Pink Footed Geese feeding on a wildfowl refuge set up by fracking company Cuadrilla were shot by hunters who had leased the same fields.
Cuadrilla rented land on the Lancashire coast as winter grazing for birds displaced by its exploratory gas well at Becconsall, near Banks. However shooting rights on the land had already been let to members of the Old Hollows Gun Club, which legally shot geese in the winters of 2013 and 2014.
The conflicting use of the fields came to light when local people compared the agreements to Cuadrilla’s maps and discovered they covered the same land at the same time. A member of the gun club has confirmed he killed Pink Footed Geese on the land during a winter season while Cuadrilla’s lease was in place.
A Track Record of Failure
Cuadrilla have a dismal track record with multiple breaches of planning conditions at sites in Lancashire and West Sussex. This list has been assembled from a multitude of sources and spans all 5 of Cuadrilla’s sites. In addition to 10 documented breaches of planning there are at least 5 “planning ambiguities”, this case being a sixth. Cuadrilla has suffered technical failures at every site in Lancashire. They have been dogged by accusations of well integrity failure at Preese Hall Farm, trespass & damage while seismic testing in the same area, a censure by the advertising regulator for misleading literature, multiple protests and 28,000 objections by local residents and the now well-known induced earthquakes caused by fracking, also at Preese Hall.
It will come as no surprise to the residents of Balcombe, Barton Moss or any community living under the threat of this unprecedented industrialisation of our countryside and rural areas that problems like this occur. When Local Authorities are financially vulnerable and regulatory bodies have dwindling budgets (like the Environment Agency) this unregulatable industry fuelled by speculative investment and mindless politicians is afforded trust and gets to self regulate!!! In this case the planning officer Stuart Perigo seems to be bending over the rules backwards to facilitate Cuadrilla’s activity!
The New Application
In March last year Cuadrilla made a new application for the Becconsall site. Although they have backed away from a full scale frack at Banks they now want to perforate the well with high explosives and install pressure monitoring equipment. They have refused to give details of the explosives to be used but will need to bring a full workover rig onsite with pumps to recirculate fluid in the well (an almost identical application for a site at Grange Road in Singleton was refused in February this year).
Lancashire County Council’s planning committee approved the Banks application in September last year but did not issue the planning permission. The committee’s recommendation to approve was subject to the applicant putting in place “off site ecological mitigation measures” to be provided throughout the wintering wildfowl seasons. However, the owners of a large section of land set aside for migratory birds had an ongoing contract with the gun club. See the full time-line for the Banks Site.
The decision notice was finally issued on Friday 1st May and published on the council’s website as planning officers prepared to begin the May bank holiday. There are still no details of the mitigation on the council website. A note says (in capitals): “Due to the size of the S106 agreement that accompanies this decision. It is not possible to display the document today it will appear here shortly”
Residents from across Lancashire gathered at the site on Bank Holiday Monday ahead of any activity by Cuadrilla. In addition to two new applications for exploratory fracking (appraisal) at Preston New Road and Roseacre Cuadrilla are seeking to retain and extract saleable data from as many sites across Lancashire as possible. Fracking companies like Cuadrilla, Celtique, Europa, Rathlin, Aurora and IGas are either new start-ups or small scale conventional producers tempted by a quick buck. Their business plans are to prove extraction is viable and then sell out to larger corporations for a massive profit. As 60% of the UK is now available to fracking companies it is essential that every community facing this threat gets informed and organised to resist. Find your local group here… or start a new one in your area…
“REAF are extremely concerned that Lancashire County Council has given Cuadrilla permission to return to our community to continue exploring for shale gas. Cuadrilla has no social licence to operate anywhere in the North West and we are considering all options including a legal challenge”
Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF)
You can read the full Banks story on the Drill Or Drop website here…
Becconsall Exploration Timeline 2010-14 here…
Cuadrilla Resources Planning Breaches & Technical Failures here…
Drill or Drop and Frack Off have worked together with the assistance of Lancashire Community Groups to bring this story to light.