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Click the image from more information on Cuadrilla's plans for PEDL 165

Fracking Employment

From the Financial Times 16 October 2013

AMEC forecast just 15,900 to 24,300 nationwide - direct & indirect

Jobs would typically be short term, at between four and nine years

Only 17% of jobs so far have gone to local people


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(Oops - there's more! )

Here though is our favourite Reverend Roberts quote of all time - published in the Lancashire Evening Post on 5th August 2015

"If you dare oppose fracking you will get nastiness and harassment whether on social media, or face-to-face"

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Monthly Archives: September 2017

Please Police Me!




For some time now those supporting fracking have tried to turn the narrative away from the issues surrounding fracking and to present this battle as protesters versus police. Really nothing could be further from the truth.

As anyone who has been down to Preston New Road will know the vast majority of those they meet are decent, hard working or retired people, who continue to pay the council tax to enable the provision of policing services in the county. Some of us, however have become concerned about issues which have surfaced with the policing of the protest.

The most obvious one is the over-policing which has been evident throughout and this has some serious implications for the people of Lancashire as we continue to be asked to pay for an unsustainable policing operation which is, in effect, providing a free service for Cuadrilla.

Lancashire Police’s own public statements suggest that the cost of the policing operation, whilst being a considerable drain on the county’s finances, is still in manageable territory – just.

The cumulative total of £2.2 million is described as “Costs attributed to the policing operation for fracking“, but it is only on closer examination that we notice that it also states “The table below shows the additional costs related to policing the fracking operation. This includes overtime, unsocial hours payments, equipment, subsistence etc. These costs do not include the cost of those officers that are assigned to policing the site on a day-to-day basis.” [Our emphasis].

So what has the real cost of policing this operation been? To work this out we need to look at the cost to Lancashire Constabulary for the provision of Mutual Aid from other forces, which began on 10th July and will finish on 29th September, and also look at at the Full Economic Costs for Lancashire’s own policing operation . Fortunately information on these costs is readily available

Mutual Aid Data

Full Economic Costing

The information is for different years and from specific forces but it is recent enough and generally applicable enough to allow us to make a reasonable stab at the total costs incurred.

Cost of Mutual Aid Policing

Mutual aid policing is provided in PSUs – Police Support Units which comprise

  • 1 Inspector
  • 3 Sergeants
  • 18 Constables
  • 3 Constable Drivers

Throughout the Mutual Aid period it has been normal to see at least 6 vans from other forces at any one time so for this exercise we are going to assume that 2 PSU units (50 officers) have been deployed on average throughout the Mutual Aid period. This would be half of the daily presence of 100 officers reported in several reputable media outlets.

[The Times reported in April  “More than 100 officers a day are being sent to Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road near Blackpool to ensure that lorries delivering materials can pass protesters.” and in May the Blackpool Gazette reported  “The officer in charge of policing anti-fracking protests in Fylde has defended the number of police deployed. Lancashire Police has up to 100 officers deployed at the drilling site in Preston New Road every day, prompting criticism from some quarters of the resources being given over to the operation. Supt Richard Robertshaw admits the numbers required are a drain on resources.“]

When  paying for mutual aid the amount paid by Lancashire Constabulary is not the Full Economic Cost of each officer – instead they pay only for the basic pay, unsociable hours, other allowances and national insurance. The force providing Mutual Aid has to swallow up the rest (or rather their council tax payers and the national tax payers do, which is another reason why it is legitimate to regard this as not just a local but a national issue).

Taking the employable cost hourly rates for each grade and applying these to the number of days worked we can calculate that the daily cost of a single PSU unit would be £7,031, so 2 PSU units (50 officers) would cost just over £14,000 a day.

Over the 81 days of the Mutual Aid period this might have cost Lancashire Police £1,139,077 assuming our assumptions about the number of officers deployed and the police’s own data are correct.

Cost of Lancashire Constabulary’s Policing

When looking at the cost of Lancashire’s own officers we need to use a Full Economic Costing which takes into account not only the salaries and overheads uses in the calculation of Mutual Aid rates but also elements, which are not included in the Mutual Aid cost calculations like:

  • Competence
  • Bonus Payment
  • Subsistence
  • Rent / Housing Allowances
  • Healthcare Scheme

along with direct overheads in the form of

  • Overtime Premium
  • Uniforms
  • Insurance
  • Transport
  • Training
  • Call Handling
  • Communications
  • Infrastructure

and also indirect overheads allocated from the provision of other central services.

The impact of including these is to bring the cost of a Police Constable from a nominal £32.78 an hour under Mutual Aid to a more realistic £59.64 an hour under a Full Economic Cost model.

This means that by the end of this week (Friday 29th September 2017), on the reasonable assumption that 100 officers have been deployed each day, apart from during Mutual Aid when it would have been 50,  the cost to Lancashire Constabulary for their own officers since January 6th will have been be somewhere in the region of £10 million.

