Defend Localism!

Take the advice of Greg Clark, Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government

Greg Clark

"Those who are prepared to organise to be more effective and more efficient should be able to reap substantially the rewards of that boldness ...

Take power now. Don’t let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else"

How many wells?

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


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!

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not." - Dr Seuss

We are not for sale!

England is not for sale!


Join the ever growing number of households who have signed up to the Wrongmove campaign!

Tell Cuadrilla and the Government that your house is "Not for Shale"


Be a flea

"Many fleas make big dog move"
Japanese Proverb quoted by Jessica Ernst

No to Fracking

Love Lytham Say No to Fracking

Make sense?

The Precautionary Principle

When an activity or occurrence raises threats of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

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Hansard so it’s true but what is he saying?

This from yesterday’s Hansard, on the day on which the enquiry, which will be decided by Greg Clark, Minister for Communities and Local Government, started.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Labour

My Lords, I declare an interest as a Lancashire resident. Will the Minister care to take away and reflect on the fact that there is great concern and anger at government suggestions that local people should be taken out of the decision-making process for future fracking? Will he care to comment on the fact that all the fracking decisions this Government have taken tend towards the north? Does he envisage any fracking taking place for oil or gas in the south of England, where Conservative support is concentrated?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, the noble Baroness will be aware that decisions on fracking are taken by planning authorities; they are not a matter for the Government. She will be aware that there are potential fracking areas throughout the country. That, of course, will be something that planning authorities will take forward.

Yes – he actually said “decisions on fracking are taken by planning authorities; they are not a matter for the Government.

I wonder if he’d be kind enough to explain that to Greg Clark?

It’s another world for the frackers

cakeI’ll leave the erudite Ruth Hayhurst to report on the important goings on at the Enquiry today, but one story that did come out shows that it’s one world for those protesting against fracking and another one for Cuadrilla and their cronies.

We heard today that  Cuadrilla have a hospitality suite inside the football club so presumably have a range of refreshments available to them. However, apparently the public had to go outside to a cafe and check out at two different locations inside the building (and check back in at two locations) and then they were not allowed to bring any drinks back inside. Preferential treatment? Surely not!

Apparently a complaint was made that this was not a reasonable arrangement  and they will now be providing full refreshments for all tomorrow. There were questions raised about the suitability of the arrangements for the disabled. Wheelchair users  had to be wheeled out of the room, down the lift and round outside to the back of the building to the cafe to get a drink – and then they were not even allowed to bring them inside inside! There was a short cut through the hospitality suite but that’s where Cuadrilla were  so they we are told that they were refused access.

Lost in Transit – A Sad Tale

Today 250 anti-fracking protestors welcomed 40 or 50 of the fracking industry’s hopefuls and a smattering of refugees from Yorkshire to Bloomfield Road.

The Police were very complimentary about the exemplary behaviour of all of those present – it was largely a good humoured event, helped along by the hilarity occasioned by the bumbling attempts of the Backing Fracking contingent to look like a cross section  of normal people (hint – having a few females apart from Ellie and Lorraine along might help a little next time).

We couldn’t help noticing that their organisation seemed to fall apart completely in the face of such a large contingent of people opposing fracking – mind you we did understand that it would be very hard for them to run that gauntlet with their heads held high, talking to one another and smiling at people as per their instructions.

The promised “branded Transit type tipper” was conspicuous by its absence and certainly didn’t feature in their photo call, so we mocked one up for them.


The event was supposed to be being run by their very own “Parade Commander” which sounds rather grand and frightfully well organised. It seems that this Parade Commander, Colin Johnson, may be the film extra we can see on this website.


How appropriate that a group pretending to be something it is not should be being organised by somebody who appears to make a living by playing a part! We think he may have been worried about being upstaged by all the coverage of Mark Ruffalo though as he wasn’t much in evidence and to say the “parade” was shambolic is an understatement.

Sadly Colin may not impress all of the Backing Fracking followers –


so maybe that’s another reason it all fell apart – we know what Backing Fracking’s Rob thinks of “actorvists” after all!

actual route

This plan above shows their original planned route and the purple line shows how they shambled towards their allocated space. They tried hard to compete with the happy noise from the anti-frackers but it was clear that their hearts weren’t really in it. A fact that was confirmed when after 30 minutes or so they all shuffled off again, with one of the many men there being overheard saying that he was only being paid to be there until 10:00. We have no idea who he works for, but it made us all laugh.

According to their Facebook page they also planned to deliver some coal to the Football Club. We didn’t see any evidence of that so maybe the whipround didn’t raise enough, or maybe they took it up the tradesman’s entrance.

Anyway – here is the email they sent out.

If you are attending, please remember to smile a lot!”  oops #fail – we’ve never seen a more grumpy glowery looking shame-faced lot. Here’s a still taken from their own video:

It really is now or never” – well if that’s the case on the basis of this morning’s showing it looks like never.

The best laid plans of mice and men eh..?


Hi everyone,

Further to our earlier email, we wanted to firm up some of the details for next weeks’ pro-fracking supporter’s (sic) rally.


Please join us if you can, for what we intend to be a pleasant, friendly and good-natured demonstration of support.

