PLEASE SEE THIS UPDATE FOR LATEST INFORMATION!
The Tour de Yorkshire is coming soon and on Friday 28 April we will join Frack Free Ryedale and the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp to line the route and show that while we welcome cyclists to Yorkshire we don’t welcome fracking. Since 2015 the Tour de Yorkshire has put our county on the map in the cycling world and provided a window on our beautiful landscape for many cylcing fans in Britain and further afield. Now that Third Energy has planning permission to frack at Kirby Misperton and other companies are considering the possibility of fracking throughout Yorkshire, this beauty is under threat.
On Friday 28 April the Tour de Yorkshire will pass through Kirby Misperton. The event will be televised and is an ideal opportunity to support the cyclists and our campaign against fracking at the same time. We will line the route at Kirby Misperton and Pickering. Placards will be available to make our message visible on TV. The Kirby Misperton Protection Camp and their supporters have also produced a piece of land art next to their camp that will be visible from the helicopter covering the race. You’ll also get the chance to welcome the Tour de Frack cyclists to Kirby Misperton. Stuart Leach and David Davis, shown above, will have come all the way from Preston New Road to highlight the harm caused by fracking and raise funds for the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp. The race will pass Kirby Misperton at around 2.30pm and Pickering around 3.00pm. Please try to be in place about an hour before these times, as there are expected to be large crowds.
Getting to Kirby Misperton or Pickering by public transport is easy. Just take the number 840 bus towards Thronton Le Dale from York. This bus departs Hallcroft Lane in Copmanthorpe at 11.06am, York College at 11.10am, York Railway Station at 11.22am, The Stonebow at 11.31am and Galtres Road in Heworth at 11.41am. It arrives in Kirby Misperton at 12.30pm. This will give you plenty of time before the race to visit the protection camp, or go to the street party in Kirby Misperton. This bus will also stop at Pickering at 12.38pm. Note that the number 840 bus normally departs every hour, but the bus an hour after the one listed here will only go as far as Malton due to road closures put in place for the cycle race. To get back to York just take the 840 bus towards Leeds. This departs Pickering at six minutes past the hour and Kirby Misperton at fourteen minutes past the hour, every hour until after 6pm. There are then two more buses that depart Pickering at 6.51pm and 7.33pm and Kirby Misperton at 6.59pm and 7.41pm.
This post is part of a series about oil and gas industry responses (pdf) to the consultation on the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan (JMWP) for North Yorkshire which was held last year. The previous post on the prospect of oil and gas drilling and fracking near your home can be found here.
As well as making comments opposing restrictions on their right to drill and frack near peoples homes, oil and gas companies also had a lot to say in the consultation about the possibility of restricting the density of oil and gas development in North Yorkshire. The issue of dense industrialisation of gas fields is particularly important in the case of fracking, as shale gas fields have seen very large numbers of gas wells drilled and fracked. The Ecoflight photos in this post show a gas field in Wyoming and give an indication of just how dense development for gas production can be, if left unchecked.
According to policy M17 of the draft JMWP, “well pad density and/or the number of individual wells within a PEDL area will be limited to ensure that unacceptable cumulative impact does not arise.” The limit of well pads and oil or gas wells is not defined in the policy itself, but the justification for the policy goes on to say that, “it is considered unlikely that proposals which would lead to a total development density, including operational and restored sites, of more than 10 well pads per 100km2 PEDL area (pro-rata for PEDLs of less than 100km2) would be compatible with the purpose of this element of the Policy.”
While 10 wellpads in a 10km by 10km license block would in itself constitute a major industrialisation of the countryside the oil and gas industry rejects the suggestion that there should be no more development than this.
Egdon Resources (UK) commented, “there is no justification for setting a well pad density or arbitrary limit to the number of individual wells within a PEDL area. Whilst an assessment of the cumulative effects of planned and existing developments within the immediate vicinity of a proposed hydrocarbon development may be justified to ensure that cumulative impacts are taken into account, there is no justification to restrict or refuse a proposed development simply because it is in close proximity to other existing, planned or unrestored well pads.” They went on to say, “there is no justification or evidence to demonstrate that a development density of more than 10 well pads per 100 sq. km would result in any material adverse impacts.”
INEOS Upstream said, “this paragraph deals with proposed well pad development density. The geographical spacing, scale and type of development in addition to the topographical and surface characteristics of an area should be considered in the assessment of a proposal and the density of development in a particular area. It should not be based on PEDL boundary or an arbitrary figure for well density that does not reflect the nature of an applicant’s proposals or the ability of the environment to accommodate it appropriately.”
