|Could well have a greater impact than the government’s latest ‘green deal’:
Well done FoE!!
The Coalition of Resistance has launched this petition along with the list of initial signatories in a letter to the Guardian on 18 October. It will be handed in to Downing Street in June 2013 when we will be hosting a Peoples Assembly Against Austerity. Full details to come soon. Please ask everyone to sign. Click here to download a printable version for street stalls, to take around your workplace, friends family etc.
The failed policies of the politicians and the bankers caused the financial crisis. Spending cuts are driving us into poverty. An economic alternative is essential to protect ordinary people, and to save the NHS and welfare state.
We know there are alternatives:
What is the Coalition of Resistance and what does it do?
|The attached PDF document (see end of post) constitutes the most thorough attempt at analysing the fractivist movement across the whole world, and makes very interesting reading.
It is published by London-based company ‘Control Risks’. They describe themselves thus:“Control Risks is an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments. We support clients by providing strategic consultancy, expert analysis and in-depth investigations, handling sensitive political issues and providing practical on-the-ground protection and support.
As such they are clearly not our friends, but allies of the industry. I am not sure that it is always true that friends of our enemies are necessarily our enemies; and in this case their comprehensive global review can possibly be more useful to us than the industry.
The review starts with this introduction:
“Unconventional natural gas is often described as game-changing and transformative, a revolution heralding a golden age of cheap, plentiful energy for a resource-constrained world. But only if it makes it out of the ground.
As shown by local bans in the US and Canada, national moratoriums in France and Bulgaria, and tighter regulation in Australia and the UK, the global anti-fracking movement has mounted an effective campaign against the extraction of unconventional gas through hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry has largely failed to appreciate social and political risks, and has repeatedly been caught off guard by the sophistication, speed and influence of anti-fracking activists.
As unconventional gas development spreads worldwide, and becomes more central to government energy policy and corporate investment strategy, a better understanding of the anti-fracking movement its goals, structure, methods and trajectory is essential for companies, policymakers and other observers of the emergent energy boom.”
Its perception of what ‘fractivists’ want is fair enough, as they would appear to have been infiltrating social media (at the very least) with shills, as well as comprehensively reviewing online postings. (I will be disappointed if they do not read this at some point – so )
They categorise us as follows:
“The specific agendas of anti-fracking groups vary according to local priorities and group composition. Public consultation is critical in France, for example, while rural conservation issues dominate in Australia. However, the movement as a whole falls into four broad camps: those desiring a better deal from the gas industry; those advocating further study into the environmental and economic impacts of unconventional gas development; those demanding a complete ban on hydraulic fracturing; and in the majority those demanding tighter regulation of gas development.” I can recognise that elements of the fractivist camp fall into all four categories – but my feeling is that the longer people stay involved, and the more they learn about what is at stake, there is a gradual drift towards demands for an outright ban. And I firmly believe they are seriously under-estimating us when they say:
“2012 is likely to set the high-water mark for the anti-fracking movement.”
We are only just getting into our stride and, as they themselves point out, there are various ways that the movement is likely to develop – into broader issues (the whole range of extreme energy threats for a start); into wider territories (as more an more places become targets of the frackers); and into greater radicalism (in the form of much greater direct action). I wouldn’t argue with any of that!
There then follows a section that offers suggestions to the industry on how they could respond and counter our threat; very worthy of our attention.
Finally, there is a global Anti-Fracking Risk Register that we certainly need to respond to. It acknowledges that Anti-Fracking Activism in the UK is “Significant“, but rates the UK as merely LOW in terms of Political Risk and Security Risk.
I would suggest that we are going to have to force them to re-assess this if their overall predicted outcome, that ultimately the industry will prevail in most parts of the world, is to be confirmed to be the sop to the industry that sells their services to the industry, that I think it is, rather than a complete misreading of our determination to achieve Vanessa’s ultimate clarion call:
Not On My Planet!
THE GREEN Party has criticised the government’s home insulation scheme as being insufficient to encourage meaningful change.
The government’s Green Deal, in which a loan is provided to meet the costs of home insulation, is meant to cut the carbon emissions of 14m homes. However, the scheme provides no guarantee of any financial incentive for each household, as the loan repayments offset falls in energy bills.