Event Plan

The group will assemble at the Form Up Point (FUP) in the car park South West of the crossroads of Bloomfield Road and Seasiders way at approximately 8:45am – 9:00am (point 1 on the map). Placards and banners will be available to collect here, but do please feel free to make and bring your own!

Once the participants are all in attendance and have been briefed, the group will move North crossing Bloomfield Road and enter the car park opposite the ground. The group will halt and wait adjacent to the road in preparation for the arrival of some vehicles that will be joining the demo (point 2 on the map). This is also the Line Of Departure / Step Off Point.

At some time between 9:00am and 9:15am the vehicles which are being formed up at Aldi car park will be called forward. As the first vehicle arrives at point 2 it will be held while the group assembles behind it and the second vehicle, a branded Transit type tipper, will position itself behind the group. All will set off North along Seasiders way to the roundabout, go around and make their way back to the original Step Off Point (position 2 on the map) where all vehicles will disperse immediately, with the exception of the Transit tipper, which the group will gather around.

The group will pause here while a spokesperson makes a short public address, and for the gathered media to take photographs and conduct interviews with the spokesperson and others.

After this, the Transit tipper will depart and the group will mingle around in the area specified by the Police, to show continued support.


Assemble 8:45am – 9:00am

Step Off (start the procession) between 9:15am and 9:30am (TBC)

Who’s in charge on the day?

Colin Johnson will be our “parade commander” for the day, and will be on hand to explain the plan in detail as well as any important “dos and dont’s” as far as local police are concerned.

Colin’s word is the law, and he will make all the decisions on the day.


We already have some key spokespeople lined up to talk to the media, but we’d like to nominate some more.

It would also be helpful if we could designate some of you as marshals to help Colin and make sure the demo runs smoothly.

If you’d like to assist in either way, please let us know!


If you are attending, please remember to smile a lot!

During the short march past the entrance to the Blackpool FC ground, keep your heads held high, talk to one another and smile at people.

When the march past ends back at the Step Off Point (position 2 on the map) the Transit tipper will park so that the football ground is visible behind it, and we need you to gather around in front of it in small groups of 3, 4 and 5 people with your placards and banners.

Phil will make a short address to our group using a portable PA system, thanking you all for your support and to also explain more about just why it is we’re Backing Fracking and so should everyone else, and will give you some ideas on other things you could do to keep showing support for Lancashire shale gas.

This is a visual representation of what we want to try and achieve, so that when local journalists take photos or film this part, we want supporters in the foreground in clusters, Phil and the tipper in the middle ground, and the football stadium visible in the background (see – this is why we need marshals!)

Forming up for the media in Blackpool 9th Feb


We’d really appreciate it if you could RSVP to this email so that we can get a handle on likely numbers, something our police liaison have asked for.

It really is now or never. If we, as ordinarly (sic) citizens of Lancashire don’t stand up to be counted, people will simply assume shale has no support – and we can’t let that happen.

Kind regards,

The Backing Fracking team

So who exactly is Backing Fracking – unmasking the astro-turfers

Given what I read in their carefully crafted press releases and on their social media sites, it seems that the astroturfing group which calls itself “Backing Fracking” would have you believe that they are made up of ordinary “residents” who are nothing to do with “the industry and businesses on one side, and anti-fracking campaigners on the other.” People who Backing Fracking describes on his Facebook page as ” ordinary people who want good jobs and better life chances”.

Here’s how Ellie Rylands describes their plight

22 year old Ellie Rylands, one of the organisers, says it’s time that people saw shale gas enjoys support not just from businesses, but also from ordinary members of the community: Until now, whenever shale gas has been discussed, all we’ve heard are the opinions of the industry and businesses on one side, and anti-fracking campaigners on the other.  But there are lots of people in the middle that believe shale gas can be extracted safely in this country, and can see how it could create a massive jobs boost for the area, especially for young people like me emerging from college and university.

Did Ellie mention that her Linked In profile shows that she was actually employed by Cuadrilla and Centrica last year?
Ellie Rylands linked in

So Ellie is clearly just a “resident”  in the middle of this bewildering battle and not part of what she, herself, describes as “the industry and businesses on one side“. Or maybe not. By the way if anyone isn’t sure about the link between the North West Energy Task Force and Cuadrilla, Ellie makes it quite explicit there. She is one link between NWETF, Cuadrilla and Backing Fracking.

astroturfAnyway – we already know from their last outing that Backing Fracking’s most vocal supporters and spokespeople are overwhelmingly made up of business people who stand to gain financially if fracking goes ahead.  Quotes were given to the media last time they appeared at Blackpool Football Club by Phil Wilson of Tutis Concepts, James Mansell of Clear Solutions International Ltd from Shropshire and Tim Freshney of WJF Technical Support. All business directors whose business either already get business from Cuadrilla or might presumably expect to if fracking goes ahead.

But still Backing Fracking claims to represent ordinary “residents“, and not those with vested interests. This is how they describe themselves on their Facebook page.

How does this claim stack up in reality?

Well, I am fortunate enough that local people share information with me, and clearly not everyone they think is “backing fracking” actually is.

