Category Archives: Climate Change

Fracking debate in Yorkshire, March 2018

  Fracking debate in Yorkshire

Fracking creates a stir in both Yorkshire and Lancashire. On March 8th there is to be a debate in Yorkshire between the local MP Kevin Holinrake and the expert engineer Mike Hill from Lancashire. For a debate you need an impartial chair who is not aligned to either postiion. That chairman is Bishop James Jones, who like me has long been concerned about the environment.
DEBATE EVENT “This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
2 tickets per applicant

“This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
Proposed by Kevin Hollinrake MP
Opposed by Michael Hill C.Eng. MIET
Chaired by Bishop James Jones KBE
Please note that tickets are restricted to 2 per applicant
Organised by Kirkbymoorside Town Council


I first heard Bishop Jones speak on the environment in about 2003, where he was introducing his book
It was good to see evangelicals in Lancashire being challenged on the environment, but I felt he was trying to draw too much out of the gospels.
I have considered environment for decades having read Carson’s Silent Spring in the 60s and when working for a mining company in Africa I could see many problems. In the 70s I found that churches were just not interested and in the early 80s the Board of social Responsibility in Jones’ future diocese of Liverpool ignored my request to put the environment on the agenda!
This is a brief and simple summary of my views on the environment

It was only after the mid-80s that the churches belatedly became concerned about the environment and after 2010 most threw in their lot with anti-frackers and divestment, almost taking the lead of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. By 2014 fracking became the litmus-test on whether you were environmentally sound. I failed dismally, but that is another story.
Today within the Church of England almost all Green voices oppose fracking and support divestment and alternatives with approaches like those  Mark Lynas, late Sir David Mackay, Lord Deben and even groups like DECC, BGS are either side-lined or rebuffed. With the exception of the Fletcher/Holtham report, I have been unable to find church discussions on fracking which do not oppose it. They are also usually deficient in accuracy. This is the case within my diocese of Blackburn
Local news in Yorkshire report the coming debate as here;—facts-and-fiction-debate/

Kirkbymoorside town council is to host a major debate on fracking in Pickering on March 8.
Chartered engineer Mike Hill will go head to head with Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake at Lady Lumley’s School, Pickering at from 7 – 9pm
Mr Hollinrake, whose Thirsk and Malton constituency includes the fracking site at Kirby Misperton, will argue that UK regulation can make hydraulic fracturing safe.
Mr Hill, who has worked in the industry for 20 years, will make the case against this view.
The debate will be chaired by retired bishop, the Right Reverend James Jones KBE, formerly Bishop of Liverpool and as Chair of the Hillsborough Inquiry. Bishop Jones is presently an adviser to Amber Rudd, The Home Secretary.
Kirkbymoorside Town Council has opposed fracking activities locally since December 14.
Fracking has been expected in Ryedale since November 2017, when Third Energy said it was ready to start work at its KM8 well in Kirby Misperton.
Mike Hill, UK Expert Member|TWG Hydrocarbon BREF|JRC/EU Commission said:
“This debate is very important not just for Yorkshire but for the U.K. The Govt. position on fracking is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what unconventional fossil fuel (UFF) exploration means.
The severe risks to the public health, the environment and local economy have not been mitigated anywhere near adequately enough.
The wider implications for climate change are also being “confused” by the government. Fracking is not a bridge to a low carbon future and never was.
It is a bridge to nowhere, a dead end, and is in reality a far “dirtier” fuel to develop, in terms of green house gas emissions, than coal.
Add to that the propaganda being spread that we can somehow reduce our dependence on Russian gas and the entire case of fracking is totally destroyed.”
Kevin Hollinrake, MP, said:
“I welcome the opportunity to have an open debate about shale gas exploration in the constituency and to answer questions.
I believe that shale gas exploration is in our national interest and there are strong economic reasons for supporting it.
However, I do so only as long as we make sure development does not pollute the environment, reduces our carbon footprint and the impact to our landscape and communities are properly managed.”
Kirkbymoorside Town Mayor, Angus Ashworth said:
“I hope that this event will provide an opportunity for residents of Kirkbymoorside and the locality, to hear both points of view on the subject of fracking regulations.
I have every confidence that the evening will be informative to all parties and on behalf of
Kirkbymoorside Town Council
I would like to thank the speakers and chairman for agreeing to participate in this debate.”
Later this month, a Government appointed planning inspector will begin to examine the North Yorkshire joint minerals and waste plan, which will set policy on fracking for the next 20 years.
The day set aside for oil and gas submissions is a week after the Kirkbymoorside debate, on Tuesday 13 March.
The shale gas company, INEOS, is also expected to begin seismic testing for shale gas in its licence areas in North Yorkshire in 2018.

Bishop Jones has been recognised for his work on Hilsborough and has now retired to Yorkshire. He was interviewed for the Yorkshire Post in December 2017, where he also gave his very negative views on fracking
Here Bishop Jones makes clear his opposition to fracking

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If you had to change one thing about Yorkshire what would it be? I would stop fracking in Yorkshire. I am seriously worried that the regulation is not coordinated or robust enough. I worry about the impact it will have on our water. The risks are too high. If the water ends up contaminated it could have a disastrous impact on our health, our agriculture, tourism and the whole economy of Yorkshire.

