Ryedale and The People’s Declaration

In light of the recent approval of exploratory drilling in Ryedale, Yorkshire, Lewes Against Fracking add their voice to those opposed to the decision.  The news and its implications regarding the potential introduction of the process on a wider scale are deeply concerning and a poor reflection of the state of democracy on both a local and national scale. We are sure however that the people of Yorkshire and around the UK have the resources within them to respond to the situation with the resilience of spirit such a situation requires.  It is a salient signal for all those concerned with fracking throughout the country that we must renew our efforts to see off this retrogressive process wherever it is threatened.  If, like us, you feel that fracking is a dirty industry whose environmental risks are just too high and which would contradict our carbon commitments please sign the ’People’s Declaration’ the text of which is reproduced below.

‘We, as people united across Yorkshire and across Britain, declare that we remain opposed to fracking in Yorkshire, in Britain, and across the world. We know that fracking carries serious risks to local people, to our health, our water, our wildlife, and contributes to climate change.

We are extremely disappointed that North Yorkshire County Council has not listened to the overwhelming wishes of the locally elected representatives of Ryedale and local people and has approved Third Energy’s application to frack in our county.

This decision is not in our name.

We know that Third Energy and their backers Barclays bank are the only ones that stand to benefit from these fracking plans. This application would put at risk Yorkshire’s beautiful landscape and the tourism industry that inspires millions of visitors each year and supports thousands of jobs.

We have a positive democratic vision for Yorkshire and the UK with thriving rural economies, clean air and water, producing the green energy like solar power we need to protect our children’s future, and creating the thousands of green jobs along with it.

We urge and will support the Government to develop a balanced long term energy policy that will achieve our globally agreed climate change targets.

Today we resolve to continue to fight to remain free from fracking, to protect our communities, our beautiful countryside, our air and water, and to protect the future of the planet. We ask people across the country to join us by supporting this declaration.’

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Infrastructure Bill Rally Monday 26th January and Other News

On Monday 26th January there will be a rally outside Parliament on the day of voting on the controversial Infrastructure Bill.  MPs will vote on both a proposal to ban fracking and plans to allow fracking under people’s homes without permission. Speakers invited to the rally include Vivienne Westwood, Caroline Lucas and Bianca Jagger. Please make it if you can to tell MPs loud and clear that fracking should be banned throughout the UK. 12.30pm Old Palace Yard (On the west side of St Margaret Street/Abingdon Street), opposite Parliament, Westminster, near SW1P 3JX.

Two days later, all eyes will turn to Lancashire County Council who are set to decide whether to give the go ahead for Cuadrilla to test drill in the county. These would be two of the biggest fracking tests ever contemplated in the UK and would set a precedent for the rest of the country. The Big Lemon is running buses from the South East to Lancashire on Tues 27th & returning on Wed 28th (though if there is enough interest they may run an additional coach which would allow people to return on Thurs 29th). Buses will take participants to FREE hotel accommodation in Blackpool allowing attendance at Preston the following morning for the start of the demo (9am). TO BOOK YOUR PLACE EMAIL: Southeast@frackstop.org.uk

The pickup from Lewes will be at: Lewes (Waitrose): 5.30pm, return departure 5pm on Wed 28th, arrive back in Sussex approx 10-11pm. Return Coach Fares: Waged: £10 (Suggested Donation) Unwaged/OAP/Child/Student: £FREE If you have no money: £FREE Find the event on facebook or see frack-off.org

Meanwhile, local residents will head to Norman Baker’s offices on (Friday 23rd) in solidarity for the amendments to the Infrastructure Bill he has proposed along with Caroline Lucas. The amendments propose to delete all the ‘fracking’ related clauses from the Bill and also delete the ‘principle objective’ which would legally bind future governments to maximise recovery of all UK oil and gas. Meet 11.45am in the precinct near Costa’s. For more information on the amendments, see Drill or Drop.

