#Fracking hypocrisy from Fylde MP

“Dear Aunty, is it true that MP Mark Menzies is being more than a little hypocritical in his statements on shale gas?”

It certainly seems so poppets.

Following the news that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, has “recovered” the Cuadrilla planning appeals and will now make the final decision himself instead of the unelected planning inspector, Mr Menzies is reported in the Blackpool Gazette to have asked the Secretary of State to justify his actions, asking this question in Parliament:

“For what reasons he has decided to recover the planning appeals by Cuadrilla Resources to build shale gas wells at Roseacre and Preston New Road?” to be told it is because the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance.

He has previously said, on the same topic:

“The fact that this major planning application has been called in by the Secretary of State is a well-established process for such important developments.

“While I am sure there will be claims that this is some kind of Government conspiracy, it is actually more democratic in that the decision will be taken by an elected representative of the UK Government, rather than an unelected civil servant with no democratic oversight.

“I know in the past there have been major planning appeals, such as the Queensway development in St Annes and the travellers’ site application in Newton, where residents have successfully campaigned for the Secretary of State to call in decisions to ensure the proper level of oversight.

“The process is well-established in that the full public inquiry will still be carried out by the inspector, a report and recommendation made before a final decision by the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, meaning there will be that additional level of oversight on these crucially important matters.

“I will be speaking to the Secretary of State about these applications and will impress upon him my belief that the decision made by the local council should be adhered to.”

On 4th December, he also asked this Parliamentary Question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what he weight he plans to give to the views of people living close to the proposed shale gas well at Roseacre and Preston New Road in the process for considering planning appeals by Cuadrilla Resources to build wells at those sites.”

He seems rather intent on making sure that local views trump national interests, doesn’t he dears?

Which is strange, because on 27th November, Mr Menzies expressed entirely the opposite view on the matter of Heathrow expansion.

Here’s what he said:

“We have one of the biggest airports in the world, with a proven track record of success, at the edge of one of the greatest cities—possibly the greatest city—in the world, so it is frustrating that we have spent all this time prevaricating and being sucked down by, in effect, glorified nimbyism. I say to Members from west London: “It is not about you; it is about the future of the United Kingdom.” I find the stance taken by some people in recent years quite frustrating; it really is starting to wear a bit thin. This is not about electoral or mayoral campaigns; it is about the economic future of the UK.

“It is frustrating that national infrastructure issues that affect not just London but my constituents in Fylde are being sucked down to the lowest common denominator of what is right for a handful of constituencies in west London.

“My constituents, and many others in the regions of the United Kingdom, would be delighted by such an opportunity for jobs and growth—they would absolutely bite your hand off—but we have been pulled down into a very narrow debate about what is right for west London. What is right for the United Kingdom is that we build a third runway and identify Heathrow as the hub airport for western Europe. What is right for the United Kingdom is not that we have a fudge, but that the Government’s decision is clear and timely, and that we get on with it. Let us get it built.”

So, where fracking is concerned, Fylde MP says local not national interests should win the day. Where Heathrow is concerned, we should ignore local NIMBY’s and just get on with it.

Mr Menzies appears to be tying himself in hypocritical knots. He should stop playing this silly political game and throw his weight behind shale gas in Lancashire, helping to secure much needed jobs and investment. Because, as he rightly points out to Members representing West London constituencies: “It is not about you; it is about the future of the United Kingdom.”

Until next time xxx

Asthetics and appearance, Local Impacts

100 shale gas pads on the Fylde? So what…

Recently, anti-fracking activist Alan Tootill took it on himself to produce an illustrative map of the Fylde showing what he suggests will be the likely spacing of 100 shale gas well pads should Cuadrilla eventually progress to developing the Bowland Shale.  But he’s been very naughty in his misrepresentation, as you’ll see dears.

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Environmental controls, Ionising radiation, Legislation, Permitting, Public safety, Radioactivity, Surface Impacts

Why do drill cuttings not have to be treated the same as fracking flowback fluid?