This needs a little consideration
JJ said; If you had to change one thing about Yorkshire what would it be? I would stop fracking in Yorkshire. I am seriously worried that the regulation is not coordinated or robust enough.
I say; At government departments etc eg PHE, HSE, EA DECC say that the regulation is robust. So why is the Bishop concerned. This concern sounds like an echo from Mike Hill, one of the debaters, who claims the regulations are thoroughly lacking and has convinced many local groups and churches about this.

JJ says; I worry about the impact it will have on our water. The risks are too high.
I say; What grounds? This is the standard anti-fracking argument whichdoes not hold water.
JJ says; If the water ends up contaminated it could have a disastrous impact on our health, our agriculture, tourism and the whole economy of Yorkshire.
I say; The usual scare story put forward by Green NGOs like Friends of the earth, who under Andy Atkins (see below) mounted a campaign in Lancashire. Again no claim could be demonstrated.
I feel here that Bishop Jones has fallen for the usual anti-fracking scare stories, as have too many in the churches.
Now back to Mr Hill.
Mr Hill has long claimed that regulations for fracking are very poor. He also wrongly claims that only ONE of the TEN recommendations in the RS/RAE report of 2012 have implemented, though many have challenged him.
His views are widely accepted in the churches and it is clear he influenced the 2015 report on fracking from Blackburn diocese. This comes from his own website and members of the diocesan committee.
The group claimed to take expert advice but the only “expert” mentioned in Mr Hill. The paper was very inaccurate with a gross bias along with bad theology.
My blog on it is here in which I took advice on many aspects which were beyond my skills .
In 2017 Mike Hill wrote a paper criticising the Church of England briefing paper on shale gas, which is the nearest to the official view of the church;
Shale Gas and Fracking A Briefing Paper from the Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Environment Working Group of the Church of England December 2016
Here is Hill’s   review

Hill makes a lot of charges againon Shale Gas and Fracking is to be found on his website Shale Gas Office.


was used by the Blackburn environment Group to show why the Flectcher/Holtham paper was misguided; Among other things nearly all the references Hill uses are his own UNPUBLISHED papers.
I do wonder whether the Bishop’s concern for regulation comes from Mr Hill

So much for Mr Hill,  back to Bishop Jones and to consider his previous connections with fracking.. Many will know of Friends of the Earth campaign in Lancashire against Cuadrilla. FoE were involved since 2011 and encouraged by their CEO Andy Atkins. Atkins visited anti-fracking groups in Lancashire on several occasions and gave some environmental awards. It culminated with the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority against their leaflet seeking funds of their work
Andy Atkins was CEO of Friends of the Earth from c2010 to 2015 and encouraged the anti-fracking campaign in Lancashire, yet Jones praises him
“Andy (pictured) has been described as ‘one of the leading environmentalists’ by former Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev James Jones, who chaired the independent panel on the Hillsborough disaster. ‘He’ll lead not only A Rocha UK – but also the whole Church – to a new level of action towards the earthing of heaven,’ said the bishop.”

Jones along with 3 other retired bishops and numbers of clergy wrote this letter to the Guardian to divest from Exxon-mobil. There is not space here but some of the arguments are contentious and one-sided.

To conclude it is difficult to see Bishop Jones as an impartial chair for this debate as he is clearly anti-fracking and biased against petroleum.
All in all for a long time he has supported a negative view of fracking , repeats their myths and seems to back FoE

To it, does not bode well for a debate like this.


Mark Lynas – On why GMOs are vital to food security in our world


This is an excellent address by Mark Lynas on the value of GMOs

One of the annoying things about the environmental movement today are those who apply heresy tests to anyone claiming to be green.

GMO EU action

and so;

If you don’t regard GMO as frankenstein food you hate the environment


If you don’t only eat Organic food you are doomed to a green hell

If you don’t hate Glyphosphate then you are poisoning the earth and our food

If you support nuclear energy, you deserve the green version of being nuked.

If you don’t support divestment from fossil fuels, you are a shill for the coal industry

If you support fracking you don’t give a damn about climate change and are a shill for Big Oil.


Sadly, I have only taken a little poetic licence there, but sadly these attitudes are only too common. They are essentially the views of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who possibly do more damage to the environment and humanity than anyone else


Anyway ignore my rant and read Mark Lynas


Source: Mark Lynas – Speech to the Oxford Farming Conference 2018

Big oil stops selling oil

I nicked this blog as it sums up the daftness of the KEEPITINTHEGROUND policy on fossil fuels.

I often do not agree with Luis, but this is very good

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!

Tired of being demonized by the green fringe and by the media in general, a secret meeting of the most important oil companies CEOs took place during the weekend.*

They decided enough is enough so, unilaterally they have suspended all oil deliveries immediately and for an indefinite period of time.

The world’s reaction was swift and brutal. The news services are currently overwhelmed so we only know a minute part of what this decision has triggered. Here are some of them:


Airlines do plan to operate their flights on Monday, but no new bookings are being accepted at this time. Among other things, this means travelers are being stranded all over the world with no easy way to go back home. The revenue of the airlines will quickly drop to zero and their financial position will deteriorate rapidly if the oil flow is not restored fast.
State oil companies are not all participating in the boycott but the price of oil has skyrocketed already. Frantic traders have pushed the price above $250 per barrel but the ceiling is nowhere near. At least in the short term, Saudi Arabia and Iran seem poised to benefit from the chaos.
Stock markets all over the world plummeted by more than 20% but the floor has not been reached. Markets are essentially in free fall.
Long lines at petrol stations are being observed all over. Violence has broken out in several instances.
Car sales have ground to a halt. It seems nobody wants to buy a product that cannot be fueled.
Absenteeism at companies and schools reached an all time high. It is expected this metric will further deteriorate and by the end of the week the whole economy would have come to a halt.
Food shortages are beginning to alarm. Most of the food bought worldwide is transported by truck or ship and there is a serious risk riots will break out in all major cities. Price gouging has already began. The prices of some staples have already reached levels never encountered before.