Cllr. Andrew Cooper, Green Party energy spokesperson and Councillor for Newsome, Kirklees, said: “The lack of foresight on the Green Deal will earn it a place in the public policy textbooks as a perfect example of how to get it wrong.
“The Green Partys 2010 manifesto proposed a straightforward energy efficiency programme, genuinely free at the point of purchase, which would have clearly incentivised households to sign up, and would have created in the region of 80,000 jobs.
“Instead we have a Green Deal in which a home insulation loan is repaid through your energy bill, so the effect upon fuel poverty, jobs and emissions is likely to be negligible.
“The Green Party has real experience of planning a successful free home insulation scheme. From 2007-10, the Kirklees Warm Zone (KWZ) was the largest local authority home insulation scheme in the UK, and the first to offer free loft and cavity wall insulation to every suitable property. Cllr Cooper proposed the amendment that made the scheme free.
“In Kirklees, the Warm Zone scheme saw over 50,000 homes insulated, £3.9m of fuel expenditure saved per year, and over 300 jobs created directly and indirectly.
“Friends of the Earth and the WWF have used the KWZ as a model of best practise, and both the London Assembly and Scottish Assembly have requested our help to make their own insulation schemes work.
“The governments energy policies are all headlines, but no coherent content. How can they talk about carbon efficiency with a straight face while cutting feed-in tariffs for micro-generation and giving tax breaks to shale gas?”
|Check out the Glamorgan Gazette this week. Letters on Maesteg planning verdict by Andy Chyba AND Gary Lewis (Your Views pg 34)Andy skype interviewed for the World View Show with Denis Campbell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74ocPzmS2Ns&list=UUIaAkrszD7vt2uht8glGR_A&index=3
Keith Ross to the fore at Llys Nini protests in Swansea: http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Plans-test-drilling-methane-Llys-Nini-Animal/story-17938599-detail/story.html
Prominent ‘fractivist friends, Vanessa Vine and Tony Bosworth, wiping the floor with our slimy nemesis Nick ‘Greasy Greedy’ Grealy on Russian Radio:
We continue to chip away and raise awareness. We will prevail!!
|PRESS RELEASE FROM HQGreen Party leader Natalie Bennett said today that the Green Party stood for “Three Yeses – yes to a referendum, yes to major EU reform and yes to staying in a reformed Europe”.
Natalie urged people to consider the first “Yes” in a different context to David Cameron’s promise of a referendum – only if the Conservatives win a majority in the 2015 election – which has more to do with political game-playing and trying to hold together a deeply divided party that is failing in government.
The Green leader said: “The Green Party believes in democracy and self-determination. On important issues like this, voters should be given the opportunity to express a clear view.”
On a reformed EU, the Green Party believes that decisions should be made at the lowest possible appropriate level, closest to the lives of the people it affects. It supports democratic decision-making – not the imposition of dictats from above, such as the austerity that has been forced on the people of many states in south Europe.
Natalie added: “‘Yes to the EU’ does not mean we are content with the union continuing to operate as it has in the past. There is a huge democratic deficit in its functioning, a serious bias towards the interests of neoliberalism and ‘the market’, and central institutions have been overbuilt. But to achieve those reforms we need to work with fellow EU members, not try to dictate high handedly to them, as David Cameron has done.”
On ‘yes to staying in a reformed Europe’, the Green Party believes Great Britain should not abandon the European Union, but instead work from inside to make it into a fair and democratic union rather than just a vehicle for international trade.
The European Union is well placed to enact policies on crucial issues such as human and workers’ rights, climate change and international crime. It is through EU regulation that our renewable energy targets have been set and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created.
European action on air pollution, meanwhile, is forcing the British government to take the issue seriously, and the EU is leading the way on a financial transactions tax while Britain, in the grip of the City, resists.
Natalie concluded: “We need to continue to work with our European partners to build strong, locally democratic communities that decide their own way within the framework of minimum standards on workers’ and consumer rights, the environment, and on human rights – and which work together to build a more peaceful and sustainable world.”
Attached and at the bottom of the post, is the letter I received today from DECC Correspondence Unit in response to the letter I delivered to 10 Downing Street on 1st December. (Apologies for it being in 3 bits – technical issues!)
