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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

Rubbish!

Looking for misinformation, scaremongering, lies or stupidity?

It's all on this website (but only on this one post ) featuring the Reverend Mike Roberts.

(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"

Yes you!

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Refracktion

Proud of Froud

We are so impressed by Trina Froud’s letter in this week’s Lytham St Annes Express that we thought we’d reproduce it in full here. She speaks for many of us who are frustrated by the portrayal of events by Lancashire Police and their failure to deal with Cuadrilla’s security team in a professional manner. Here it is :


Dear Sir,

Dismayed by the recent Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) announcement (of £8 million to begin research into the environmental effects of fracking), and disturbed by the reports of policing at the Preston New Road site, this particular ‘guinea pig’ decided to visit Cuadrilla’s site to see it first-hand.

While there, a lock-on occurred, it was over very quickly and was ‘successful’ despite the attempts to prevent it by Cuadrilla security guards and police. The police wear yellow hi-viz jackets and the private security wear orange, so both stood out in the activity.

It was clear to me that the security guards were assaulting the protesters, while the police that I saw, were on the outside edge of the group doing little.

I subsequently spoke to a police officer to suggest that the police should have been controlling and removing the aggressive security men, in order to calm the situation, rather than moving away some of the observers.

His argument was that it was the duty of the security to come to the aid/defence of the police, that security are trained in handling such situations, and it is different in the centre of the melee … oh and that he would ‘Never say Never’ when I doubted that he would thump someone.

Having now watched filming from within the centre of that group, my opinion has not changed; the security men were at the heart of the action and were assaulting the protesters. I do not accept that men employed to guard a site should be out on the public highway at all, let alone assaulting the general public.

The police were not under threat, and reinforcements arrived quickly, I counted 50 men on the ground and 16 marked vehicles soon afterwards. I was dismayed by the security guards, the lack of effective police action, and the subsequent refusal of the police officer to acknowledge my concern.

However as I write this, on 31st July, I see that the police are present in great strength, vastly outnumbering the protesters. I am certain that police are trained to far higher standards than security guards, and yet today they themselves are behaving aggressively in an unrestrained fashion. It is no wonder that friends, who have lived here all their lives, and always respected the police, feel shocked and betrayed.

The consequences of Cuadrilla’s operation will outlast the obvious ones of traffic and noise – trust in the independence of the police, once lost, is not going to be regained.

Yours,

T Froud
Lytham


 

DECC Wave 22 shows support for Fracking crashing to a new low

Today the government belatedly posted the results of its BEIS wave research. This is a series of polls which has been asking questions about energy on a quarterly basis since March 2012 and about shale gas specifically since Wave 8 in December 2013.

Today’s results show support for fracking crashing to a new low of 16% (split as support 14% and strongly support down to 2% – both record lows) whilst opposition is growing and is now up to a record high of 33% (split as strongly oppose 13% and oppose 20%).

Support for fracking has declined by almost 25% over the last 12 months (21% down to 16%).

The % of people neither supporting nor opposing remained fairly constant at 49%. This figure has hovered around 50% since the polling began.

The trend is evident as opposition can be seen to be bearing down on support and crushing it – this industry continues to lose support day by day in spite of efforts to alternately buy local support and to beat local opposition to the floor using the sledgehammer of legal injunctions.

It is clear that their attempts to demonise protest are backfiring and that this industry has about as much chance of getting a social licence as I have of winning the lottery (spoiler alert: I never buy tickets).

Interestingly many those that expressed an opinion in favour of fracking cited jobs, lower bills and using less fossil fuels as reasons. These arguments are pushed by the fracking PR machine but are almost totally without substance, so as people are made aware of the truth we should see a further decline in support as the scales fall from people’s eyes.

By far the largest (and growing) reason for support was “Loss/destruction of natural environment” – up from 55% last year to 68% this year, so we can expect a PR push from Cuadrilla telling us how green fracking is and how it won’t industrialise the country side (second spoiler alert: It isn’t and it will)

 

 

More Fools’ Gold

So following on from yesterday’s post we have further evidence of how our “gold standard regulation” works.

Yesterday morning the A583 was closed at about 7:15 to allow a convoy of trucks to enter the site.

The trucks passed protesters at the entrance to the site at 7:27.

This was reported as a breach to Andrew Mullaney, Head of Planning at Lancashire County Council, because (as those who read yesterday’s post about the “gold standard” but ever-changing traffic management plan  will know) Cuadrilla are not allowed to bring HGVs onto site before 07:30.

2.3 Operational Hours
HGVs will only be permitted to enter or leave the Site between specified hours as set out in condition 19 of the planning permission granted on 6 October 2016.These hours are summarised as follows:

Delivery or removal of materials, and works associated with the delivery and removal of plant and equipment – 07:30-18:30 Monday to Friday (except public holidays), 08:30-12:00 on Saturdays (except public holidays);and

Essential repairs to plant equipment used on site may require HGV movements outside of these hours.

The co-ordinated planning of the arrival of vehicles as set out in Section 3.6 will ensure that vehicles do not arrive at the site outside of the permitted hours.

Now, you may be puzzled as to why I am allowing myself to get exercised about a 3 minute breach here. Well, it is not the extent or the impact of the breach which is important here. It is the reaction of the Head of Planning at Lancashire County Council.

Yesterday, according to those present,  Mr Mullaney was made aware of the breach and supporting evidence was provided in the form of a live stream on Facebook which show a timestamp for the beginning of the stream as 07:22. At 4 minutes and 28 seconds into the stream we see the first lorry pass, so it is evident that the latest this could be is 07:27.

So, let’s just walk through this. Mr Mullaney is made aware of a breach. Mr Mullaney is provided with what at first sight, at least, looks like clear evidence of a minor breach. Mr Mullaney is provided with a site log by Cuadrilla which appears to record something at odds with the evidence provided – i.e. that they hid the fact that the trucks entered the site a few minutes early in their log.  That is the issue, and not the actual extent of the breach.

In our world of of gold standard regulation Mr Mullaney’s first reaction is now of course to wonder if Cuadrilla being allowed to mark their own homework is such a good idea. Mr Mullaney is now rightly concerned that this could be evidence that Cuadrilla are potentially falsifying records, albeit in a relatively minor way in this instance. Mr Mullaney is an intelligent man and realises that this could be proved or disproved with a quick call to his contact at Lancashire Police to get a time stamp from one of the officers’ bodycam recordings. Mr Mullaney calls his friends in the police, finds that their evidence supports that of the livestreamer and calls Cuadrilla in for a stiff talking to about the accuracy of their records.

Sorry. That’s not what happened at all.