Additional updates:

World leaders condemn the decision of the oil companies and urge their CEOs to immediately reconsider their actions.
In a joint press conference called by the executive director of Greenpeace and the president of Sierra Club both begged oil companies to reconsider. They both came close to apologizing for their previous unfair attacks on the oil companies.
Layoffs at many companies have begun.
All sorts of services gradually begin to shut down as people cannot commute to their jobs.
Trash begins to accumulate in cities around the world. Public health officials fear epidemics will be triggered at any moment.


More updates:
While the world spirals toward an uncontrolled economic depression, the main oil CEOs stand firm and have not yet reversed their decision.
Panic, riots, violence, despair have erupted all over the world. This truly looks like the end of the world. Ironically, this catastrophe was not caused by CO2.
Stock markets globally have lost more than 50% of their value.
Supermarkets begin to close as they have nothing left to sell.
Motor vehicles begin to run out of fuel and are being abandoned wherever they shut down.
Even though ambulances have fuel priority, they cannot go anywhere as abandoned cars block almost every street and avenue. People are now dying.


Overnight, almost eveybody has turned into a pauper. Despair is rampant.

Stay tuned for more updates…



* Obviously, what is mentioned here is fiction but moving away from fossil fuels before the time is right would be catastrophic for humanity. Let’s be responsible and not advocate medicines that would be much worse than the illness.



Take the Pro-Truth Pledge (because we’re all fallible)

Not all like signing pleadges like this, but it very relevant today.

LPolitics is plagued by fakenews and post-truth as it seems politicians compete with each other to spew out the most blantant post-truth aka lies.

It is equally bad when science impinges on daily lives. We all know of the post-truth of Creationists, which is often deliberate. But we see the same on GMOs and glyphosphate. On climate change we have the fake news and post-truth from the extreme climate deniers to the radical activists like Bill McKibbin, Friends of the Earth and Christian groups like Operation Noah. I don’t who are the worst

And then there is fracking, and antifrackers have got post-truth down to fine art.

Read and enjoy, but only after you have marked, learned and inwardly digested

Even if you do not sign the pledge, make sure that you carry it out by sharing, honouring and encouraging truth and show no quarter to those who persistently do not

This is another pertinent post from Paul Braterman

Primate's Progress

Pro-Truth Pledge LogoI  learnt about this pledge from the Skeptic Reading Room. And while I generally loathe public pledges (too much virtue signalling for my liking), I am making an exception for this one, in response to our exceptional times. And the fine print makes admirable reading. Besides,  several hundred public figures and organizations have signed it, including Steven Pinker and Peter Singer, and what’s good enough for them is good enough for me. Many dozens of politicians have signed it as well, and one of the aims is to persuade more to do so, and hold them accountable.

Truth matters. Propagating untruth is big business and big politics. The traditional guardians of truth have abdicated, are compromised, or lack traction. By default, the job of protecting truth falls to us. We need to take our responsibility seriously.

We are all drawn towards confirmation bias, group think (our own group, of course!)…

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Scaremongering on health effects of fracking in Lancashire

17th November 2017. Today Gina Dowding and 11 others were found guilty of obstructing the public highway outside the fracking site on Preston New Road in July 2017. Of these 12 3 were various councillors and all argued about their concerns for health and water contamination and appealed to the slogan #wesaidno. dowding said after the hearing that they opposed this “pernicious and perverted ” industry

Here is drillordrop’s  account!!

Dowding has been active in opposing shale gas, mostly on health grounds, for several years, despite her concerns not being accepted by Public Health England and other bodies. Her claims are not upheld by Public Health England and thus were rejected by the chief planning officer of Lancs County Council in 2015. She wrote up her claims for the CIEH in 2014 and here is a brief rebuttal of them. It seems that in the last three years these personal unsubstantiated opinions have not changed.


I find it concerning that a health professional rejects the findings of Public Health England along with her fellow protesters.

It is difficult not to see her concerns as rather hyped and not founded in proper research, but this is the approach of many who oppose fracking  – and the Green Party


Lancashire County Council has recently considered the health impact of two proposed fracking sites. Gina Dowding, Lancashire’s Green Party councillor and a former NHS health promotion officer, outlines her personal view of the key health risks.

The CIEH’s assessment of the risks is available here:



1. Climate Change
The greatest threat to future wellbeing is climate change. It is now recognised that 70 per cent of known fossil fuels need to stay in the ground if we are to avoid more than two degrees of global warming. It is imperative that the UK takes the lead on this and concentrates on investment in renewable energy development instead of new fossil fuel exploration and extraction. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently issued again stark warnings that urgent action is required now.

