Week Ending 22nd December 2013

Special Report - Professor Smythe's evidence to the Lords - why our water is at risk

UK news highlights

The Crimean war had Florence Nightingale, the Longstone Lighthouse had Grace Darling, the Suffragettes had Emmeline Pankhurst (a Moss SIde girl).
Now Barton Moss has heroine Anne Power.

Windmill blades? Trucks? Who needs them? We just need more like Anne, a one-woman blockade.

Barton Moss

The week started with a brilliant direct action, blocking the IGas site with a huge wind turbine blade. On Wednesday an orange bus blocked the IGas site entrance for several hours. But IGas continued deliveries, even on Sunday. More arrests came alongside allegations that the police were misusing their powers, making arrests they knew would not result in charges that would stand up in court. They picked out protectors to be be banned from the camp under police bail conditions until a preliminary court hearing gave them unconditional bail, as was seen this week.

Direct Action

"Around fifty people arrived at 5.30 this morning to leave this imaginative early Christmas gift for fracking company IGas.
... the site's only entrance is now completely blocked by the 1.5 tonne blade, so there won't be any drilling equipment heading in there for a while..."

Santa's little present for IGas

Pearl Hopkins, a local resident, said, “I didn’t know today’s action was going to happen but I’m very glad it did. It’s great that people are coming from all over the country to support us at Barton Moss – and with creative blockades like this one. Local people have tried using all the official channels to object to this scheme, but the Council and IGas seem determined to brush our concerns under the carpet and carry on regardless. We’d like renewable energy for the future – not the destruction of our towns and countryside with thousands of drill sites.”

They thought it was over? No, no, no!

"Wednesday saw more discomfort for IGas as the Big Orange bus blocked the site entrance.
5 Brave Barton Moss Protectors are locked to a BIG ORANGE BUS preventing access to IGas' site.

* 1 locked to the steering wheel and accelerator
* 1 locked underneath
* 1 locked to the roof-skylight
* 1 locked to the back door by the neck
* 1 locked to front door by the leg

They look to be in it for the long haul."

It took six hours before they were removed. Three were arrested.

Other UK News

The government continues to oppose EU regulation of fracking. A spokesperson said "We are prepared to take all the risks and all the flack about fracking."

By which they mean they will pay local communities to be guinea pigs. This was unfortunate timing, as a new US report told of risk of infertility, cancer and birth defects in fracked areas. To risk a community's environment and health in a misguided attempt to rescue a failed government economic and energy policy is scandalous, and sees British politicians sinking to a disgraceful low.

The much-heralded release of the Strategic Environmental Assessment leading towards the 14th round of onshore licence offering was accompanied by a "road map" of hype to persuade us that the process of letting frackers loose on the country is chock-a-block with regulation. Frankly this was a damp squib. We all knew what the likely area of the UK open to liocence was. What was perhaps surprising was that the AMEC report was so lacking in rigour when it comes down to facts and figures. A report which was so vague that it estimated full-time jobs created by shale gas at anything between 2,500 and 32,000 is meaningless. This will provide little for the frackers to rejoice over. Nor will those against fracking have much to chew on. In short all this new report does is show how little is known about shale gas potential. It flags up severe potential environmental risks,but says they could be controlled. A real dog's dinner. Scandalously, the executive summary of the SEA quoted only high scenario for fracking and not the far less rosy low-end scenario. Even the high end must be disappointing for the government.

If it seems worthwhile I'll summarise the main points in a special report later, but here's the brief rundown.
Jobs - from 2,500, at best 16,000-32,000 new jobs, but only at the height of production for a few years then they'll disappear. Disappointing scenario for reserves with only about twice the annual gas consumption being available in the 2020s. A forecast of maximum 2,800 wells. Cuadrilla alone are banking on around 4,000 in their PEDL165 area in Lancashire. Climate change not beneficial unless combined with imported LNG. Wastewater - a significant burden with current infrastructure perhaps unable to cope. around £0.6 billion available maximum for local communities over around 150 sites. Unhelpful estimates of between 14 and 51 heavy traffic movements over three years of site development, with underestimated water usage if fracking performed more than once. Adverse impact on rural roads, traffic, noise and air quality. Water use estimated to be about 18% of existing energy and water treatment industry. No substantial development before the 2020s.

