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Environmental: Cuadrilla gets green light for oil test at Balcombe


A view of the drill site operated by Cuadrilla Resources LtdA view of the drill site operated by Cuadrilla Resources Ltd on 17 August, 2013 in Balcombe, West Sussex. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

UK shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla has been given the green light to test oil extraction in Balcombe, the West Sussex village that saw major anti-fracking protests last summer.

Shale gas explorer gets approval from county council to test oil flow rates at site that saw anti-fracking protests.

At a planning committee meeting that had to be adjourned at one point due to people disrupting it, West Sussex county council approved the company’s application to undertake tests to see how fast oil would flow at a site on the outskirts of the village.

The committee’s decision at County Hall North in Horsham on Tuesday was reportedly announced to cries of “shame on you” by some residents. Over 100 people attended the meeting.

Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the committee, said: “I thought the debate was robust. Members gave all the issues a good airing and the further conditions we agreed might not go as far as some would have wanted, but we feel they were proportionate and fair in addressing the issues that members of the committee had surrounding this application.” Monitoring of light and sound from the site were two of the conditions imposed on the approval.

Cuadrilla submitted a planning application in January for an oil flow test at the well it drilled last year.

The company has said it will not conduct fracking, the controversial process of injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to release shale gas, at the Balcombe site. “Cuadrilla will not be carrying out hydraulic fracturing at the Lower Stumble site now or in the future,” it said in a recent statement.

Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth’s south east campaigner, told the Evening Argus: “We are extremely disappointed that councillors have not listened to local people. This is an attempt by Cuadrilla to set the wheels in motion for dirty fossil fuel extraction. We need the council and our government to push forward with clean energy solutions.

Keith Taylor, the Green party MEP for south-east England, said he was disappointed by the decision. “Residents had raised very serious concerns about air and water pollution, noise and traffic, as well as the impacts on the countryside and the community. I fear that today’s decision will open the door to the dangerous dinosaur fossil fuel industry across south east England.”

Charles Metcalfe, spokeswoman for Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association, said: “For the Weald [which runs across Sussex], this Balcombe planning application is a thin end of the wedge. This will be an emblematic planning decision that may determine whether a whole lot of other oil and gas companies pile in afterwards – or think twice. It’s a decision that will affect communities right across Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Hampshire, and of course beyond. We shall fight.”

Source The Guardian.

Owen Paterson held urgent meeting for fracking boss, documents show


Owen Paterson held urgent meeting for fracking boss, documents showThe meeting discussed Cuadrilla’s concerns over fracking permits required under EU regulations, given that planning permission at their exploration site in Balcombe was due to run out. Photograph: Tony Kershaw/Rex Features

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, convened an urgent high-level meeting for the boss of fracking company Cuadrilla after a disagreement over shale gas regulation, the Guardian can reveal.

Cuadrilla’s chairman, Lord Browne, had already met the Environment Agency’s chair, Lord Chris Smith, at least three times to dispute whether regulations covering drilling waste applied to the company’s operations. At the meeting Paterson organised at Browne’s request, Lord Smith offered to halve the consultation time for a waste permit, agreed to intervene with a county council over Cuadrilla’s planning permission and to identify further risks to Cuadrilla’s plans.

The disclosures show a conflict of interest between Lord Browne’s positions as both the government’s lead non-executive director and the chair of Cuadrilla, according to Green party MP, Caroline Lucas: “These revelations are extremely disturbing and it certainly looks like there is a conflict of interest between Lord Browne’s government and commercial positions.”

Lucas, a member of the environmental audit committee of MPs, is also concerned by the Environment Agency’s approach in the meeting: “That is even more worrying and seems at odds with its responsibilities to protect the environment and to ensure that people have their say on fracking.” Lucas is set to appear alongside other anti-fracking campaigners at Brighton magistrates court on Monday to face charges arising from the anti-Cuadrilla protest in Balcombe, Sussex, in August 2013. (more…)

Shale gas estimate in North West ‘bigger’ than previously thought


Shale gas estimate in North West 'bigger' than previously thought
Map showing shale gas deposits, drilling licences and drill locations in the North West. Inset image: Area of the Fylde in Lancashire showing the Cuadrilla sites

Estimates of Cuadrilla’s shale gas resource in the North West of England may have to be increased significantly upwards.

A geologist with the company said there is 330 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in place in its licence area, 50% more than previous estimates.

Cuadrilla is the only company in the UK to have used hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in its test wells.

But it could take two years to see if the gas is commercially viable.

Last summer the British Geological Survey (BGS) reported that there could be around 1,300 tcf of gas in the Bowland basin in North West England.

Based on data from two wells that it had fracked in 2011, Cuadrilla estimated that there was around 200 tcf in its licence areas.

Now a more detailed analysis of seismic and well data suggests a significant upgrade to the gas potential of the area.

“In terms of the resource in place, we originally came out with 200 tcf,” said Huw Clarke, a geologist with the company, told a conference (more…)

Protesters meet in Wisborough Green to campaign against fracking


GROUPS from across the county met today (February 13) to stage a protest against ‘fracking’ in Sussex.
Anti-fracking campaigners including actress Susan Jameson demonstrate at Wisborough Green. Picture by Louise Adams C140199-3 Mid Wisborough Green Fracking

GROUPS from across the county met today (February 13) to stage a protest against ‘fracking’ in Sussex.

Their message was, “No fracking here, no fracking anywhere.”

And they had celebrity backing in the form of well-loved British actress Susan Jameson.

Frack Free Fernhurst, Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green (KKWG), Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association, Frack Free Sussex, Frack Free Billingshurst, Friends of the Earth and other groups gathered, uniting in their efforts to campaign against applications to drill for oil and gas by company Celtique Energie. (more…)

Message from the top


David CameronPrime Minister David Cameron

Lancashire has had a tough few years economically and may well become the new battleground over fracking. But Prime Minister David Cameron tells DAVID NOWELL that the shale gas industry could bring a jobs boom

Give the shale gas industry a chance – that’s the message today from David Cameron.

The Prime Minister was speaking days after Cuadrilla announced plans to apply to drill for shale gas at two sites in Lancashire.

Fracking is an emotive subject, with protesters claiming it is linked to earth tremors and environmental pollution.

The ultimate decision whether it goes ahead will rest with county councillors – and protesters and opponents of fracking are gearing up to do everything they can to stop drilling from going ahead. (more…)

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