A popular and simplistic argument. She does not say which fossil fuels need to stay in the ground and doesn’t point out shale gas is cleaner than coal and thus the best solution now, in the absence of anything better. Further renewables produce only 5% of world’s energy so there cannot be a rapid transition. In the USA use of gas has resulted in a reduction of emissions thus help Climate Change. The IPCC saw an important place for the use of shale gas, so this reflects an incomplete reading of the IPCC reports

This shows how much energy must be produced to replace fossil fuels


2. Air quality
Venting and incomplete flaring of shale gas will lead to the release of benzenes and other known carcinogens. In the US fugitive gas levels around sites have been found to be up to 100 times more than predicted.

There will be no venting and flaring when drilling is complete. She is misinformed here. Further, flaring only happens before production if at all. Venting or flaring is simply losing money. What evidence does she have of benzenes and carcinogens? That sounds a scarestory. On fugitive levels this seems like an allusion to the discredited Howarth paper

3. Water pollution

The risk of well leaks is a chronic problem that the oil and gas industry do not know how to fix. Studies (such as by Schlumberger published in Oilfield Review) admit that 6 per cent of wells leak immediately with 50 per cent leaking in 15 years – leaving a potential toxic legacy that may irreversibly damage underground water supplies.

This is just nonsense. Out of 2200 wells on the English mainland only a few have had minor leaks. Again much exaggeration

4. Flowback Fluid
The flowback fluid produced by the process contains toxic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials. There are concerns about sufficient capacity to treat hazardous: In Lancashire and at peak times one of the proposed sites alone will utilise a major proportion of the available treatment capacity within 100 miles of the site (based on radiation levels and physical treatment capacity).

Yes, flowback is nasty enough not to be put into watercourses, but it isn’t much worse than the Dead Sea for chemical. The radioactive NORMS present are fairly low level Many of us have survived swimming in the Dead Sea!! The flowback from Preese Hall was cleaned to EA standards by Remsol and then disposed off according to regulations. Remsol says treatment is not a big deal.  Cuadrilla have treatments ready for the flow back. This is blatant scaremongering

5. Chemicals
The chemicals used in the Fracking process in the US have been linked to cancers and low birth weight in infants. Breast Cancer UK have called for a moratorium on all exploration and licensing due to their concerns about the potentially adverse health effects.

She is relying on the list of 600+ chemicals which HAVE been used in the USA, rather than the handful of non-carcinogenic which will be used in the UK – Water 99.5%, sand , polyacrylamide, possibly HCl and a biocide. In other words are benign solution despite what Friends of the Earth claimed in 2015  The ASA forced them to withdraw their claims. Breast Cancer UK ‘s report was very dodgy and partially retracted See also Dr James Verdon



6. Transport related accidents
Site visits undertaken in Lancashire show that HGVs with large loads e.g. 40ft trailers for office space and work space would have difficulty safely negotiating the narrow rural roads in proximity to the project sites. But there are long-term traffic implications once drilling is underway. The Lancashire Roseacre Awareness group are highlighting the risk of accidents and the impact of traffic on their rural villages.

This is not the case for Preston New Road and she should have said so. This is despite all the protests at PNR on 2017. This is more of a problem for Roseacre but is not a serious as she implies. Her best argument!!!!

7. Noise
Health effects that may result from community noise are well documented and include interference with communication; effects on sleep, and on the cardiovascular and psycho-physiological systems and noise-induced hearing impairment. Drilling is planned 24 hours a day, including nighttime; it is expected that the noise levels will be continuous for at least 14 months.

This is sheer overstatement. The noise is minimal and can hardly be heard beyond a hundred yards.  Even by the rig, when in operation (I have visited it), you can speak quietly and not find the noise unpleasant. Pure exaggeration. Far worse, is to live on most streets in towns!!

8 Occupational health risks
There is limited evidence on occupational health risks due to cumulative exposure to silica dust, noise and air pollution during shale gas exploration in the UK context. The concern is that there are no specific occupational health standards for onshore oil and gas extraction.

There are plenty of regulations for any industrial process

9. Emergencies
Local residents have anxiety over emergency scenarios. Although emergency planning is a requirement for this type of development, this process has not been ‘visible’ to residents. Anxiety fuelled by uncertainty over this issue could potentially have wider health impacts than the risks themselves

This is grasping at straws as are the worries of anxiety. That anxiety is induced by misinformation like this article. I wonder if any local residents were concerned before they were fed with this type of alleged problem.

10. Inadequate regulation
Perhaps most significantly Lancashire’s Health Impact Assessment report acknowledges that the current regulations in place in the UK which are there to protect the public’s health are inadequate to properly regulate the fracking industry. The report notes that the lack of public trust and confidence, is causing stress and anxiety from uncertainty, that could lead to poor mental wellbeing. At the very least the government should heed calls from public health bodies, campaigners and the public alike that industry specific regulation must be introduced before fracking takes hold in the UK.

This is a favourite argument and is put forward forcibly by Mike Hill. Regulations are in place and all aspects are being monitored by the appropriate bodies. Dowding’s paper was written in 2014 and here refers to a report of 2014. By 2015 the Planning Officer using reports from PHE etc concluded there was not a concern here, except demanding that noise levels were reduced. This was carried out by Cuadrilla.

Today 17/11/17 Dowding argued that regulations were still insufficient

Problems of “the lack of public trust and confidence, is causing stress and anxiety from uncertainty” were largely inflamed by anti-fracking groups of which Dowding was active in. Of course, people get anxious when fed with plausible scare stories.

As it happens all her possible concerns on regulation were dealt with before  permission was granted by the Secretary of State in late 2016.