Here is Mr Mullaney’s reaction?

Given the fact that Lancashire County Council are conspicuous by their absence on the site (unless you count their ridiculous temporary camps on the grass verge of course), you might think Mr Mullaney would be glad that citizens are actually monitoring the breaches of the regulations he is supposed to be enforcing, but it would seem that he has a similarly glib and blinkered attitude towards breaches at the leader of his council.

Yesterday local businessman Mark Mills delivered a petition signed by 4400 people to LCC. The response he got from Geoff Driver was so dismissive that you have to wonder if maybe Mr Diver’s attention could be on other more pressing matters?

Hi Mr Mills
Thank you for your e-mail. The Council is aware of the breach of the Condition and has written to Cuadrilla. Any action the Council takes must be proportionate to the breach so you can be assured we will not be ordering Cuadrilla to remove the equipment.
Regards
Geoff Driver

Mr Mills was as unimpressed as you might expect

Mr Driver

That is not proportionate.

For example, if I built a house without regard to the planning conditions, the Council could (would) order me to take it down. Therefore, the removal of equipment brought onto site outside of the planning conditions imposed is proportionate and required by 4,000 local people who have taken the time and trouble to support your enforcement of those conditions.

Cuadrilla was given very specific conditionality in its permission to operate and as a local resident, I rely upon you, the Council, to enforce their obligations and for peaceful enjoyment of my home. Their movement of vehicles out of hours and accessing the site from the Kirkham M55 exit is against two conditions. As Cuadrilla are already in breach, having never operated a wheel wash, which has caused dirt from the site to be carried to the road, I would request you detail to me by return when your enforcement officers have been to site, given the number of complaints you have received from me and others.

For you information, I am dissatisfied with your glib and short response to over 4,000 local people’s desire to see Lancashire County Council enforce its planning conditions and am similarly worried that your lack of action will embolden Cuadrilla to deliberately breach further conditions with regards to safety, for example.

Kind regards

Mark

Meanwhile the paint continues to peel off the gold veneer exposing the dud currency beneath it.

Fools’ Gold

We, the residents of the Fylde, have been assured by our MP, Mark Menzies, that the most stringent regulations would have to be in place if shale gas exploration were to go ahead. He has referred continually to the need for “gold standard” regulations.

We are now, if Cuadrilla are to be believed, just weeks away from the first drill bit tearing into the ground at Preston New Road, but the last week has seen this illusion of gold standard regulation exposed as the toothless sham we all knew it to be as planning conditions are routinely amended to suit the applicant by the council or breached with the collusion of Lancashire Constabulary.

Let’s take a brief look at how we got to be in a position where a nightclub doorman in an orange jacket can cock a snook at our planning system and a government minister.

First of all let’s look at what planning conditions are actually for. Here is what the Department for Communities and Local Government said back in 2014.

Why are conditions imposed on a planning permission?

When used properly, conditions can enhance the quality of development and enable development proposals to proceed where it would otherwise have been necessary to refuse planning permission, by mitigating the adverse effects of the development. The objectives of planning are best served when the power to attach conditions to a planning permission is exercised in a way that is clearly seen to be fair, reasonable and practicable. It is important to ensure that conditions are tailored to tackle specific problems, rather than standardised or used to impose broad unnecessary controls.

It would seem to be reasonable to assume therefore that a six week long inquiry such as we saw last year at Blackpool Football club would result in conditions being applied which were “fair, reasonable and practicable“, and which it would therefore be reasonable to expect to be properly implemented and enforced by whatever statutory body was charged with them.

The Inspector, Wendy Mckay, in her report when referring to the traffic management plan at Roseacre Wood wrote :

The TMP would be secured by planning condition. Mr Stevens accepted that TMPs are a standard planning tool. … if there was any evidence of drivers breaching the TMP in any respect, the Appellant would take this up with the contractor and, if proven, could and would take steps under the relevant contracts; (iv) enforcement: planning enforcement is virtually always retrospective. But given the monitoring condition, any breach could be acted on very promptly by the Council.

It is abundantly clear therefore that Ms Mckay’s recommendation for approval at PNR was based on an assumption that “any breach” of a TMP would be “acted on very promptly by the Council“.

So what is the reality?

We have witnessed serial breaches of planning conditions and particularly of the Traffic Management Plan since work on the site commenced last January. Some are ongoing like the failure to properly implement an approved wheel washing system which was clearly specified in the Traffic Management Plan and the Construction Method Statement but which has never been implemented. We can’t find any published revision to the plan which would legitimise this in any way. Others are individual breaches like unjustified access using right turns and access outside approved hours. This is interesting because although the Traffic Management Plan does now make provision for amendment to the left in left out “depending on the obstruction or threat to HGV safety and/ or public safety travelling along the A583“, it did not in its original versions (until February this year) and it does not specify who should make this decision. The new elements in this clause have clearly been interpolated to make Cuadrilla’s life easier and to minimise the impact of protest. (See the end of this article for a comparison of what was originally  intended and how it has been amended, apparently exclusively to the applicant’s advantage several times since)

3.7
Obstructions
Cuadrilla will work closely with the Police and Highway Authorities to prevent the obstruction of routes into and out of the Site via all practical measures. The primary route into site is left in left out travelling in the direction from J4 of M55, however this is subject to change depending on the obstruction or threat to HGV safety and/ or public safety travelling along the A583

Yesterday I witnessed such a right turn breach (in circumstances which did not obviously meet any of the mitigating conditions under clause 3.7.1 of Version 11 of the Traffic Management Plan) and questioned the police about it. I was told that “their solicitor” had authorised it. When questioned further the Superintendent in charge said “their” meant Cuadrilla’s.  A second superintendent questioned by me admitted that he had been totally unaware of the impending delivery from the wrong direction into the site until it happened. It would therefore appear that the Police and LCC are content to let Cuadrilla themselves decide when it is appropriate for the agreed Traffic Management Plan to be overridden.

The Police clearly have no problem with this either as we saw last Thursday with the out of hours delivery of parts of Cuadrilla’s rig, using a “right in” route, which again did not obviously meet any conditions which would have allowed it to come in from the right at 4:30 in the morning.

As regards the hours, the Traffic Management Plan is very clear:

2.3 Operational Hours
HGVs will only be permitted to enter or leave the Site between specified hours as set out in condition 19 of the planning permission granted on 6 October 2016.These hours are summarised as follows:

Delivery or removal of materials, and works associated with the delivery and removal of plant and equipment – 07:30-18:30 Monday to Friday (except public holidays), 08:30-12:00 on Saturdays (except public holidays);and

Essential repairs to plant equipment used on site may require HGV movements outside of these hours.

