Week Ending 1st December 2013

Special Report - Professor Davies - evidence to the Lords

Barton Moss

The first "peaceful" arrest.
For obstructing the public highway - on a private road.
This is only the first day of conflict at Barton Moss. It will not be the last, but already we should start asking about the quality of the policing here.

Judge from this video evidence.
He went down handcuffed, passively resisting. He came up bloodied. I call that unwarranted assault. "What's he being arrested for", someone calls. Good question.

Police line up, Wednesday morning.

Abused, thrown to the ground, arrested, traumatised? Who cares. Not the fracking police.

These local ladies had maybe their first experience of police action - pain in their backs through constant pressure. Their resolve kept them strong. You can see all this in their faces. I admire them so much.

For more pictures of the week's events see the picture gallery.

Gas Flare Stacks : Singleton Oil Field, Chichester
Sat 23 Nov 2013

Video of "conventional" flaring, an example of the smoke and air pollution we can expect from hundreds of exploration wells

UK news highlights

Fears of a new scandal at Barton Moss

The war against fracking entered a new phase this week. A paranoid industry, with their overmanned police guard - paid for by the public - drove parts for their their drilling rig into their high security stalag defended by barbed wire fencing without planning permission. They intend to drill to a depth beyond that of the planning permission. Yet it is the frackers who have the police protection, an aggressive police force threatening arrests when just a day before the first case to go to trial arising from the Balcombe protests was thrown out of court. We should all really start asking the question - if we haven't done so before - how an unpopular activity whose legality is seriously in question, should be allowed to use our police and spend millions of our money intimidating and attempting to criminalise objectors who are acting with no self-interest, but are, rather, defending our - and our childrens - environment, health and future. This is neither right nor just.

There were early reports of an arrest and unnecessary use of force by police resulting in injuries. The photos and video link above give testimony to this.

IGas confirmed beyond a doubt they were drilling for shale gas, far beyond their planning permission for CBM.It is particularly galling that they should be allowed to do this, protected by both an arrogant and insensitive Salford council and the police.

The crude and aggressive start to policing Barton Moss will be counterproductive. Expect more continued protection - and protest - and, sadly, more arrests.

On Tuesday only part of the drilling equipment arrived at the site. The rig was expected Thursday, but the large police presence on Wednesday morning, some 20 vans and cars and between 100 and 200 officers, suggested Wednesday might be the day.

Delaying tactics and brutal arrests continued.

On Wednesday afternoon a haulage company lorry with reg number FJ05CCN struck a protester as they were leaving the site. So much for the police being there for the protection of the protestors. This is building into not only a major scandal, but raising serious questions about how far the war will escalate.

A new threat to the protectors came when it was reported social services were targeting children and threatening mothers with action including taking away their children if they were brought to the protests.

If Thursday was comparatively quiet, the mobilising of some 30 police vans on Friday morning warned of no rest for the protectors. However the day seemed quiet and there were no reports of protector abuse as there had been on the first two days. Clearly the police have realised their offensive tactics on Tuesday and Wednesday have backfired on them. Hopefully they have seen sense and moderate their action.

Friday's mass policing was designed to test a new tactic - attempting to build a convoy of trucks delivering to the site and force them through in one go. Amazing they hadn't thought of this before. These first few days show incompetence and poor planning.

Social media posts indicated a growing cheerfulness and feeling of solidarity among the protectors, and growing support from the local community.

As part of a continuing struggle to bring the message home to the prime minister, campaigners from Barton Moss delivered a letter to Number 10, including a moving description of the area's importance for the environment and wildlife which was a damning indictment of recent attempts to write off the "desolate North".

The weekend started with a Mad Frackers Tea Party and ended Saturday with a beautiful coming together at sunset. Whether IGas start drilling this weekend as they promise remains to be seen.

First Balcombe protest trial collapses

The first trial arising from protests outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe collapsed within an hour when the judge questioned whether any offence had been committed.

After an adjournment, Jonathan Edwards, prosecuting, said it would not be in the public interest to continue the trial.

What a disgusting waste of public money, not to mention disgraceful harassment of a peaceful protestor, causing months of worry, with no just cause.

The press were curiously silent about both the Balcombe trial collapse and the Barton Moss aggressive policing.

Other UK News

Lord Cowdray stood up for landowners' rights to block shale gas tunnelling.

IGas mounted a spin offensive to boost its attraction to investors. However, by Wednesday it was revealed the truth was their profits are down.

The Independent reported new data showing the big six energy companies had more than tripled their profits per household in three years, pointing to the only way home energy bills can come down, by the government putting the brakes on the industry's profiteering.

A new report from the water industry confirmed there were "inherent" risks in fracking, involving both pollution and supply problems. Nevertheless the report said that risks could be "mitigated". Significantly for those fighting the claim that we have a "gold standard" of regulation it was also reported that according to the Water UK CEO extra control was "crucial".
“The MoU gives water companies a crucial extra layer of safeguards on top of the existing regulations to help ensure water supplies and the environment are protected.”

