Week Ending 15th September 2013
Special Report - Norm and Fracking
Balcombe News Headlines
Wednesday Morning - Cuadrilla's site owner accused of breaching mortgage conditions.
Allegations have been made that Simon Greenwood, boss of the Balcombe Estate, on whose land Cuadrilla are drilling, is in breach of the conditions of his mortgage on the land from AMC. The allegations state that AMC are unhappy with the siutation, and this could put an immediate halt to Cuadrilla's operations.
The allegations were aired on video here.
Documents displayed to camera purported to show a mortgage granted to Greenwood by Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group), and that Greenwood had leased the land to Cuadrilla.
A Balcombe resident said he had spoken to the mortgage lenders who had not given any permission for oil and gas exploration.
It remains to be seen if there is any validity in the claims. The Protection Camp went strangely silent on the issue, and it generated no mainstream press reports, so a big question mark remains.
However this story ends, it signals to landowners that they should be extremely cautious when considering leasing their land for fracking.
WSCC take action to move camp
West Sussex County Council displayed their true colours by threatening to evict the Balcombe Protection Camp demonstrators. After six weeks in which they have shown little regard for the local community and little interest in enforcing or monitoring Cuadrilla's conforming with planning constraints this comes as little surprise.
The council, accompanied by bailiffs, served an eviction notice on the camp, telling the protesters to leave before 9am on Tuesday.
On Tuesday a press release was issued on behalf of the Camp - here it is.
Argus reporter 10.35 am: "It appears that West Sussex County Council are indeed going to have to go to the High Court to evict the protesters, as they are not moving. "
Liveblog feed from Argos site here
The tally of arrests hit 100 on Tuesday. This included the first Balcombe resident to be arrested, poet Simon Welsh, who led the singing of the Balcombe Anthem. It seems like victimisation to me. Maybe the police have no ear for music. The formal charge was suspicion of a section 14 public order act offence.
The camp has refused to move and WSCC are now said to be applying to the high court for an eviction order.
Other UK news
With all the action at Balcombe, I plead guilty to having overlooked what's happening elsewhere, to some extent.
In particular it fell below my radar that in Northern Ireland there is a planning application in from Raithlin Energy to explore shale at Ballinlea.
This has already attracted a thousand objections, but there is an extension to the consultation period because of new documentation being required.
Ballinlea oil/gas well – not a ‘done deal’.
Is Ed Davey breaking ranks? Or just changing his tune depending on his audience?
Wishy washy Davey said on Monday shale won't reduce bills.
The paper debate continued when he was accused of creating a rift over shale gas and contradicting David Cameron’s claim that fracking boom can bring down energy bills. About fracking time.
However Davey was back on the rails later, addressing the Royal Society, when he said fracking won't endanger climate targets.
The law claimed its first post-Balcombe victim when protest heroine Elizabeth Snook pleaded guilty to aggravated trespass at Cuadrilla's lichfield head office and was fined £100.
IGas gave notice they intend to explore at Irlam in Greater Manchester by setting up a website to educate the public. Too late in the day as they already have planning permission for exploration, with an incredibly long 25 year permission expiring in 2036. Reports suggested they will start drilling in October.
They reacted badly to an attack from FoE pointing out their financial fragility, and hit back at the weekend with details of plans to form partnerships. This includes one of the largest landowners of land in the North, Peel Holdings, whose 13,000 hectares IGas claim to be open to their exploration. Peel has not been beyond criticism, being accused in June this year of tax dodging by the Public Accounts Committee.
The much-heralded vote on mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments for shale gas exploration and fracking was put on ice until October by the European Parliament.
Any opinions here not quotes from the
week's news reports are my own.
News As It Came In
links to original stories
Ballinlea oil/gas well – not a ‘done deal’. The company has had to supply more information, and more time has been allowed for objections.
IGas buys Caithness Oil
Fracking firm ordered to stop drilling in Balcombe after "rattling" noise complaints
Fracking won't lower energy bills, says Davey
Rift over shale gas exposed as Ed Davey contradicts David Cameron’s claim that fracking boom can bring down energy bills
Balcombe roadside protesters to be evicted
Guardian comment Tim Stone: How fracking can work in Britain
BBC: Balcombe anti-fracking protesters to be evicted
Balcombe resident held at protest
Pa. fracking boom goes bust
Alkane boss plays down CBM, claims fracking opposition will calm down
Campaigner says shale gas report is just 'hot air'
Shale gas: environmental impact studies vote postponed
Shale gas explorer IGas Energy prepares to drill near Manchester
Failure to stop Chancellor from undermining efforts to cut carbon pollution and support for fracking means Lib Dems are no longer green, say charities
Oil Column: IGas set for Manchester shale drilling in October
Mancunians to brace for shale gas?
MP in ‘have your say’ plea over Salford fracking plan
High Court eviction order scheduled for Monday
IGas in talks over shale energy that could power UK for six years
Property giant Peel Group accused of 'tax dodging'
Not so green... Lib Dems support fracking and nuclear power
Lucas rallies Greens at party conference in Brighton