I was amused to learn that a schoolboy error in a recent mailshot, headed “It’s now or never!” (yes it is by the way LOL) and begging 131 supporters to attend their rally at Blackpool Football Club on 9th , meant that they put all of the email addresses in the “CC” field and not the “BC” field. That really was rather amateur of them, and I imagine some of the addressees may have been none too pleased about it. It’s also a bit embarrassing for a group which seems to have a lot of security company directors as its leaders and spokesmen to have proved so dilatory in their handling of such sensitive information isn’t it?

As a result the addresses were all available to everyone who received the email. From there it wasn’t hard to identify many of those on the list and the results are very interesting.


Working with Preston New Road Action Group, we were able to identify 77 of the 131 from their email addresses using a bit of Google sleuthing where necessary. I won’t identify any individuals by name here, but we have separated people into categories as best as we could.

      • PR Pros – we identified 4 people who work in PR for companies like Cuadrilla, PPS, and 2 other PR companies
      • North West Energy Task Force/ NW Lancs Chamber of Commerce – we identified 10 who were either NWETF panellists or NWLCoC officers. (We already know that NWETF has its admin and communications provided by Westbourne Communications, and the NW Lancs CoC and Cuadrilla have been hand in glove for some time now)
      • NWETF advocates – we identified 8 emails belonging to people who appear to work for companies that allow themselves to be listed as NWETF “advocates” – some of the 2nd category, above,  also intersect with this group of course.

At this point we invite you to pause and to consider just what right this group has to claim that it is made up of ordinary “residents” and not Ellie’s “industry and businesses on one side“.

      • Other Businesses – we identified 27 individuals who we believe work for other businesses that could benefit from shale gas being allowed in the UK – 14 of these seem to work for just 3 companies. (Clear Solutions International, UB Services and Inspired Energy)
      • Public People – we identified 9 people who are in public positions like being executives at local colleges, local councillors, officers at Lancashire sports clubs, or who run organisations that have received funding from Cuadrilla. Not exactly Ellie’s “people in the middle”.

Maybe pause again for a bit more reflection on those claims of Ellie’s here?

    • Students – We identified a group of 9 people including Ellie Rylands (see above) who all seem to have a connection with Geophysics or Geology courses at the same University in Yorkshire. We also identified one individual who we believe to be one of Ellie’s relatives who we have added into this section.
    • Old Friends – We identified 10 individuals (from around the UK and further afield) who are notable fracktivists on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Between them these people provide most of the content for the Backing Fracking and FORGE Facebook pages and many other pro-fracking social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Unknowns – there were just 54 of the 131 email addresses (41%)  that did not lend themselves readily to identification  although we are still working on them. Some of them may eventually be slotted into the categories above, and we think we’ve recognised a handful as people we know to be opposed to fracking – one of whom was kind enough to furnish us with the list we are now analysing.

This means that nearly two thirds of those on the Backing Fracking mailing list can hardly be reasonably described as what their Facebook page calls “residents” and Ellie calls “people in the middle“. (We are ALL residents somewhere of course, but their inference is clear.)

If Backing Fracking think that our analysis above is in any way  inaccurate we’d be happy to sit down with Rob Peters and go through the list with him. If he has any corrections for us we’ll then update this page accordingly.

Given that their rally at Blackpool Football Club today, February 9th, has only received a passing mention in one local newspaper

and it has not been mentioned on any of their social media sites, which we do monitor carefully,  I think it is fair to assume that anyone attending is doing so as a result of their “It’s now or never” email sent last week to the email list we are discussing here.

Backing Fracking themselves confirmed this last night, when they tweeted that they hadn’t invited  “people from all over the UK” (although we know from their emails that that was in fact a blatant lie, as that is precisely what they did in two emails headed “Plans for Tuesday 9th February 2016” and “It’s now or never!”)


Frankly I think it is shameful that Backing Fracking should try to pull the wool over the the media’s eyes like this. It may of course be that they are honest today and admit that they are really a group of businessmen with vested interests, a gaggle of geology students, a motley crew of drilling operatives, security guard wannabes and a few obsessive old age pensioners with too much time on their hands.

If not then I sincerely hope that the Inspector won’t have been taken in by any claimed show of “support” from “residents” or “people in the middle” on Seasiders Way. We opponents of fracking certainly aren’t!

Their attempts to construct a bit of local support to get Cuadrilla that elusive “social licence to operate” don’t seem to be working very well do they? In the words of Backing Fracking on his own Facebook Page on Monday night “What a rotten bunch…”



Yesterday Backing Fracking’s main media spokesman was a company director called Chris Evans who runs a company called Cee Cee Tv Systems from his home near St Annes.

Chris’s Linked In profile shows

chris evans

Would it be too much of a stretch of the imagination to wonder whether Mr Evans can see any of the 22 jobs promised in Arup’s environmental statement coming the way of his “One Stop Full Security Solution“, now that Cuadrilla appear to have disavowed Tutis Concepts , whose director spoke out for Backing Fracking in December.