The co-ordinated planning of the arrival of vehicles as set out in Section 3.6 will ensure that vehicles do not arrive at the site outside of the permitted hours.

The only exception listed is for “essential repairs to plant equipment“. This would clearly not include first delivery of plant, and yet Cuadrilla appear to have been given permission by the police to deliver outside these hours. Cuadrilla claim they consulted with the Police. The Police claim they were told by Cuadrilla what they were going to to do. LCC appear to have had no knowledge and wring their hands ineffectually and threaten to send a letter, whilst we, the public, look on open-mouthed at such a shambolic and ineffectual regulatory regime that our invisible MP has the brass neck to describe as “gold standard” (or if he doesn’t believe it is he is strangely silent given his insistence that gold standard regulations are required before the drill hits the dirt).

Of course if Cuadrilla find this restriction a little onerous in future they can use the incredible bad drafting of the TMP which also includes a clause 3.5 which states

3.5 Delivery Hours
It is proposed that planned HGV movements will only be permitted to enter or leave the Site between the hours of 07:30-18:30 Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays) and 08:30-12:00 on Saturdays (except public holidays) unless agreed otherwise with LCC.

Oh look – “unless agreed otherwise with LCC”. Perhaps they should have bothered to have a little chat before getting the rig delivered – but then again why waste time following regulations when you know the Council will not take any meaningful action against you anyway?

But it gets worse – if you look at the current version of the Traffic Management Plan it says

3.7.1 Risk Assessment

The primary route is left in left out however in circumstances which dictate that an alternative turn into site is required (right turn entry or exit) this will be for occasions which include:

1) Blocked entrance preventing a left turn into site
2) Threat of an obstacle confirmed by the Police
3) Police instruction
4) Loads or Abnormal Loads which require a right turn under controlled conditions by the Police

A dynamic threat risk assessment will be conducted by Cuadrilla’s security team in consultation with the Police. The primary objectives of the dynamic threat risk assessment is to reduce and prevent disruption to the A583, maintain safety of motorised and non-motorised users of the highway. If the dynamic threat risk assessment identifies any of those key objectives could be compromised an alternative route towards Site will be assessed as a potential solution.

Cuadrilla will consult with the Police and inform Lancashire County Council Highways and Planning departments that a deviation from the preferred agreed route to either right in right out, right in left out or left in right out or a combination of the options as a temporary approach

What does this mean? Well as the Community Liaison Group discovered last night it seems that a group of night club doormen dressed in orange high vis have the authority to override the conditions imposed by the original traffic management plan, and scrutinised by a Planning Inspector and a Government Minister,  if they assess the situation as warranting it. We have already seen that the Police will simply jump when told to by Cuadrilla so this effectively means that the Traffic Management Plan is not worth the paper it is written on. As Matthew Wright asked on “The Wright Stuff” on Friday morning when discussing this matter “I guess critics will argue that if you break regs those .. if you you break regs on planning what other rules and regs might get broken?”. Do you know, I think young Mathew may be right there. We will and do argue precisely that.

But there is more. This “dynamic threat risk assessment” was not mentioned in the original Traffic Management Plan – it only found its way into the document via a revision made in February after Cuadrilla became aware of the scale of opposition that they were encountering

Assuming that Lancashire County Council has agreed the amendments to the plan, then it would appear that they have amended it to give Cuadrilla’s nightclub bouncers in orange jumpsuits the right, which they did not have at the start, to override the conditions previously agreed, at their own discretion (given that in practice the Police merely seem to rubber stamp anything that Cuadrilla tell them they intend to do). There have been several further amendments to 3.7.1 made since.

Yesterday a petition signed by 4100 people was handed in to LCC – it called for the council to “Enforce Planning Conditions in Lancashire”. It might as well have called for the council to mount a expedition to Mars. Our council would appear to have neither the ability nor the appetite to protect its citizens. Far from “mitigating the adverse effects of the development” as intended our planning system appears to be being used to give Cuadrilla carte blanche to operate in the way most convenient to themselves with the collusion of both the police and the council’s planning department.

If this is gold standard regulation in operation then God help us if they do start to drill because LCC and the Police certainly won’t.


If you want another hollow laugh Clause 4.1 of the Traffic Management plan (Version 11 now) says that Cuadrilla must display it on their website

“4.1 Communication

The TMP will be made publicly available on the Cuadrilla website.”

Cuadrilla’s website currently only displays Version 7 – if they are very unlucky LCC may write them a stiff letter for displaying a Traffic Management Plan 4 versions behind the current one. But we sympathise as we find it almost impossible to keep up too.


We would like to make it clear that Andrew Mullaney, Head of Planning at LCC has written to an enquirer that

The Refraktion article contains a number of fundamental inaccuracies, and we were not asked to comment on its accuracy before publication.

We have accordingly written back to him thus

I understand that you believe that the article at http://www.refracktion.com/index.php/fools-gold/ contains “ a number of fundamental inaccuracies” and that you have complained that you were not asked to comment before publication.

It is my intention to present information as factually as possible so I would like to give you the opportunity to provide details of these perceived inaccuracies so that they can be corrected and to add a reasonable comment if you wish.

I will add a holding comment to the article.

and will update this article if he responds.


 

 

 

For those who are interested in the minutiae here are the relevant amendments to section 3.7 and 3.8 of the Transport Management Plan since operations began so you can see how they have been changed to facilitate Cuadrilla’s operations

Version 6 – 15th December 2016

3.7 Obstructions

Cuadrilla will work closely with the police and highway authorities to prevent the obstruction of routes into and out of the Site via all practical measures.

In the event that the route or access to the Site is temporarily obstructed, any vehicles bound for the Site will be contacted via the means set out in Section 2.1. Those vehicles that have not commenced their journey will be advised to remain at their origin until further notice. Vehicles that are already on the route to the Site will be advised on what action to take dependent upon their location and journey origin. All vehicles will be advised not to stop at the Site access and to divert to an appropriate waiting place until further instruction is received. The Site location and proposed routeing is such that vehicles that have already reached the A583 will be able to continue past the Site in order to rejoin the M55 at Junction 3 (via the A585).

From this point they may be advised to return to their origin (if this is local or if the obstruction is likely to remain in place for some time). In the event of a more temporary obstruction, alternative short-term HGV parking is available in a number of locations. This includes a long public lay-by on the A583 to the east of Kirkham, less than 10 minutes’ drive of the site. Alternatively, motorway services at Charnock Richard and Lancaster on the M6 are within approximately 30 minutes’ drive of the site.