Anglican Environmentalists misguidedly challenge church report on fracking



In January 2017 the Church of England published a briefing report on Shale Gas and Fracking

. The church was slow to give a response to fracking so this was overdue. It was produced under the join chairmanship of the Bishop of Salisbury and Philip Fletcher CBE. Responses to it have varied; The industry representative body, UKOOG were favourable but the Green Party and Operation Noah slated it for being too supportive of fracking.
My take is that it is a very balanced and accurate report, and is what should have been produced five years ago.
With Operation Noah being so anti-fossil fuels I wondered how Green Anglicans would respond as anti-fracking is more important than faith in Christ to some. Or at least it feels like it 
Well here is the response from the Blackburn Diocesan Environment Committee. Since 2012 they have produced three previous discussion papers on fracking, which are somewhat flawed in their accuracy. The first referred to contaminants in fracking fluid including acetic acids (plural) and citric acids (plural). There is only ONE acetic and Citric acid and both are added to fish and chips. To make howlers like this it does seem the committee are short of scientific knowledge. I do not have space to discuss these, but a URL for my blog on The Challenges of Fracking, The Churches Response is given below.

In July the Social Responsibility Network published a rather negative blog; Shale Gas and Fracking The SRN describes itself as “A network of people passionate that the Church engages with the issues of our communities”. However from the website I could not work out who exactly they are as no names of organisers are listed, but it does seem to come from social responsibility sources in largely the Church of England. What is most concerning is the committee reject or ignore the careful work from academics like Paul Younger and Nick Riley (both Christians) and reports from government agencies including the British Geological Survey. As in this blog reviewed here, they seem to prefer those “experts” who are not recognised outside anti-fracking circles. It would be like a diocesan science and religion group advising church members to reject the work of Prof Tom Mccleish,F.R.S., Sir John Polkinghorne, Prof David Wilkinson and Prof Alistair McGrath in favour of creationists like Andy McIntosh and Ken Ham, who may even have doctorates but not in the field they are challenging.
The blog is brief and asked readers to comment on what they saw as the short comings of the Fletcher/Holtham paper.

Here is the blog post in full
JULY 26, 2017 SRNET221
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
We welcomed the Church of England’s December 2016 Briefing Paper “Shale gas and fracking”1 pulling together some of the key references on this topic and so stimulating debate within the Church on this controversial process.
Since then, a number of well-referenced papers2 have re-examined the evidence in various publications cited in the Briefing Paper and raised significant concerns about the reliability of the conclusions drawn.
We feel it imperative that the authors of the Briefing Paper seek expert advice on the strength of the evidence given and the conclusions drawn in these new publications and update the Briefing Paper as necessary so that Christian churches and others can participate in informed debate on the care of Creation and social responsibility in respect of shale gas.
We would be grateful for your response to this concern, to the email addresses below.
Blackburn Diocese Environment Group
• Revd Professor John Rodwell (Chair, )
• Revd Canon Ed Saville (Diocesan Environment Officer,,
• Dr Stephen Garsed,
• Derek Estill.
1 Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Environment Working Group of the Church of England (2016) Shale Gas & Fracking;
2 Michael Hill (2017) Review of the Church of England Mission & Public Affairs Council and Environment Working Group Briefing Paper on Shale Gas and Fracking; Paul Mobbs (2017) Whitehall’s ‘Fracking’ Science Failure; David K. Smythe (2017) Submission to the Scottish Government consultation in unconventional oil and gas.
end of post

The blog challenges many aspects of the Church of England report. I would now like to consider their claims over its shortcomings.

The second sentence states;

“Since then, a number of well-referenced papers2 have re-examined the evidence in various publications cited in the Briefing Paper and raised significant concerns about the reliability of the conclusions drawn.”

The three cited publications are from Mike Hill, Paul Mobbs and David Smythe. All are well-known for their adamant opposition to fracking. Hill and Smythe have made exaggerated claims of their professional capabilities and experience. They are the ‘specialists’ of choice for the anti frack movement. Their claims are not matched by the mass of evidence from independent specialist studies, such as those done by the Royal Academy of Engineering, and many others.

Mike Hill is an electrical engineer from Lytham, Lancs and over the last few years has given presentations against fracking mostly in Lancashire but also throughout Britain. He has given presentations to church groups e.g. Canons and Area Deans in the diocese of Blackburn and was the main advisor for the Dean of Blackburn’s report The Challenges of Fracking, The Churches Response published in Nov 2014. His main argument is that the regulatory system of fracking is totally inadequate. He still complains that of the 10 recommendations made in 2012 to properly regulate shale gas operations, only one of these has been put in place. This is at odds with the industry representative body. He claimed to be an ‘EU adviser’ in a talk in Canterbury and a complaint to IPSO revealed that this was not the case. He stood as an antifracking candidate in the last General Election, and his independence was called into question in the publication of the ‘Medact Report 2015’ which was strongly antifracking.

Paul Mobbs is a freelance biologist with very green concerns who often publishes in The Ecologist. He was arrested for attempting to arrest the Prime Minister.

David Smythe retired as Professor of Geophysics at Glasgow in 1998 and has not worked professionally since. He runs a B and B and lives in France. His recent paper in ‘Solid Earth’ was rejected, and described by one critical peer review as ‘Advocacy based science’. . Other comments are similarly dismissive. Smythe was told not to resubmit the paper. The Geological Society has instructed him not to describe himself as a Chartered Geologist. This article also states that the University of Glasgow, where Mr Smythe worked 16 years ago, has also written to him asking him not to suggest that its academics share his views.

