Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fracking – a battle won but a war still to win

It was great to get a phone call on Tuesday from Louise ‘Erin Brockovich’ Evans (theValeSaysNo.com) to tell me that Coastal Oil & Gas have withdrawn their application for test drilling at Llandow. This is fantastic news for the Evans family. The proposals threatened to ruin their livelihoods and to have a huge impact on the Llandow Trading Estate and surrounding areas. For many who so passionately supported the local campaignthis is probably seen as the end of the road. After the huge impact this campaign has hadit is quite likely that the frackers will steer well clear of Llandow altogether in future. Job done for the nimby brigade.The really good news is that the people close to the the Llandow campaign have done sufficient research and groundwork to know that this really is not the end of the storyjust the end of a chapter.

We know from what we have seen in Bridgend CBC that the frackers will be back. I never thought that Centrica pulling out of Bridgend CBC was the end. New applications will pop up at any time and almost any place. We have seen it happen. After the huge own goal at Llandowthey will certainly stick to the tried and tested strategy of finding remotetucked out of sight places from now on.

It was no surprise to me that Coastal Oil & Gas and their partnersEden Energydecided to pull the application. There was the very real risk that the public outcry we helped produce may have led VoG to make a landmark decision to deny the planning application at Llandow. They could not risk that. The rest of the industry would have been appalled that they were clumsy enough to give scope for this to happen.

We are left with a situation of no precedent for turning down test drilling applications and local authorities in BridgendNeath Port Talbot and Swansea with a track record of quietly processing and approving these applications.

So where do we go from here?
 
I am delighted that the people behind TheValeSaysNo are intending to carry on the fight.
 
I believe we have to continue to push hard for a nationwide moratorium and a change of planning procedures for such proposals. We have the attention of some elected representatives, to which we can hopefully add the vital dimension of an elected Green to the WAG, Jake Griffiths,  in May. We also have the attention of the local and regional media to a degree. We must keep momentum up on these fronts.
 
We have raised public awareness considerably and to a point that, if and when phase 2 and phase 3 applications, that involve actual fracking, come about, I think we will be able to really mobilise local opposition.
 
We also need to think about fostering links with other anti-fracking groups. We know where the frackers are going to target in the UK. We know of opposition movements in numerous countries in Europe and around the world.
 
My own knowledge and awareness keeps developing all the time. I have new legal avenues to explore that have the potential to put a real spanner in the works of the frackers. We are slowly uncovering the network of links between the companies involved and their levels of investment. We are picking up valuable snippets of insight into things like noise levels and frack fluid composition. We are regularly adding to the portfolio of evidence that demolishes just about every attempt by the frackers to put a positive spin on their endeavors.
 
I am confident that we now have a group of people with the will, the knowledge and the tools to see this through and keep the frackers from raping the land for short term gain at the expense of immediate and long term environmental damage and short-sighted energy policy.

Public Meeting with Coastal Oil & Gas in Cowbridge

Another well attended meeting, this time featuring representatives of Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd trying to reassure us that the only want to do a sample collecting. They failed. 

A little more substance from Jane Hutt this week and continued support from Alun Cairns and some local councillors who have clearly been taking good notes from my speeches at the last two meetings and from this blog.

I left with somewhat mixed feelings today. On a positive note, there is clearly a groundswell that may lead to VoG making a landmark decision to reject the test drilling application. On the downside, I think we could then see a lot NIMBYists melt away from this campaign. We even heard one VoG councillor effectively saying leave the lovely Vale alone and go and mess up the grotty Valleys! And this is exactly what will happen, for sure, if we let them.

And if the test drilling gets approval on Thursday, we then have to monitor its activities, which I suspect will have very modest impacts, and then sit around indefinitely looking out for phase two applications, which will probably avoid Llandow like the plague and pitch up somewhere a bit more discreet. Either way, Thursday will be the end of the beginning of the wider battle we will need to fight.

The next stage is the peaceful, placard waving, slogan chanting fun of site visit protest. Join us at the Llandow site at 2.00pm.

Copy and paste this map url for an accurate location fix of the site

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=51.438634,-3.500508&num=1&sll=51.438922,-3.500433&sspn=0.0043,0.009474&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=51.439029,-3.499231&spn=0.016051,0.025749&z=14&source=embed

Labour voters: give your Second Vote to the Greens

One strand of the WAG campaign. What do you think? Pass the video link on to anyone you think may be a Labour supporter.

Dear Labour Voters of Wales,
Nearly 250,000 Labour votes were wasted in the Assembly second ballot in 2007, because they could not elect any extra Labour members. So use your second vote to make a difference and fight the Tory cuts: vote Green on the second ballot.

Latest coverage and international support

Great coverage in today’s Echo: Quotes Andy extensively 

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/04/08/vale-villagers-warned-of-fracking-gas-operation-91466-28481292/

Support from Canada:

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/04/05/canadian-group-backs-fracking-protest-91466-28458882/

Support from France: Post #18 here: http://thevalesaysno.com/?p=33 (loving their website name!)