Version 7 – 24th February 2017

3.7 Obstructions

Cuadrilla will work closely with the Police and Highway Authorities to prevent the obstruction of routes into and out of the Site via all practical measures. The primary route into site is left in left out travelling in the direction from J4 of M55, however this is subject to change depending on the obstruction or threat to HGV safety and/ or public safety travelling along the A583.

3.7.1 Risk Assessment

A dynamic threat risk assessment will be conducted by Cuadrilla’s security team in consultation with the Police. The primary objectives of the dynamic threat risk assessment is to reduce disruption to the A583, maintain public safety by other highway users and Cuadrilla’s HGV delivery drivers.

If the dynamic threat risk assessment identifies any of those key objectives could be compromised an alternative route towards Site will be assessed as a potential solution. Cuadrilla will consult with the Police and inform Lancashire County Council Highways and Planning departments that a deviation from the primary route to either right in right out, right in left out or left in right out or a combination of the options as a temporary approach. This could vary hourly or daily. The purpose of consulting the Police on the assessment is to ensure that highway safety is maintained with a change in route. The section 278 design and construction allows for a safe right turn into and out of site. A previous safety audit in section 8.6 of Appendix R1 Transport Assessment (ES Arup 2014) has been enhanced with the construction of a central refuge island. The assessment accounted for both left and right turns in and out of site.

A series of rendezvous point will be identified prior to each operational day to safely hold HGV’s before making the final journey to Site. The rendezvous point will be selected daily based on the suitability of holding HGV’s, number of HGV’s scheduled for delivery and the distance from the site. The purpose of the rendezvous point is to control the movement of all vehicles in a co-ordinated manner with Cuadrilla’s security and the Police. This is to minimise disruption to the A583 and ensure vehicles travel to Site in accordance with the prevailing route at the specific time.

Those vehicles that have not commenced their final leg of the journey from the rendezvous point will be advised to remain at their holding point until further notice if an obstruction is identified. Vehicles that are already on the route to the Site will be advised on what action to take dependent upon their location by Cuadrilla’s security team or Police

Version 8 – 27 March 2017

3.7.1 Risk Assessment

A dynamic threat risk assessment will be conducted by Cuadrilla’s security team in consultation with the Police. The primary objectives of the dynamic threat risk assessment is to reduce and prevent disruption to the A583, maintain safety of other highway users and Cuadrilla’s HGV delivery drivers.

If the dynamic threat risk assessment identifies any of those key objectives could be compromised an alternative route towards Site will be assessed as a potential solution. Cuadrilla will consult with the Police and inform Lancashire County Council Highways and Planning departments that a deviation from the preferred route to either right in right out, right in left out or left in right out or a combination of the options as a temporary approach. This could vary hourly or daily. The purpose of consulting the Police on the assessment is to ensure that disruption is minimised and highway safety is maintained. To mitigate the impact from a potential right turn into site the section 278 design and construction allows for a safe right turn into and out of site. A previous safety audit in section 8.6 of Appendix R1 Transport Assessment (ES Arup 2014) has been enhanced with the construction of a central refuge island. The assessment accounted for both left and right turns in and out of site. Further to the above the A583 on approach to site is subject to a proposed advisory descending speed limit from 50mph to 30mph and finally 20mph outside the site entrance enabling a safe right turn manoeuvre.

A series of rendezvous point will be identified prior to each operational day to safely hold HGV’s before making the final journey to Site. The rendezvous point will be selected daily based on the suitability of holding HGV’s, number of HGV’s scheduled for delivery and the distance from the site. The purpose of the rendezvous point is to control the movement of all vehicles in a co-ordinated manner with Cuadrilla’s security and the Police. This is to minimise disruption to the A583 and ensure vehicles travel to Site in accordance with the prevailing route at the specific time.

Those vehicles that have not commenced their final leg of the journey from the rendezvous point will be advised to remain at their holding point until further notice if an obstruction is identified. Vehicles that are already on the route to the Site will be advised on what action to take dependent upon their location by Cuadrilla’s security team or Police

Version 9 – 15 May 2017

3.7.1 Risk Assessment

The primary route is left in left out however in circumstances which dictate that an alternative turn into site is required (right turn entry or exit) this will be for occasions which include:

1) Blocked entrance preventing a left turn into site
2) Threat of an obstacle
3) Police instruction

A dynamic threat risk assessment will be conducted by Cuadrilla’s security team in consultation with the Police. The primary objectives of the dynamic threat risk assessment is to reduce and prevent disruption to the A583, maintain safety of other highway users and Cuadrilla’s HGV delivery drivers.

If the dynamic threat risk assessment identifies any of those key objectives could be compromised an alternative route towards Site will be assessed as a potential solution. Cuadrilla will consult with the Police and inform Lancashire County Council Highways and Planning departments that a deviation from the preferred route to either right in right out, right in left out or left in right out or a combination of the options as a temporary approach. This could vary hourly or daily.

The purpose of consulting the Police on the assessment is to ensure that disruption is minimised and highway safety is maintained. To mitigate the impact from a potential right turn into site the section 278 design and construction allows for a safe right turn into and out of site. A previous safety audit in section 8.6 of Appendix R1 Transport Assessment (ES Arup 2014) has been enhanced with the construction of a central refuge island. The assessment accounted for both left and right turns in and out of site.

Further to the above the A583 on approach to site is subject to descending speed limit from 50mph to 30mph and finally 20mph outside the site entrance. A series of rendezvous point will be identified prior to each operational day to safely hold HGV’s before making the final journey to Site. The rendezvous point will be selected daily based on the suitability of holding HGV’s, number of HGV’s scheduled for delivery and the distance from the site. The purpose of the rendezvous point is to control the movement of all vehicles in a co-ordinated manner with Cuadrilla’s security and the Police. This is to minimise disruption to the A583 and ensure vehicles travel to Site in accordance with the prevailing route at the specific time.

Those vehicles that have not commenced their final leg of the journey from the rendezvous point will be advised to remain at their holding point until further notice if an obstruction is identified. Vehicles that are already on the route to the Site will be advised on what action to take dependent upon their location by Cuadrilla’s security team or Police.

Version 10 – Also 15 May 2017 – Significantly shortened to remove holding point instruction

3.7.1 Risk Assessment

The primary route is left in left out however in circumstances which dictate that an alternative turn into site is required (right turn entry or exit) this will be for occasions which include:

1) Blocked entrance preventing a left turn into site
2) Threat of an obstacle confirmed by the Police
3) Police instruction

A dynamic threat risk assessment will be conducted by Cuadrilla’s security team in consultation with the Police. The primary objectives of the dynamic threat risk assessment is to reduce and prevent disruption to the A583, maintain safety of motorised and non-motorised users of the highway.