The blog simply gave the titles of the papers but no way of obtaining the papers and should have given URLs to enable readers to make a proper judgement. Having read the first two writings I was aware of the URLs for them, but was unable to access Smythe’s but am familiar with his writing.

I am baffled why these papers are given such a definitive recognition. None were peer-reviewed or from any recognisable professional source in any acceptable publication. Hill’s paper is published on his private website, Mobbs in a green magazine The Ecologist, and Smythe’s is simply a letter of submission to a Government consultation. Anyone, including a 6 year old, can submit to a consultation like that
Hill’s paper 2 Michael Hill (2017) Review of the Church of England Mission & Public Affairs Council and Environment Working Group Briefing Paper on Shale Gas and Fracking is to be found on his website Shale Gas Office.
Hill makes a lot of charges against the inadequacy of the Church report, which would take a lot of discussion to analyse. However his choice of references is very revealing and show why he cannot be recognised as any kind of authority.
Here are his references from the paper with my comments
REFERENCES Nearly half are written by Mike Hill and have * by them. It is not acceptable or professional to cite your own UNPUBLISHED work as a source for you conclusions. My comments on the references are in BOLD

* 1. Presentation for the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, Whaley Abbey Conference. Hill. M., May 2014.
I was not present and have not seen it. This is one of Hill’s self-published papers/presentations
As far as I can gather the Dean of Blackburn (Armstrong) had invited Hill to speak to the Area Deans. (A diocese is split into deanerys of 10-20 parishes and one vicar is appointed as Area Dean). I have not seen a copy
* 2. Briefing Note for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most reverend Justin Welby, Hill. M., April 2014.
This was an unsolicited paper sent to the Archbishop This is one of Hill’s self-published papers
*3. The Challenges of Fracking, The Churches Response, The Very Reverend Christopher Armstrong, Dean of Blackburn, Nov 2014.
This response is both inaccurate and biased. Hill put on his website that he had been the adviser. I reviewed it here
Hill was the chief expert and advisor for this report chaired by the former Dean of Blackburn, according to Hill’s own claims…The internal evidence and the fact it repeats Hill’s false claims on regulation confirms it.
4. Dept. for Communities and Local Government Appeals Decision,

5. World Shale Gas Resources: An Initial Assessment (19tcf TRR, Cuadrilla estimated 200 Tcf GIP) and U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA/ARI World Shale Gas and Shale Oil Resource Assessment, September 2015.
6. London School of Economics Aug 2014
7. Professor Andy Alpin, Unconventional Petroleum Development, Durham University. 4th March, 2014.
8. The Oil Drum – estimate of TRR for the Bowland shale
*. 9. Necessary Regulation in the Exploration and Development of Unconventional Fossil Fuels. Hill. M. January, 2014
This is one of Hill’s self published papers
*10. Shale gas regulation in the UK and health impacts of fracking. Hill.M. The Lancet. 28th June, 2014. P2211-2212.
Simply a letter to the Lancet, thus has no authority
*11. Medact “Health and Fracking – The impacts and opportunity costs”, McCoy. D. Dr., Saunders. P. Dr., Hill. M., Rugman. F. Dr., Wood.R. Dr.
Hill was a major advisor to the first Medact report published on 30 March 2015. I and a retired oil engineer were present at the launch. Hill had difficulty answering our questions. He waxed lyrical about seismic problems but showed he had no grasp of geology . I summarise some of Hill’s shortcoming s here; Interestingly, after much criticism, Medact republished their report in 2016, and in their key points, stated that ‘Based on current evidence it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects’.
*12. Institution of Engineering & Technology Conference “Managing the Risks” – , “Brief Review of The Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering Report and the present position of shale gas regulation” Hill.M.,
Another self-published paper by Hill
Reviewed by Slater.G., May, 2014. at the IET Meeting 20th May, 2014. Presented to the President of the OET and to Prof. Robert Mair’s (Royal Society Shale Gas Report Author) representative Prof. P. Younger.
13. Environment Agency Permitting Decisions. Issued Permits. Jan 2015. Sec 5.1.10.
14. Geomechanical Study of Bowland Shale Seismicity. November 2011. Dr.C.Paer & Dr. S. Baisch. P27-28 Wellbore Deformation.
15. Shale Gas North West – Monitoring of Flowback. Environment Agency. Dec 2011. These results used drinking water as a metric as selected by the EA. The results showed that the Lead rose to 1438 times the average level found in mains water. All of the following figures relate to the amount more than mains water. Cadmium 150x, Chloride 6,874x, Chromium 636x, Aluminium 198x, Arsenic 47x, Iron 17,979x and Radioactive Material averaging 90x the safe level. This from just one fracked well and only to stage 5. 30 stage + frack jobs are now the plan and potentially rising to 100 frack stages.
This should have given a URL or a proper reference so that we could actually READ his claims. A proper academic and professional approach would provide a full reference
16. The Royal Society – Shale Gas Extraction in the UK: a review of Hydraulic Fracturing. June 2012. Prof. Mair. R. Page 7- Recommendations. GLOSSARY HVHF: High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

6 out of 16 of the refs are by M Hill , Ref 3 advised by Hill, so thus nearly half refer to Hill’s unpublished writings

This is an article in The Ecologist trying to show that the late Prof Sir David Mackay’s report of 2012 has been overturned by work by Ingraffea. No expert agrees with Mobbs. This is simply an advocacy article.

