Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 28, 2017

Fracking Latest

450 Fylde residents attended the Lowther Pavilion Theatre meeting , the first for two years. Many turned away. Police attended .

Fracking is expected to start in September and it is likely to run for 24 hours a day. That will be very hard on local people. People have worked very hard to stop fracking.

Reports of negative effects on groundwater continue to emerge in the US. A study found contaminated groundwater up to 1km from a fracking well. The UK’s Public Health Agency is out of date. Exposure to harmful chemicals cannot be removed by regulation. There are technical and economic limits on what can be mitigated.

Doctor (retired public health consultant) asks whether the government would ever impose a sacrifice zone on anywhere in southern England.

Democracy has been sidelined with the decision by the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, to overrule the decision by Lancashire County Council to refuse permission for fracking. There is no local control over risk, the industry has been “significantly de-regulated” in the past decades eg the right of UK companies to drill under land without the owners’ permissions. In contrast regulation of fracking in the US has significantly increased. A ban on flaring in some states of the US has reduced some of the risks to local people. In the UK nothing of the sort has happened. The government refused to ban flaring on fracking sites.

The Preston New Road shale gas site is probably the largest pad in the world. It could eventually have 60 boreholes on it, four times the number on the previously largest pad. Risks would arise through emissions to air or groundwater. As an example of emissions to air, gases could be emitted through poor burning efficiency from the flare. The risks of these gases increase to people living within a 2km radius.

Fracking fluid comprises mostly water, with some sand, dilute acid and polyacrylamide, a friction reducer. About 50% of fracking fluid returns to the surface. A Cuadrilla executive said he didn’t know where the remaining 50% went. In the flowback water from Preese Hall, Cuadrilla’s only hydraulically fractured well, there was levels of substances about accepted limits that included cadmium, chromium, and arsenic

A local person asks what will happen to the contaminated water from fracking. Mr Hill says he calls it fracking waste. Since 2012, the Environment Agency has decided there is no “Best Available Technique” for flowback fracking waste, he says. It has decided doing nothing is the best thing to do with the waste left in the formation. For flowback that comes back up in the wells, the EA decides it should be recycled, Mr Hill says. He adds that Cuadrilla can bring back up the flowback, process it and use it again for fracking again.

Mr Hill says he has tried hard to regulate the industry. He stood in the 2015 general election. The winning MP, Mark Menzies, says the people of the Fylde voted for fracking. Politically it is still in the hands of the Conservative Party, which is in favour of fracking, he says.

A woman asks how long a well lasts, how many wells fail and what happens. Mr Hill says a certain percentage of wells fail immediately. It is the job of the regulator to spot it and fix it. He says wells should be monitored for at least three decades – a study of wells in the US found 100% of them leaked over time.

A local dairy farmer asks about the impact fracking could have on his cattle. To applause, Mr Hill says “We absolutely must protect our farming industry. The government is prioritising tax take from gas over farming in the Fylde. I personally think that is appalling.” Mr Hill says the horizontal wells could go under Lytham, St Annes and over to Roseacre. The operator can drill a lot further than what is planned by the first four horizontal wells. Many farms could be fracked and their produce could be regarded as fracked food, Mr Hill says.

A man from Polton-le-Fylde asks how big is the Preston New Road site and how many boreholes there could be on the pad. Mike Hill says it is approximately four rugby pitches. “My main concern is what’s underneath the surface, not what’s on the surface. You could potentially have 60 boreholes. You could have five mile laterals – or 300 miles of boreholes”.

Mr Hill says laddering is going to be tried at Preston New Road for the first time in the UK. There could be 10 boreholes with six lateral boreholes off each one. It is totally new. It has not been done before with high volume hydraulic fracturing. It is a risk”.

UK Oil & Gas  has said its oil exploration programme at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex was producing positive results. But the company was accused of keeping local people in the dark when it did not take part in a public meeting, attended by more than 120 people last night. In a statement to investors, UKOG said it had successfully recovered a 330ft rock core from one of the Kimmeridge Limestone target zones in the well (KL4). It also reported that light oil was continuing to seep from shales and limestones in this section of the well. This, it said, suggested that the oil discovery made in 2014 at Horse Hill was part of a bigger continuous reservoir underlying about 30km of the Weald basin.

Balcombe campaigner Kathryn McWhirter said now was not the time to build an oilfield.She asked “Are we sleepwalking into an oilfield? The oil industry hopes we are. So do the Conservatives. If they get their way, there will be wells across the Weald, with West Sussex the prime target. Are we prepared to see the countryside we love industrialised for the sake of a small, short-term reduction in our balance of payment deficit, and profits for the few?”


  1. Proof positive that we live under a Conservative dictatorship. Voted Tory? This is what you’ve done to us.

    • Fracking is distasteful to many people due to its uncertainty and unknown consequences. It is a shame that it has been dictated by a government that hasn’t got a clue how to regulate it.

  2. If Mark Menzies said what is reported above in exactly those terms then it does show a massive arrogance. General Elections are fought on a whole range of issues.

    • Does Mr Menzies truly represent the electorate accurately? It’s doubtful, but politicians being what they are once elected tend towards arrogance.

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