If the dynamic threat risk assessment identifies any of those key objectives could be compromised an alternative route towards Site will be assessed as a potential solution. Cuadrilla will consult with the Police and inform Lancashire County Council Highways and Planning departments that a deviation from the preferred agreed route to either right in right out, right in left out or left in right out or a combination of the options as a temporary approach.

In case the above changes do not give Cuadrilla quite enough flexibility it seem that LCC have bent over backwards to ensure that the next version gives them the ability to totally ignore the right in right out provisions of the plan agreed before operations began. We are genuinely puzzled by this proposal as LCC would appear to have granted almost all of the powers proposed to  Cuadrilla some time ago back in February.

DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT
APPLICATION REF: LCC/2014/0096/1
APPLICATION FOR THE AMENDMENT OF THE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PLAN APPROVED UNDER THE REQUIREMENTS OF CONDITION 11 OF PLANNING PERMISSION LCC/2014/0096
LOCATION: AGRICULTURAL LAND THAT FORMS PART OF PLUMPTON HALL FARM TO WEST OF THE FARM BUILDINGS, NORTH OF PRESTON NEW ROAD, OFF PRESTON NEW ROAD, LITTLE PLUMPTON, PRESTON

Description of development and condition

Condition 11 of the planning permission for the Preston New Road Exploration Site requires the development to be undertaken in accordance with an approved traffic management plan.

The traffic management plan was approved under the requirements of this condition on 4th January 2017.
As a result of experience on site since the development commenced, an amendment to the approved TMP is now proposed (version 11)

Applicants Proposal’s

The original TMP proposed that all traffic would access the site from junction 4 of the M55 and leave towards junction 3 so that there would be a left in, left out operation at the site access. The site operator is proposing that this would still be the main means of access but that there would also be a more flexible mode of operation so that HGV’s would be able to access the site from junction 3 and leave towards junction 4 in certain circumstances. The operator is proposing that the choice of route would be based upon a risk assessment undertaken on a day to day basis. The revised TMP also contains provisions in respect of local depots or facilities supplying the site – such sites will access the primary road network as soon as reasonably practicable.

All other elements of the TMP would remain as currently approved.

Consultations

LCC Highways (Development Control): No objection. The TMP should be specific about the circumstances when alternative routeings will be permitted which should be with the agreement of the police.

Preston New Road Action Group: Do not consider that the TMP should be amended. The existing TMP is unambiguous in its language and the revised TMP will lead to confusion as other road users will be expecting HGVs to turn left into the site and left out of the site and employment of other movements will increase the risk of accidents. PNRAG consider that the increased flexibility would mean that it would be very difficult to demonstrate that the TMP had ever been breached. PNRAG consider that the revised TMP will allow the HGV routeing to be amended without the approval of LCC.

County Councillor Liz Oades: CC Oades has written to the County Council on 23 April 2017 expressing concern about the prospect of large numbers of HGVs travelling along the A583 and the A585. The TMP has been breached on many occasions which has resulted in convoys of lorries travelling through Kirkham and Wesham.

Assessment of application

Condition 11 of the planning permission for the Preston New Road Exploration site requires the submission of a traffic management plan covering the routeing of HGVs to and from the site. The traffic management plan was approved on 4th January 2017 and requires all HGVs to access the site via junction 4 and leave towards junction 3 so that HGVs only make left in, left out manoeuvres onto the A583 from the site access.

In the main, since the development commenced the routeing controls within the TMP have been complied with. However, due to protestor activity and any other incidents that may close part of the routes between the site and motorway, the operator is requesting more flexibility so that they have the ability to route HGV’s to the site from junction 3 or out of the site towards junction 4. The operator proposes to undertake a continual risk assessment in consultation with the police that will allow HGVs to access the site via alternative means should the normal access routes not be available or if there is a risk that protestor activity would result in closure of the road (that risk being confirmed by the Police).

The original EIA included a study of the junction with the A583 and concluded that the junction would be safe for all manoeuvres including turning right into the access and turning right out of the access. After hearing evidence, the Planning Inspector concluded after the Public Inquiry that she was satisfied that the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on highway safety. Therefore it is considered that there is no highway safety reason why the access should be limited to left in, left out. As the speed limit along this section of road has now been reduced to 30 / 20 mph, the risks to highway safety are actually lower than when assessed during the planning application and appeal. The changes to the agreed routeing arrangements must therefore be considered in that context.

The changes to the TMP proposed by the operator would allow the choice of access route to the site to be changed taking account of risk. This would reduce the incidence of the A583 being closed and would therefore minimise delay and disruption to other road users. There is also some additional detail relating to when the site is being supplied from local depots or other facilities – in these circumstances, the supplier will seek to access the primary road networks as soon as reasonable practicable.

It is considered that a left in, left out is still the safest method of operation for the access and which should therefore be used whenever possible. The revised TMP provides for this mode of operation to be the case. The applicant is proposing that any deviation from the normal routeting is only utilised when the site access is blocked, or the road is closed, or there is a threat of closure confirmed by the Police. This would provide the necessary control such that the alternative routeing is only utilised when the preferred route is unavailable or where there is a risk that vehicles would be subject to protestor activity which could give rise to health and safety implications.
The changes to the TMP would not increase the number of HGV movements associated with the development. Departure from the normal routeing arrangements may result in small increase in HGV movements on the A585 (if vehicles access and leave the site via junction3) but such numbers need to be considered in the context of the overall traffic levels on that road. Even if a significant number of site vehicles departed from the agreed routeing, the effect on overall traffic numbers on the A585 would be small.

The revised TMP will not require LCC to grant approval every time an HGV wishes to depart from the normal routeing. However, the decision to depart from the normal routing would be agreed with the police and the County Council then informed via the regular returns that are made relating to HGV movements. This is considered acceptable and would ensure that any movements are undertaken in a safe manner.

The provisions regarding local suppliers are considered acceptable. During the life of the project there may be some local suppliers who are not situated on the primary road network. The revised TMP provides for them to access the site by gaining access to the primary road network as soon as reasonably practicable. This is considered acceptable.
The comment from CC Oades relating to convoys of lorries passing through Kirkham and Wesham is noted. It is understood that this took place when stone was being imported to construct the drilling pad and this manner of operation would not be a regular occurrence during development or restoration of the site.
The amendments to the TMP are therefore considered to be acceptable.

Recommendation:

That the amendment to the approved Traffic Management Plan ref Issue 11 dated 12th June 2017 be approved.

