- Year of delays/rising costs for fracking industry
- Began year with major threat in Lancashire
- A year on Cuadrilla have made no progress
- Strong community opposition blocking industry
- Number of communities threatened is growing
- Increased efforts to block local decision making
- Movement will need to adapt to stay effective
- This is a battle which we cannot afford to lose
2015 has been a year of slow progress, or in many cases no progress, for the fracking industry. The anti-fracking movement, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength. The only area where significant progress has been made is in the issuing of new fracking licences at a national level, where the political system effectively insulates the industry from the communities it effects. Meanwhile at a more local level the industry has been finding it increasingly difficult to drive its plans through massive community opposition.
Cuadrilla’s flagship plans for two large shale gas appraisal sites in Lancashire are typical of the industry as a whole. A year of sustained community campaigning has left Cuadrilla in pretty much the same position, except for a smaller bank balance. The year began awaiting a decision on the applications, and after Lancashire County Council finally rejected them in June, the year ended with Cuadrilla awaiting a decision on its appeal of that rejection.
A response to the effectiveness of this opposition has been steadily emerging. A series of measures designed to move decision making further away from the communities it effects and into the hands of central government. It seems likely that to continue to be effective, while the overall strategy of creating delays and increasing costs in order to wear the fracking industry down will not change, the movement will need to get more creative in the methods it uses to achieve this. As the industry works to find ways of closing off avenues through which communities can take control of their destiny, it will be up to the movement to invent new ones. In the end this is a fight to the death, either the fracking companies get to coat the country in tens of thousands of wells or we drive them in to bankruptcy, there are no other options.
Lancashire County Council decides to defer consideration of Cuadrilla’s fracking applications to allow the company time to amend their applications, while massive a demonstration by local communities takes place outside the council building.
Cuadrilla’s plans are are the most significant in the UK so far, with 2 sites, 4 horizontal wells per site, each using up to 9 million gallons of water per well, producing 5.6 million gallons of radioactive waste, and requiring 20,000 truck movements per site.
A planning application for a coalbed methane (CBM) exploration well at Dudleston in Shropshire will now be decided by central government rather than the local council, who were intending to rejected the application.
Fracking company Dart Energy successfully appealed to the Planning Inspectorate that the council were taking too long considering the application. Opposition in the area has been massive and visible, with a strong established community campaign and a camp on the proposed site.
Fracking company IGas has signed a £30m deal with chemical company Ineos, owners of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Scotland. The tie-up is designed to expand IGas’s fracking efforts with Ineos pledging an additional £138m to fund IGas exploration in the North West and East Midlands regions in England.
The deal gives Ineos access to almost a quarter of a million acres of UK, and will likely mean that it become the UK’s third-largest fracking company behind IGas and Cuadrilla. Ineos has also applied for more license blocks as part of the ongoing 14th onshore licensing round.
Upton Community Protection Camp, near Chester, has now been protecting the area from fracking for 12 months. The camp occupies the site of a coalbed methane (CBM) exploration site planned by IGas Energy.
This is an awesome feat and one that absolutely needs celebrating. The land the camp is one has ALL the licences required to start drilling, but so far the community held off the frackers.
Fracking company Third Energy have submitted a planning application to hydraulically fracture a well in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire. This is no small deal – this application is for the most advanced fracking exploration to be attempted in the region.
The Kirby Misperton well was initially sold as being conventional drilling but Third Energy drilled the well deeper to sample the shale and now wants to test whether gas can be extracted from it.
Cuadrilla’s flagship plans for 2 4-well shale gas appraisal sites in Lancashire were rejected by Lancashire County Council. The rejection of these applications is an amazing and costly delay – but it will be appealed. Every delay is a victory! Community organizing for the win!
It’s not what takes place within the walls of council buildings or in the house of commons that will decide the future of the UK fracking industry – it’s about the strength and visibility of our collective opposition. It’s about our communities vs the industry. Regardless of the decisions made – it will be about whether the industry can afford to fight through nation-wide, ultra visible, organised resistance.
Thanks to the tireless, organised and visible opposition of residents as part of Frack Free Dudleston and other groups in the Frack Free Dee Coalition – Dart Energy (now owned by IGas) has withdrawn attempts to appeal its rejected planning application at
The campaign in Dudleston, which has seen massive community opposition, as well as a camp occupying the proposed site, has been highly successful. Community organising gets the goods!
A flagship project cited by proponents of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in the UK has resulted in criminal charges against the directors of an Australian company. It has taken seven years for the damage to come to light but Linc Energy’s directors now face massive fines and possible jail sentences.
The Queensland Government has uncovered severe contamination surrounding Linc Energy’s UCG test site at Chinchilla. Toxic Syngas from underground fires has caused severe pollution to ground water, soil and air, putting hundreds of square kilometers of prime agricultural land west of Brisbane at risk.
September – Fracking Fast-Track For Planning System
The government has announced details of how it intends to fast-track fracking applications through the planning system. The rules are being changed to allow the government to take over decisions on shale gas appeals, in a move designed to allow the it to force through Cuadrilla’s upcoming appeal of the rejection of its applications in Lancashire.
The move will also allow the government to sanction councils which do not approve planning applications in what it considers to be a fast enough time (i.e. 13/16 weeks). With a whole new round of fracking licences in the process of being given away the government is keen to try to remove any obstacles to fracking development.
Another one bites the dust! After years of tireless community campaigning in North Antrim on the North Coast of Ireland, fracking company Rathlin Energy (also active in East Yorkshire) have quit on their planning application and exploration licence!
As with their exploration in East Yorkshire Rathlin was trying to piggyback fracking exploration on a conventional well, with plans to drill deeper to sample a shale formation. Awesome work, once again proving community organising gets the goods!
Today, the decision to frack in Lancashire, has been taken even further from the people that will have to live with the consequences. Community Anti-Fracking Groups across the UK are the only thing standing in the way of government attempts to force Cuadrilla’s fracking plans through.
With the decision now being made by central government it is basically a foregone conclusion. An approval of these application would just be the beginning of a longer battle though, with the cost to the company of ongoing community resistance the main deciding factor of whether Lancashire gets coated in thousands of wells. The Community Fight Back Continues!
December – Government Finalises New Fracking Give Away
The results of the 14th onshore licensing round have been delayed significantly, but the Oil & Gas Authority have just offered all 132 remaining blocks. The blocks on offer would be incorporated into 93 onshore licences from 47 companies, with major fracking companies Cuadrilla, IGas and Ineos all receiving substantial areas.
With around 10 million of acres of the UK now licensed communities are under threat from industry and government like never before. Full scale fracking in these areas would mean the drilling of many thousands of wells plus other fracking infrastructure like pipelines, compressor stations, processing plants and waste disposal facilities carving up the countryside.
Here is hoping that the coming year will be equally successful in thwarting the fracking industry’s plans