Licences for East Lancashire fracking up for grabs

Underground deposits and licence areas

Underground deposits and licence areas

First published in News Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Local government reporter

THE starting gun was yesterday fired on the licensing process that could bring fracking to East Lancashire residents doorsteps within five years.

The M65 corridor north of Blackburn through Burnley to Colne and down the Rossendale valley is included in the three-month bidding process.

Half-a-dozen licence blocks are likely to cover the area identified in June by the British Geological Survey as sitting on huge reserves of shale gas – seen by some as the future of energy production in the UK.

Neither of the two major firms currently involved in exploratory drilling in the North West, Cuadrilla and Igas, have ruled out bidding for a licence in East Lancashire.

The British Geological Survey’s study of shale gas resources in Lancashire doubled estimates of reserves and extended the potential drilling area from the Fylde near Blackpool right across the East of the county.

Manchester University geology professor Ernie Rutter, who last year said the M65 corridor was a ‘prime target’ for fracking, said it could take just three years for a company to proceed from getting an exploratory licence to full shale gas production.

He added drilling firms now had to assess the geological information and decide whether to ‘gamble’ on buying one of the £1,400 licences.

Taking one out guarantees up to 31 years exclusive rights to any gas discovered in the ‘Bowland Shale’ underneath East Lancashire.

However companies will have to pass a significant number of regularity hurdles and face down strong local protests to exploit the reserves.

Energy Minister Matthew Hancock imposed tough restrictions on any experimental drilling in Britain's top beauty spots including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites.

Anti-fracking campaigners demanded similar restrictions apply to East Lancashire.

Fracking involves blasting water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into shale rock formations to release the gas and oil held inside.

Environmentalists argue it causes water contamination and earth tremors. The industry is confident the process can be done safely.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla, currently working in West Lancashire, said: “We are pleased with the announcement and will be carefully assessing the exploration acreage included, whilst maintaining our immediate focus on securing planning consents for our proposed shale gas exploration sites in Lancashire.”

A spokeswoman for Igas, currently working at Barton Moss in Salford and on Merseyside, said: “We will be keeping our options on and will examine the position regarding exploratory licences in East Lancashire.”

Lancashire’s only Green Party county councillor Gina Downing said: “The government has admitted fracking is too dirty and dangerous for England national parks.

“If so, it is too dirty and dangerous for the beautiful countryside of East Lancashire.”

Jane Wood of ‘Keep East Lancashire Frack-Free’ said: “Shale gas will not bring energy security and ‘keep the lights on’ in the near future. There would not be significant UK shale gas production until 2020.

“Whilst the government wishes to protect areas of natural beauty, the fracking industry would impact more on northern England rather than the South. “ Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle welcomed the news that East Lancashire was in the licensing round, the first since 2008.

“I say bring it on,” he said. “It will provide the nation with energy security and our area with jobs and prosperity.”

The licences last six years for exploration then, provided work has started, another five for a development plan and 20 for production.

Pendle Peer Lord Greaves added: “It will be years before we see fracking in East Lancashire based on the tortured geological nature of the area.”

 

The pros and cons of fracking

FOR

Those in favour of fracking claim: 

  • Shale gas potentially can go a long way towards meeting UK energy needs for up to 60 years
  • It could reduce substantially the UK’s dependence on gas shipped from Russian, the Middle East or Asia
  • It should stabilise domestic gas prices
  • It produces less greenhouse gas emissions than coal burning
  • It could power a new industrial renaissance, creating new jobs in areas where they are desperately needed
  • There will be cash compensation to communities, councils and landowners affected built into the regulatory scheme

AGAINST 
Opponents claim: 

  • To extract even 10 per cent of the gas under Lancashire could require between 50,000 and 100,000 wells
  • This could mean the industrialisation of the countryside, with thousands of trucks and plummeting property prices
  • It would have little or no impact on household energy bills
  • The promised boom in local jobs would never happen
  • It would cause contamination to water courses polluting the countryside possibly affecting domestic water supplies
  • It would accelerate global warming and climate change

Comments (8)

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10:09am Tue 29 Jul 14

mavrick says...