The TMP currently in force therefore has this condition

Version 11 – Also dated 15 May 2017 in version control but dated as 15th June on LCC website and presumably the one referred to as dated 12th June above

3.7.1 Risk Assessment

The primary route is left in left out however in circumstances which dictate that an alternative turn into site is required (right turn entry or exit) this will be for occasions which include:

1) Blocked entrance preventing a left turn into site
2) Threat of an obstacle confirmed by the Police
3) Police instruction
4) Loads or Abnormal Loads which require a right turn under controlled conditions by the Police

A dynamic threat risk assessment will be conducted by Cuadrilla’s security team in consultation with the Police. The primary objectives of the dynamic threat risk assessment is to reduce and prevent disruption to the A583, maintain safety of motorised and non-motorised users of the highway. If the dynamic threat risk assessment identifies any of those key objectives could be compromised an alternative route towards Site will be assessed as a potential solution.

Cuadrilla will consult with the Police and inform Lancashire County Council Highways and Planning departments that a deviation from the preferred agreed route to either right in right out, right in left out or left in right out or a combination of the options as a temporary approach

The latest version also contains a new Clause 3.8

3.8 Local Supply

Suppliers using local depots or facilities to supply the Site will route vehicles as soon as reasonably practicable onto the primary road network.

Which seems open to just about any interpretation you wish, but presumably gives local suppliers the right to approach and leave the site however they wish.

Was this the biggest own goal of all time?

At about 4:30 on Thursday morning a Cuadrilla convoy of about 20 trucks apparently contravened the  planning regulations set by LCC, with the full knowledge and apparent collusion of Lancashire Police.

Cuadrilla were in self-congratulatory mode, sending out a cocky press release, and when questioned about the timing of the delivery responded in their characteristic manner, blaming everyone else for the company’s failings, Cuadrilla  said it had been done

“in consultation with the police, with the aim of minimising disruption on the road outside the site. The company said the road has been closed or reduced to a single lane several times in recent weeks during protests.”

However, it was not long before the yarn began to unravel. Lancashire County Council were quick to distance themselves from the action, saying they had not been involved and that this was a clear breach of planning regulations.

The planning department told an enquirer that the convoys entering the site around 4 am were NOT permitted by LCC and therefore this was a breach of Planning Permission condition 19.  Condition 19 is quite clear: Vehicles may enter between 7.30am – 6pm Monday – Friday, except in emergency conditions, which this clearly is not. LCC will be writing to Cuadrilla to issue a formal warning that any future breaches will result in enforcement action. Sadly this one will not result in any action as the government guidelines state that breaches should be resolved ‘via negotiation’.  When asked what action will be taken in the event of further breaches they were told this would constitute a further breach of planning they would issue enforcement notices and legal action could be taken against Cuadrilla. This could take 2 forms: 1) they could stop activity on site 2) they could apply for variation to the permit. The enquirer was informed that LCC would issue a press release yesterday afternoon but as yet we have not been able to get hold of a copy.

So now we knew 3 things  – that LCC were not involved, that Cuadrilla had breached planning regulations yet again, and that the regulators are as toothless as a new born baby and about as capable at standing up for themselves.

However, things were about to take a distinct turn for the worse for our favourite “local” fracking company.

It began to emerge that the claim that the breach had been committed “in consultation with the police” might be less than an accurate portrayal of events. In fact Lancashire Police denied that they’d been consulted by Cuadrilla and said that the firm had simply told them what they were going to do thus forcing the police to put a plan in place.

So now we have Cuadrilla not only breaching planning regulations (again) but trying to implicate the police in their actions. Of course, what is particularly shameful about this whole episode is what is not said. On being told by Cuadrilla that they were about to breach regulations Lancashire Police would appear to have had two options. They could have said “no” and informed LCC of the intended breach. This is clearly what a responsible police force trying to balance the situation and uphold the law should have done. Otherwise they could have caved in and colluded with Cuadrilla to facilitate their operations (again). This is what they chose to do. This was clearly a huge mistake as the ensuing reaction is demonstrating. Indeed there can be no doubt now that any claims by the police NOT to be facilitating Cuadrilla’s operations at the expense of the legitimate right to protest are little more than a poor joke.

But heck –  why would Cuadrilla care? They got their drill in and no enforcement action is going to get taken by LCC, so they won that battle didn’t they?

Er not quite. One result was that this episode got almost an entire episode of Channel 5’s excellent magazine programme “The Wright Stuff” devoted to it this morning.

This programme draws an audience of about 250,000. Viewers were treated to a discussion between Matthew Wright and 3 guests, all of whom were clearly appalled by what happened yesterday.

Here are some of the points made by Matthew Wright during the initial discussion section:

Cuadrilla defended it’s decision to deliver outside of permitted hours by saying it had done so “in consultation with the police”. The aim they said was to minimise disruption on nearby roads which had been closed or reduced to a single lane by protesters. But it doesn’t sound like either Cuadrilla or Lancashire police discussed their plot with the council.

We asked Lancashire Police to comment on allegations that they are colluding with Cuadrilla to break Council planning regs. They said.. they denied it. They denied they’d been consulted by Cuadrilla. They did say the firm had told them what they were going to do thus forcing the police to put a plan in place. I guess critics will argue that if you break regs those .. if you you break regs on planning what other rules and regs might get broken?”

Does it bother you that Cuadrilla says it consulted with the police? The police say they weren’t consulted they were told by Cuadrilla but the net result was that these vehicles were allowed to do something outside of planning regs.

They’ve got planning regulations which have been set down, OK, now you might well argue that’s a civil matter, but you’ve got police there to maintain the peace, and what the police appear to have done, whether we accept collusion or not, is that they have enabled a very large corporation to break planning regulations, with their knowledge. They’ve been told they were going to do it.

A phone in resulted in almost unanimous condemnation of Cuadrilla’s actions and the police’s compliance (the one dissenting voice being cut off when they resorted to libellous accusations of protester violence) and the segment signed off with the following comment from Wright :

Apologies for having to cut people off but we’ve got to stay fair and just and adhere to the law – unlike Cuadrilla.

So Cuadrilla earned themselves and Lancashire police a very public humiliation in front of a quarter of a million of the people whose opinions they have been trying to change using a gaggle of very expensive PR firms for the last 5 years.

This has been a huge own goal – the only question  is who last touched the ball – was it Cuadrilla or their friends amongst the decision makers at Lancashire Police?

The episode of The Wright Stuff can be found here for the next month https://www.my5.tv/the-wright-stuff/season-2017/episode-150.

or you can enjoy an audio recording here:

First Segment

Phone In Segment

The times they are a changin’

Well Cuadrilla’s timings for Preston New Road are anyway.