This would suggest that the total cumulative costs so far of facilitating Cuadrilla’s operation to Lancashire Constabulary are in the order of £11.2 million.

This compares with a total 2017/18 budget requirement for Lancashire Constabulary of £261,647,000 or about 4% of the annual total after just 9 months. This would suggest over 5% after a year.

If you would like to look at the data behind our calculations it can be found in this spreadsheet

And now we need to take a step back and remember – this is just one pad. If this industry ever takes root here we can expect at least 100 pads to be developed. At any one time we can probably expect 10 pads to be being developed, and as we have seen when this industry invades places where there is a strong community, like in a village, resistance increases, so it would be unreasonable for the police to expect not to have to deal with a similar level of protest at each and every site that is developed here in Lancashire.

So, my questions to Chief Inspector Keith Ogle and Police Commissioner Clive Grunshaw are as follows:

  • Are the Police ready to spend something in the region of 50% of their current budget over the next 20 years on facilitating Cuadrilla’s operations?
  • Do the Police feel that they can adequately perform the rest of their necessary functions in our society whilst so many resources are being directed towards policing Cuadrilla’s fracking operations?
  • What plans have the Police put in place to get finance from central Government for this massive drain on their resources which might allow them continue to perform the job that we all need them to do?

These are questions that our senior police officers really have to be asking themselves. Given the costs that would seem to have been incurred already we need the answers to them sooner rather than later.

The answer my friend …

New research by You Gov commissioned by climate change group 10:10 shows that on shore wind is vastly more popular than either of the government’s two pet projects (Small modular nuclear reactors or fracking)

Support for fracking is particularly low.

A very clear majority (61%) really don’t want a fracking site within 5 miles of their home while just 21% would be happy to have one.

Compare that to onshore wind, which the government keeps telling us nobody wants and which we must apparently feel free to oppose on a local level and the situation is reversed – 65% happy and 24% unhappy. If it’s community owned then it’s 69% happy and just 17% unhappy.

It is time that the government dropped it’s absurd opposition to renewable energy sources and bowed to the inevitable – who know it might even help their electoral prospects, and that’s something they seem to need all the help they can get with just now.

You can read more about the polling and access the data underlying it using this link.

And in the naked light I saw …

A week or so ago I met local music teacher Andy Severyn for a beer and out of the blue came an idea for a song about fracking.

A couple of days later Andy and I (but mostly Andy) had put together some great replacement lyrics for Don McLean’s haunting song “Starry Starry Night” and we put them together with some of the images that have most affected us over the last few months.

The result seemed quite good so we published it on Facebook and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. In a few days it has been viewed by 10,000 people – maybe more. It has also been shared 450 times at the time of writing.

We’ve now added it to Vimeo for easier sharing.

Sorry Sorry Site from No Fracking on Vimeo.

10,000 people maybe more – hmm – that give us an idea for a follow up. Stay tuned!

In the meantime here is the image we’ve used as the main picture for the video – complete with fracking well


In George Orwell’s 1984, the main protagonist, Winston Smith, works at the Ministry of Truth, or “Minitrue”, as an editor.

He is responsible for historical revisionism; he rewrites records and alters photographs to conform to the state’s ever-changing version of history itself.

In 2017 he might have got a job editing the new Backing Fracking website.

If he did we could probably expect output like this:

Terms like “fracture growth” and “fracture propagation” are used to describe the extent of the network of cracks that are created. The maximum vertical reach has been calculated as 350 metres from a horizontal well, but it’s important to understand that these cracks are random, won’t all form in a vertical plane, and are very narrow indeed – they are certainly not going to be “fissures.”

Fracking for shale gas in the UK will take place at very significant depths – typically more than 2,000 metres. Groundwater aquifers are encountered at about 180 metres below the surface and so you can see that even if fractures can “grow” upwards 350 metres, there will be 1,650 metres of separation between the two (that’s 5 times the height of the Shard in London, Britain’s tallest building) and virtually no chance of any connectivity occurring.

Like all good lies this content contains some truth, but it is subtly bent out of shape. This when we read “The maximum vertical reach has been calculated as 350 metres from a horizontal well” we should not take that as fact. In reality a study by the ReFine group at the University of Durham actually concluded that:

“Mathematical analysis of the datasets indicates that the likelihood of a natural hydraulic fracture extending vertically more than 350 metres is about 33 per cent. For hydraulic fractures stimulated by shale gas fracking, the likelihood of them extending more than 350 m is less than 1 per cent.”

That is not the same thing as a calculated maximum at all. Given the many thousand fracturing stages which will take place just within Cuadrilla’s licence area we can expect several hundred to exceed this height.