Third Energy and industry group UKOOG said, “Assumptions on pad density should not be used to derive policy until such times as exploration has been undertaken. There can be no limit set until more is known about the geology. The Plan can be revised once the potential resource is better understood in the light of exploration. It should be noted that licence blocks are typically 10km by 10km but a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence may comprise a number of blocks or only part of a block. Therefore, establishing a total density of 10 well pads per 100km2 is considered inappropriate as there is no arbitrary PEDL size.”
Third Energy and Zetland Group said, “It is not appropriate to set pad density limits. The para is over complicated and unnecessary. Hydrocarbon developments are often temporary, low impact developments and some areas may well have capacity to accommodate numerically more than others. At production phase, hydrocarbon development can be unobtrusive as evidenced by the existing gas production sites within the Vale of Pickering.”
The oil and gas companies that responded to the consultation in December made clear that they do not want to be restricted to having ten well pads in a 10km by 10km license area. This is in line with information which came to light in 2016, when INEOS released an Invitation to Tender (pdf) for a seismic survey contractor. This document showed a production scenario with up to 30 well pads with up to 396 gas wells per license area. When this information was revealed by Frack Free Ryedale INEOS rowed back from these enormous figures. However their response to the consultation shows that they still want the option of extremely dense industrialisation.
In January oil and gas industry group UKOOG released a visualisation of future shale gas development. This visualisation was criticised for only showing three well pads in each 10km by 1okm area and thereby understating the impact the shale gas industry would have if allowed to proceed. UKOOG’s appeal in the consultation in December last year that there should be no limit on well pad density at the current time lends weight to these criticisms.
One possible reason for these companies’ insistence that there should be no limit on the number and density of well pads, is that they are likely to need large numbers of well pads to fully exploit the unconventional gas, such as shale gas that they are interested in. A recent paper based on research part funded by INEOS, Chevron, Total, Centrica and GDF Suez, concludes that 10km by 10km license blocks will on average be able to accommodate 26 well pads. This is possible only with a setback distance from buildings, including houses, as low as 152 metres. Despite the extremely intensive development that would be brought by having an average of 26 well pads in a license area, the authors of the study point out that not all the shale gas available would be produced, even at this level of development. They conclude, “the carrying capacity of the land surface, as predicted by this approach, would limit the technically recoverable gas reserves for the Bowland Basin from the predicted 8.5 × 1011 m3 to only 2.21 × 1011 m3.”
While the industry presents their future as preserving the countryside, with only three well pads per 10km by 10km area, they argue to be allowed more than ten well pads in the same area. At the same time researchers they funded point out that even 26 well pads in the same area is not enough to produce all the gas they were hoping for. It is now clear that if fracking is allowed to proceed in the way the industry wants the North Yorkshire landscape will be severely harmed by this new heavy industry spreading unchecked across the county. It’s more vital than ever that we continue to oppose fracking. Please see our events calendar for information of events you can take part in.
Frack Free York will joining Global Justice Now Youth Network for their protest against Barclays unethical investments, which include a 97% stake in Third Energy, the company that has planning permission to frack in Kirby Misperton. The protest, which is also supported by Frack Free Ryedale and Veterans for Peace will take place in Saturday 22 April between 12.00pm and 4.00pm outside Barlcays on Parliament Street in York. You can sign up to this event on facebook.
It’s vital that we continue make it clear that Barclays support for fracking is unacceptable and that we continue to call on anyone who is a Barclays customer to leave this frackers bank. We hope to see you there.
Last year we took part in the consultation on the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan. The Joint Minerals and Waste Plan is the document that is being produced to govern minerals and waste development, including oil and gas drilling and fracking in three local authorities, City of York Council, North Yorkshire County Council and The North York Moors National Park. While anti fracking campaigners and groups took part in the consultation to express their concerns about fracking and suggest ways that the harm from the industry could be minimised, the oil and gas industry took part in the consultation to voice their opposition to the limited restrictions on their ability to drill and frack across Yorkshire that are included in the existing draft of the plan. A number of organisations from the oil and gas industry took part, including oil and gas companies INEOS Upstream, Third Energy and Egdon Resources UK, the consultancy Zetland Group and industry body UKOOG.
The existing draft of the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan included a number of limits on the extent and location of oil and gas development following earlier rounds of consultation. These include a provision that surface hydrocarbon development within 500 metres of residential development will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. Anti-fracking activists argued that this policy was not strict enough. However the policy go too far for the oil and gas industry which wants the freedom to drill and frack in as many places in Yorkshire as possible.