Today Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s boss, told Drill or Drop “We will exercise our democratic right to carry on with our lawful work at Preston New Road which is progressing to plan.

With Mr Egan it is hard to know whether even he believed some of the things he says, but in this case, it’s pretty clear that if he does he has no idea what the rest of his company are doing and saying.

Here is what the Cuadrilla website still says today (25th July 2017 – Q3 2017)

Perhaps Mr Egan is hoping to enlist the services of the new Doctor Who and travel back in time? I’m sure the police would facilitate the use of a nice blue structure if it helped him.

Does anyone actually believe  a word of the twaddle that Mr Egan is talking about their plans being on track or the pad only being the size of a rugby pitch? No I thought not.

And Francis – before you come out with this ridiculous stuff, at least have the sense to see if your own corporate website contradicts you. You’ll only embarrass yourself again if you don’t 🙂

it will also be interesting to see how long it takes Cuadrilla to update that “Latest news” tab  now we have made them aware of it.

In the meantime Mr Egan is  awarded the coveted Q2 Refracktion Pants on Fire Award.


Congratulations Francis!


Update 15th August – they finally seem to have noticed 🙂

The Times must be Arfon a laugh surely?

So, today’s front page of the Times carries an article in which “residents’ group” Backing Fracking criticise Arfon Jones, the police commissioner for North Wales, for allegedly using his position to influence a decision on pulling the Welsh Police out of the mutual aid agreement with Lancashire Constabulary.

In case the type is too small for you here, this  is apparently the nub of our favourite astroturf group’s “argument”


Leaving aside the question as to how Backing Fracking are able to propel this non-story onto the top of the front page of the Times (and also into  another Murdoch publication, The Sun) , what are they accusing Mr Jones of then?

According to the Harper Collins Dictionary “cronyism” is “the practice of appointing friends to high-level, esp political, posts regardless of their suitability“. We really are struggling to understand how allegedly “using his political appointment  to try to downgrade the policing response to the fracking protests” (even if he had done this) comes anywhere near such a definition, and we are surprised that the Times doesn’t seem to have any competent sub-editors who might have picked that fact up.

But never mind – the important question is really whether Mr Jones might be exceeding his remit here.

On Drill or Drop this week Mr Jones was quoted thus:

Mr Jones said he was unhappy about North Wales officers going to Lancashire but the decision to pull out was operational.

“I was told last week that there would be no further deployments after I made representations around capacity issues in North Wales and questioned how could we justify sending officers to Lancashire in those circumstances.

“I’ve now been told there will be just one more week of support in Preston and that North Wales Police have refused a request for a further four weeks of reinforcements.”

and North Wales police confirmed  that

“We regularly support colleagues across the region as and when we can and when asked. As a force we also benefit from their support and it’s only right, when able, we reciprocate.

“North Wales Police officers have supported colleagues in Lancashire between 9th and 14th July and then from 23rd to 28th July.

“However due to high demands in north Wales over the holiday season, we are unable, at this time, to offer any further support. Colleagues in Lancashire are aware of, and understand this decision.”

Is this all in line with the role that a PCC is obliged to fulfil? Local Government Association  guidelines would indicate that it is indeed. (Emphasis has been added by us)

One consequence of the continuing use of mutual aid will be the need for a future PCC as budget holder, to be fully aware of the potential use and cost of mutual aid to the hosting police force. Any PCC would for example expect to be informed by the chief constable in regard to the scale of mutual aid planned and deployments both for receiving and donating police forces. The chief constable would remain responsible for any operational decision concerning mutual aid but the PCC would expect to be ‘kept in the loop’.

Acting within the ‘loop’ would mean that the PCC would be required to ascertain what potential costs might arise from the use of mutual aid and if the force was donating officers, what impact this might have, for example, on operational policing within the force boundary. The PCC would want to know, therefore, what contingencies were being put in place to support core policing functions in the force area if it were donating officers under mutual aid. PCCs would also need to satisfy themselves that both logistical support and accounting systems were in place and fit for purpose for any large scale mutual aid deployments.

As noted above while the Chief Constable retains responsibility for operational policing it would be entirely appropriate for the PCC to explore with the chief constable the extent to which that officer has either called for mutual aid support or has been requested to provide it. This might extend to ensuring that the PCC is made aware of any relevant information generated by the PNICC which involves the police force. Under mutual aid agreements, mutual aid outside national emergencies, can be requested but will require the consent of the donating police force.

So, given that is seems that Mr Jones seems to have acted precisely according to his remit, and his only “crime” appears to be that that he is honest enough to admit that he doesn’t like fracking (a feeling which, incidentally, he shares with a large percentage of the population) why is The Times attacking him and giving such prominence to a fracking industry front group.

We can’t help thinking that that is the real story here.

P.S. As one reader pointed out the Murdoch press must be  seething about the Sky reporter’s bad day at PNR last week. Surely they are not seeking revenge for their embarrassment by bad mouthing the Police here?

Unhappy campers

While protesting about fracking there are some dark and dramatic moments which makes it all the more surreal when it all degenerates into farce.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I realised that Lancashire County Council, in its infinite wisdom has now positioned between 4 and 6 security guards (it seems to depend on the time of day) behind the fencing that they erected on the grass verge next to the Preston New Road site.

It looks for all the world like a comedy sketch about a human zoo.

What is so laughable here is that in order to stop protesters camping on the verge they have now got council employees setting up a makeshift holiday camp with garden chairs and awnings. Not only that but the fencing was ostensibly put there (as Paul Smith in the Highways Department told me) to protect the grass on the verge, but we now have bored employees pacing up and down behind bars like caged polar bears, and there is almost no grass at all left on the verge as a result. Well played Mr Smith.

As one of the police pointed out to me it is a total waste of time and money as there is a court order on the verge now and no protester is likely to want to bring on a world of pain for no tangible benefit or impact.

Talking of money though, how much is this costing? Well there seem to be at least 4, sometimes more, there 24/7. Assuming they are all getting £7.50 an hour that’s just more than £5,000 a week being wasted by LCC here. That might be peanuts compared to the unsustainable policing bill, but it is still a significant amount that could and should be spent on something far more worthwhile.

Who on earth makes these decisions which make the council such a laughing stock and who do they answer to?

PR Companies Are Pushing Your Buttons

Backing Fracking and the other industry astroturf  groups are clearly struggling to engage the 50% or so of the population who are undecided in fracking, so of late they’ve been doing a bit of button pushing.