When asked about any connection between Cuadrilla and Tutis Concepts on the Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday, Cuadrilla were quick to claim that it “no longer works with the security company mentioned in that film” . There’s nothing like loyalty  is there? If anyone spots any Tutis Concepts Security guards at BFC this month do let us know! We were under the impression that they were  Cuadrilla’s preferred supplier under their cosy arrangement with the North West Chamber of Commerce until we heard that.

Assuming Cuadrilla were being totally straightforward with Victoria Derbyshire, I wonder what soured their relationship?


Predictably (and they are so predictable) Backing Fracking were not very happy to learn that they had a mole, and even less happy to have their membership analysed as above. As a result whoever runs the Backing Fracking Facebook page has decided that attack is the best form of defence and is devoting far to much time for the good of  his or her own mental health on launching attacks on Refracktion and me personally. Take a look – it’s great fun 🙂 Here is today’s instalment

What is so hilarious about this is that you could not ask for a clearer illustration of the fact that whatever shill is behind this account has no local connection or understanding of local history. He clearly doesn’t realise that Lytham Quays is actually visible from my front bedroom, and he has no idea what happened back in 2005 when more than 90% of those voting in a referendum organised by the Lytham St Annes Express opposed the scheme (which was why I complained about the ludicrous quote made by Kensington developments in the Telegraph article).

Trying to bluster his way out of his or her idiocy on Twitter this afternoon we have seen Backing Fracking

  • claim that a house in Lytham is not in Lytham
  • insinuate that the LSE allowed their poll to be manipulated
  • claim that the population of Lytham actually lives in St Annes on Sea

it is hard to see how this person could demonstrate a greater disconnection with local residents if he or she deliberately set out to do it!

QED I think 🙂

When is a lie not a lie – Take two

Apparently when it’s on a press release or it’s on a website!

Back in 2012 we raised a series of issues with the Advertising Standards Authority regarding a leaflet sent out to local residents by Cuadrilla. Several of our complaints were upheld in the ruling of 2013 including one which stated

Cuadrilla uses proven, safe technologies to explore for and recover natural gas

The ASA duly adjudicated that

On this point, the claim “Cuadrilla uses proven, safe technologies to explore for and recover natural gas” breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).

We were disappointed a couple of months later to have to report that Cuadrilla used almost exactly the same phrase in a Press Release.

Cuadrilla Resources uses proven, safe technologies to explore for and recover natural gas reserves

We did raise this with the ASA but they wriggled out of having to take any politically awkward action by saying:

“as it’s a press release (which is not considered advertising) we can’t take action”

It was disappointing that Cuadrilla took such a cynical attitude to the censure that they received from the ASA, but we supposed that readers would draw their own conclusions about what this says about the company, and perhaps the industry as a whole.

Imagine out surprise though when last night it was pointed out to us that Cuadrilla are making exactly the same claim on a website called

cuadrilla claim


We think this is taking cynicism to a totally unacceptable level and would ask Francis Egan to explain why he feel able to throw the ASA’s ruling back in its face in this way. If he responds we will be happy to publish his answer here. There can be no doubt that these words are Cuadrilla’s own as the footer on the page states:

What is more concerning perhaps though is the involvement of two other bodies in making this claim – the logos of the East Lancs Chamber of Commerce and the North West Lancs Chamber of Commerce are  clearly visible on the page, and although Cuadrilla claim the copyright on all of the page content, the web site is actually registered by these two bodies.



Backing Fracking (more on them later) pointed out to us that this link between the Chambers and Cuadrilla was made public last year at

This doesn’t change the fact that these Chambers will not be able to claim to offer any form of independent opinion at the enquiry which opens on 9th February.

Given the fact that local Chambers of Commerce are frequently in receipt of tax payer funding, it might seem reasonable to assume that you and I are, directly or indirectly, funding the promotion of Cuadrilla Resources’ interests by Chambers of Commerce who appear quite happy to put their names to questionable statements that have previously been censured by the ASA.

If this is not the case maybe someone from one of the Chambers can clarify the situation for us?

“Ministers plot to foil anti-frackers”

The Daily Telegraph this morning published a letter sent by three government ministers to George Osborne, The Chancellor last July, apparently in response to a  request for a “joint plan” from all of them for how to impose the fracking industry on an unwilling country.


The text of the letter is reproduced below.

This letter is important from a variety of perspectives, but most immediately it raises some very difficult questions for the Government with regard to the forthcoming public hearing into Cuadrilla’s appeal against Lancashire County Council ‘s refusal to allow their planning permission at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road.

The government has removed the power of decision making from the inspector who will now only be able to make a recommendation to the minister for Communities & Local Government who is one of the signatories of this letter. In December 2015 Lancashire County Council passed a motion to request the Prime Minister not to allow Mr Clark to be involved with the decision “because of clear evidence of pre- determination“.

The release of this letter shows that this motion was not merely justified but was prescient and, if anything, an understatement.

It would be unthinkable that any decision now taken by Mr Clark in favour of Cuadrilla’s application could be seen as anything but “pre-determined” and it would become abundantly clear that this government has no intention of letting matters as inconsequential as local democracy get in the way of its pet projects.