Egdon Resources (UK) said, “here is no justification for a separation distance arising from the need to ensure a high level of protection from emissions to air or ground and surface water and induced seismicity. Proximity to residential buildings and other sensitive receptors will have a very little bearing upon the general requirement to mitigate against all forms of emissions and induced seismicity. There is no evidence that proposals for surface hydrocarbon development within 500m of residential buildings and other sensitive receptors are likely to have more adverse impact than proposals in excess of this distance. The effect of screening and the specific nature of the proposed hydrocarbon development can often mean that distances of 300m are permissible.”
INEOS Upstream said, “These requirements are not in accordance with the existing regulatory provisions in place to assess the impact of all types of development proposals on receptors. Hydrocarbon development should be assessed under the same environmental parameters as other developments in terms of noise, transport, landscape and visual impacts etc. The reference in the policy to 500m should be removed and the policies replaced with a simpler policy.”
Third Energy and Zetland Group said, “The reference to a ‘separation distance of 500m’ from residential properties or other sensitive receptors has no justification and does not reflect the experience of recent proposals. Each application needs to be considered on its own merits, with supporting technical information providing the basis for the MPA’s decision.”
These three responses show that the oil and gas industry is determined to drill and frack within just a few hundred metres of people’s homes. This is despite the fact that oil and gas wells and the supporting infrastructure are known sources of air and noise pollution and that each well pad will burden the local area with a significant rise in HGV traffic. When the industry gives presentations on how little impact they will have, you should consider if you would be happy for this new industry to be developed near your home.
Drax, which is the largest coal power station in Britain and the largest biomass power station in the world are holding their AGM in The Royal Hotel in York on Thursday 13 April. We will join Coal Action Network and Biofuel Watch in protesting this company, which continues to harm the environment and worsen climate change despite all their claims to be cleaning up their act.
The effect of coal burning on air quality and the climate are well known and Biofuel Watch will highlight the harm caused by supposedly benign biomass burning. However there is another, lesser known side to Drax’s business that we want to call attention to. Drax announced in December that they are investing £18.5m in four new gas power stations, two of which are to be built by 2020. As power stations typically have a life time of decades, such an investment will commit us to using fossil fuels far into the future, at a time when we should be moving to truly clean sources of power. This investment comes at a time when the government is promoting gas produced with fracking as the solution to our energy dilemma. If the new power stations are built they may well become part of the market for fracked gas in Britain.
Please join us between 10.30am and 2.00pm on 13 April for our protest outside The Royal Hotel in York (YO24 1AA). If you can’t be there for the whole day, please try to be there at 1.00pm when we will have our photo taken.
Frack Free York meet on the third Thursday of each month.
Our next meeting will be held at the Ye Olde Starre Inn on Stonegate, York – on Thursday 20th April.
There’s normally a chatter from 7pm and then the meeting proper from 7.30.
This time we’ll be in the room to the right as you come through the main door. It’s an accessible venue and all are welcome – hope to see you there!
Frack Free York will be hosting a night of music at The Fulford Arms (YO10 4EX) this Friday, with music by Snakerattlers, Flora Grey Steel and Pewter City Steel. Tickets cost £4 on the door and the funds raised will go towards our campaing against fracking. We look forward to seeing you there.
York Central MP, Rachael Maskell visited the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp on Saturday, making clear her support for the campaign against fracking. The camp was established in December 2016 in response to Third Energy’s plans to frack a shale gas well in the village of Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.
At the camp Rachael Maskell met members of Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free York, as well as protectors staying at the camp. She shared their concers about the harm fracking would cause and said, “Kirby Misperton is on the front line in the national fight against fracking. There were over 4,000 objections to the planning application, over 99% of all respondents, all of whom were completely ignored. If politicians do not listen to the voices of local residents, then they are left with no choice but to take direct action and protect their environment, and then have their say at the ballot box come the election.”
Frack Free York member and York Central constituent Kit Bennett said, “I’m thankful for all the support that Rachael has given to our campaign for a clean energy future for the UK. Fracking poses a serious threat to the blossoming agricultural and tourism industries of North Yorkshire.”
The Frack Free York AGM will be held on 22 March at Ye Olde Starre Inne on Stonegate (YO1 8AS). Frack Free York will be there from 7.00pm and the AGM will start at 7.30pm. The AGM is open to all members of Frack Free York and if you’re not already a member you’re welcome to join on the night. It’s your chance to discuss Frack Free York’s progress over the past year, as well as the future of our campaign against fracking. The meeting will also include the election of Frack Free York’s officers. The AGM is also an ideal opportunity for anyone who wants to get more involved in Frack Free York’s campaign.