillors’ concerns and asking that the decision to award the licence be reconsidered.

Cllr Catherine Hynes, deputy leader of the Labour Group, said: “The Labour Group will be raising this issue with a motion at the next council meeting, and will expect all councillors to uphold the council’s previous position in opposition to fracking until it is proven safe.”

Ex-Environment Agency boss had links to fracking industry

Sir Philip Dilley resigned this week from his £100,000 a year, part-time post as chairman of the Environment Agency, saying he was not able to meet the “inappropriate” requirements of the job.

Dilley

 

His controversial appointment was criticised at the time, as a former business adviser to David Cameron had corporate links to the fracking industry. We was until April 2014 the chairman of Arup, an engineering firm that was employed to write environmental reports on fracking for Cuadrilla.

Arup donated money to the all-party parliamentary group on unconventional oil and gas and is an associate member of the organisation founded to “debate and explore the potential for developing” such reserves in Britain. Dilley, who was knighted for services to engineering , also worked for at least two years on Cameron’s business advisory group that gave “regular, high level advice to the prime minister on critical business and economic issues facing the country” according to his CV.

The full story appeared in The Guardian.