240+ households share Cuadrilla’s shale gas community payment

240+ households share Cuadrilla’s shale gas community payment

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Cuadrilla’s rig at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, 1 January 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

Cuadrilla said this morning more than 240 households living near its Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool have received a share of a £100,000 community benefit payment.

The company said 85% of entitled local residents had applied for the money. The payment is linked to the second shale gas well drilled at Preston New Road.

The £100,000 was split proportionately between households living within 1.5km of the site, Cuadrilla said. Households within 1km were entitled to about £2,000. Those between 1km and 1.5km were entitled to £150.

Money linked to the first well was paid into a community benefit fund. Grants from this fund will be paid to community projects local to the site in early spring this year, the company said.

Cuadrilla’s Chief Executive, Francis Egan, said in a statement:

“We are delighted to have made these payments directly to local householders after listening to their views on how the community payment should be distributed.

“It was encouraging to see so many of those entitled for a share of the £100,000 applying, with over 240 households local to the Preston New Road exploration site benefiting.

“Together with over 50 local jobs created and nearly £5m being invested to date in Lancashire, our community benefits initiative is another important example of how we are committed to putting Lancashire first from our shale gas exploration.”

Read the full article on Drill or Drop here:

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Two Lancashire Tory MPs object to Cuadrilla’s revised plans for fracking at Roseacre Wood

Two Lancashire Tory MPs object to Cuadrilla’s revised plans for fracking at Roseacre Wood

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Rule change approved for Cuadrilla’s shale gas site despite fears of intensified fracking

Rule change approved for Cuadrilla’s shale gas site despite fears of intensified fracking

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Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 3-4 December 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

Cuadrilla has been allowed to change controls on fracking and flaring at its shale gas site near Blackpool.

The Environment Agency announced yesterday that it had approved variations to the environmental permit on the volume of fracking fluid and the duration of flaring.

Friends of the Earth has opposed the changes for the Preston New Road site, saying they could lead to more intensive fracking and more lorry loads of potentially radioactive waste on Lancashire roads.

Volume of fracking fluid

The original permit, grated in January 2015, allowed Cuadrilla to pump 765m3 of fracture fluid a day.

Under the change, the company could pump up to 765m3 per fracture stage. Cuadrilla has confirmed that it could carry out multiple fracture stages in a day.

Friends of the Earth said the change could intensify fracking at the site, with no limit on how many fracking stages would be allowed daily.

It had called on the Environment Agency to undertake a full assessment of treatment techniques available to process the waste flowback fluid on site to minimise the volume of potentially radioactive waste that would be transported on local roads.

The organisation also said there were discrepancies in Cuadrilla’s figures for flowback fluid and, as a result, the number of tankers needed to transport it. Tanker movements could top 2,000 if the company was unable to reuse some of the fluid, Friends of the Earth said.

But the Environment Agency wrote in its decision document:

“There is no increase in risk to groundwater associated with this change. The maximum quantity of waste flow back fluid that can be stored on site has not been changed and remains at 3,000 cubic metres.”

It added:

“In the event that the operator [Cuadrilla] could not somewhere to take their waste, the operator would have to take the necessary measures to ensure that no further waste of this type is generated until alternative treatment/disposal routes were in place.”

The EA also said:

“Any increase in vehicle movements that may result from this change would be managed by the operator in accordance with their planning permission and would be regulated by the local authority.”

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Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 1 December 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

Flaring duration

The original permit allowed Cuadrilla to flare waste gas during the initial flow testing phase for 90 days for each of the four proposed wells.

The variation permits the company to flare for a total of 360 days for the whole site.

In its decision document, the EA said the change allowed Cuadrilla to be more flexible. The company could spend more time testing the earlier wells without increasing the overall duration.

The EA said the change would not result in harm to human health or the environment.

According to the decision document, an EA screening exercise had concluded that the “predicted environmental concentration of each pollutant modelled is not expected to exceed 70% of the applicable environmental quality standard and as such and EQS breach is considered highly unlikely.”