I noticed some of the claims made by both camps are spurious to say the least. The only certainty is that fracking will happen like it or not. The benefits prposed will never happen. Anybody old enough to remember the North Sea gas promise's I will say no more.
I noticed some of the claims made by both camps are spurious to say the least. The only certainty is that fracking will happen like it or not. The benefits prposed will never happen. Anybody old enough to remember the North Sea gas promise's I will say no more. mavrick
  • Score: 11

12:45pm Tue 29 Jul 14

jogalot says...

There has been very limited scientific data in USA but some has recently emerged. They show drillers do not disclose all chemicals used and that 45 out of 57 chemicals used are toxic. Drillers win gag orders to prevent the precise danger of their methods being made public when people get really sick. In general, fracking fumes smell so basically local residents stay indoors. General health problems are usually cold symptoms - runny nose, sinus congestion, drainage down your throat, stomach aches, headaches.

One study found more likelihood of babies having birth defects and another found presence of dangerous hydrocarbons in surrounding areas when drilling but the studies have been criticised for not including all data. But this is because researchers are not allowed into fracking sites, so it's impossible to do full research. The industry sets up web sites etc to promote the benefits of fracking and to refute all claims against it, but these have been criticised for being non-scientific.

So politicians are pushing fracking through, not because of scientific evidence, but based on the say-so of their mates in the industry. Cameron loves it. This video is edited but it's what Cameron really thinks:
https://secure.green
peace.org.uk/page/s/
fracking-david-camer
on-most-shocking-spe
ech
There has been very limited scientific data in USA but some has recently emerged. They show drillers do not disclose all chemicals used and that 45 out of 57 chemicals used are toxic. Drillers win gag orders to prevent the precise danger of their methods being made public when people get really sick. In general, fracking fumes smell so basically local residents stay indoors. General health problems are usually cold symptoms - runny nose, sinus congestion, drainage down your throat, stomach aches, headaches. One study found more likelihood of babies having birth defects and another found presence of dangerous hydrocarbons in surrounding areas when drilling but the studies have been criticised for not including all data. But this is because researchers are not allowed into fracking sites, so it's impossible to do full research. The industry sets up web sites etc to promote the benefits of fracking and to refute all claims against it, but these have been criticised for being non-scientific. So politicians are pushing fracking through, not because of scientific evidence, but based on the say-so of their mates in the industry. Cameron loves it. This video is edited but it's what Cameron really thinks: https://secure.green peace.org.uk/page/s/ fracking-david-camer on-most-shocking-spe ech jogalot
  • Score: 10

12:57pm Tue 29 Jul 14

GracesDad says...

This is the worst story I can imagine and barely anyone commenting on it. Is that down to ignorance or do people genuinely not care what kind of planet our children and grand-children inherit?

Fracking is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and the whole county should be strongly protesting against this as it will have a massive negative impact on our lives in Lancashire over the next 5 to 30 years.
This is the worst story I can imagine and barely anyone commenting on it. Is that down to ignorance or do people genuinely not care what kind of planet our children and grand-children inherit? Fracking is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and the whole county should be strongly protesting against this as it will have a massive negative impact on our lives in Lancashire over the next 5 to 30 years. GracesDad
  • Score: 13

1:56pm Tue 29 Jul 14

woolywords says...

