All around the countryside in my part of Lancashire Not for Shale signs are appearing . Here are some I have found on my cycle rides exploring the delightful countryside.


The Not for Shale and  Wrongmove campaign is is the brainchild of Greenpeace. campaign. As the Fylde area of Lancashire is where Cuadrilla hopes to have two exploratory rigs there is considerable interest here.

I live on the edge of the Fylde at Garstang and explore the area on foot and bicycle. My rides vary from 10 miles  but usually 30s and 40s and up to 75, alternating between the flat Fylde plain or the hills of Bowland, from which the Bowland shales get their name.

The area of Lancashire is in two parts; east of the M6 is the hilly Forest of Bowland which gives the nmame to the Bowland Shales and goes up to 1700 feet at Wardstone and intersected by valleys. For me it is great to have it on the doorstep as it gives great walking and cycling country .  Here are a few shots to show its beauty, though I include one of degraded peat bog taken at 1500 ft.


On the ridges there is extensive peat restoration in progress, which will clean the water for United Utilities, improve wildlife and lock up carbon.

To the west of the M6 the terrain is flatter and rarely exceeds 30 metres or 100 feet. It is cut by the River Wyre and tributaries and criss-crossed by a multitude of lanes, which I find ideal for cycling. There is much farming and the farmland was largely formed by the drainage of peat mosses 200 years ago. All of these photos were taken within ten miles of the intended Cuadrilla sites. The church is at Inskip three miles from Roseacre.



In the centre of this area is Roseacre where Cuadrilla intend to drill. My bike is at the entrance of track to the proposed wellpad. Roseacre is a mixture of farms and a hamlet.

DSCF2859 DSCF2857 DSCF2690 DSCF2686

Let’s look carefully at the sign as it makes several claims;


These are;

Minor tremors;

underhouse gas extraction;

previously quiet residential area.

So what about each one

Underhouse gas extraction.

Well, it is a long way away! At 8000 feet below surface it is further away from my house than the busy, carcinogenic substance emitting M6, which I only hear when the wind is from the east. I am also 200yds from the busy A6, Garstang bypass, but I rarely hear the traffic. Rather than open ground I will be separated from the gas extraction coming from a 6in diameter drill hole and myriad cracks  a micron across by 8000 feet of solid rock!  To put that into perspective, for a time I worked Kilembe Mines in Uganda and lived a mile and a half from the mine entrance. I never heard blasting and the bungalow only shook when one of the frequent 4 to 5 tremors struck. We simply ignored them. One was during a church service when the greatest effect was the organist missing a note. Quite simply, during drilling there will be nothing to notice and after drilling when gas oozes to the surface even less to feel.

Previously quite residential area.

Except during drilling there will be no noise and wells will be as silent as the Elswick gas well, which is silent and invisible. There will not be much change even if the Roseacre site goes into production.

Minor Tremors

This is perhaps the most duplicitous are the three claims. Here they are alluding to the massive earthquakes imperceptible tremors of 1.5 and 2.3 at Preese Hall in 2011. some have claimed to have felt them, which is just possible but the 100 damaged houses mentioned in a leaflet on the RAG (Roseacre Action Group) is grossly untrue. This plays on people’s fear of earthquakes. Most Britons experience earthquakes through the media and rarely experience one. I have only ever felt two in Britain. In Britain we rarely have earthquakes and these are usually small i.e. between 2 and a low 5. The largest recorded earthquake of recent times is that of North Wales on 19 July 1984 measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale. To quote from Wikipedia “The effects were felt throughout Wales, most of England and parts of Ireland and Scotland. There were many reports of minor damage to chimneys and masonry throughout Wales and England, the biggest concentration of damage being in Liverpool, which is located around 65 miles north-east of the epicentre.[2] Minor injuries were also reported in the areas surrounding the epicentral area, and rockslides occurred at Tremadog in Gwynedd. [3] I felt it in Liverpool as the house shook.

