National anti-fracking rally

nofrackdemo

Massive national anti-fracking rally coming up in Manchester on 12th November. Following on from David Cameron’s government “going all out for shale” (which includes bribes to local communities affected by fracking), Theresa May has continued the support for fracking by recently overruling Lancashire County Council and going against massive local protest. Even New Scientist magazine is now wondering why the government continues to go down this road. Banned in many countries, incompatible with climate change targets (why invest in inappropriate infrastructure and jobs that will only last a few years at most?), no guarantee that it will save the public any money, environmental risks. Nothing has changed since the 2013 protests in Balcombe, which convinced me that fracking will never take off in this country. The massive lorries alone are a nightmare! The government apparently wants a fight on this one, it looks like they will get it. The farce continues. More info on the event at frackfreelancashire.org

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Fighting the frackers – locally and internationally

Frack free Lancashire

Frack free Lancashire

At the end of June, anti-fracking campaigners won a significant victory when Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s applications to start fracking at two sites between Blackpool and Preston in Lancashire. The Roseacre Wood site application was rejected due to “impact on traffic” and the Little Plumpton application was rejected on the grounds of “unacceptable noise impact” and the “adverse urbanising effect on the landscape”. Since a crash-course on the pros and cons of fracking during several visits to the Balcombe anti-fracking protests in 2013, I have been convinced that these kind of basic and immediate environmental concerns will ultimately be the reasons that the shale gas industry will never become established in the UK. There are of course a ton of other reasons to be more than concerned about fracking – the danger of water pollution, the risk of earthquakes, more fossil fuel burning contributing to climate change and so on. David Cameron and the Conservative government are wrong.

Frack stops here

Frack stops here – and everywhere

Although the council’s decision has been described as winning round one, victory in Lancashire was important. An article in The Ecologist shows what a significant achievement this was, given the shockingly low and dishonest tactics they were up against.

“The Planning Officer bears a huge responsibility to evaluate the application, via a reasoned summary of the best available evidence, in an impartial and responsible manner. Unfortunately, in this case the planning officer reports fell so woefully short of such standards that they raise the obvious suspicion of undue political and/or industry pressure and influence.” Dr Damien Short, director of the Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

FrackOffCouncillor Paul Hayhurst:- “We were told we must vote for the application. If we didn’t we would be breaking the law and we would be deemed irresponsible members. If it went to appeal and we lost, costs would be awarded against the authority.” Hayhurst then insisted the DCC (Development Control Committee) publish the legal advice so that the public could see it. The meeting was then adjourned until the 29th June. But it wasn’t until 10 a.m. the next day when the legal advice, written by David Manley QC, was finally published on the Council’s website, and worse still it was toned down and expressly stated that rejecting the application would not break the law.

The Conservative government recently announced an end to subsidies for small-scale solar energy projects and a cancellation of home energy efficient schemes. Despite their occasional token green rhetoric, the government really couldn’t make it more obvious that they couldn’t care less about the environment. Earlier this month they made an outrageous U-turn on the promise to exclude fracking from Britain’s most important nature sites.

EnvironmentArticleMeanwhile, in the U.S. where thousands of wells have been drilled, the volume of waste produced is overwhelming the official disposal routes. It requires 5-8 million gallons of fresh water mixed with sand and chemicals to frack a single well. Some recent damming data comes from an Environmental Science & Technology article for ACS Publications: “Our findings indicate that discharge and accidental spills of OGW to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.” http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es504654n

Fracking on international trial in 2017

FrackingTrialA coalition of human rights lawyers and academics have announced an international tribunal to put fracking on trial. More on this at New Internationalist and Oil Change International.

“The PPT will be inviting witness testimony from citizens all over the world who may wish to hold preliminary mini-tribunals in their own country. Evidence and findings from those early tribunals can then be submitted to the later plenary hearings in the US and UK.”

In the meantime, communities around the UK continue to organize and fight back. According to a recent survey by Frack Free Upton, of over 2,100 residents living within one mile of IGas and Dart Energy’s drilling site, 86% do not want unconventional drilling in Upton.

More information on fighting fracking in the UK at Frack Off or various facebook pages including B.I.F.F. (Britain and Ireland Frack Free) http://www.facebook.com/britainandirelandfrackfree

The fracking and shale gas farce continues

FrackingOhio2014Tory energy minister Matthew Hancock is the latest Tory Charlie to enthuse about the supposed benefits of fracking and shale gas. “I want to speed up shale. It takes too long at the moment. We have to ensure that instead of an array of complicated permissions we have very firm but very clear rules.” Oh good, full speed ahead. No need to worry about the recent disaster in Ohio then.

