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. See 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.

Elsewhere

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.
Alan Tootill

News As It Came In with links to original stories

Monday

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

Tuesday

BBC: Balcombe anti-fracking protesters to be evicted

Balcombe resident held at protest

Wednesday

Pa. fracking boom goes bust

Thursday

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

Friday

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

Saturday

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'

Sunday

Not so green... Lib Dems support fracking and nuclear power

Lucas rallies Greens at party conference in Brighton

  Links to other
anti-fracking sites

 

Preston New Road Action Group

 

Focused Action on Fracking

 Defend Lytham

 RAFF - Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

Ribble Estuary Against Fracking

Frack Free Fylde

Frack Free Wales

Frack Off Scotland

Frack Free Surrey

East Kent Against Fracking

Frack Free Fernhurst

Fracking Free Ireland

Frack Off

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