The EA said Cuadrilla would have to maintain a daily flaring register, recording each day on which flaring of any duration took place, up to a maximum of 360 days. Cuadrilla would have to include its proposed seven-day commissioning periods for the two proposed flares within the 360-day total.

The EA added that the actual environmental performance of the flare would now be monitored, instead of the previous scheme which relied on monitoring by calculation. There would also be “strict” annual emission limits for oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and total volatile organic compounds, the EA said.

Fracturing plans

Under the revised permit, the EA said it required a separate hydraulic fracturing plan for each individual well, rather than one plan for all four wells. It said:

“This will allow the Environment Agency to scrutinise and review each stop of the process as operation proceed on site.”

It would also allow Cuadrilla to update and refine subsequent hydraulic fracturing plans, the EA said.

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Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 1 December 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

Flaring plan and procedures

The EA said Cuadrilla must produce an updated site plan showing the location and designation of the two proposed flares before flaring could start.

The application for permit variations did not include detailed operational procedures and controls for the flaring activity, the EA said. Cuadrilla must also provide these procedures for approval before flaring.

Seismic monitoring

The permit changes allow Cuadrilla to monitor any seismic events using downhole seismic geophones. The original permit required an array of monitors on the surface.

The EA said the variation would result in more accurate information. While one well was being fracked, an adjacent well could be used to monitor fracture growth, it said. .

Cuadrilla had agreed to use the government’s traffic light system for seismic events from 4 weeks before injection operations to 2 weeks afterwards, the EA added.


The EA said odour was “not considered likely to be an issue” because the site was 250m away from what were described as “the nearest sensitive receptor”.


The EA said:

“Noise and vibration are not considered to be an issue due to the design of the flare, the rural location of the site, the distance to the nearest receptor … and the level of background noise”.

In response to concerns about noise, the EA said:

“In the unlikely event that the activities give rise to pollution due to noise and vibration outside the site, a noise and vibration management plan be requested.”


The EA said it was satisfied that appropriate measures were in place to prevent environmental accidents that may cause pollution. If there were an accident, the consequences would be minimised, the EA said.

Trust and competence

The EA said some people who took part in its consultation on the permit changes were concerned about Cuadrilla’s competence and its lack of transparency when dealing with the public.

Four permit breaches have been recorded against the company since operations began at Preston New Road in January 2017.

But in its decision document, the EA said:

“We have no reason to think that they [Cuadrilla] would not comply with permit requirements and conditions.”

People who took part in the consultation also said Cuadrilla had not explained the scope of the changes and that the information was different from that in the planning application. But the EA said it was satisfied there was sufficient detail to decide to vary the permit.

The EA said it received 189 responses to the first public consultation on the permit changes, ending in August 2017. There were 33 responses to its consultation on the draft decision which closed last month.


Environment Agency decision document on permit variation (11 December 2017)

Revised permit EPR/AB101MW (11 December 2017)

Environment Agency documents about Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site

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Fracking companies feature on new “climate disinformation database”

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Two shale gas companies and their executives are on a database launched today which aims to reveal lobbying in favour of fossil fuels and against climate change action.

The database, from the website DeSmog UK, is designed to be a live log of activities and actions by key players who are said to be “pushing climate science denial and disinformation”.

The almost 70 entries include Cuadrilla and INEOS, companies behind shale gas exploration plans in northern England and the East Midlands, along with their executives, Francis Egan and Jim Ratcliffe.

DeSmog said the database was intended to help the public, journalists, researchers and policymakers check who they are dealing with on climate science and policy.

It gives background on companies and individuals, their connections, stance on climate change, quotes on energy and climate issues and climate lobbying activity.

DeSmog said today:

“Despite the UK posturing as a climate change leader on the global stage, there remain many issues on which it needs to move further, faster, if the government is to meet its own high standards.

“Behind each climate policy failure is a network of politicians, corporate lobbyists and shadowy think tanks pushing to preserve the fossil-fuelled status quo.”