That did not concern me as when in Uganda  tremors of 4 or 5 were common, caused little or no damage and were simply ignored. However in 1966 there was a 6.8 killing 150 people and causing much damage. One vicarage was flattened killing one of Rev Mikairi Nturanke’s children. ( I gave my first sermon in his church.) Against this tremors of 1.5 and 2.3 are trivial. However the Richter scale is not arithmetic in that  a 4.6 tremor is double that of the 2.3 at Preese Hall but exponential. see the diagram below. A tremor of magnitude 2 is equivalent to 56 kilos of explosive and a quake of Mag 4 is 56 thousand kilos. As a child I was in an 8.6 in Assam, but several hundred miles from the epicentre. Damage where we lived was considerable. The bungalow (on stilts) swayed vigorously, the car rolled out of the garage onto the lawn and we spent the night in the car! From the diagram that is some hundred billion kilos of explosive, in other words 100,000,000,000 times more powerful than those at Preese Hall.



So far there have been three incidences worldwide of tremors in excess of Mag 1 caused by fracking; two at Preese Hall and one in Canada. however these have been hyped up by Greenpeace and many others. This reflects either an inability to understand technical matters or duplicity. Both the press and fractivists write of swarms of fracking earthquakes usually citing those in Texas and Ohio. At best this is misunderstanding as the tremors, which can be up to Mag 5, are not caused by fracking but by fluid injection of waste water after drilling. However this is not simply a result of fracking as waste-water injection after drilling for gas or oil has been going on for decades. So much so that the USGS geophyisicsts Nicholson and Wesson dealt with this problem in the 1990 report; Earthquake Hazard Associated With Deep Well Injection- A Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency No1951. (Rob Wesson stayed in our house last year.)This was several years before the present techniuqes of fracking were developed! Doh! It cannot be stressed strongly enough that the tremors were NOTHING to do with the actual process of fracking. However this is repeated by many including Bill McKibbin recently on twitter.

This graphic makes it very clear. Hydraulic Fracturing produces the fewest and smallest tremors and are trivial in number, size or intensity of all methods of energy extraction. The most serious are the “renewable” geothermal and reservoir impoundment. As Cheshire County Council announced today  (9/6/14) that they hope to develop geothermal, I bet no environmentalist will protest!


Taking all this into consideration one has to ask why Greenpeace made so much over tremors in their Not for Shale campaign.


Lowering house prices

Of course, if you believe this campaign then no one will want a house where fracking occurs or may occur. Recently a sale fell through in Roseacre  because of these concerns and the letter to the owner was posted on a FB page;


Fractivists claim that this proves that fracking lowers house prices. Is this actually true. Granted that was the perception on the part of the prospective buyer. But who was  to blame? Not fracking or Cuadrilla but those who create such perceptions i.e. Greenpeace.

As a campaign this has been effective in raising the scare level among residents, who value their peace and who do not want their property damaged. Over the last few years I have given innumerable quickie lectures on earthquakes. In fact it was a Green Party  leaflet for council elections that made me start researching fracking as I found the leaflet simply duplicitous scaremongering.

To conclude anti-frackers claim the moral high-ground yet on this they are in a moral abyss.

Fracking earthquakes are not even a ripple in a teacup.


P.S. 11 December 2014

The Nazca incident demonstrates what a ghastly group Greenpeace are. Why do any listen to them and what morality do they have?

11 thoughts on “NOT FOR SHALE

  1. Ken Wilkinson

    Well said Michael, the nonsense talked by a supposedly reputable environmental organisation (Greenpeace) is indefensible. Scientists and engineers can find solutions to problems in all aspects of our lives. The lies that are being told to wind up the public should be stopped.


    1. michaelroberts4004 Post author

      REAF you publically display your lack of understanding. These quakes are by wastewater injection NOT fracking and have occurred for a long time which is why Nicholson and Wesson wrote report no 1951 for the USGS (United States GeolSurvey) on it in 1992 i.e. years before HF in the modern sense. Groups like yours need to learn what fracking is rather than repeat scare stories and use poor sources. It is either incompetent or dishonest, but typical of fractivists


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  3. Brian Jordan

    A fascinating article Michael. I remember regularly riding through the Forest of Bowland in the back of my parents’ car but I was at such an age that I’d had more than enough after the drive from East Lancs to really appreciate it when we got there. Perhaps if they’d let me get out for more than five minutes…

    I was interested to read that the fractures are only micron-sized – I’m sure that this is widely unknown. But then, how many people realise that the Richter scale is logarithmic?

    One thing puzzles me a bit: what’s this waste-water injection? It sounds as though the water is injected simply for want of anywhere else to put it. Is that the case? Oh, and you haven’t mentioned the “chemicals”!


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