My response is as follows:
Dear Mr McHugh,
I have no idea how you were selected for the task of responding to our letter to Mr Cameron, and have no idea how you went about composing this response, but as it consists entirely of the poorly thought through responses already in the public domain, I suspect it exercised the copy and paste facility on your computer more than your own grey matter. However, I am happy to give you another chance, and would like you to personally reflect on the following points and then go away and seek out some proper answers for us.
Taking your letter paragraph by paragraph:
Paragraph 2 – Thank you for the admission that “the Government is committed to ensuring that we maximise economic recovery of UK hydrocarbon resources“. This is totally consistent with the blinkered, myopic energy policy and big business inveigling that we have come to associate with this Government. It is a pity you cannot honestly make the statement substituting the word renewable for the word hydrocarbon. So, can you please explain how this statement fits with the Government’s legally binding commitments on climate change?
Paragraph 3 – That the “Government’s position on UK unconventional gas resources matches that which it takes towards conventional oil and gas ” underlines that the Government just does not ‘get it’. The technologies involved are fundamentally different. The risks are fundamentally different, and more significant. These extreme technologies, alongside deep coal bed methane and underground coal gasification, represent the desperate last attempts to squeeze out the last drops of hydrocarbons for the earth’s crusts. This is consistent enough with the highlighted statement in paragraph 2, but ought to shout out ‘BEWARE’ to anyone of intelligence. The economics are dodgey enough – but that is only a risk to the Government’s risk-loving mega-rich investor friends. Given the Government’s self-confessed inability to recognise the fundamental differences in this branch of the oil and gas industry, it invalidates any claim to have “full regard to the protection of the environment”. The conventional industry’s track record in this country is hardly blemish free. These unconventional industries have appalling records everywhere they have been established. Yet the Government remains steadfastly blasé. Perhaps, for example, you could tell us exactly what is DECC’s suggested remedy for a contaminated aquifer?
Paragraph 4 – This paragraph acknowledges the many reported and confirmed issues with shale gas in the US. I am sure that you would acknowledge the similar problems experienced in Australia. These are the only countries to date that have experienced commercial scale fracking. Problems are beginning to emerge in countries dabbling with fracking, e.g. Poland and China. Where do Australia/USA/Poland/China rank on the World Environmental Protection Index? Dismally at 48/49/22/116 respectively. The only frack site in the UK ran into immediate problems. Fracking will assuredly see us tumble down the EPI rankings. The question for you therefore has to be just how much evidence, that points to the fundamentally flawed nature of this technology, is required to trigger the precautionary principle with this Government?
Paragraph 5 – Again you highlight the arrogant and blasé disposition of the Government by assuming we have an adequately “robust regulatory system” to ensure “high standards of safety and environmental protection”. The hydrocarbon industries have always been amongst the worst performing industries – using tried and tested (and all too often failed) conventional methods. The litany of mining disasters and health issues lingers to this day. Serious spills of oil and gas from North Sea platforms occur at the rate of one a week, undermining oil companies’ claims to be doing everything possible to improve the safety of rigs – under this supposedly robust regulatory system! ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/05/oil-gas-spills-north-sea ) We have seen for ourselves (Llandow Public Inquiry) that even when planning committees reject this industry’s application, after full and detailed scrutiny, the system is rigged to undermine local democracy and allow the industry full reign.
Paragraph 6 – Assurances about the the EA requiring full disclosure of chemicals used in fracking are undermined by a few inconvenient truths. There is no such thing as proprietary frack fluid. You do not buy it off the shelf with a nice contents label and a MSDS. It varies at every stage of the fracking and with variations in local geology. You would need a presence at every single fracking operation, at every single site, to sample the fluid used every time. This is a practical impossibility. So the EA asks the industry to declare what it is using. I have already demonstrated the lies that UK frackers, Cuadrilla and their friends, tell about the chemicals they use ( https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/the-blatant-lies-of-the-frackers-and-their-friends/ ). After Cuadrilla fracked in Lancashire, the EA tested the flow back water. They identified all sorts of nasties flushed out of the shales, but there was no sign, in the analysis I have seen, of the chemicals Cuadrilla admitted to using – leave alone the ones they may not. The fact is that the EA can only identify things it makes an effort to look for. I cannot find things that it is not looking for. Do you 100% trust the industry to be completely honest about every chemical it uses in every frack job? Really?