Even for the pro-frackers - is it worth it?

This must have been a real disappointment for avid fracker minister Owen Patteson. He was reduced to telling a Wales affairs committee that there would be "no quick buck" in fracking.

The Telegraph blamed Friends of the Earth for the production of a report with so many environmental downsides.

The Local Government Association said that the 1% bribe for local communities was not enough. The Telegraph reported them as demanding 10% rather than the 1% the government has put on offer.

A University of Stirling professor pointed out that report authors AMEC had done much work for BP and Shell, known for "huge oil pollution in the USA and Africa and, in the former company, for lethal health and safety failures".

Another scandalous government admission that they fear the community in the form of landowners will exercise their legal rights. Minister Nick Boles published a statement regarding advising homeowners of planning applications to drill under their land. It won't happen. They are deprived of the right to know if their legal rights will be challenged, or whether trespass could occur. In my view, the government is severely misguided in its stated ambition - already partly implemented - to remove our legal rights to challenge fracking at planning and regulatory level.
When they take our lawful freedoms away from us, what options will we have left?

The worst news of the week came from the EU, where plans to make environmental statements mandatory for all shale gas projects was voted down, due largely to lobbying by David Cameron. Cameron is still touting the lie that promises 70,000 jobs from fracking, despite the DECC report this week suggesting a maximum figure, on a high-end scenario, of 32,000. And even those jobs would only last a few years.

On the brighter side The National Trust restated its opposition to fracking on its land.


Reports came in from Romania of a fracking protestor setting himself alight after being refused demonstration permission. Media were accused of a cover-up.

A new report from Colorado suggested people near fracking sites were at risk of higher incidence of infertility, cancer and birth defects.

Think Progress unveiled a chilling account of 45 of 2013's worst fossil fuel disasters.

A report into California's shale prospects said government forecasts were "absurdly optimistic".

The Guardian reviewed Obama's hypocritical stance on climate change in 2013.

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


Green warning over fracking clean-up costs

"'Frack Master' says UK shale gas market threatened by scaremongering"
US Frackmaster go home! You like a fight, stay here you'll get it.

Fracking protesters dump wind turbine blade at Manchester drilling site

Protestors blockade Salford 'fracking' test site with giant wind turbine

Barton Moss blockaded with giant wind turbine blade


‘We are prepared to take all the risks and all the flack about fracking’

MU Researchers Find Fracking Chemicals Disrupt Hormone Function

Fracking chemicals 'could cause infertility, cancer and birth defects'

British PM urges EU to cut shale gas red tape

What Does Shell’s Decision to Cancel GTL Plant Say about US Shale Gas Boom?

Fracking may increase health risks, scientists warn

Cuadrilla to pull out of fracking site

Fracking firm Cuadrilla pulls out of Lancashire 'quake' site

'No quick buck' to be made from fracking, energy minister tells Welsh MPs

Fracking: huge impact of largescale UK shale gas industry revealed

Access for yourself all the government SEA and "Road Map" documents here


Fracking firms invited to drill under half of the UK

What A Year: 45 Fossil Fuel Disasters The Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know About

Manchester fracking protesters park bus across IGas drilling site

Why California will Never Fulfill its Shale Potential

National Trust ‘fundamentally objects’ to fracking

Fracking Plans For Two-Thirds Of England - National Parks and Areas Of Outstanding Natural Beauty could face drilling in the potentially lucrative hunt for shale gas.

Salford anti-fracking protestors chain themselves to a bus

Government places more restriction on planning publicity

Fracking could be allowed under homes in Britain without owners' knowledge


Fracking report changed to include 'more negative effects' following lobbying from green groups


Stirling Professor slams AMEC for working for BP and Shell

Communities must not be short-changed over fracking, warn council chiefs

Fracking firms could drill under your home - and not even tell you: Companies will be able to bypass strict planning rules

South Lakes fracking threat raises alarm

2013 - fracking, wacky weather and record CO2

Community benefits no 'game-changer' for fracking, says IGas boss


2013 year in review: Obama talks climate change – but pushes fracking


Fracking community benefits row threatens to derail shale gas exploration

EU shelves plans to introduce stricter regulations on fracking for shale gas


  Links to other
anti-fracking sites