Fracking on our doorstep – The opposition is getting organised

I suppose that fracking was always going to appear locally following Government giving out licences to companies wanting to explore for shale gas. Trouble is the wider political establishment is wedded to this source of fuel, which is far from being a green/renewable source of energy.

My previous posting on this subject was in January of this year and it is accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/01/06/fracking-its-getting-closer-exploratory-drilling-in-great-altcar-is-on-the-agenda/

Opposition locally is being led by ‘The Moss Alliance’ who held a public event in Haskayne Village Hall on 10th February.

On 4th January 2018 Aurora Energy Resources submitted a scoping request to Lancashire County Council. This is the stage before submitting a planning application. They want to dill 2 boreholes on Altcar Moss. The site is more or less level with Formby and to the east of it inland. Please note the site is actually within Lancashire (due to the most odd local government boundaries locally) not Sefton but Formby will be the biggest community that is nearest to the site.

Lancashire already has experience of dealing with shale gas exploration and drilling due to the Cuadrilla site near Blackpool which has had a great deal of coverage in the media.

I understand that Aurora will be holding their own public event, also at Haskayne Village Hall, on 17th February.

Fracking – It’s getting closer – Exploratory drilling in Great Altcar is on the agenda!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-42584948

The BBC has the news on its web site – see link above

Here are a couple of relevant links to previous postings on this blog site about fracking:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/10/31/lydiate-parish-council-to-oppose-fracking/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/12/29/fracking-those-who-fight-it-could-well-be-seen-as-a-danger-to-society/

My own view is that the future of energy has to green energy and much greater strides towards it need to be made so making the need for fossil fuels a thing of the past. For example what on earth are we doing building any new houses or indeed industrial buildings or any form of building without them having solar panels/tiles on the roof? Have our political leaders learned nothing about green energy?

By opposing fracking we can force politicians to really embrace green energy, by supporting fracking we simply kick the green energy can further down the road. We need environmental sustainability, end of.

Fracking – Those who fight it could well be seen as a danger to society!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/shock-after-anti-fracking-campaigners-12380317

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

Extremism? Does anyone really think that environmental campaigners are a danger to our society? Should we not be welcoming the challenge that such campaigners bring to our democracy? Is Orwell’s 1984 being taken as a ‘guide’ to how our society should be organised?

Goodness me, I must be viewed as being an ‘extremist’ then as I look upon myself as an environmental campaigner! I wonder whose radar I am on for protesting about building on Green Belt and high grade agricultural land in Sefton?

Big Brother seems to be be watching a lot of people!

Lydiate – Parish Council to oppose fracking?

Well I hope so and the issue is now on the table following Independent Borough Councillor Pat O’Hanlon informing parish councillors that Formby Town Council had resolved to oppose fracking.

Lydiate

Like Pat I am against fracking on environmental grounds. Sadly there is potential for it to happen under Lydiate if applications are approved to pursue licenses that I think were put in place by government around 2008/9?

This is what Formby Town Council has approved:-

‘The Parish Council support renewable energy in Formby, particularly solar farms and off-shore wind turbines where these are in keeping with local character. However, due to the geology of the area, notably the shale and sandstone layers and faults, fracking is considered to be inappropriate and will not be supported.’

The Fylde, Quadrilla and Planning – Some thoughts

No this is not another rehearsal of the wrongs of fracking which worry us all but more the planning process that goes on within Councils over highly controversial issues like this. Let’s start with the news that Lancashire Planning Officers have made a recommendation that will see fracking start in Fylde Borough if councillors vote to accept their report next week – see link below to the BBC news item:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-33132569

Planning Officers always try to teach, or is that indoctrinate, councillors that planning is simply a matter of interpreting planning law, guidance and policy to define whether a proposed plan is acceptable or not. Of course that says nothing for the real world of politics, lobbying and the pressure that elected councillors can be put under.

Imagine you are a councillor in Lancashire at present representing the Fylde and you are on the Planning Committee. You would be subject to all kinds of pressure in the form of massive Council reports, lobbying of campaigners, e-mails by the dozens from concerned citizens saying what will happen to your electoral chances if you vote the wrong way and amongst this you may even get some mail from supporters of fracking.

Now what do you do at the Planning Committee meeting when you are sat there with the eyes of the world seemingly on you, as it is you has to make the decision?

You could simply vote against the officers recommendation with a beggar the consequences approach. After all the applicant will simply appeal the decision and a Government appointed Planning Inspector will make the decision for you. Job done, you have done the right thing electorally and the Planning Inspector gets the blame if he/she gives the plan the nod.

You could look to bring in more delaying tactics in the hope that in the intervening time something will come along to make things easier. I have seen this done a few times, particularly by Labour on Sefton’s Planning Committee, by proposing a deferral. In fact usually not much changes but the process can give campaigners the feeling that they may be winning when all that is happening is that local politicians are playing for time.

You could just vote for fracking because if you represent a ward that is not likely to be affected by it in the foreseeable future then your calculation could be that your electorate will not be much bothered. This calculation is I suspect usually right but this is a big, big issue.

Members of the real planning committee will be going through all these thoughts and more as they are pulled one way then the other. Planning committees usually endorse what planning officers recommend but when the wheels are coming off politically you can bet that the control that the officers usually like to have have over planning members is simply not there.

By the way the real issue will be what the majority political group do on the Planning Committee. Yes I know that the rules say that there can be no whipping on a planning committee but votes can often go down party political lines in the real world.

Who would be a Planning Committee member with such decisions to take?

Fracking – BBC North West poll says those who know about it favour it over those who oppose it

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25157239

I must admit to being unsurprised by this poll result. The battles will be where the drilling rigs go because that’s where the significant opposition will be.

I suspect that no one really wants it go ahead but unless fuel alternatives are available it will happen.