DeSmog said many of the actors in the database were connected through funding, business relationships, personal connections and ideological origins. These links are portrayed on an updated map.

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Industry section of the DeSmog UK map of key players

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Government sidesteps call for “urgent” debate on fracking and climate change

Government sidesteps call for “urgent” debate on fracking and climate change

Fracking Week in Parliament 13-17 November 2017.
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Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site ready for fracking, 15 November 2017. Photo: Eddie Thornton

The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, has called for an urgent debate on the compatibility of fracking with UK climate objectives.

carolinelucasIn a parliamentary question, Dr Lucas said the government was believed to be about to approve the first high volume hydraulic fracture onshore in the UK onshore for six years. A decision on fracking at Third Energy’s site at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire is expected any day.

She asked the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadson:

“Can we have an urgent debate on how that is compatible with our climate change objectives, given that the Committee on Climate Change has said that three key tests have to be met? The Government have not met them, yet we believe the decision in Ryedale is imminent.”

Andrea LeadsomMrs Leadsom said shale gas was needed for UK energy security.

“We will need continued access to gas for many years to come as we move to a renewable, zero-carbon-electricity future, but that it is not possible to do that overnight.”

Also this week, Labour’s Justin Madders (left) asked how the government planned to change planning law so that fracking decisions were taken out of local authority control. Mr Madders is MP for Ellesmere Port, where IGas is proposing to test an existing shale gas well.

The Communities Minister, Alok Sharma, (above right) said the government would announce its “preferred way forward in due course”.

In the House of Lords, Lord Hunt of Chesterton (above left) asked what steps was the government taking to inform people about the risks of fracking. The Energy Minister, Lord Henley, (above right) said “early engagement” with communities was vital and public confidence was important to the shale industry’s success.

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Ten Greenpeace volunteers acquitted at anti-fracking protest trial

Ten Greenpeace volunteers acquitted at anti-fracking protest trial

Volunteers protesting against fracking are found not guilty
10 campaigners acquitted of obstructing the highway, 3 November 2017. Photo: (c) Greenpeace UK

Ten anti-fracking campaigners who locked themselves together in a protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site have been found not guilty after a trial in Blackpool.

The five women and five men, who included a retired midwife and solicitor, trainee yoga teacher, business analyst and manager of a supported housing unit, were cleared this morning of obstructing the highway.

They had locked themselves together in pairs through yellow-painted boxes outside the site on Preston New Road on 3 May 2017.

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Judge defers decision on INEOS fracking injunction

Judge defers decision on INEOS fracking injunction

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Anti-fracking banner at Marsh Lane, one of INEOS’s proposed sites in Derbyshire. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A High Court judge hearing the challenge to INEOS’s injunction against anti-fracking protests has reserved his judgement.

Mr Justice Morgan said this evening:

“I’m not going to give a decision. I think the amount of material I have to digest and weigh up and consider means it is not fair to give a decision tonight. I will try to give a decision as soon as possible.”

He gave no indication of timing but said the interim injunction would remain in place until the decision.

The three-day hearing has heard argument from INEOS and lawyers for two challengers: campaigners Joe Boyd and Joe Corre, son of fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood.

The evidence and statements filled 32 ring binders and the legal teams topped 25.

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Opposition to fracking at record high and support at lowest level ever – latest government survey

Opposition to fracking at record high and support at lowest level ever – latest government survey

Public Attitudes2

The latest findings from the government survey of attitudes to fracking in the UK shows dwindling support for the second quarter running.

The results, published this morning, has support (rounded figure) at 13%, the lowest level since the question was first asked. This is more than 3 points down on the previous low of 16% in the survey carried out in the summer of this year.

Read the full article in Drill or Drop here:

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Fracking protest injunction based on ‘flimsy evidence’

Fracking protest injunction based on ‘flimsy evidence’

Ineos exaggerated the threat posed by protesters to justify its temporary legal action, court hears

Anti-fracking campaigners at an Ineos site in Sherwood Forest, January 2017.
Anti-fracking campaigners at an Ineos site in Sherwood Forest, January 2017. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
 A multinational firm has been accused of using “flimsy and exaggerated” evidence when it obtained an “astonishingly broad” injunction against all anti-fracking protesters, a court has heard.