Bonjour

We have the same problem in France, but due to a very concerted campaign anyone who is anyone(or wants to be anyone) from local mayors to mainstream politicians is turning away and saying Non!. It is a real vote loser here.

There is a national day of protest next weekend (17th April) with demos and marches all over France and this is not the usual trawler and tractor blockades, this is huge numbers of real people.

I know it is different in UK, there is little in the way of protest from what I can see. The gas co.s have been keeping a low profile but are starting to fight back (especially Mark Miller of Cuadrilla drilling in Blackpool) and pro-gas websites are springing up. As one of the first groups to appear I suggest you contact other environmental groups (Greenpeace and FOE local branches etc) and try and get some sort of coalition of anti-shale groups, assemble some resources and gang up on the gas companies.

Have a look at my site http://www.schistehappens.com (shale is schiste in French)

It is more of a fanzine that your very grown-up looking site but there is some useful stuff on it. If you want to steal anything from it feel free.

RPJ

Support from New Zealand: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_113479065383673

Say No To Fracking in New Zealand is a group set up to network among people who are passionate about the whenua, Fracking(hydraulic fracturing) may become a common practice within the oil industry so pressure must be asserted on the govt to stop this destructive mining process.

Anti-Fracking meeting in Llantwit Major last night + what is next

Another well attended meeting in the Llantonian Hall last night. We had cameras from BBC and ITV present, along with a Western Mail journalist. We got a good snippet on BBC Breakfast news – including a clip of Louise Evans from the ValeSaysNo campaign. Look out for other media coverage. 

Jane Hutt AM made a brief appearance pledging her unreserved support for the cause. She is the first Labour politician to show any interest in the issue at all, and she clearly heard that there has been a big response to the issue amongst the locals last week. Votes at stake as she seeks re-election! Pretty cynical and none too convincing. Not a word on this issue on her website or Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Re-elect-Jane-Hutt/134296016633180 It is clear that WAG is the body that has to grasp the nettle with this issue, as it is a devolved matter. How she shapes up on this issue after May 5th will be telling.

I shared the platform with Conservative Alun Cairns MP. To be fair, he picked up on the issue relatively early and has demonstrated consistent and seemingly genuine support for the cause. He is not standing for re-election to WAG, to focus on his role as Vale MP. He has to step up to the plate and get this matter a higher profile at a national level. His efforts to date in Westminster appear somewhat timid: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2011-03-31a.50153.h&s=shale+gas+speaker%3A24740#g50153.q0

I talked about the lessons we can learn from what Cuadrilla are up to near Blackpool and went through the full range of threats and implications. Alun Cairns and I then shared responses to questioning from the audience. We actually complemented each other surprisingly well. He acknowledged my greater technical understanding, whereas he clearly has a better appreciation of parliamentary/WAG procedures. We were pretty much united in our general thrusts.

Next up?
1. PUBLIC MEETING – Including representatives of proposers Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd, from Bridgend.

Time: Monday, April 11 · 7:00pm – 9:30pm Location; Bear Hotel, Cowbridge High Street 

2. Join the ‘Vale Says No’ Peaceful Protest 14th April 2011

Vale residents, we appeal to you to help us oppose the application to test drill for gas by joining us in a peaceful protest on 14th April 2011 (time tbc – likely to be mid afternoon).
Invite your friends, make banners, bring your kids, but please remember this is a peaceful protest. We are not trying to intimidate committee members we just want to show them just how much we dont want Gas Drilling in Llandow.

Please see our event listing on Facebook here

Our protest will be held at the proposed gas drilling site at the Vale Industrial Estate, Llandow, Vale of Glamorgan which can be found here (green arrow)

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=51.438634,-3.500508&num=1&sll=51.438922,-3.500433&sspn=0.0043,0.009474&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=51.439029,-3.499231&spn=0.016051,0.025749&z=14&source=embed

A bit of a wake up call

I have leant my support to the Llandow anti-fracking campaign because it is an issue that effects Bridgend and the whole of South Wales.

We should all be backing their campaign as they are the most successful anti-fracking campaign group in the UK and have even drawn support from Canada.

I hope this group will expand its remit to become not just the ValeSaysNo campaign, but WalesSaysNo, or even UKsaysNo.

This is echoed here too:
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/columnists/2011/04/02/welsh-communities-must-stand-united-against-the-practice-of-fracking-91466-28443866/

Andy

Submissions to the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s Shale Gas enquiry

The 22 written submissions to the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s Shale Gas enquiry can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmenergy/writev/shale/shale.pdf
The motivations and bias are fairly obvious in most submissions, but the overwhelming body of evidence supports everything I have had to… Say on the issue and vindicates the ValeSaysNo campaign.

E-Petition: No to Incineration

We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to revise its planning policy and policy on residual waste to provide a presumption against the building of incinerators, which send most of the carbon from waste into the air as CO2, emit ultra-fine particles that can be damaging to health, and create toxic ash. We believe that incineration is bad for the environment and bad for people

http://www.assemblywales.org/gethome/e-petitions/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=578

Sponsored by Friends of the Earth Cymru.