In the Conservative Fylde this has mostly taken the form of demonising protesters as professional work-shy unwashed activists whose main aim in life is to cause disruption to people travelling down Preston New Road. Of course, anyone who has actually been there for any length of time will know that a lot of the traffic disruption is in fact a direct result of the Police closing the road to allow vehicles to go in and out at speeds greatly in excess of the speed limit imposed by LCC.

Equally, anyone who has witnessed the declining relationship between locals on the front line and their Police force cannot fail to be aware that it is often the aggressive and provocative behaviour of the police, which is clearly a tactic imposed from above,  which is ramping up tensions.

This is a fact – I have witnessed it myself. I have also been pushed out of the way (a straight arm fend off which would be a sending off offence in a game of rugby)  by a policeman running at speed simply because I was standing in his path. My complaint to Chief Inspector Ogle resulted in no action being taken.

So let’s get this straight shall we? The vast majority of the protesters have had little or no relationship with or problem with the police prior to the start of work at PNR. The vast majority of the protesters would still expect the police to turn out if required for a burglary or other reason and would be immensely grateful to and appreciative of the officers concerned. That does not mean that we have lost our critical faculties and cannot see what is actually happening on the ground at the site entrance.

Yes, sometimes bad language is used, probably not too dissimilar to Blackpool on a Friday night, or probably even Henry St in Lytham at chucking out time most nights.  Strangely not a word for condemnation has been heard, from those having fits of the vapours about the use of the F word on live streams, of the Britain First supporting Cuadrilla contractor who advocates burning down Muslim shops,  and paints obscenities on the side of his wagons. But then he does do a lot of work for chariddee, so that’s OK then.

It has to be admitted that it is not ALL one sided  – I have witnessed somebody wearing a pig mask standing next to a PCSO and I disapproved enough to go to stand between them and told the person wearing the mask to get lost. However, the comments from people on the Backing Fracking page, some of whom comment authoritatively on the protestors’ behaviour, without ever having been within miles of the site itself, are simply fatuous, ill-informed and inanely provocative.

What is abundantly clear though is that physical confrontation has, almost without exception, been a feature of the police approach and not that of protesters. The consistent failure of many of the TAU police to engage, when politely asked questions about what they are doing, is frustrating to say the least. It is hard to respect somebody who gives a stone face to a sensible and polite question.  The physical threats presented by the police are exceeded by the physical attacks that have been witnessed from Cuadrilla’s own security guards. They are also matched by the provocative verbal confrontations which occur without any justification whatsoever.

Here is what one local resident reported this week after their first visit to the site.


The Police themselves know that this aggressive and provocative model of policing which requires 100 officers a day to facilitate Cuadrilla’s operations on just one site is completely unsustainable should this industry expand to even just 10 sites a year.

So, against this background, somebody called Brent Crossley has published an letter and is asking for signatories. The letter repeats the unsupportable calumnies about protesters, but “cleverly” starts off as general praise for our boys in blue. Whichever of Cuadrilla’s 7 PR companies actually drafted it is on a real roll.

Join me in writing to the new Chief Constable of Lancashire Police to show your support for the work our brave officers do across the county, all year round, but especially outside the shale gas site on the A583 Preston New Road where, since the start of the year, they have behaved admirably and impeccably in their attempts to facilitate protest whilst maintaining public order often in the face of extreme provocation and unnecessary abuse. This is not about being pro-fracking, it is simply about paying tribute to local police officers who deserve our respect and support.Brent Crossley

But what’s this? “This is not about being pro-fracking”. Oops Brent. It was all going so well, but you forgot that we can all see that you belong to the “secret” inner circle (12 members it seems)  of the industry front group Backing Fracking.

How stupid do you think people are? And how much do you think they enjoy being taken for fools by you and your PR company friends. For those who are not aware, Brent and his friends are engaged in a relentless PR onslaught to mould public opinion.

Actually the answer must be that they think we are very stupid as “Rob Peters” who admins the group above posted this tripe in a local group this morning.


As was pointed out by another member “It’s weird that Rob Peters added him to the Backing Fracking group but claimed he wasn’t associated with them? I suppose you can’t remember all 8 of your members’ names.

Give it a rest Brent and Rob. You are fooling nobody but yourselves.

The vast majority of protestors are not anti-Police. We are though against provocative and intimidatory policing and the facilitation of Cuadrilla whilst not allowing legitimate protest. So don’t sign Brent’s ludicrous letter – you’ll only end up on a PR company’s mailing list.

Instead,  if you need convincing go down to the site yourself and talk to people. Go down to Maple Farm on a Saturday and meet the unwashed, jobless, “professional protesters”  and be surprised to find that many of us are professional or retired people from all walks of life who would respect the Police at the site if only the Police’s behaviour warranted or allowed it.

Unwelcome Visitors

Cuadrilla are trying to claim today that fracking will result in a tourism boom for Lancashire.

They even shipped over a bombastic B&B battleaxe from Yorkshire to try to make their point for them.

However, it won’t.

How do we know?

Why because their planning expert witness told us just that at the Blackpool Inquiry last year (as reported on the Drill or Drop website).

Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre residents, put it to Mr Smith: “You said it was possible jobs could be lost in the tourism sector but this was likely to be short-term. It was speculative and unquantifiable and linked to public perception of fracking.”

Mr Green asked why the impact on tourism jobs would be short-term.

Mr Smith said: “In the longer term, when the industry is established and people are aware of the actual impacts, tourism will recover.

He suggested that perceptions would change because the company had assessed the impacts of fracking to be minor and negligible.

Mr Green suggested:

“Come to Lancashire home of fracking that will have the tourists flocking”

He put it to Mr Smith:

“There is no evidence that the public are moving towards acceptance of fracking as an industry.”

Mr Smith replied

“I don’t have any evidence. There may be evidence but I don’t have the knowledge”.

Mr Green said:

“As a tourism draw, fracking is unlikely to be up there as draw.”

Mr Smith replied: “There is no evidence of fracking having an impact, I have not seen the evidence.

Even the government’s own most optimistic assessment of the impact of fracking on tourism is that it will be broadly neutral. Their conclusion is that losses from tourists avoiding the area due to shale gas operations may perhaps be off-set to an extent by increased hospitality to new workers.

If the US experience is indeed replicated here in Lancashire as Lancashire For S(h)ale suggest it will be, what we *can* expect to see are significant increases in employment for sex workers, drug pushers and policemen, along with an increase in STDs, car crashes, drug-related crimes, and sexual assault.

Fracking flares are really not going to be the new Blackpool Illuminations whatever Cuadrilla might want you to believe!

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