They are correct that Cuadrilla’s fracture plan suggests that fracking will take place at depths greater than 2,000 metres, but whoever put this together obviously doesn’t know much about the local geology. The suggestion that “Groundwater aquifers are encountered at about 180 metres below the surface and so you can see that even if fractures can “grow” upwards 350 metres, there will be 1,650 metres of separation between the two” seems to be based on the assumption that the Sherwood aquifer has no depth of its own, even if you ignore the obvious issue with forgetting about their initial 180 metres, as they do there.

In fact as the BGS tell us:

The shallow aquifer is up to 40 m thick and is designated by the Environment Agency as a Secondary B aquifer. It is used for private drinking water supply, farms and golf course irrigation. In the area of the proposed shale–gas sites, this aquifer is underlain by a thick layer (up to 350 m) of a low–permeability mudstone, the Mercia Mudstone. Water moves slowly through this mudstone and it is not classed as an aquifer. Below this is the Sherwood Sandstone, which reaches a thickness of up to 750 m. The Sherwood Sandstone is classed by the Environment Agency as a Principal aquifer.”

So in fact the Sherwood Aquifer is not 180 metres below the surface but about 400 metres below it. The sandstone making up the Sherwood  Aquifer is up to 750 metres thick, giving a depth of its lowest level at about 1150 metres not the 180 metres being suggested by our astro-turfing pals in their story above.

Assuming a fracture height of 350 metres that would, of course, still give a tolerance of 500 metres for fracking at 2000 metres. If the 350 metres quoted really were a maximum rather than just a probability this would be fine wouldn’t it? However, as the Refine paper tells us:

The maximum reported height of an upward propagating hydraulic fracture from several thousand fracturing operations in the Marcellus, Barnett, Woodford, Eagle Ford and Niobrara shale (USA) is ∼588 m

How much can we depend on this data?

Well Refine also state that:

Mathematical methods for estimating hydraulic fracturing height are simplistic (Fisher and Warpinski, 2011) and it is generally accepted that we cannot yet accurately predict fracture propagation behaviour in detail

So things wouldn’t seem to be quite so clear cut as our Backing Fracking chums would like to make out, as in fact the separation distance between the end of a fracture and the aquifer at Preston New Road might be nearer 250 metres than the 1650 metres claimed by them, and nobody is really sure if the 588 metres really is the maximum fracture height we should expect.

250 metres clearance for a fracture at 2000 metres, with an observed maximum fracture height (so far) of 588 metres, might still be a reasonable margin of course (if those mathematical prediction methods do turn out to be more reliable than ReFine suggest) , but this is rather less than 1 times the height of the Shard in London and about 7 times less than Backing Fracking’s “reassuring” maths is trying to tell us. Oops!

This begs the question why Backing Fracking are being so misleading. Is it incompetence or is it a wilful intention to exaggerate and misinform?

[And according to their own page , shouldn’t they be called “Backing Frac’ing” as they tell us the word “fracking” is “really known in the industry” as “frac’ing”. 😂]

PS – do we detect a little irascibility with Aunty in their closing “Fracking certainly isn’t the controversial technique that the BBC and others would like you to think it is.”?  And we still think it is by the way.

PPS – it seems they follow everything we write here as shortly after I published this they put this sniffy Tweet on Twitter

(The inset is my reply LOL – 2 years ago they hadn’t banned me but when I didn’t post for a while they were telling each other they had. Then I argued a point with them and got banned properly. Oddly my life was not much diminished.)

Uncomfortably Number

As we reported in our last post the Backing Fracking astroturf group’s new website isn’t exactly a reliable source of information.

Today we read their latest blog post in which they state:

You have to commend the PR boys for that “per fracking stage” don’t you. How about when you add up the 45 stages?

And “apparently” boys? Er no – it really has. It’s in Cuadrilla’s own Hydraulic Fracture Plan which they submitted to the Oil & Gas Authority and Environment Agency for review in July 2017. Didn’t you know?

The comparison shown with Elswick confirms what we have said all along – it used just 163m3 of water compared to the 34,000 m3 that this test well will use.

But in their FAQ it clearly stated “Even the longest horizontal wells are unlikely to use more than 27,000 cubic metres each

See it’s here:

Now for your mental gymnastics this morning I want you to multiply 45 x 763 and express the result as a percentage of 27,000.

That’ll be 34,000 and 127% then.

Yes indeed, boys and girls, just a week after launching the site, and by their own admission their FAQ information underestimates the reality by 27%. (And of course underestimates their water per person comparison by a factor of 1000 as we saw before.)

I’d say that was either totally incompetent or intentionally misleading, but they have been very careful to state “Backing Fracking is a residents collective, and operates as an unincorporated association to campaign in support of shale gas extraction in the UK” in the footer of each page.

By operating at arms length like this the industry PR team clearly believes it can say what it likes and avoid any censure from the Advertising Standards Authority. Clever isn’t it, but about as underhand as we have come to expect from this industry?

If you want a good laugh take a look at their FAQs and in particular this one

When you’ve stopped laughing have a read of our various exposés of their fakery – starting here.

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Who's fault?

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