“Dear Aunty, why do drill cuttings not have to be treated the same as fracking flowback fluid?” asks Fred at Counterbalance.

What a good question. And easy to answer my dears.

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RAFF, a Lancashire anti-fracking group, has been forced to withdraw misleading literature after being caught with its pants on fire by the ASA
Ideology, Leaflets, Nimbyism, Publicity

RAFF, a Lancashire anti-fracking group, has been forced to withdraw flawed leaflet

“Dear Aunty, is it true that Residents Action on Fylde Fracking has been forced into an embarrassing withdrawal of anti-fracking literature in Lancashire?”

Yes, it most certainly seems so dears.

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Air emissions, Fluid migration, Permitting, Planning consent, Pollution prevention & control, Public safety, Well integrity

Shale gas well integrity leaks

“Dear Aunty, is it true that we can expect all shale gas wells to leak, especially after abandonment?”

No, of course not.

Fortunately, this is one of the more easily rebutted claims often made by anti-fracking groups that claim the steel and cement with which shale gas wells are built will eventually degrade, dears, leaving gas and fluids free to escape into the environment.

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Economic impact, Ideology, Local Impacts, Nimbyism, Uncategorized

“Dear Aunty, is it true that fracking related pollution has occurred in the UK?” Yes.

Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. Fracking related pollution does seem to have occurred in the UK, and it appears that it is not limited to a single location.

There is evidence of fracking related pollution in every town or village where exploratory drilling has taken place, including around sites on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, Hull, North Yorkshire, Salford, Balcombe, Wrexham, Ellesmere Port and more.

And the pollution is highly mobile, meaning it can spread easily.

But this pollution, dears, isn’t affecting the air we breathe, the water we drink or the soil we grow our crops in. It is much, much worse.

It’s the pollution of the communities themselves. Or, more to the point, it’s the pollution of how otherwise right-thinking and rational people in those communities view the world.

Let me give you an example of what I mean, poppets. Earlier this year, when Cuadrilla Resources announced plans for two new shale gas sites in Lancashire, residents of the Roseacre village formed a loose alliance, eager to understand what it could mean for them. They began as a neutral group, but soon they became vehemently opposed, using increasingly aggressive and confrontational language and spewing anti-fracking rhetoric about the harms they say fracking for gas causes.

Barbara Richardson, who represents the Roseacre Awareness Group, is probably a mostly nice lady. But the way she attacks anyone that proffers an opposing view to hers suggests to me that she’s been ‘radicalised’ my loves.

It’s the same with Resident Action on Fylde Fracking, also in Lancashire. A scroll back through their Twitter timeline shows they were very balanced in the beginning, but now their Twitter feed is full of bile. Which is a shame, because watching them from afar, most of the members seem like decent people.

So, how has this pollution occurred? How and why are these people being radicalised, and by whom?

Well, sweeties, there are two things at play here that are influencing this behaviour in our otherwise mild-mannered neighbours. Firstly, there is the group of disaffected, anti-corporate, anti-establishment types called Frack Off. They don’t really care about the environment, they just don’t like the fact that the major political parties are all aligned in support of shale gas and that what they perceive to be the rich and powerful stand to gain from it. This group are expert at spreading lies and fear, and travel the country meeting with local residents groups, infiltrating them and poisoning their thinking, playing on their concerns and amplifying them to give the impression that they are a real and present threat.

I know they don’t care about the environment, because they’ve opposed a wind farm off the coast of Brighton. Why? Because, they claimed, it was just going to provide electricity to the communities of London.

Frack Off and it’s cohorts like Tina Rothery from Blackpool are also closely aligned with the Occupy movement, which is also anti-capitalist.

Secondly, there is the unholy alliance of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, cherubs. These are simply opposed to any form of fossil fuel development, and remain ideologically (and quite wrongly) glued to the notion that we can survive entirely without them. They are concerned about issues such as climate change, but they know that’s too distant a concept for many, so they too go into our communities and spread fear about air and water pollution, at the same time peddling the myth that renewables can meet all of our energy needs right now. Once they’ve stirred up those communities, they gradually relax their rhetoric on local environmental concerns, and shift their language to embed the climate change arguments instead. Suddenly, the communities near planned shale gas sites are all avid proponents of renewables (although few of them sport solar panels on their roofs).

