Posts Tagged ‘Balcombe’

Balcombe High Court Victory

September 16, 2013
Balcombe High Court Victory

Balcombe High Court Victory

Community Protection Camp in Balcombe has been successfully defended at High Court in London this morning, against attempts by West Sussex County Council to help Cuadrilla disrupt the blockade.

Case adjourned until the 8th October with costs provisionally awarded against WSCC, whose case was deeply flawed and did not address any of the main issues, like right to protest.

West Sussex County Council granted Cuadrilla the right to drill, without any proper scrutiny taking place. At Parish Council, there had been no discussion, one of the Parish Councilors being a direct beneficiary.

Once again we see a council in the pocket of Big Business.

In a crude attempt to help Cuadrilla, the County Council tried to evict the protesters camped on the grass verges.

The council gave demonstrators formal notice last week that they were no longer able to protest on the council-owned highway outside the site where gas company Cuadrilla is undertaking exploratory drilling.

The protest camp refused to leave, and this morning both parties were at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

But Mrs Justice Lang adjourned the application after describing it as “flawed”, with the result that if the council does not apply to restore it in a new form by October 8, it will be either withdrawn or dismissed.

The judge said that, although the case was presented as a straightforward matter of obtaining possession, it was more complicated as there was a need to balance the right to peaceful assembly and to demonstrate.

She had heard from counsel that the proceedings might well be academic as the planning permission granted to Cuadrilla three years ago will expire on 28 September and there was currently no application to extend it.

The company would not be permitted to drill after that date and it was likely that many campaigners would leave the site.

Juliette Harris, a Balcombe villager for more than 30 years, said:

Eighty-five per cent of people don’t want Cuadrilla in Balcombe.

The majority of the villagers have been supportive of the protesters, and they have been down there in their hundreds.

The protesters I have seen are decent, committed people who have been out in all weathers, and who have been demonised by the press and deterred by the police.

We are thrilled that the judge thought that West Sussex County Council’s application to evict was flawed. The council has done nothing to assist us and everything to help Cuadrilla.

It’s time the council paid attention because it is us who pay their wages.

Once again we see a council wasting public money to act against the interest of local people.

Assuming costs are awarded against the council, this should not be levied against local taxpayers. Councillors who approved this action should be surcharged.

You must accept fracking for the good of the country, David Cameron tells southerners

August 12, 2013

David Cameron to insist that people living in the south of England must accept fracking, as he sets out his argument for the controversial way of extracting gas in his strongest terms yet.

Prime Minister David Cameron says in today's Daily Telegraph: 'I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour. We are all in this together.'

Prime Minister David Cameron says in today’s Daily Telegraph: ‘I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour. We are all in this together.’

David Cameron is to insist that people living in the south of England must accept fracking, as he sets out his argument for the controversial method of extracting gas in the strongest terms yet.

The Prime Minister will use an article in The Daily Telegraph to make clear that people in the South as well as the North of England will have to allow fracking, insisting “we are all in this together” in the battle to find sources of cheap energy for Britain.

Mr Cameron set out the economic benefits including cheaper energy bills for millions, tens of thousands of jobs and windfalls for communities which are sitting on vast reserves of shale gas.

He also pledged that fracking would not damage Britain’s countryside and would only result in a “very minor change to the landscape”.

The British Geological Survey said in June that there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas in northern England alone.

The intervention will be seen as an attempt by Mr Cameron to repair the damage done Lord Howell of Guildford, a former Government adviser and George Osborne’s father in law, who said two week ago that gas fracking should only take place in the North East because it was filled with “desolate” areas.

Mr Cameron, who represents an Oxfordshire constituency, said that it was wrong to suggest that fracking should only be confined to the north of England, where fewer people live. He said: “It’s been suggested in recent weeks that we want fracking to be confined to certain parts of Britain. This is wrong.

“I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour. We are all in this together. If neighbourhoods can really see the benefits – and get proper reassurance about the environment – then I don’t see why fracking shouldn’t get real public support.”

