An Open Letter From A Local Businessman
This letter, from Mark Mills, is reproduced here in full and unedited.
Sir or Madam,
Fracking on the Fylde coast in Lancashire affecting Manchester and Liverpool
I write to help inform my fellow residents of the Fylde Coast of my experiences to date of the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process being undertaken by Cuadrilla Resources in the search for gas.
Having established a number of businesses on the Fylde Coast over 20 years, being a local employer with other interests nationally and internationally, I do feel that both Lancashire and Manchester residents are “sleepwalking” into a disaster.
Firstly, Cuadrilla has played a very long, quiet, game using PR effectively to start operations. I had seen one rig and presumed, incorrectly, that drilling for gas was just a drill boring a hole seeking pockets of gas which would then escape to the earth’s surface under its own natural pressure. I did not know of, and do not agree to, the injection of chemicals into the land beneath where I live and draw water from to fracture fissures in rocks and make the rock mass considerably less stable.
Secondly, whilst undertaking their geophysical survey, Cuadrilla’s agents and employees entered my land in a number of areas without permission and installed wiring and stakes in over 40 locations. Despite discovering this and ordering them to desist, they returned and marked an area where they intended to drill 10 metres and set off an explosive charge in the middle of my garden. They subsequently set off explosive charges in adjoining land, causing my properties to shake and resulting in considerable physical damage.
Thirdly, as a result of this nuisance and trespass, I have taken legal action against Cuadrilla, whose CEO Mark Miller wrote and apologised and accepted their wrongdoing, but I have also had to take legal action against my neighbouring farmer who had let them onto his land and who, incorrectly, thinks that this will be a “gold rush” for landowners. This has been divisive in our small community and I fear more division will come, on a greater scale, particularly when the residents of Manchester and Liverpool discover where the effluent will be treated.
As residents, we do not yet seem to appreciate the volume of chemicals, pre-dilution (and subsequent injection through our water table and puncturing the layer of rock in hundreds of places (the Manchester Marl) which is intended to form a natural barrier between the chemicals and the water we draw and drink), which will be on our roads presenting another hazard. The people of Manchester do not appear to understand that the “flowback”, chemically ridden and full of naturally occuring radiation, will be treated near to the Trafford Centre and its treated content released in the Manchester Ship Canal which will affect Liverpool.
To date, one day’s test fracking in Lancashire caused two earthquakes. The earthquakes themselves damaged the drill and it is irrecoverable. We can presume therefore that the integrity of the well has been breached and we are already sitting on a time bomb of an environmental disaster after only one test drill.
In years to come, does any sane person truly believe that injecting millions of gallons of chemicals into the earth beneath us, puncturing our protective rock and exposing the water we drink to the chemicals, whilst drawing trillions of cubic metres of gas from the same area and then transporting radioactive waste in huge quantities over 60 miles daily for years to come will not, at some point in the future, cause some form of disaster, illness, panic, earthquake or unforeseeable adverse event?
Our Government is supposed to protect us but admits that the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and Department of Energy and Climate Change are all underfunded and my own experience of them is that they are disorganised, apathetic and hoping to “get away without a disaster” whilst relying on each of the others to ensure somehow that nothing bad happens.
Our Government has engaged a private company, in Cuadrilla, paying for the exploration, at no cost to the Government, and the Government will then collect corporation tax, irrecoverable VAT, levies and whatever else from the gas extractors whilst partly solving the energy crisis created by successive governments. Make no mistake, the Government is highly motivated to make this work and has calculated that an acceptable level of “collateral damage” including loss of human life, wildlife and damage to the environment is acceptable. This disgusts me to my core, particularly given that there are many other viable forms of energy generation available.
A number of years ago, I formed an Energy from Waste company wherein waste is burnt at high temperature whilst starved of oxygen with little residual waste, no environmental impact and removing waste from going to landfill whilst creating energy through heat. An important reason for not having succeeded in that business yet is the fact that it needs Government/EU subsidy and, in the context of Cuadrilla’s activities, I now understand our Government’s reluctance to support it and why they have reduced Feed-in Tariffs (subsidies) for solar panels too.
Lastly, the promise of jobs and income for all is without foundation. The farmers will receive payments for allowing their land to be used but this will be offset by campaigns explaining that food produced on land which is being fracked will not be popular for human or animal consumption. Similarly, once wells are fracked, given the lack of credible or relevant regulation,there will not be thousands of jobs created and indeed it is likely to reduce the popularity of the areas for tourism, relocation of companies for fear of long term health issues, and inward investment and, as a result, I calculate the net benefit will be job and economic negative. The price of gas may fall to our short term advantage, given the increase in supply, and this will work against the landowners whose “royalties” will be similarly reduced.
The net beneficiaries are the Treasury and our Government and London.
My call to action is as follows.
1. Please write to your MP stating that if fracking continues to be investigated or is allowed in any form,you will not vote for him/her or his/her party again. Also request that he/she takes an active anti-fracking stance if he/she wants your vote in the future.
2. Write to David Cameron and tell him you do not wish to be affected by the part of his Energy Programme entitled Collateral Damage and you do not accept that the risks associated with fracking have been properly assessed.
3. Write to local papers, asking them to cover the story and investigate the true implications, without allowiong themselves to be influenced by the advertising revenue promised by the fracking companies.
4. Tell any landowners or farmers that you will boycott allproduce from land where fracking takes place. Write to the supermarkets explaining your stance also.
5. Visit the various websites, www.stopfyldefracking.org.uk, www.frackfreefylde.com, www.frack-off.org.uk, www.dangersoffracking.com.
Lastly, thank you for reading this letter. I am not a “greenie”, just a husband and father who feels that the railroading of our Government must now stop and fracking banned with investment being pushed towards less damaging and divisive forms of renewable and sustainable energy.
Mark Mills, PO Box 913, Little Plumpton, Preston PR4 9BD