Petrochemicals giant Ineos is seeking to enforce a sweeping injunction to prevent any protester from obstructing its fracking operations. Campaigners face being jailed, fined or having their assets seized if they break the injunction.

At a three-day hearing in the high court, two campaigners are seeking to have the injunction struck out, arguing that it is “anti-democratic and oppressive”.

On Wednesday, Heather Williams, QC for Joe Boyd, one of the campaigners, accused Ineos of using “exaggerated, tendentious and selective” evidence to justify the injunction.

She added that Ineos’s evidence consisted of “little more than a fragile house of cards, constructed of repetitive, unrepresentative and flimsy examples”.

Ineos obtained the temporary injunction in July after telling a judge that it faced an “imminent and real” risk of being targeted by unlawful protests.

The injunction – addressed to “persons unknown” – forbids any campaigner from harassing Ineos staff and suppliers in any way, or interfering with their lawful activities.

Ineos has submitted more than 3,000 pages of evidence and videos which it says show that it is facing a “significant degree of hostility” from campaigners.

Much of this consists of what it says are threatening comments by protesters on social media. Its lawyers have told Mr Justice Morgan that other fracking firms have been subjected to “repeated acts of unlawful trespass”.

Williams told the court that the injunction was “fundamentally flawed and unjustified on the evidence”. The injunction had been granted in July at a private court hearing at which no campaigners were given the opportunity to contest it.

Williams said Ineos had asserted that it was in “possession of information indicating there was an immediate threat of serious personal injury or death to their own employees and others linked to Ineos from the activities of protesters.”

But the evidence provided by Ineos, she said, “did not in fact come near to bearing this out nor warranted the use of such sensationalist and emotive headlines”.

In evidence submitted to the court, Ray Fellows, Ineos’s security consultant, said that the fracking industry was “becoming increasingly concerned at the risks posed by militant activists”.

On 10 May, industry representatives had met police officers including a secretive unit that monitors campaigners. “At that meeting, the strongest advice coming from the police to prevent the unlawful activity was the use of injunctions through the civil courts, and that it was the view of the police that the industry collectively has enough evidence to obtain such relief,” Fellows said.

The verdict in this case could persuade other corporations to pursue similar injunctions.

The other campaigner challenging the injunction is Joe Corré, the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Boyd has raised more than £12,000 through a public appeal to fight the case.

Read the full article in the Guardian here:



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Lancashire refuses to extend planning permission at Cuadrilla shale gas site again

Congratulations to REAF on beating Cuadrilla’s application to extend the restoration deadline for the Becconsall fracking site!

Lancashire refuses to extend planning permission at Cuadrilla shale gas site again

Lancashire County Council’s development control committee discussing Cuadrilla’s Becconsall site, 25 October 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Councillors in Lancashire have turned down the latest of multiple applications from Cuadrilla for more time to restore a shale gas site near the Ribble Estuary.

The county council’s development control committee voted instead this morning for enforcement action against the company for not returning the Becconsall site to farmland by the agreed time.

The deadline for restoring the site, which is in the Green Belt and next to an  internationally-important wildfowl reserve, had previously been reset by the council four times.

Councillors said the decision, which went against the advice of planning officers, was to prevent further harm to agriculture and anxiety to local people.

Members of a local campaign group applauded when the vote was taken.

John Powney, of Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that the county council have done the right thing

“This sends a clear message to Cuadrilla that they have to abide by the conditions and decisions of the councillors.

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Cuadrilla did not speak at the meeting. DrillOrDrop invited the company to comment on the decision. This post will be updated with any response.

“No work since 2011”

Lancashire County Council first granted planning permission to Cuadrilla for Becconsall in 2010. The company drilled a well in 2011 to about 3,000m. Since then no work has been done but the well site remains, the committee heard.

