Lancashire is the British hotbed of fracking , or rather, of not fracking. Many will be aware of the two year saga since Cuadrilla announced their application for two sites in the Fylde. After 16 months of “community Concern”, which was whipped up by the “goblins or foul fiends” from Fiends of the Earth. That could be seen in the courses for public speaking for anti-frackers immediately before the Lancashire County Council meetings in June 2015. It has to be said that they taught them wrong on fracking as speaker after speaker came out with dodgy stuff. It was even more apparent when a QC “attached” to FoE put in a deposition to counter the advice the Council had from a QC. Many noticed that advice from a QC connected with Cuadrilla was simply ignored, which raises questions about the impartiality of the committee.
Well, now it is in the hands of the government and will be decided after the interminable meetings in Blackpool starting on 9th February dealing with Cuadrilla’s appeal. Those few weeks will be interesting but I suspect that the old, old arguments will be re-iterated ad infinitum with nothing new on either side. I just hope the secretary of State and all concerned have read the philosophical tome entitled Bullshit.
Today my favourite website of RAFF have published a letter from then leader of LCC to the Secretary of State and here it is;
The following is the full text of a letter sent from Lancashire County Council’s leader Jennifer mean to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Dear Mr Clark
I have read with interest and concern a number of reports in the media this week about the Government’s plans to support the roll out of a shale gas industry in the United Kingdom, as set out in your letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer dated 7 July 2015. You will be aware that such matters have particular resonance in Lancashire, given the history of local planning applications and this being the location of the UK’s most recent fracking operations.
I would like to highlight my particular concern about any intention to take decision-making powers on shale gas related planning applications away from local communities.
It is abundantly clear from the response of our communities to recent planning applications that there is considerable public interest in these matters. As part of a visible and local democratic process, people from across Lancashire have invested significant time in expressing their views. The county council received and made publicly available a huge amount of relevant information about each application. Residents, business people and a wide range of other individuals and organisations took time to consider it and gathered their own evidence, which they had a meaningful opportunity to present to councillors as part of the planning process.
Perhaps she should have considered FoE’s role in subverting the local democratic protest
In turn, locally elected representatives considered at length all of the information presented to them by all parties who chose to contribute before, again very publicly, making their decisions.
The themes of accountability and transparency are at the heart of good government and they are achieved most effectively when decisions are made thoughtfully within the communities they affect by people who are locally elected, accessible and familiar with local issues. The devolution agenda rightly gives impetus to that notion. A proposal to take important decisions away from our communities would, I believe, do the opposite and undermine trust in our democratic process. On a practical level, the opportunity to exert local control through planning conditions (informed by local understanding) on matters such as noise and traffic control is important and will itself help to underpin confidence in the process.
I would urge you to ensure that any changes to the planning regime on these matters do not serve to bypass local decision making powers and to ensure that local communities are able to continue to have a strong voice in decisions which clearly affect them.
With reference to some of the other points in your letter, one of the concerns identified by the county council, including through a health impact assessment led by our Director of Public Health, is the damaging effect of a lack of information and assurance about the potential long term impact of fracking. If the Government succeeds in accelerating this agenda, it should not do so without thought for the communities living and working near to fracking sites, wherever they may be. Clear information and evidence is needed on key issues such as concerns about health, and people deserve to be informed by real facts rather than speculation or partial viewpoints.
To that end I would draw your attention to the Notice of Motion supported unanimously by our county councillors as long ago as October 2013. The county council called on the Government to establish industry-specific regulation which, implemented effectively, could go some way to addressing these issues. The same Notice of Motion added that industry- specific regulation must ensure that local planning control is maintained. I enclose a copy of the full Notice of Motion for reference.
Leader of Lancashire County Council
Notice of Motion
“Further to the motion regarding Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) of Shale Type Rock which was passed by Lancashire County Council in December 2012, this Council:
I Notes (my comments in italics)
[most of these are statements covered and refuted by Perigo’s masterly summary as Planning Officer for the LCC. Below is a tweet from a “community” group, which is nasty]
a.The debate about benefits and disbenefits of extracting on-shore gas resources and the local environmental impacts
b.That large amounts of water are needed for hydraulic fracturing to extract shale.
This has been considered many times and found wanting
c.The risk of groundwater contamination as a result of fracking where well integrity is compromised.
Here we are back to the mythological “well integrity” which sounds good!
d.The impacts of noise, visual intrusion and air pollution from heavy traffic in communities close to fracking sites
Perigo considered this as not much more than what is often experienced
e.Increasing concerns over potential direct and indirect impacts on human health and wellbeing, and awaits investigation into those concerns
Who is raising these concerns apart from Medact, who puublished an inadequate report in March 2015, relying much on Mr Mike Hill.
Too many fling out concerns that fracking will cause cancer and then try to give themselves lung cancer by smoking!!
f. that potential economic benefits need to be carefully balanced against the potential disbenefits to other sectors such as tourism and agriculture and to the opportunity for investment in the renewable energy sector;
No evidence has been given of disbenefits to tourism or farming beyond some arm-waving. This re-iterates the myth that fracking precludes renewables. Yet in ungreen Texas fracking and renewables have boomed together, with an attendant decline of coal for electricity generation.
g. the conflicting claims about whether UK shale gas will affect energy prices in the UK
does anyone have the gift of prophecy?
ii. reiterates its call on the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to introduce Industry Specific regulation of hydraulic fracturing for the UK shale gas industry, as there are still no specific onshore exploration or extraction regulations for natural gas (and the offshore regulations developed in the 1990s are not sufficient to address all the issues that arise from moving the process onshore especially in populated areas of Lancashire);
iii) demands that such industry specific regulation must ensure that local planning control is maintained and that there should be a regular and rigorous inspection regime;
Oh, back to regulations. It sounds a bit like Mr Mike Hill’s oft-repeated and dubious claims that the regulations are not fit for purpose. It is a pity she did not repeat his claims that fracking could cause the Fylde to sink below sea-level!! I suppose the Fylde could sink by 1 millimetre, but few would notice that.
iv. will seek to attract to the county appropriate funding for projects which increase energy efficiency, sustainability and self-sufficiency, stabilise energy bills, and create jobs in the green economy.”
The usual false dichotomy of renewables and sustainability and fracking. The two go hand in hand.