What the impact of this will be is hard to quantify, but it is beyond doubt that the existence of this letter would open the way for a judicial review of any positive outcome to the enquiry for Cuadrilla on the grounds of pre-determination. It also signals to the local electorate that they are held in contempt at a Cabinet level by the Government and demonstrate very clearly that well-behaved protest from the ballot box as far as civil disobedience is effectively useless in the face of such concerted attacks from central government. Again we  imagine that the existence of this letter, and its obvious implications, might legitimise some borderline actions like lock-ons in the eyes of the judiciary.

Without a doubt the government is very close to seeing this whole venture blow up in its face. It remains to be seen how long the pressure still has to build.



The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
TheRt Hon Liz Truss MP Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

7 July 2015

To: The Rt Hon George Osborne MP Chancellor of the Exchequer

Dear George,
You asked us to develop a joint plan to develop the shale gas sector in the UK, building on the work that has already been done in the last Parliament.  This letter proposes an ambitious strategy to enable the first exploration wells, demonstrate the safety and potential of the sector. and ultimately move to production. We propose to make a joint statement this summer to set out the Government’s agenda. Our objectives are stretching, but we propose setting the bar high to drive our ambition.

Objectives for our approach to this development

We propose these stretching Government objectives for the UK shale sector.

      • Within two years – exploration under way and first few sites hydraulic fracturing;
      • Within five years – production underway from the first converted sites (assuming the gas flows and is commercially recoverable):
      • Within ten years – a maturing shale gas production industry

Their delivery will depend on favourable geology and investor sentiment. underpinned by strong, clear and consistent support from government at national and local levels.

Shale gas strategy

Alongside geology and investment, the biggest challenge we face is to foster a climate of opinion in which the development of our shale resources is seen as safe and acceptable to a majority of the public, nationally and locally. i.e. communities likely to be directly affected. Other new industries and technologies, such as mobile telecommunications, faced similar challenges in the past and were able to reassure the public We must now do so with shale. Government has to be united using the levers it can control, and bringing in others to support our policy where we are not in control.This will be a challenging balance given public misgivings. It will be important that we can demonstrate that shale can be developed safely, so this will be a key feature of our communications strategy. We need to focus on:

      • developing a clear and persuasive narrative which demonstrates any the potential that shale represents is so important to our future energy security and can be done safely on the way to a low carbon future energy mix  and thus merits our support, to be published in the form of a Ministerial statement this summer;
      • building on this, the development and implementation of an ambitious, cross-Government programme of communications and outreach to influence key opinion formers, decision makers and civic leaders, including media opportunities for Ministers. a suite of information and materials for the public;
      • a clear assessment of the barriers industry faces and what more Government may be able to do to mitigate them, bearing in mind met this may entail father regulation;
      • the usability and integrity of the regulatory systems, including the planning system, which together set the parameters for shale development. This includes an early announcement to improve the timescales under the current planning system and going forward consideration of moving shale into national planning;
      • the development of a sovereign wealth fund (working with HMT), building on the industry’s existing community benefits offer, to ensure that there is a strong local and regional dividend for hosting this nationally significant industry.

We will also ensure that we harness all areas of policy delivery across Government which can support our ambitions in shale, in the year ahead. The thinking about city and county deals is a good, recent example of this.

One of the hurdles to overcome to develop a more favourable public attitude is that nobody in the UK has seen or experienced a shale fracking operation in their area, aside from the limited operations at Preese Hall, abandoned in 2011. We need some exploration wells, to clearly demonstrate that shale exploration can be done cleanly and safely here. So we must put our immediate efforts into securing some early wins in exploration.

In this regard, as experiences in Lancashire have shown, it is vital that we reach a position where mineral planning authorities feel able to take sound planning decisions within appropriate timescales and at an appropriate cost.

With this in mind, we have identified a package of measures to speed up planning for shale and are already testing the scope to support shale through city and county deals. Our officials continue to work together and with industry to understand the barriers facing emerging shale exploration projects.

We will continue to work with the regulators to improve the experience for operators, building on existing positive developments such as the Environment Agency‘s ‘one stop shop’ permitting centre, its readiness to conduct pre-application discussions with operators and its well-received drop-in sessions for local residents. Enhanced local engagement by the independent regulators, enabled this year by the additional Autumn Statement funding, is key to social acceptance and we ask that you look to roll this funding forward in future years in order to maintain the benefits.

We will also need to prepare for our five year objective, and the evolution of an exploration sector into a nascent production sector. We propose to start work later this year to develop comprehensive scenarios for what a production stage industry might look like, including the need for further regulatory development as the industry progresses ( e.g. a single regulator for shale if needed).
As well as improving the current planning system. it is important that we have a long-term approach to planning which is suitable for handling the large number of applications that would be seen in a full production stage: We are therefore minded to bring commercial shale production within the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning regime. and to be ready to begin the move from early 2018 for large scale applications. However. we need to think carefully about whether to slow this approach until a number of exploration sites are under way in order to avoid delaying current and prospective exploration applications or undermining public support for exploration sites.
Annex A sets out an outline plan, addressing the points in your letter and some additional actions.