The first permission, granted by a planning officer under delegated powers, required the company to complete restoration by 27 September 2012. Since then the deadline has been reset to 28 March 2014, 28 September 2014, 31 October 2016 and 31 August 2017.


Cuadrilla’s drilling compound at Becconsall in an area used by wintering ducks and geese

Today Cuadrilla was seeking another year to abandon the well and restore the site. It said it had been unable to do the work by the deadline set as a condition of a previous permission because a little ringed plover had nested near the well head. DrillOrDrop report

Cuadrilla said there would not have been enough time after the chicks had left the nest to return the pad to farmland.

Planning officers recommended the site be restored by 31 October 2018. But councillors voted by six to five against the application.

The committee heard repeated criticism of Cuadrilla for not complying with previous conditions at Becconsall.

As well as failing to restore the site on time, the company drilled beyond the agreed 90-day limit in 2011 and beyond a deadline designed to protect wintering birds.

“Not in the public interest to extend permission”

Gail Hodson, a West Lancashire Borough Council, speaking against the application, said:

“It is not in the public interest to extend this permission.

“There has been a flagrant breach of conditions attached to previous applications, when this site could have been restored years ago.”

A statement from Doreen Stopforth, who lives next to the Becconsall site, said she had experienced “nothing but stress from Cuadrilla”.

“They said they were going to restore the site two years ago and it has still not happened. The stress of their unpredictability is too much to cope with. The council should take enforcement action.”

Another resident, Amy Hargreaves said

“This matter has dragged on far too long. It is time for Lancashire County Council to set a non-negotiable end date on this application and return the site to agricultural production.

“It is not reasonable to pass this application. There is nothing to stop the applicant [Cuadrilla] changing its position again and again and again.”

John Powney, of REAF, said:

“After seven years, the public are entitled to expect this council to exercise its enforcement powers or present an acceptable plan which removes the possibility of the applicant being able to do as it pleases, which could well happen if this application was granted.”

Chris Cannon, who lives near Cuadrilla’s Singleton well, said the company had “disregarded and manipulated” the planning system. She said Cuadrilla had lost respect locally by “constantly breaking conditions, not implementing permissions and for poor liaison with local residents”.

Pollyanna Steiner, of Friends of the Earth, said it suited Cuadrilla to keep the site open. She asked why Natural England had not been a statutory consultee on the application, when it had asked to be informed about any change in the application or new information.

“Cuadrilla flouts planning conditions”

Fylde councillor Paul Hayhurst, Independent, called for enforcement action to be taken against Cuadrilla. It would, he said, put the council in control. Granting an extension could mean the committee would be in the same situation in 12 months’ time, he said.

With enforcement, he said:

“We are saying to the public of Lancashire who are concerned about fracking that we are doing what we can to ensure this company is complying with its obligations.

“This company flouts planning conditions readily and keeps coming back for more and more extensions.”

Cllr Kevin Ellard, Labour, said the committee had historically been weak on this issue.

He asked council officers what would be the strongest sanction they could take against Cuadrilla. They said action through the courts may not be a quick fix. “If the court feels we have not been reasonable they will not pursue it”, the committee was told. Restoration may not be achieved any quicker with enforcement action than by granting permission with conditions.

Cllr Stephen Holgate, Labour, said the committee needed to incentivise Cuadrilla to restore the site. He proposed requiring the company to pay a £300,000 bond which would be used for restoration if the company did not do the work. He pointed to a similar bond required by Nottinghamshire County Council for the IGas site at Springs Road, Misson.

Chairman Cllr Barry Yates, Conservative, said the committee could not consider what had happened at other sites. Planning officer, Jonathan Haines, said bonds were allowed in certain circumstances where companies had failed to restore sites. He said Cuadrilla had restored other sites in Lancashire. “I would dispute that they have not restored sites.”

Cllr David Foxcroft, Conservative, supported the application but asked for the conditions to be strengthened to tell Cuadrilla this was the last time the committee would extend the permission.


Becconsall site timeline

DrillOrDrop report on the previous committee hearing on Becconsall

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