The technique, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water and chemicals to extract natural gas, has dramatically cut energy bills in the USA.

Ministers are hoping that it could do the same in the UK however campaigners and local people are bitterly fighting drilling.

Mr Cameron made clear that the potential benefits are too good to ignore. He said that fracking has “real potential to drive energy bills down”, adding: “It’s simple – gas and electric bills can go down when our home grown energy supply goes up.

“We’re not turning our back on low carbon energy, but these sources aren’t enough – we need a mix. Latest estimates suggest that there’s about 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas lying underneath Britain at the moment – and that study only covers eleven counties.

“To put that in context, even if we just extract a tenth of that figure, that’s still the equivalent of 51 years gas supply.”

There were also large rewards on offer to communities which find themselves sitting on vast reserves. He said: “Companies have agreed to pay £100,000 to every community situated near an exploratory well – somewhere where they’re looking to see if shale gas exists.

“If shale gas is then extracted, one per cent of the revenue – perhaps as much as £10million – will go straight back to residents who live nearby.

“This is real money that could be used for a variety of purposes – from money off the council tax bill to investment in local schools. It’s important that local people share in the wealth generated by fracking.”

Mr Cameron also insisted a drive to increase fracking in Britain would lead to the creation of more than 70,000 jobs in a North Sea oil-type boom.

He also tried to tackle the persistent argument that fracking was not safe and risked poisoning local water sources.

He said: “We must make the case that fracking is safe. International evidence shows there is no evidence why fracking should cause contamination of water supplies or other environmental damage, if properly regulated.

“And the regulatory system in this country is one of the most stringent in the world. If any shale gas well were to pose a risk of pollution then we have all the powers we need to close it down.”

Downing Street will hope that the article addresses the growing panic about what fracking entails for rural communities.

Last week Nick Herbert, a former minister who resigned from the Coalition last September, told The Daily Telegraph that fracking was the biggest threat to the countryside after the concern about the spread of unwanted housing developments.

Mr Herbert, who represents Arundel and South Downs, called on the Government to explain the risks, adding that a “fear of the unknown” was fuelling the concern.

Mr Cameron goes some way to dealing with these worries in his article by insisting that the British countryside is not going to be ruined by fracking.

He said: “One myth still remains – that fracking damages our countryside. I just don’t agree with this. Our countryside is one of the most precious things we have in Britain and I am proud to represent a rural constituency.”

Mr Cameron said people had to understand that the area which had to be set aside for the drilling equipment was relatively small.

He said: “I would never sanction something that would ruin our landscapes and scenery. For a start, shale gas pads are relatively small – about the size of a cricket pitch. But more than that, similar types of drilling have been taking place for decades in this country without any real protest.”

Two areas of Surrey and Sussex are estimated to hold hundreds of millions of barrels of recoverable shale oil – or more than a year’s supply for Britain.

Mr Cameron directed his comments to the people living in the South Downs National Park, which is one of the focuses for drilling.

This month energy company Cuadrilla started drilling at a site in Balcombe, West Sussex, despite protests, and attention is due to shift in the next few weeks to the South Downs National Park where a drilling application has been submitted near Fernhurst.

He said that the South Downs “is one of the most beautiful parts of Britain and it has been home to conventional oil and gas drilling since the 1980s. The huge benefits of shale gas outweigh any very minor change to the landscape.”

Lord Howell of Guildford said last month that “there are large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the North East, where there is plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody’s residence, and where it could be conducted without any threat to the rural environment”.

The peer was forced to apologise and insisted he “did not intend to suggest that the North East is desolate”. Days later, he revealed that he meant to suggest gas fracking should take place in the North West.

Published in The Telegraph.

According to David Cameron, we are all in this together. No doubt the same all in it together we are all in together for austerity, where real wages have fallen by more than 5%, this being more than real wages have fallen in the eurozone crisis countries of Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus, where the poor get poorer, see their benefits cut, where the rich get richer, where fat cats get fatter, and tax avoiders continue to avoid tax.