But at what cost does all this pollution come, dears?

Let’s say that these outside interests win, and that shale gas extraction is halted. What then? Will we wake up to a world powered entirely by renewables? No. Will corporate interests melt away? No – and, in fact, the companies behind renewables technologies are all profit-driven, and so we’d simply see fossil fuel capitalism supplanted by renewable energy capitalism. Will climate change be stopped in it’s tracks? No – because coal, the dirtiest of all fuels, will continue to be burned instead of switching to cleaner burning gas.

And what will neighbours think of those in their communities if they succeed in derailing shale – will they be welcomed as conquering heroes? Perhaps, for a little while dears, but that will change soon enough once the UK’s reliance on gas leads to even higher and more costly imports, driving up the cost of household energy bills. If Barbara Richardson thinks that the people of Roseacre and other nearby villages will thank her for landing them with increasingly expensive home energy, she’s very mistaken. Right now, she is setting herself up to be attacked by her community at a later date but she can’t see it because she’s been radicalised by those outside interests.

But home energy bills aren’t where it stops. Without a reliable supply of affordable power, our hospitals can’t function. Has Barbara considered this impact, I wonder, and what she might say to the families whose loved ones perish because of power outages? And what of the factories that also rely on a steady supply of affordable energy, that may be forced to close without it, making many people jobless. Has Barbara given any thought to what she’ll say to local people that are made redundant?

I doubt it. Those groups and individuals that are expert at dripping poison in the ears of those that are susceptible to it won’t be highlighting these stark realities, and by the time it’s too late, they’ll be gone – off to battle the next perceived government-backed, corporate ill somewhere. Leaving poor Barbara, and others like her, to fend for themselves, pumpkins.

Until next time xxx

Pollution prevention & control, Uncategorized, Waste storage

“Dear Aunty, is the BBC clip of a bauer coupling at the IGas drilling site indicative of poor controls?”

No, sweeties, it’s not.

Although, based on the excitement it’s caused amongst anti-fracking activists, you could be forgiven for thinking that the image of a bauer coupling – with what appears to be gaffer tape helping to keep it together – is a sign that onshore drilling activities are poorly managed.

Anyone who actually bothered to look at the image closely will see that a blue valve is also visible, and it’s in the closed position. So, regardless of how secure the coupling may or may not have been at that exact moment in time, dears, there was no risk of any material escaping from the tank because the valve was isolated.

But what if it had failed? What if that coupling came loose when the valve was in the open position, wouldn’t that increase the risk of a spill?

Well, yes, of course it would. But an increased risk of something happening doesn’t make it a fait accompli, poppets.

And even if there was a loss of fluid, the sites are deliberately constructed so as to provide suitable levels of secondary spill containment – meaning that spilled liquids are retained within the curtilage of the site and do not escape to the surrounding environment.

The Source>Pathway>Receptor principle of environmental risk assessment applies – in this case, even though there’s a source of something that can be spilled, and nearby receptors that could be affected, the spill containment measures employed mean that there’s no pathway. And therefore no problem.

But all that is moot, cherubs. And that’s because bauer couplings are typically only used in low-risk applications, because the spring-loaded clasps have a tendency to wear loose over time.

If the fluid being stored and used is hazardous or potentially contaminative, it’s more likely you’d see BSP screw fittings used instead (petrol tankers that make deliveries to your local forecourt use a form of screw fitting because you can obtain a tighter, more robust connection). Strong mineral acids usually sees bolted flange fittings being used, and for oil and gas flows, hammer unions.

So, dears, the continued use of a bauer coupling that’s lost some of its tension isn’t a sign that activities are poorly controlled or unregulated, it’s a sign that it’s so low risk that it doesn’t matter.

And all the Twitter chatter amongst opponents of onshore oil and gas extraction – well, my loves, that’s just a sign that they have no real knowledge.

Until next time xxx