The committee referred to Smythe’s (2017) Submission to the Scottish Government consultation in unconventional oil and gas.

Here is the URL

This is a very long submission of 71 pages, which would take much space to discuss at length. He refers to his paper submitted to Solid Earth in 2016. . This was strongly criticised by other geologists and the paper was refused for publication. One must note very strongly that those who criticised Smythe’s paper ARE leading geologists working in this field at the present time eg Younger,  Verdon and others. Smythe is now writing from his house in France having retired in 1999, is not an active researcher and not an expert in this field.

It should be obvious to anyone that on issues like this you go to the leading authorities of the day and not to someone outside the field. further Smythe has attacked many of these geologists in a personal way.

It is difficult not to see this as pure vitriol against leading geologists like Riley, Rutter, Davies, Lord Oxburgh, Selley, Shipton , Styles, Verdon, Younger. I have met and discussed matters with several of these. Incidentally Lord Oxburgh was one of my geological teachers, and very good was he – and entertaining in the pub at Horton in Ribblesdale, where he was teaching us geological mapping.

The appendix to this submission continues on attacks on geologists, which scarcely seems professional.

Here he raises various questions especially on the problems of faults. This is a long and technical section, but I prefer to go with the consensus from active geologists!!!

There is a section on disposal of waste water which fails to state that waste water from Preese Hall was cleaned up by Remsol to the satisfaction of the EA and that procedures are in place. This is a serious oversight

The Environment committee should have considered this before relying on a questionable document.

Smythe retired from Glasgow Univ in 1999 and has had no professional involvement in fracking.
He self publishes widely, including his blog.
His contributions are totally rejected by nearly all academics working this field.
It may seem cheeky for me to say so, but I question his geological competence as when discussing why there were no fracking licences in Witney – Cameron’s constituency – he was unaware that the sub-surface geological feature – the (Wales –)Brabant High meant that sediments would be too thin for fracking. This is first year geology teaching!!
His personal attacks on leading geologists, including one of my university teachers Lord Oxburgh, then a geology don at Oxford, and others of my acquaintance are in very bad taste.
As a result my blog on him, which gives details of his rejected paper in Solid Earth.
And the third sentence is
We feel it imperative that the authors of the Briefing Paper seek expert advice on the strength of the evidence given and the conclusions drawn in these new publications and update the Briefing Paper as necessary so that Christian churches and others can participate in informed debate on the care of Creation and social responsibility in respect of shale gas.
I think I have demonstrated that these publications are without any value, and thus cannot help anyone “participate in informed debate on the care of Creation and social responsibility in respect of shale gas.”. This appeal reflects the sheer incompetence of the writers of this blog. It does seem that they have selected only those who give an anti-fracking stance and ignore the vast body of work from leading academic bodies, govt bodies etc. At best the authors are guilty of culpable ignorance and are bringing the churches into disrepute
Perhaps they need to listen to St Augustine from 400AD


(This quotation is often cited against Creationists whose misunderstanding of science is legendary.)
The identity of the contributors
Though the blog does not specifically say so, it does seem to come from the Blackburn Diocese Environmental Group. Members of that group have been involved in producing three very inaccurate reports on fracking for the churches of Lancashire, both Anglican and Roman Catholic
This gives an indication;

We would be grateful for your response to this concern, to the email addresses below.
Blackburn Diocese Environment Group
• Revd Professor John Rodwell (Chair, )
• Revd Canon Ed Saville (Diocesan Environment Officer,,
• Dr Stephen Garsed,
• Derek Estill.

The fact that two of these have Ph Ds in biologically related science is very concerning. Any scientist should be cautious going outside their sphere of competence and when they do should look very closely at the experts in the field. Some of the false arguments they accept are like someone claiming they found cacti in a peat bog on the tops of the Forest of Bowland. (If you ask about my qualifications, I have a degree in geology and worked as an exploration and mining geologist in Africa for 2 ½ years before ordination. Since then I have researched and published on the history of geology in major journals,and have led geological field trips. In recent years I have studied fracking deeply, visited sites and made my own field study of the Bowland Shales. I also benefit from experts who tell me when I go wrong!)

If this is produced by the Blackburn Diocese Environment Group, then they should be ashamed of themselves misleading other Christians about fracking. At best it is folly and at almost the worst, intellectually dishonest
Church of England Report
• A very careful study using decent authoritative studies from Government sources etc
• Were not gulled by the anti-fracking rhetoric
• Gave a fair and considered assessment along with some concerns

Blog article
• Rejected all authoritative studies from govt bodies, academics etc and ignored them.
• Essentially this shows a bias to extreme anti-fracking rather than a balanced and fair discussion.
• Accepted as gospel writings of anti-frackers , who though they have some technical background, have no actual involvement or experience in fracking
• Failed to see that self-published and self-referenced articles are of very limited worth. This is very much so of Hill’s paper
Finally I regard this blog as not only very misguided but liable to misinform and confuse others. It is not a responsible action.

90% opposition to fracking in Scotland is FAKENEWS


After the Scots voted out fracking on 3rd October 2017 it soon became apparent they reject the findings of scientists in a 2014 report . It does not say much for politicians who simply reject science.