The government's energy dilemma was further exposed by the Indpendent revealing Cameron is considering a "new" option of "burning" the plutonium the country has been stockpiling for forty years.

And the energy industry's commitment to providing British jobs was demonstrated - ha ha - by npower's plans to slash over 1,400 UK jobs and move them to India.

Fracking Czar Lord Browne may now need to be stripped of his title. In a speech at the LSE he came out with a curious set of statements. Shale gas would not bring down gas prices. Climate change is "existentially important". He criticised the government for NOT introducing appropriate regulation, and for subsidy of fossil fuels!
Could this be anything to do with his swapping his investments to solar energy? Or a dose of green salts? Or was he forced to use palliatives to pacify a hostile audience?
He also said Balcombe would not be fracked - a promise he'll be held to.

MP Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, said he is 'very unlikely' to support fracking in his own constituency. Previously he has advocated the use of fracking in principle. Principles are not what hypocritical MPS have when they change their tune to avoid losing their seats at the next election, obviously.

The Independent reported on Owen Paterson fiddling while the climate change issue burned, whilst Paddy Ashdown warned of dire extreme weather consequences and the apathy shown at the recent Warsaw meeting. Caroline Lucas drove that point home in more eloquent fashion.

Stirling council confirmed they would oppose Dart's CBM plans.

A Telegraph report of Barclays' investment in fracking Yorkshire showed that Viking/Third Energy are even more advanced in exploring shale in beautiful North Yorkshire than IGas in Barton Moss, a sobering thought.


Pro - a new report by our friends Powry for the oil and gas industry promised 3 trillion pounds out of fracking for the European economy and a million jobs. Dream on!

A new study published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that methane emissions are far higher than previously thought, causing the EPA to have a rethink. Hopefully the current UK LOrds committee enquiry will be keeping its ears open for all the new emerging evidence which damages the industry's case.

A bill to ban fracking for ten years is going through the state assembly in Massachusetts.

From Spain there were hints that they would pass law to allow fracking. Together with this week's news that they would block an independent Scotland's entry to the EU it's time to switch the annual holiday away from Torremolinos, methinks.

In the UK would-be frackers have been trying to eliminate worries about excessive water consumption by claiming big advances in watre recycling in the UK. This week a new assessment of investment in the recycling showed this to be just another fracking sham. This remains one of the pro-frackers' weakest links.

Any opinions here not quotes from the week's news reports are my own.
Alan Tootill

News As It Came In with links to original stories


First Balcombe anti-fracking trial collapses

Lord Cowdray in Fernhurst anti-fracking legal bid


Shale predicted to add £3 trillion to Europe's economies

Emissions of Methane in U.S. Exceed Estimates, Study Finds

IGas Energy: Manchester shale gas well to complete in Q1 2014

Revenues up as IGas starts in Salford

Igas Energy Given “Buy” Rating at Jefferies Group (IGAS)

Energy firms: Big Six profits rise from £30 to £105 per UK household - more than threefold in three years

Brighton judge throws out first fracking protest case

Fracking protest bid to halt Barton Moss gas drilling

Fracking drills arrive in Salford, despite Irlam protestors efforts

IGas Energy Begins UK Shale Gas Exploration Work at Barton Site


IGas starts exploratory drilling in Barton as first half profits drop

Barton Moss: The latest front line in Britain’s unconventional energy revolution against fracking

Water shortages may make fracking impractical, industry says

Fracking has 'inherent' risks to water supply but these can be mitigated, says Water UK


Shale impact set to be "minimised"

IGas Energy’s “enormous” UK shale potential is the reason to buy shares, says broker

Revealed: David Cameron's radical plan to ‘burn up’ UK’s mountain of plutonium

Npower confirms 1,460 British jobs in outsourcing to India

'Substantial' shale gas in Wales, firms say

" target="new"> Protest against Fracking and we will take your kids


Lord Browne: fracking will not reduce UK gas prices

Fracking nightmare: ‘Like living in a very heavy industrial zone’

Spanish law could allow fracking

Environment: Fracking Up - Texas rocked by 16 earthquakes in 3 weeks

Owen Paterson, his sceptic brother-in-law, and how Defra went cold on climate change

Paddy Ashdown warns lack of action in climate change risks extreme weather


Bill would ban gas fracking in Mass. for 10 years

Pro-fracking Tory MP rejects drilling in his own backyard

Stirling Council to oppose Dart Energy plans gas plans

Caroline Lucas: Why climate change talks fell woefully short of the urgent action needed


Fracking Bonanza Eludes Wastewater Recycling Investors

IGas starts drilling for shale gas at protest site

Barclays invests in shale gas revolution

Water industry warns it may not match demands of public supply and fracking

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