Cuadrilla executives haven’t worn their cute little helmets and blue jump suits for a while. Instead they are back at the planning office asking for permissions. This represents an unprecedented opportunity for local people, in fact everyone to get involved as the original permissions were granted with much less publicity. 50 local residents in Banks have even received a letter informing them about the application including guidance on how to object.
Cuadrilla have applied to Lancashire County Council to extend planning permission at the Beconsall site in Banks (08/12/1032). This application if granted, will allow the resumption of shale gas extraction (Fracking) in the British Isles (the Department of Energy and Climate Change will still need to give a final nod).
Cuadrilla are drilling again at Anna’s Road with plans for the first horizontal shale well in Britain and have also submitted a number of applications to the Environment Agency which detail how they plan to dispose of the return water at three of their sites in Lancashire. Again there is a consultation period runing from 1-26 October 2012.
Despite Cuadrilla’s continued assertions that it is doing things right it is clear that things are not right and not going to plan. The company had hoped to start production by 2013 but with growing public awareness and adverse publicity after 2 earthquakes it has had to slow the pace and up the PR efforts.
All of this is inevitable and unavoidable.
The Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) website reveals that the company has already breached it’s wildlife protection agreement and that mainstream charities are waking up to the threat. Recent articles about radioactive sludge and other concerns on the Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) website show that the local population is alert and that government agencies are already having to bend the rules.
News from the US on Radiation Sources and health impacts reveal that the cat is finally out of the bag. The industry is way ahead of the science and regulation and has actively suppressed evidence and debate. It is clear that the kind of studies that should have been done first are only just being carried out in New York and that awareness is catching up quickly in the EU.
All of this is inevitable and unavoidable because shale gas extraction and fracking are inherently damaging.
To be done economically it must be done fast and dirty. To be done at all the local population must be kept in the dark with little information and with the onus of proof on them. Each new territory must start regulation from scratch and ideally companies and investors should enjoy exemptions and subsidy. That time has mostly passed and it just remains to be seen how far the government and vested interests are willing to go to try and make it happen in the British Isles.