Proposed Government announcement

We support a Government announcement on shale gas policy this summer and propose to make a joint statement to begin a concerted campaign of national engagement. We see great value in articulating the need for shale gas, in particular for security of supply, followed by the economic benefits that come from hosting a new industry. The statement must also show how the regulatory framework protects people and the environment and set out actions to support timely decisions on planning applications. capitalising on the Autumn Statement funding, including the designation of mineral planning authorities as under-performing where they are persistently slow. and prioritising appeals and call-ins. It would conclude by explaining the accompanying national and local economic benefit. This could be followed by a second announcement in the autumn, tied to the 14” licensing round allocations. focused on the community benefits, Sovereign Wealth Fund and a potential refreshed industry charter.

Annex B sets out an outline narrative.

Our Departments will progress this work as a high priority, working with you and your officials. as well as colleagues at No 10. to realise the potential of this important sector.

Yours sincerely,

Amber Rudd, Greg Clark, Liz Truss

A challenge to the ridiculous and ubiquitous Ken Wilkinson

I have been amused over the last few weeks to read the increasingly ridiculous comments made by retired physics teacher from Westbury-On-Trym, Ken Wilkinson.

The most ludicrous statement he has made though was this one from yesterday.

all research done

Now there is clearly a respectable debate about fracking to be had, and the science is still evolving. Only somebody of very limited intellect, or somebody deliberately setting out to browbeat people with misinformation could state publicly that “all of the research has been done“. Quite honestly it’s not surprising that the debate gets polarised when people like Ken Wilkinson are in the vanguard of the fracking PR machine. It’s a shame really as when reasoned debate does take place it can be quite illuminating.

As to “all of the laws being in place” I can only assume that he is referring to the laws that the government has put in place to ease the path for the fracking companies, rather than to the regulatory framework which is still woefully inadequate.

A good example of where regulations which are required are not in place is the issue of bonds for abandonment, where a company would be forced to put a sum in escrow before drilling to ensure that funds were available to cover any costs after the well has stopped producing.

This is Ken Wilkinson on this topic on 28th December 2015 in one of the many newspaper columns that he infests – this time it’s the Yorkshire Post

If Third Energy go broke this is all covered by a bond. They are required for licencing.

This is absolute rubbish as stated in my response

What bond for abandonment do Third Energy have? Please would you supply a reference and some substantiation for the statement that you present as a “fact” that “If Third Energy go broke this is all covered by a bond. They are required for licencing.” as this seems to fly in the face of paragraph 144 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF ) which states that “Bonds or other financial guarantees to underpin planning conditions should only
be sought in exceptional circumstances”. What grounds do you have for claiming that Third Energy have any such bond in place?

Now Ken does hate to be contradicted by anybody on anything, especially in public so he did his usual trick of retorting with a reference to a report which he claimed supported his statement (perhaps hoping nobody would read it and he’d be able to get away without looking too ridiculous).

For those that wish to be advised by science, please see the link to the Third Energy draft decision document, from the Environment Agency.
Regarding financial bond, the EA are satisfied. Pls see chapter 6.3

Do you not just love that pompous but sadly ineffectual call to authority – “For those that wish to be advised by science”? Unfortunately for him I check my facts before I post , so I was able to respond:

The document you cite only says :

6.3. Financial competence and relevant convictions
“We are satisfied that sufficient financial resources are available to the Operator to ensure compliance with the Permit conditions.
The Operator does not have any relevant convictions and is considered to be technically competent.”

If you are trying to claim that that supports your statement” “If Third Energy go broke this is all covered by a bond. They are required for licencing.” then you really are struggling as that paragraph goes nowhere near requiring a bond.

He did not respond to that. I wonder why not.

This is the calibre of our friend Ken Wilkinson’s arguments and proofs. It is why his perennial and ludicrous insistence that all the bases are covered and fracking is already properly regulated are totally unconvincing to those with the wit to look under the surface of his bluster.

Ken also lets himself get a bit hysterical at times – this was pointed out to me a couple of days back and gave me a good laugh

all me

Firstly I’d like to point out that Mr Grealy’s ludicrous conclusions (which Ken bizarrely describes as “an excellent blog post“) get short shrift from me here

Ken obviously dislikes me intensely (the feeling I can assure him is entirely reciprocated), to the extent that he appears a bit fixated on me,  but to suggest that a:)  a lot of the opposition to fracking on Twitter is just me (how flattered do I feel LOL) and b:) that I run all of those 4 accounts is ridiculous. I freely admit (obviously ) to being @refracktion and I did set up a parody account @aunty__fracker to poke fun at the silly rantings of the “real” @aunty_fracker. The other two I have no connection with at all, beyond being aware of who runs the PNR acount. This is though a perfect example of how Ken will invent “facts” and lie with a straight face to try to damage somebody to suit his own warped narrative, and without having a single jot of evidence to support it. It’s not pretty is it?

My challenge to Ken Wilkinson

So, if he would like to show that he has any remaining shreds of credibility I challenge him to provide proof of any kind whatsoever that I have access to the @nofracklancs (Preston New Road twitter account) and/or the @FrancisEgon (presumably what he meant by Francis__Egon) Twitter accounts. He can’t as he is lying.

