Week Ending 23rd March 2014

URGENT - The deadline for response to DECC's strategic assessment for the next 14th round of onshore licencing is nigh!

Around 2/3 of the UK will be opened up for fracking if the government gets its way. You will find an excellent analysis and response as to why they should NOT get their way provided by Frack Free Tameside

Feel free to cut and paste a response to DECC, or write your own, but it has to be done very soon!

Get the briefing here - DECC REPLY URGENT

UK news highlights

Barton Moss

Heavy-handed police action resulted in 13 arrests on Monday 17th. Protectors were outraged and proceeded to picket Swindon police station in protest at the arrests. Celebrity Bez of the Happy Mondays, who has announced his intention of standing for the next parliament, was at the camp and expressed horror at the police brutalising of the protectors.

Another scandal broke out when Vanda Gillett was remanded in custody for supposedly assaulting three police officers. Given her previous complaint about police assault, and the clear video evidence from Barton Moss that she was very much assaulted by the police, it isn't surprising her fellow protectors were outraged. She was released later in the week, but not before her time in jail had separated a mother from her children.

Elsewhere

In London a demonstration against fracking caused an industry conference to scurry off to a new venue. So much for engaging in dialogue on fracking! In Bristol a petition signed by over 5,000 people caused the city council to schedule a debate on the issue.

The budget contained no fracking surprises, with a blinkered chancellor intent on squeezing every drop of oil and gas out of the ground.

The Guardian revealed just how Lord Browne and Cuadrilla have the power to influence the government and its agencies, when a Freedom of Information request showed Browne had called meetings with Owen Patteson to smooth Cuadrilla's passage through their problems in Balcombe last year. This is extremely unhealthy, even if not worthy of the charge of corruption in high places.

Cuadrilla, already having retreated from two well failures at Preese Hall and Anna's Road, announced they were closing down their test operations at Banks. Far from welcoming the news, it adds more questions - how come Lancashire County Council have allowed them already to go beyond their planning permission deadline? Do they have Environment Agency approval for the "tests" they want to carry out before abandoning the well? Will this include DFiT, or mini-fracking? When will they ever agree with DECC procedures for abandoning their wells?

On Sunday William Hague used the recent Russian activity in Ukraine to launch a pro-fracking message. He seems oblivious to the fact that nearly none of our gas comes from Russia, despite the claims of needing energy security, and his talk about European energy solidarity sounds hypocritical, give n the UK government attitude to Europe and in particular its attack on attempts to improve European fracking regulation.


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

Fracking protestors gather at Swinton police station after 13 arrests made at Barton Moss

London Fracking Protest: Vivienne Westwood Joins London Protest

Anti-fracking petition sparks council debate

In his own words: Bez explains his anti-fracking crusade

Fracking protester who complained about GMP charged with assaulting an officer

Owen Paterson held urgent meeting for fracking boss, documents show

Cuadrilla pulls out of Banks shale gas fracking site

Russia faces global isolation - again

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