There is no point in raising objections to this, as the Gov't has made all the decisions for me. They see it as a good thing and like a sheeple, I have to follow my leaders wishes.
Just as a Conservative Gov't once told me that Calder Hall, a nuclear power station opened by the Queen, would generate electricity, 'too cheap to meter..' A phrase that another Conservative Gov't trotted out, when they approved drilling for North Sea gas...
Strange how history has an habit of repeating itself, or is that just the mistakes. Am not too sure, so I wait to be told what I must think about that, as well.
Incidently, I note that there is no mention of peculating gas from fracking sites, entering the ground water aquifers, polluting them to the point where you get both gas and water through the same tap.
(That'll stop them smoking in the toilets, at work!)
There is no point in raising objections to this, as the Gov't has made all the decisions for me. They see it as a good thing and like a sheeple, I have to follow my leaders wishes. Just as a Conservative Gov't once told me that Calder Hall, a nuclear power station opened by the Queen, would generate electricity, 'too cheap to meter..' A phrase that another Conservative Gov't trotted out, when they approved drilling for North Sea gas... Strange how history has an habit of repeating itself, or is that just the mistakes. Am not too sure, so I wait to be told what I must think about that, as well. Incidently, I note that there is no mention of peculating gas from fracking sites, entering the ground water aquifers, polluting them to the point where you get both gas and water through the same tap. (That'll stop them smoking in the toilets, at work!) woolywords
  • Score: 9

2:58pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Eric Shawn says...

Something else for the govt. to sell that it never actually owned in the first place, and, to hell with any consequences.
Something else for the govt. to sell that it never actually owned in the first place, and, to hell with any consequences. Eric Shawn
  • Score: 6

6:30pm Tue 29 Jul 14

The Seagull has landed says...

GracesDad wrote:
This is the worst story I can imagine and barely anyone commenting on it. Is that down to ignorance or do people genuinely not care what kind of planet our children and grand-children inherit?

Fracking is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and the whole county should be strongly protesting against this as it will have a massive negative impact on our lives in Lancashire over the next 5 to 30 years.
Nuclear power instead??
[quote][p][bold]GracesDad[/bold] wrote: This is the worst story I can imagine and barely anyone commenting on it. Is that down to ignorance or do people genuinely not care what kind of planet our children and grand-children inherit? Fracking is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and the whole county should be strongly protesting against this as it will have a massive negative impact on our lives in Lancashire over the next 5 to 30 years.[/p][/quote]Nuclear power instead?? The Seagull has landed
  • Score: -2

9:49pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Nelsonman says...

Just a comment why can't everybody against fracking chip in and raise the 1400 pounds licence which will make sure nobody else can and the are will be safe from fracking. An east lancs licence covers a large area so 1400 shared isn't a lot. Just an idea
Just a comment why can't everybody against fracking chip in and raise the 1400 pounds licence which will make sure nobody else can and the are will be safe from fracking. An east lancs licence covers a large area so 1400 shared isn't a lot. Just an idea Nelsonman
  • Score: 3

9:36am Wed 30 Jul 14

GracesDad says...

The Seagull has landed wrote:
GracesDad wrote:
This is the worst story I can imagine and barely anyone commenting on it. Is that down to ignorance or do people genuinely not care what kind of planet our children and grand-children inherit?

Fracking is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and the whole county should be strongly protesting against this as it will have a massive negative impact on our lives in Lancashire over the next 5 to 30 years.
Nuclear power instead??
Wind power Steve. Drive along the coast of North Wales and you will see hundreds of turbines out in the sea. We are a small island and the whole country could be powered by offshore windfarms. Sustainable and would certainly give us more than 60 years worth of energy.
[quote][p][bold]The Seagull has landed[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]GracesDad[/bold] wrote: This is the worst story I can imagine and barely anyone commenting on it. Is that down to ignorance or do people genuinely not care what kind of planet our children and grand-children inherit? Fracking is a short-term solution to a long-term problem and the whole county should be strongly protesting against this as it will have a massive negative impact on our lives in Lancashire over the next 5 to 30 years.[/p][/quote]Nuclear power instead??[/p][/quote]Wind power Steve. Drive along the coast of North Wales and you will see hundreds of turbines out in the sea. We are a small island and the whole country could be powered by offshore windfarms. Sustainable and would certainly give us more than 60 years worth of energy. GracesDad
  • Score: 3

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