And then  I challenge him to provide even just one single example of:

  • a message Tweeted by @Refracktion to @nofracklancs (the  Preston New Road twitter account)
  • which was retweeted by @nofracklancs to @aunty__fracker
  • which was subsequently retweeted by @FrancisEgon.

He is very clear that this is how it works so this shouldn’t prove challenging for him should it? I mean you wouldn’t commit that chain of events to Facebook, and say that it constitutes “a lot” of the content, without being able to provide a single example of it if you had any common sense or integrity would you?

If Ken believes he can substantiate either claim I will publish his reply and my response here. Don’t hold your collective breath.

dynamic duoHe won’t be able to answer this challenge though, as this is just one more example of this vindictive, vicious, vexatious, obsessive attempts to bludgeon his way into undermining the credibility of those who are fortunate enough not to suffer from his own tunnel vision and lack of critical thinking.

Like so many of the incomprehensible things he says, it has no basis in fact whatsoever. Ken seems to have set himself a one man mission (OK it’s a two man mission as The Rev Michael Roberts acts as a compliant Robin to his Batman) to take out opponents of fracking. This was seen at its most ghastly early last year in his appalling behaviour relating to Mike Hill at the time of the publication of the Medact report and Mr Hill’s parliamentary candidacy.

Sadly Ken continues to repeat his slurs even today as we can see here.


I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice how he claims here that only 6 recommendations are in place but claims 48 hours later that “all of the laws are in place”. And he has the gall to accuse Mike Hill of lying? (I also think he should take a look at this page for a reality check on the true status of those recommendations.)

It is the sort of propagandising in complete bad faith described above which stops many people from being able to engage in meaningful debate on this subject.

We do know that Ken and his sidekick Michael Roberts are suggested by the fracking companies as people to be interviewed about fracking because we speak to journalists too. I wonder if the fracking companies have any idea how much credibility they lose by relying of these two  to front their claims?


Gissa Job!

We all know how the industry likes to claim that it will bring jobs to the local areas where it operates. We see precious little evidence to support this, so we were delighted to read that Public Health England are advertising in the BMJ for a “Consultant in Health Protection”

The post in Manchester is very well remunerated, offering a salary of £65,922 – £101,451 per annum


We are not sure if there is a connection implied between sexual health and unconventional gas extraction, but, heck, who says shale gas doesn’t bring well paid jobs to the area!

No doubt we’ll be bringing you similar adverts from the Law Society Gazette shortly!

How to shoot yourself in the foot with figures

One of the hot topics at the moment is the extent of support or opposition to shale gas development. It seems fairly inarguable that the trend exposed by the successive waves of research by DECC has shown a shift in public attitudes, with those opposed to fracking becoming much more numerous and those supporting it increasingly thin on the ground.

DECC’s Wave 15 showed us this trend:

Decc Wave 15 graph

Now if you are somebody who makes a living out of trying to pump shale gas as a viable option this must be a tad frustrating!

However, if this is you then can we suggest that you don’t try to emulate the antics of  sweary-mouthed self-styled  “shale gas expert” Nick Grealy .

He seems to have decided to try to demonstrate that opposition to shale gas is really not significant and has penned a very lengthy article on his amusing web site in which he does his best to demonstrate this.  He calls it The great myth of UK opposition to shale.

He starts with some cod-psychology (believe me Nick is no Oliver Sachs), rambling between accusing opponents of shale of having Napoleon complexes (something I suspect he may know something about) and being victims of Stockholm Syndrome.

After a little rant about social media fracktivists (LOL we are anti-fracktivists – Nick Grealy is a fracktivist) he moans “To those who live in one particular echo chamber, their self-importance,  or not, tends to be biased.” which we of course agree with 100% as regards his own peculiar little shale gas bubble.

Next he indulges in his favourite lazy trope – apparently, he claims,  all of the anti-fracking Facebook pages have been set up by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace (You know he really, greally hates them!)

We think he has perhaps received a bit of a drubbing from the press recently as there now follows a rant about local journalists who want to work in PR. He of course can’t help himself returning to this anti NGO theme saying ” local men or women who invariably are members of the tiny local Green Party or Friends of the Earth, or both, were quoted at length by local papers“. For the avoidance of doubt I belong to neither of these groups, although that may change as I learn more and more about what is happening, courtesy of researching this industry. We’re sure he knows this statement isn’t actually true, but then the Grealy “No Hot Air” brand isn’t really about facts as such it seems.

Next he quotes from some unreferenced study which he claims shows that there are only 2,000 opponents to shale operating on Twitter and Facebook. This quite a bizarre claim, but even if it were true we’d still outnumber Nick and his barmy army quite considerably.

He notes that social media allows you to share to amplify your voice, saying this without any apparent awareness that the tactic is used extensively by the people on his side of the fence.

He then has a veiled jab at his pals at Backing Fracking saying “I know there are several readers who should also perhaps get a life and stop exaggerating the influence of shale opponents. In that regard, much of the industry makes the same error of magnifying the influence of a minority.” We hope Ken, Michael, Rob, Ellie and their friends haven’t noticed as they do do such a great job for us!

After a harrumph about the Upton protesters’ camp Mr G moves on to more scientific matters.

