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.

West Lancs – Green Infrastructure & Cycling strategy

Wow this sounds very worthy but potentially boring, but hey give it a chance its actually quite interesting.

Here’s a link to it:-

www.westlancs.gov.uk/gicstrategy

Yes I know, this is the kind of document so beloved by planning officers. But such documents do serve a wider purpose and this one is about the green infrastructure of West Lancashire which surrounds my Lydiate hometown on 3 sides. I have often thought it is odd that Lydiate’s only land connection with Sefton Borough (to which it was allocated – some would say misappropriated – in 1974’s local government reorganisation) is via a short boundary with Maghull. All the rest of Lydiate has boundaries with Aughton, Downholland and Great Altcar Civil Parishes which are of course all in West Lancs.

Here’s a map from the West Lancs document which illustrates what I am on about – or maybe it does not?:-

Map of the Borough of West Lancashire.

Map of the Borough of West Lancashire.

Now hang on a minute – firstly please enlarge the map by clicking on it – there’s something not quite right here is there not? Crosby has seemingly moved inland and is where Great Altcar was last time I checked. And Bootle has also moved inland and north eastwards to replace Lydiate! Me thinks something has gone wrong with the map’s community labels.

But ignoring this labeling error the map really does show that Lydiate is out on a limb, akin to a thumb sticking up into West Lancs. On that basis what goes on in West Lancs is of importance to Lydiate. So have a read if you have the time it’s all about the countryside that you probably use for leisure.

Lower Alt Wind Turbines – Rejected

West Lancs Council Planning Committee last night rejected the planning application to erect 12 turbines on land in Great Altcar Parish between Lydiate and Ince Blundell.

The local campaign group HALT ran the successful fight against the turbines.

HALT poster

It may seem odd that I am supportive of the rejection of these turbines as I am very firmly a supporter of renewable energy. However, what I could not never understand about this particular application was that the turbines, their massive concrete foundations and the access roads to service them would all be on the highest grade of agricultural land in England. On that basis I could not support them and am pleased that West Lancs Council has rejected them.

This photo is from a consultation event in Lydiate before the planning application was submitted.

This photo is from a consultation event in Lydiate before the planning application was submitted.

I doubt this will be the end of the story however as I assume that an appeal against the refusal will be made by the land owner/developer. Watch this space.

Lydiate – well not really but just into Great Atcar but only by yards

There’s a public footpath/public right of way just where Lydiate’s Bells Lane joins Altcar Lane in Great Altcar Parish. The path crosses the fields of Great Altcar and ends up at Showicks Bridge, which is a footbridge over the River Alt. When you cross the bridge you are back in Sefton Borough (in Lunt Meadows Wetlands & Nature Reserve) as you were in Lydiate but the whole length of the path is actually in Lancashire County such is the odd shape of Sefton Borough.

The former Upper Gore Farm now a small housing development

The former Upper Gore Farm now a small housing development

And why do I raise this matter now? Well the footpath is not presently sign posted at the junction of Bells Lane/Altcar Lane and it could do with being so to aid walkers. It does not help that to those unfamiliar with the area, or who have not got an Ordnance Survey map with them, the path looks to go through a small housing development (which it does) that used to be Upper Gore Farm.

Showicks Bridge over the River Alt

Showicks Bridge over the River Alt

I have raised the matter with Sefton Council’s Footpaths Officer and have contacted the Public Rights of Way Team at Lancashire Council in the hope that a finger pointing sign for the path can be erected.

Lydiate/Ince Blundell/ Great Altcar – Lower Alt Wind Farm

I attended the public exhibition put on by Coriolis Energy at Lydiate Village Centre today.

Coriolis Consultation at LVC 05 08 15

Dealing with this matter is tough as surely we all want to support renewable energy such as solar or wind power, unless that is you happen to be a climate change denier.

For me the big issue is the fact that the developer wants to build the turbines on high grade agricultural land. I oppose this scarce resource being compromised because only around 2% of England’s land mass is of such high quality.

The stars on this map show where the turbines will be placed if the plans get the go ahead from West Lancs Council.

The stars on this map show where the turbines will be placed if the plans get the go ahead from West Lancs Council.

The now 12 massive turbines (down from 24 in the original proposals) will each have a footprint of their own, a permanent crane stand at the side and an access road. Added together this will undoubtedly compromise the agricultural land.

As I said I support renewable energy, we have solar panels on our house and I helped the Lib Dems push for both Maghull Town Hall and Lydiate Village Centre to be ‘green’ by solar panels being installed on those buildings too. So I don’t need to be convinced about renewable sources of energy.

Land opposite Lydiate Village Centre that is under threat of development which is presently growing food.

Land opposite Lydiate Village Centre that is under threat of development which is presently growing food.

However, compromising high grade agricultural land in any way is counter productive as it leads to us being able to grow less food thereby needing to import more food. This makes no sense to me at all and it is why I have been fighting Labour-run Sefton Council’s plans to allow house building on other areas of high grade agricultural land locally.

Sorry Coriolis I remain opposed to your development because of the high quality of agricultural land you want to construct these turbines on.

I appreciate that there are a whole host of other concerns about these proposed turbines but in this posting I have tried to focus on the major issue from my perspective as a environmental campaigner.