There will also be a debate, ‘Fracking for the Nation?‘ at Sussex University on the national and international implications of fracking on Tuesday 27th January. The debate will take a Question Time format, with 4 panelists, some in favour of fracking, some with mixed views and some opposed. Each will have an opportunity to present their views before the discussion is opened up to include the audience. Starts 18:00, Jubilee 144. For a campus map, see: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php…

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Lewes Against Fracking join 205 UK groups in letter to Prime Minister

December 10th 2014

Dear Prime Minister Cameron,

We write to you on a matter of considerable public importance.

Your Government is promoting a fracking agenda and has stated its commitment to go ‘all out for shale gas’, but a significant proportion of UK citizens are opposed to fracking. There are currently over 200 residents’ anti-fracking campaign groups nationwide. Frack Free Sussex alone now has over 10,000 followers. These groups are made up of ordinary British citizens, and there are many more, in smaller village groups, who also resist fracking and who are deeply concerned about its potential future impacts on the environment, their health, the values of their homes and more besides. As you are aware changes to the fracking trespass law are opposed by 74% of the public. Support for fracking in Great Britain had declined to just 24% in August of this year.

Within a report published by the Government’s own Chief Scientific Adviser, Mark Walport, came the warning that fracking has the potential to be as damaging as thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos—a finding that places fracking alongside some of the most serious and scandalous failures to protect public health of the last 60 years or more. Yet despite this, and despite widespread public opposition, your 2

Government appears committed to the construction of a pro-fracking narrative. Launching the UK Energy Centre’s report on 12th November 2014, Professor Jim Watson (the UKERC Research Director) told BBC News that it is ‘extraordinary that ministers keep making these statements. They clearly want to create a narrative. But we are researchers—we deal in facts, not narratives. . . . Shale gas has been completely oversold’.

It is even more troubling, in the light of the above, that the human rights implications of fracking have been ignored by your policy narratives. To remedy this, a report commissioned by the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation was delivered to Downing Street on the 26th November 2014 for your personal attention. The report, entitled ‘A Human Rights Assessment of Hydraulic Fracturing in the UK’, calls for a complete moratorium on all fracking operations until a full, transparent, industry-independent Human Rights Impact Assessment has been completed. Fracking endangers important human rights: the right to life and to security of person; the right to respect for home and private life—as well as centrally important international human rights such as the right to water and to health. This report—and its powerful message on behalf of ordinary people—was brought to the attention of the European Parliament by campaigner, Geza Tarjanyi, on Dec 1st. and is now receiving support from EU politicians.

We urge the UK Government to issue a moratorium on all fracking operations until such a time as a full, independent, evidence-led Human Rights Impact Assessment has been undertaken and placed in the public domain.

Signed,

Bianca Jagger

(for a list of the 205 UK resident groups who put their name to this letter see here).

For a full write up on the letter see Drill Or Drop.

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“Stop backing the wrong horse” Norman Baker urges government over energy policy

Norman Baker delivered a comprehensive rebuttal of government policy over shale oil and gas extraction this week in a special debate at Westminster Hall. He contrasted statements from the Chancellor and Treasury that there is “huge potential from fracking” and that this potential is “too big to ignore” with research from the UK Energy Research Centre. He quoted Professor Jim Watson, an author of a recent UKERC report as saying: “It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems. There is no evidence for that whatsoever. It’s hype.” He also quoted Watson’s colleague, Professor Mike Bradshaw: “Shale gas has been completely oversold. Where ministers got this rhetoric from I’ve absolutely no idea. It is very misleading for the public. Only one thing is virtually certain: in Europe shale gas is not going to be a game changer.”

He also quoted the Tyndall Research Centre that shale gas in the UK is quantitatively and unambiguously incompatible with the UK’s commitment to remaining below 2°C of global warming. He continued: “If we end up with a massive shale gas industry which the government has suggested is maybe the case we are building in reliance to fossil fuels to a large degree for an indefinite period of time.”