It was also reported that 95% of the public objected. This figure came from all the letters of objection. Well out of 60,535 responses (all negative)

21,077 standard campaign responses (35%) – i.e. responses based on a standard text provided by the campaign organiser
31,033 petition signatories (51%) – comprising an initial petition statement, followed
by a list of signatories

These do not inspire confidence and are simply those who filled in stock responses provided by green groups. If you are green (both senses?) it is easy to sign them without considering or understanding what you are signing.

This is exactly what happened in Lancashire two years ago as most responses were like this   Over the 25,000 18,000 were pro-forma and over 11,000 from outside Lancashire.

Worse than that people were asked AND expected to sign without considering the content as I wrote back then;

But what did the letters say? Most are pro-formas listing objections downloaded from RAFF (Residents acaction against Fracking,Fylde)’s website or from a print-off. For example, at the Garstang Show on Saturday 2nd August 2014, those visiting the Anti-fracking stall were given this letter and asked to sign. My informant was given a copy by XXXXXXX from RAFF and asked to sign without reading it. My informant preferred to take it home and consider it before signing and XXXXXX was not well pleased  :(.

Now XXXXXX is a leading light in anti-fracking.

Even so 60,000 is a very small fraction of the Scottish popualtion

Why should anyone give any credence to signatories like this when they hadn’t got the nouse to give their own considered objections and simply signed on the dotted line. It is difficult not to see it as another campaign whipped by Green groups, who do not have a good track record on objective reporting about fracking.

The Scots have scored an own goal and they need to go one step further and ban fracking offshore as well. If they have moral scruples, rather than virtue signalling or playing for votes they will.



Here’s an extract from the report

About the consultation responses
4. The consultation received 60,535 responses which were included in the analysis.
These comprised:
 21,077 standard campaign responses (35%) – i.e. responses based on a standard
text provided by the campaign organiser
 31,033 petition signatories (51%) – comprising an initial petition statement, followed
by a list of signatories
 8,425 substantive responses (14%) – i.e. responses drafted by respondents using
their own words, or non-standard campaign responses (standard campaign
responses which have been edited or personalised through the addition of extra
Respondent types (substantive responses only)
5. Substantive responses were submitted by 8,239 individuals and 186 organisations /
groups. Among the latter, one-third were from community councils and other community
groups. Organisational responses were also received from third sector or non-governmental
organisations; private sector / industry bodies; public sector organisations; a range of
professional bodies, membership organisations and trade unions; faith groups; and academic
or research organisations. Among the respondents who submitted substantive responses
and who provided postal addresses, 88% were from Scotland. In addition, of the respondents
with Scottish addresses who provided a postcode, two-thirds (66%) lived in areas identified
as potentially having significant reserves of shale oil / gas or coal bed methane.
Overview of responses
6. As noted above, 86% of the responses to this consultation took the form of standard
campaign responses or petitions. In all of these, the respondents explicitly called for fracking
to be permanently banned in Scotland.
7. The remaining 14% (8,425) of responses were substantive responses. Within this group,
with few exceptions, respondents made their views clear about fracking and / or the
development of an unconventional oil and gas industry in Scotland, and the overwhelming
majority expressed views that were opposed.
8. Among organisations, there was near unanimous opposition to fracking among
community councils and other community groups, third sector and non-governmental
organisations, faith groups, political parties and other activist groups. In addition, a majority of
private sector organisations (including all those in the food and drink sector), some public
sector organisations (including some local authorities), and a majority of academic / research
organisations expressed strong reservations or serious concerns about the development of
an unconventional oil and gas industry in Scotland, even if they did not call for an outright
ban on fracking.
9. Fewer than 5% of those who submitted substantive responses (and fewer than 1% of
respondents overall) expressed a different view on this issue. In the main, these other views
came from:
 Organisational respondents in specific sectors – mainly the oil and gas and
petrochemical industries, and related professional, membership or trade
organisations – and a small number of individual respondents, all of whom were
largely supportive of the development of an unconventional oil and gas industry in
 Organisational respondents from public sector organisations and regulatory bodies,
who either did not express a view, or thought that it was not possible to come to a
view based on the available evidence. This latter group also included a small
number of individual respondents.
Views opposed to fracking and / or an unconventional oil and gas industry
10. As has been set out above, the overwhelming majority of respondents were opposed to
fracking or the development of an unconventional oil and gas industry in Scotland. Across all
consultation questions, these respondents:
 Repeatedly emphasised the potential for significant and long-lasting negative
impacts on communities, health, environment and climate
 Expressed scepticism about the ability of regulation to mitigate negative impacts
 Were unconvinced about the value of any economic benefit and the contribution of
unconventional oil and gas to Scotland’s energy mix, believing that any benefits
would be relatively short-lived and far outweighed by the risks presented by the
Views in favour of the development of an unconventional oil and gas industry
11. As noted above (paragraph 9), a small number of respondents expressed positive views
about the development of an unconventional oil and gas industry in Scotland. Across all
consultation questions, these respondents:
 Emphasised the benefits for the economy, for communities, for the climate, and for
Scotland’s energy supply
 Thought that the positive impacts outweighed the risks and that, in any case, the
risks associated with unconventional oil and gas extraction were no greater than the
risks associated with any other industry
 Argued that the development of a strong and robust regulatory framework could
mitigate any adverse impacts.
Views neither for nor against unconventional oil and gas
12. Among the small number of respondents who did not express a specific