No doubt David Cameron relies on impartial advice from government advisor Lord Browne, who has a vested interest in shale gas exploitation through his association with Cuadrilla who are drilling at Balcombe in Sussex.

Cameron claims fracking is safe, that it will bring down energy bills. From where did he get these myths?

There is plenty of evidence that fracking is not safe. Nor is it likely to make a jot of difference to UK energy bills. At the height of the gas shortage, gas was being exported from UK to markets where a higher price could be obtained. To make a dent in prices, we would have to be drilling 1,000 wells a year.

Cameron in Bribery Blunder

August 11, 2013

This is what the fury’s all about: First photo of potential fracking site in heart of England that has sparked huge protests

August 8, 2013

* This rig has been drilling a six-inch exploratory borehole 3,000ft into the shale and limestone
*The controversial technique is expected to be used if fuel reserves are found at Balcombe, West Sussex
* Residents from Balcombe have made it clear they are opposed to any such thing
* According to Cuadrilla, which is licensed to carry out the Balcombe test drill, the operation will continue for two-and-a-half months

Surrounded by fields and woodland, this is the drilling rig that has sparked fierce protests about the future of Britain’s countryside.

Since Friday, it has been drilling a six-inch exploratory borehole 3,000ft into the Sussex shale and limestone in search of oil and gas.

Although there are no immediate plans to use fracking at the site, the controversial technique is expected to be deployed if fuel reserves are found.

Cuadrilla site at Balcombe

Cuadrilla site at Balcombe

Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to crack rocks and retrieve the natural gas trapped inside.

Opponents say the process causes tremors, noise and pollution.

If used, the night sky around the village of Balcombe in West Sussex could become lit up with ‘flares’ of burning gas similar to those seen on oil rigs.

Campaigners at the gate

Campaigners at the gate

Sussex countryside

Sussex countryside

Pictures of the Balcombe rig emerged as George Osborne declared it would be a ‘tragedy’ if Britain does not take advantage of shale gas exploration.

In a controversial intervention, the Chancellor distanced himself from comments made by his father-in-law Lord Howell last week, in which the Tory peer claimed that fracking should only take place in the ‘desolate’ North East.

Mr Osborne said: ‘It would be a real tragedy for Britain to basically allow this energy revolution to bypass our country.

Fracking protest at Balcombe in Sussex

Fracking protest at Balcombe in Sussex

Get the Frack Out of Sussex

Get the Frack Out of Sussex

‘It would mean we would have much higher energy costs than other countries, it would mean jobs would go to those other countries and businesses would go to those other countries, and we would all pay a very heavy price for that.’

But residents from Balcombe have made it clear they are opposed to any such thing.

More than 30 campaigners, including the daughter of singers Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies, have been arrested after clashes with police outside the site.

According to Cuadrilla, which is licensed to carry out the Balcombe test drill, the operation will continue for two-and-a-half months.

It is also looking to acquire up to six more sites for shale gas exploration.

Drilling could begin on two of these as early as 2014.

Despite living in neighbouring Kent, Energy Minister Michael Fallon is keen that the dash for gas extends across a vast swathe of the South.

He said there may be opportunities to exploit shale gas from Dorset, through Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent.
Yesterday Downing Street endorsed his enthusiasm.

Asked about the energy minister’s assertion, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The PM has no reason to think that Michael Fallon is wrong about that.

‘The Prime Minister thinks that shale gas represents an exciting potential resource for Britain that could contribute to our energy security.

‘Fracking will only be allowed where it is safe and poses no risk to the environment.’

Mr Osborne made it clear that communities where shale gas extraction takes place will be compensated. He said: ‘We’ve designed a regime that is very generous for local communities where this activity might take place.’

But Craig Bennett, of Friends of the Earth, said: ‘Fracking poses a real threat to the local environment and causes more climate-wrecking pollution.

‘It’s little wonder communities across the country, including the Tory shires, are mobilising against it.’