“If on the other hand the shale gas reserves are not very large at all as I believe they may not be then we are spending a lot of money and time on something that doesn’t produce very much at all. Either way it doesn’t make very much sense.”

When queried about current UK reliance on gas Baker distinguished between shale gas and that obtained by more traditional methods, citing in particular the dangers posed by methane: “US studies have shown up to 9% of methane can escape into the atmosphere and over a 20 year timeline methane can be 86 times more powerful greenhouse gas-wise than carbon and therefore there’s a real danger that far from being something that actually aids us in terms of reducing emissions, shale gas – if not controlled properly – could actually be as bad as coal.” He went on to call for independent analysis to establish what the levels of methane leakage actually are.

He quoted the extensive concerns of organisations such as The Countryside Alliance, The National Farmers’ Union, The RSPB and The National Trust. Raising concerns over The Infrastructure Bill, its permission to “pass any substance through or putting any substance into deep level land” and “its granting of the right to leave deep level land in a different condition from that before including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”, he stated “this doesn’t seem to me, if I may say so, to represent a world class regulatory regime proposal.”

In relation to concerns over the high volumes of water needed for the fracking process, Baker referred to the statement by a local water company that there is less water per head of population in this constituency than there is in the Sudan.

He also quoted Michael Hill’s article in The Lancet from earlier this year: “Although the UK Government has indeed stated that it accepts the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering Working Group’s recommendations on shale gas extraction, the reality is that only one of these recommendations has been implemented in full; one out of ten in two years.”

Citing an article in October’s Independent which stated that dangerously high levels of cancer causing chemicals have been discovered around fracking sites in the US he asked energy minister Matthew Hancock whether he could convince the House that the domestic regulatory regime is much tighter than in the US. He questioned whether the reality – in particular relating to the Infrastructure Bill – echoes the rhetoric of our having the “safest regulation on fracking in the world.”

Baker went on: “there is an alternative energy strategy available which gives security, which produces efforts to reduce climate change successfully, which produces jobs to invest further in renewables – this is a horse I’d like the minister to back.”

He added that while the climate change argument should speak for itself in terms of security of energy supplies, renewable energy “is all ours and is endless by its nature. We have immense potential for wind, solar, hydro, wave and tidal power in this country.” He also cited the Foreign Secretary’s statement that: “Renewable energy sources will be critical to reducing our vulnerability to energy supply shocks.”

He concluded: “I would advise the minister to stop backing the wrong horse and back the right one: renewables. I think shale has been over-hyped, those are the words also of the Energy Research Centre and it could be damaging rather than helpful to our country. Energy security, climate change and jobs are helped by [putting] more money in renewables instead of the concentration on fracking.”

A round-up of comments during the debate from other MP’s can be found here.

A recording and transcript of the debate are also available.

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GATHER IN LONDON THIS WED 26TH November at 11am

The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation commissioned a report on fracking and the devastating impact on human rights. This report will be presented to politicians this Wednesday, and Bianca Jagger has asked EVERYONE to come along and offer support. Bring your babies, your banners and your goodwill to Downing St at 11am on Wed.

The demonstration will coincide with the delivery of the report to demand that the UK Government impose a moratorium on all fracking operations until a transparent, independent and publicly funded Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) has been undertaken and placed in the public domain.

Mothers Against Fracking in partnership  with  Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation,  are organising this demonstration on the 26th and  putting a call out to citizens, NGO’s and grass root organisations against fracking to participate…so please invite everyone you know who may be interested.

If you have an email list, facebook group – please network

More info on the report launch here:
http://gnhre.org/2014/10/30/report-released-calling-human-rights-impact-assessment-fracking-uk/

Synopsis here:
http://extremeenergy.org/2014/10/29/synopsis-of-a-human-rights-assessment-of-hydraulic-fracturing-and-other-unconventional-gas-development-in-the-united-kingdom/

Facebook event here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/373123269508312/?fref=ts

Press Release Available from:
bj.88@btclick.com

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Westminster Hall and the Infrastructure Bill – PLEASE CONTACT NORMAN BAKER TODAY!