FrackingPoliceCostOr indeed, no need to worry about the huge cost to the taxpayer for policing the many legitimate peaceful protests that are taking place around the UK. No need to worry about the cost of the damage to roads caused by lorries, something I witnessed myself last year in Balcombe. Would the industry survive if they had to pay for such “inconveniences”?

All is well. Keep burning those fossil fuels, we really don’t need to worry about all that climate change stuff do we? The fracking companies get massive subsidies and tax breaks to damage the environment – maximum profit and minimum risk for the investors and shareholders. Corporate Britain strikes again – hurrah! More info at Frack Off.

Why fracking in the UK is absolutely the wrong move

“The best solutions to climate change are practical. There are thus strong environmental reasons to support British fracking.” So said the leading article in The Times newspaper yesterday, referring to the need for action after the latest alarming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC). Elsewhere in the paper, there was the news that the government is drawing up new laws to allow fracking firms to drill under people’s homes without the permission of landowners. The Times leader put forward a supposed argument for fracking, “hard as it may be for traditional environmentalists to accept”. The article suggests that fracking has played a significant role in America’s reduction of carbon emissions, and that this is the way forward over here. No, it is not. Despite its apparent success in the USA, fracking will not and can not be successful over here, for many reasons.

FrackingbonkersTo be economically viable, there would have to be many thousands of wells and drilling rigs across the country. Many, many people’s lives and communities would be devastated in one way or another. The coming and going of the required massive trucks alone would be enough for many to protest. Downland, meadowland, farmland and woodland would be subject to wide-scale industrialization. In America, towns near fracking sites have had water supplies contaminated and running out, as well as land, livestock, pets and people poisoned by air pollutants. Even according to the government’s own experts, fracking will not lower energy bills. Despite what the government claims, the environmental risks are extremely high, and the damage already done by fracking in several countries is real.

Widespread opposition has already helped stop fracking in France and Bulgaria, with temporary bans in Holland, parts of the US, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In my view and that of many others, it must be stopped here before serious damage is done. The alternatives? Cutting energy waste and developing the UK’s huge renewable energy potential. “Britain trails nearly all the European Union in providing renewable energy – we can boast of being ahead only of those global giants Malta and Luxembourg – meanwhile states such as the US and China are surging ahead with renewables. The refusal to provide a secure, supportive investment environment for renewables in the UK risks losing opportunities for jobs and businesses.” Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.

FrackingwrongmoveJoin the legal block to prevent fracking under your home! It’s a desperate attempt to undermine democracy and law. Already 40,000 of us have signed up to join the wrongmove legal block to stop #fracking under our homes – let’s make it 50,000! 
Enter your postcode to find out if your home is under threat: www.wrongmove.org

More information at Frack Off.

Fracking bonkers

Fracking

Green MP Caroline Lucas,  arrested at Balcombe

Green MP Caroline Lucas, arrested at Balcombe

Last summer I made several visits to the anti-fracking protests at Balcombe in Sussex, just a few train stops up from Brighton, where I live. I had only vaguely heard of fracking before, but had smelt a rat as soon as my girlfriend told me a few things about what was going on. Visits to the site were an education, in more ways than one. Apart from anything else, the heavy policing of the protests was extraordinary and unnecessary, since estimated to have cost the taxpayer £3-£4 million. One would have thought that this alone might have made David Cameron’s government question the viability of fracking, particularly in politically conservative areas such as Balcombe, but apparently not.

Protests at Barton Moss, 2014

Protests at Barton Moss, 2014

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is extremely dodgy. Irreversible water, soil and air pollution are part of the deal. And burning yet more fossil fuels in a time of climate change targets? Even discounting some of the environmental risks, there are a large number of other reasons for the UK public to be extremely worried. Fracking is a big industrial enterprise that will significantly disrupt communities and countryside if it takes off in the UK. There is obviously something very wrong if Cameron has to resort to bribing local communities and householders. He goes further and claims that opponents of fracking are “irrational”, quite an extraordinary statement to anyone who has taken the trouble to look into the pros and cons in detail. The government insists that there are “clear, robust controls in place” but a recent newspaper article uncovered the fact that the Environment Agency has precisely six full-time staff monitoring fracking. Those who have worked in the industry say that fracking can not be regulated and will therefore never be safe.

FrackedUpCameronEnergy expert Paul Stevens has carefully outlined all the issues (including the myth that energy prices will come down) and explained why fracking has conquered America, and why it can’t happen in Britain. Bribing local councils and the public is not the answer, David Cameron. It looks to me like you are in danger of committing political suicide.

A large number of videos are available including The Fracking Facade, Fracking Hell: The Untold Story and GAS – WAR.

Websites at Frack Free Sussex and Frack Off.