Resumption of fracking near Blackpool
Nick Griffin MEP is very concerned about public safety and environmental protections. He will continue to highlight the risks associated with the Cuadrilla and Halite projects and do all he can to prevent big business from riding roughshod over the general public.
Mail has come in to the Constituency Office with updates on Fracking in his constituency, below is an excerpt from one:
“No one seems to be picking up on the Cantaxx/Halite plus Quadrilla aspects, certainly it's not well publicised. 8 miles from the known cause of seismic activity, (as crow flies), they want to store 900 million cubic feet of gas!
United Utilities has raised worrying concerns over gas escaping into a nine-mile underground sewage tunnel which runs from South Shore to Fleetwood.
Geologically the Burn Naze Fault also runs through the area. Fracking firm Cuadilla chief exce Mark Miller has stated that:
"solid rock between the aquifer at Preese Hall Farm, Weeton, Blackpool and where the fracking takes place would prevent the water mix contaminating the aquifer"
-whilst admitting that: "You never have control. Fractures will always go into the path of least resistance."
Risky business as both would be potentially catastrophic for the residents of this area.
In response to this letter, Nick Griffin, MEP’s Outreach Officer responded on his behalf:
Thank you for your email regarding Cuadrilla’s fracking operation at Preese Hall, near Blackpool, and the Halite Energy Group’s plans for an underground gas storage facility at the Preesall salt field, in Wyre.
You are quite right to point out that both of these controversial projects are worrying in an individual sense, but the implications for the safety of the local people and environment of both combined, is truly alarming.
Although Cuadrilla’s shale gas extraction operation at Preese Hall could produce significant quantities of gas from a British natural resource, and thus provide Britain with some degree of self-sufficiency in terms of energy provision, the facts at present indicate that the risks to land and people are just too high. The method of extraction, known as fracking, has potentially serious safety implications.
Shale gas is extracted by drilling down into the ground and then hydraulically fracturing the shale using high-pressure liquid to release the gas. The drilling process involves chemicals, including carcinogenic compounds, which can pollute water supplies. Drilling companies claim that chemical additives make up less than one per cent of the liquid poured into the gas field. However, the quantities involved are so large that a typical well is likely to pump about 34,000 gallons of chemicals into the ground. One of the chemicals used is diesel, which contains toxic substances. Other chemicals used can include hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde and arsenic. Studies have also confirmed that processes linked to the extraction of oil and gas through fracking can trigger manmade earthquakes.
Fracking has already been banned in some places, including France, New York and Quebec. Cuadrilla’s operation was halted, quite rightly, last year (May 2011) after it triggered two earthquakes near Blackpool on 1st April and 27th May. Due to the significant safety concerns associated with gas fracking, Mr Griffin believes there should be a moratorium on any further exploitation of shale gas until the wider environmental concerns have been addressed.
A short video briefly outlining the problems caused by gas fracking - produced by Nick Griffin - is available HERE . More detailed information can be found HERE.
Given the outstanding safety concerns associated with Cuadrilla’s fracking operation at Preese Hall it is worrying that the Government’s Planning Inspectorate is willing to consider an application for a second controversial underground project in such close proximity. Especially so, since this is the fourth application, from the same company, for a project that has been rejected on three previous occasions because of environmental and safety concerns.
Canatxx Energy Ventures first applied to store natural gas underground near Preesall in November 2003. This original application timed out and a second application was submitted in 2005. Lancashire County Council received objections to the plans from 12,000 people and the Council rejected the plans on the grounds of its impact on the environment and the potential risk of a gas leak.
A six-month Public Inquiry was held in 2005/2006 and in 2007, the Secretary of State dismissed Canatxx’s appeal against Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission due to safety issues. Canatxx re-applied for planning permission with a re-packaged bid in February 2009 and again, the plans were rejected by Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee due to concerns about the geological suitability of the site and the project’s potential impact on the Wyre Estuary landscape.
Canatxx changed its name to Halite Energy and submitted a fourth, scaled down application in November 2011. The Halite Energy Group has applied for permission to store up to 900 cubic metres of natural gas in 19 purpose-build caverns near Preesall. Although the name of the company has changed, little else has.
The geology of the Preesall site has not altered - it is still unsuitable. The safety issues identified remain an issue. Public opposition has not diminished, although local people are clearly becoming fatigued by the seemingly endless battle against a company that simply will not accept the will of the people.
It is scandalous that the Government can allow a company to continually submit planning applications for essentially the same project. The consultation process associated with each application costs taxpayers dear in terms of time, resources and money, and it is clear that Halite’s strategy is to gradually wear-down public and local government resistance. Finance it not an issue for this UK-registered but American-owned, global investment management company and Halite has hired a Community Liaison Co-ordinator to “sell” the plans.
Just what kind of ‘persuasion’ the Halite Energy Group will utilise to convince the Government’s Planning Inspectorate to accept its fourth planning application - for a project rejected three times previously on safety grounds - is a matter of speculation. Some inkling might be gained from Canatxx’s past close relationship with Government officials, such as the then
Foreign Secretary and Blackburn MP, Jack Straw. Canatxx gifted Straw a £3,000 cash donation in 2004, around the time of its original planning application for the underground gas storage facility at the Preesall site, close-by, coincidentally, to the MP’s constituency. Mr Straw neglected to declare this donation (used, he says, to fund a dinner to celebrate his 25 years in the House of Commons) in the Register of Members’ Interests within the required 30 days and only did so, four years later in 2008, when prompted by an Electoral Commission investigation. Fortunately for him, the Commission did not feel it was “appropriate” to take any action against the selectively forgetful politician.
The interaction between politics, planning and capital venture appears to be a rather murky business that leaves little room for popular public opinion. The go-ahead given to Cuadrilla for a highly risky fracking project, coupled with the Planning Inspectorate’s willingness to consider yet another unsafe underground gas storage facility proposal from the Halite/Canatxx Group on a nearby site, suggests that this Government gives little consideration to the wellbeing and wishes of the people of Blackpool and surrounding areas.
As a British National Party MEP, Nick Griffin believes that public safety and environmental protection are paramount. He will, therefore, continue to highlight the risks associated with the Cuadrilla and Halite projects and do all he can to prevent big business from riding roughshod over the general public.