'We're in luck. The fracking blocks our view of the wind turbine.'

‘We’re in luck. The fracking blocks our view of the wind turbine.’

Published by The Mail.

Although there are no immediate plans for fracking, and Cuadrilla has no licence to frack, Cuadrilla has made it clear it will apply for a licence to frack if it finds shale gas deposits.

Anyone who has travelled by train from Victoria to Brighton, or flown in or out of Gatwick Airport, will know the Sussex countryside of green fields, trees, small woodlands and bushy hedges. Fracking would turn this lovely landscape into a post-Apocalypse industrial hell. Plus pollution of groundwater, earthquakes, road traffic, noise, dirt, light pollution at night.

George Osborne demonstrates his ignorance of fracking matches that of his ignorance of economics.

Fracking will give a temporary respite in our insatiable demand for gas, is unlikely to bring prices down.

Osborne has given oil companies tax concessions that turns the principle of The Polluter Shall Pay on its head, into one where The Polluter Shall be Paid.

We need a secure energy policy that exploits renewable resources.

Balcombe – why the Government must listen to the people

August 5, 2013

Earlier today I was in Balcombe, where local people are resisting attempts by Cuadrilla to begin exploratory drilling ahead of possible fracking. It was inspiring to see a local community displaying such determination to oppose a technology which has the potential to harm their local environment for decades to come, as well as undermine efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Despite the slightly odd comments reportedly made by the Energy Minister, the people I met didn’t live behind “rectory walls”, and their concerns went beyond “flaring at the end of the drive”. Many of them were local residents who told me this was the first time they had taken part in a protest and had been moved to take direct action because they’d exhausted all other means of making themselves heard. Around 85% of local residents are opposed to fracking, with a range of understandable concerns – backed up by evidence – including possible groundwater contamination, well leaks and high volumes of water use.

Throughout the debate on shale gas extraction, ministers have claimed to listen to these concerns, but justified pro-fracking policies, partly on the basis that the use of shale gas might mean lower energy bills. Yet leading energy industry consultants say it’s unlikely that shale gas extracted in the UK will have material impact on prices between now and 2025. Likewise, Deutsche Bank, Chatham House, and OFGEM are all warning that UK shale gas won’t bring down prices. And the International Energy Agency has forecast that natural gas prices will rise by 40% by 2020, even with an influx of cheap shale gas.

Those who are resisting what is happening at Balcombe and elsewhere are sometimes asked whether they would prefer to see wind turbines being built. The comparison is flawed for many reasons. For a start, communities faced with applications for fracking haven’t been given the opportunity to consider whether they might prefer clean energy instead. The planning guidance explicitly states “Mineral planning authorities should not consider demand for, or consider alternatives to, oil and gas resources when determining planning applications.” Yet polling continues to indicate that there is much greater public support for incentivisation of renewable energy technologies than there is for fracking.

Caroline Lucas at Balcombe

Caroline Lucas at Balcombe

The Government should listen, not least because there is a bigger picture here, alongside the genuine and valid concerns of local communities. It has been estimated that between 60 and 80 per cent of existing fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. Some of the UK’s leading climate scientists have warned that the widespread use of shale gas is quite simply incompatible with the Government’s international commitments to keep global warming below two degrees.

Planning guidance which makes life easier for mineral extractors, and the prospect of tax breaks for fracking companies, mean the odds are being skewed outrageously against renewable energy.

The Government is being extraordinarily short-sighted, and not just because it might lose votes in its traditional heartlands.

— Caroline Lucas

Fracking is bad for the environment, pollutes groundwater, puts more carbon in the form of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere.

When our corrupt politicians fail to listen, we have no choice that to take direct action.

A pity we do not have more politicians like Caroline Lucas MP. Contrast Caroline Lucas with Gerald Howarth MP, who when his constituents turned to him for help, to help save The Tumbledown Dick, stitched up a deal behind their backs with McDonald’s to demolish The Tumbledown Dick and turn it into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

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