As Norman Baker has called a debate about fracking in Westminster Hall this Tuesday morning – 25th November – it would be great if as many people as possible could contact him to help bolster any anti-fracking arguments with a firm expression of support from the constituency.

The debate could not be more pertinently timed with the Infrastructure Bill already having reached its first reading in the House of Commons on Thursday 20 November, only a day after it left the House of Lords!

This indicates that the government is keen to push the bill through over the new year period so we need to TAKE ACTION now!

Described by Monbiot as a ‘One Way Street to Oblivion’, this bill (in its current form) will grant fracking companies access to private land without having to request your permission and will allow for any substance (e.g. radioactive waste) to be disposed of anywhere (except under the Queen’s property).

>>> When writing to Norman, please include a short message requesting that he opposes this bill in its entirety as it passes through the House of Commons, making it clear that it represents a key electoral issue.

You can use this link: https://www.writetothem.com/ or normanbaker1997[at]gmail.com

For more information on the bill, have a look at:
Explanatory video, Beki Adam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuBNy0hNtto&feature=share

Please also have a look at http://drillordrop.com/…/no-shale-sovereign-wealth-fund-ti…/ which covers: No shale sovereign wealth fund til 2015+; Labour’s regulations rejected, Update on the progress of the Infrastructure Bill: Report Stage in the House of Lords, Ruth Hayhurst, Drill or Drop –

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ACTION AT HORSE HILL, SURREY AS DRILLING EQUIPMENT MOVED

 

The last few days have been marked by scenes of action at Horse Hill, Surrey, where drilling equipment is in the process of being moved, possibly to a site at Billingshurst, West Sussex. The drilling operator, Horse Hill Developments Limited, has estimated that there may be as much as 20 million barrels of oil and up to £1 billion’s worth of gas. While the man behind the company, David Lenigas, has stated that there would be no fracking at the site, local residents have been concerned enough to set up a number of camps in the area and have been engaged in direct action these last several days to slow the removal of equipment.

Concerns have been amplified by contrasting statements from HHDL as to whether drilling would include the coring and logging of “shale and tight formations in the Cretaceous and Jurassic” – information that could prove very useful for unconventional development at other sites in the Weald.

The main camp at Horse Hill can be found at the junction of Horse Hill and the A217, near the Black Horse pub, RH6 0RB and all support is welcome – action is taking place now and there may be an ongoing presence here to keep watch for when equipment returns. As this could represent the beginning of test drilling sites across the region, please keep up to date with events at Frack Free Sussex, Horse Hill Protection Group and Lewes Against Fracking, this blog or http://www.frackfreesussex.co.uk/news/

There is also a very informative email update produced by Brenda Pollack of Friends of the Earth – email her at brenda.pollack@foe.co.uk to subscribe. Also please get in touch at lewesagainstfracking@gmail.com if you are interested in helping out with leafleting drives throughout the Wealden area or are able to donate towards sturdy shelters for winter campers.

Footage of Horse Hill can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md82KU6J49Q#t=14

There will be a Lewes Against Fracking meeting in the small room upstairs at the Lewes Arms on Thursday 20th November at 7pm. Please come along if you are interested in helping anti-fracking efforts throughout the region at this critical time and have any input over the direction of the group as we move forward into this next stage of activity.

Other events coming up in the area include:
Tunbridge Wells, 14th November : “If not Fracking, then What?” Organised by Tunbridge Wells United Nations Association. 7.30pm, Victoria Suite, Camden Centre, Market Sq., Tunbridge Wells.
Canterbury, 19th November: Fracking Debate, Canterbury Christ Church University. 7.30-9.30pm, Augustine House, Canterbury.
Guildford, 25th November : “Fracking : Facts, Figures and Falsehoods”. Organised by Frack Free Surrey. 7pm, Friends Meeting House. 3 Ward Street, Guildford GU14LH.

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