He has noticed that there are two petitions on the Government site:

Local Councils to have final say on Fracking within their constituency

Scrap Fracking UK Wide & Invest in Green Energy

The first of these has 4,700 signatures and the second 47,922. The second one has been running for a year and closed on 22nd January

Always craving a laugh, even when it’s at his own expense, Nick now goes on to list a number of other petitions which have exercised the great British Public, presumably with the intention of placing a context around what he seems to perceive as a laughable lack of opposition to shale gas.

He milks the joke with a bit more cod-psychology before getting tremendously exciting about the mapping tool which breaks down the signatures by constituency. And how he laughs at the pathetic numbers. Only 315 in Fylde he chortles.

He witters on a bit more about  things he has read about on  Wikipedia like Traumatic Bonding before concluding

Luckily, most of us know that there is nothing to fear except fear itself. After all, most of us can count.

Sadly for him though, we can. And we also do research outside of looking up Freud on the web.

You see Nick there was another poll running concurrently with the  Scrap Fracking UK Wide & Invest in Green Energy one.

It asks people to support Shale Gas – To facilitate and accelerate the onshore fracking for shale gas

It has a grand total of 872 signatures compared to the one opposing shale gas that has 47,922

It actually has 5 days left to run so maybe Nick and his PR pals can get the number up over 1,000 if they try really hard?

So, you see Nick, you may fool the gullible and impressionable,  who appear to hang uncritically on your every word


[of course, perhaps Ken is suffering from Betrayal Bonding after your swipe at him earlier in the article?]

but, after all, most of us can count and we can also do subtraction

The pro-fracking  petition has just 5 signatures from the Fylde – just 310 less than the other one 🙂

It would seem that if you are going to start using petition numbers to draw inferences about support or opposition, then the antis are about 55 times more numerous generally in the UK than Nick and his supporter friends, and over 60 times more numerous in the Fylde.






Hard Talk indeed

At 4:30 this morning BBC’s Hard Talk featured Francis Egan being grilled by Stephen Sackur


The video must make uncomfortable viewing if you are a pro-fracker as Mr Egan stumbles through a not very convincing case under some testing questions from his interviewer.

Some highlights:

At 5:26 Stephen Sackur  won’t have Mr Egan’s figures on polling and quoted the May 2015 YouGov Poll figures at him. Mr Egan affects not to be aware of them. Either he is not doing his job or he’s not being totally straight with us.

At 9:40 Mr Egan talks of the 23 states in the USA where it’s been going on with “no er environmental er or health er repercussions“. Really? And which ARE those?

At 11:50 we have the new line from the fracking industry about water pollution. Now that the EPA has found that there is proven contamination of some private supplies they have moved back to a rearward trench and now simply claim that there is no proven case of contamination to “public” water supplies. Watch out for that word “public” you’ll hear it again and again now.

At 13:10 he claims that methane is not a contaminant which may come as news to the scientists at Duke University


At 14:10 he gets a moment of light relief by laughing at Paul McCartney – he knows he’s safe there as nobody likes Macca much since he inflicted Mull o’ Kintyre on us all those years ago, but his relaxed mood won’t last.

At 15:15 he moves on to a bit of good old scaremongering about how the UK is running out of gas, but Sackur will have none of it and slaps him down again.

At 16:00 Mr Egan claims that “the environmental requirements for LNG  have been show, in terms of CO2 emissions to be two to three times what domestically produced gas [inaudible]” Now we’re not sure where he sources that figure from but we note Dr McKay’s report for DECC (which we know he’s read as he tries to use it debunk Howarth & Ingraffia’s methane findings elsewhere in the interview):

As long as venting scenarios are excluded, the data indicate that the total carbon footprint of shale gas exploration, extraction and transmission and use is likely to be similar to that of gas derived from conventional wells in the UK, LNG and non-EU piped gas.

At 16:50 Mr Egan actually admits that we can “in theory rely entirely for your energy supply on imports“which sort of blows his energy security schtuck out of the water.

At 17:20 he really is a bit sniffy about his ex-chairman Lord Browne but perhaps that’s to be expected given that one minute Lord Browne was growling about spending whatever it took to get shale gas happening in the UK and then he suddenly upped and left them all looking a bit foolish.

At 19:20 he really lets himself down by using the cliché of the century “we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good“.  Those of us with extensive experience of listening to shale gas proponents could see that one coming for a good half minute. It’s been used by everybody from Nick Grealy to Andrea Leadsom.

He nearly picks himself up again a moment later with “Gas is Good” – if he’d said it in German you could almost have believed it has come from the Audi PR department and not from London.

At 20:04 he claims, talking of emissions, that Dr McKay from DECC concluded that “natural gas produced from  fracking is is broadly the same as natural gas produced from conventional oil, oil reservoirs. And why wouldn’t it be“. Well perhaps if he looked at the report Dr McKay wrote he might find the answer.



All in all this wasn’t a car crash on the scale of a Michael Roberts or a Ken Wilkinson interview. Mr Egan is too skilful an operator for that but it looked to be a very uncomfortable 20 minutes for the man charged with getting shale gas working in the UK.

It’s well worth a look.







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