Paragraphs 7,8 & 9 – same issues as paragraph 6.
Paragraph 10 – The Select Committee’s 2011 report can be systematically taken apart ( https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/analysis-of-the-conclusions-and-recommendations-of-government-shale-gas-inquiry/ ), but let me focus on the essence of its absurdity that you so kindly flag up: “Shale gas extraction poses no direct risk to underground water aquifers, provided the well is constructed properly”. As various studies (e.g. Ingraffea, A. 2011. Unconventional gas Development from Shale Plays: Myths and Realities Related to Human Health Impacts) into the lifelong effectiveness of well casings shows a 5% failure rate in new oil and gas casings, and a 50% failure rate in wells 30 years old, the only rational conclusion is that shale gas extraction must pose a a significant risk to underground water aquifers. Would you agree?
Paragraph 11 – Contains the similar ‘Big Ifs’ of assuming “operational best practice” and “enforced through regulation”. This has already proven inadequate at one single, solitary site in Lancashire. Can you please explain how this can be expected across the many tens of thousands of largely remote and isolated sites across the country, if full scale production goes ahead as the Government clearly hopes? If only 1% of frack jobs has a problem and only 1% of well casings fail, have you any idea of the likely consequences?
Paragraph 12 – Please explain the “control measures to mitigate the risk of seismic tremors” that the Government claims to have imposed. What are they mitigating against? Do you think they are going to stop seismic activity happening? Do you think that they are going to stop seismic activity compromising the integrity of the well casings? Get as technical as you like – I am a geologist.
Paragraph 13 – What fab news, that there is going to be a “new Office of Unconventional Gas & Oil“, it suggests that Government does, after all see this branch of the industry as different . However, given that it appears to be, from what you say, a marketing office to attract investors; and given that investors regard Government regulation as a ‘hazard’, according to UK Shale Gas Business Confidence survey; the goal of a simplified and streamlined regulatory process is hardly re-assuring to us, as it clearly aimed at appeasing and attracting investors. Do you think you might get told off for copying and pasting this bit?
Paragraph 14 – Given the fact that you admit that “it is not at this stage possible to confirm that these constitute an economic resource, or to offer any estimates of how much resource may be technically and economically recoverable”, setting up a new Office of Unconventional Gas & Oil seems somewhat premature, wouldn’t you agree?
Paragraph 15 – In the spirit of mutually sharing “further information about shale gas and fracking”, I would recommend you look here: http://frack-off.org.uk/ or any of the links here: http://frack-off.org.uk/resources/fracking-links-library/ . “I hope that this is helpful.”
I look forward to continued correspondence with you.
|The recent rubber-stamping of a relatively small scale Coal Bed Methane (CBM) planning application for the St Johns Colliery site in Maesteg needs to be seen in its full and proper context.The applicants in this case are UK Methane, who are the same few people as Coastal Oil & Gas, who have put through a similar small scale CBM project at Cwmcedfyw Farm, near Llangynwyd. The grandiose sounding names of these companies hide the fact they are tiny companies consisting of Mr Gerwyn Williams and a couple of his mates. They do not own any resources; having to bring in Sunderland based contractors, Drillcorp, to drill at Cwmcedfyw, with labour picked up on route from Liverpool.These small scale projects are not really what they are about. It is a tactical approach used by the infamous Cuadrilla company in Lancashire, and other companies elsewhere. They undertake a couple of small, relatively innocuous methane projects (there are still serious issues over water contamination) to try and convince local people, and local planning departments, that they are not up to anything worth worrying about and that they can be trusted. With peoples guards down, they then sneak through applications for their real target shale gas that will require the use of the deep fracking techniques that have proven to be unreliable and the bringer of dire consequences (sooner or later, but inevitably) to local people and their environments.
Be under no illusion as to what Gerwyn and his cronies are up to. They are not very clever at disguising their intentions. Down at Llandow, their initial bungled application clearly stated shale gas at the target. As soon as the locals rose up and organised opposition (the Vale Says No! Campaign group) they resubmitted trying to pretend they were only really interested in conventional sandstone oil/gas. Pathetic. At St Johns Colliery, they successfully sneaked an application through to target the deep lying shales in January 2011, before we caught on to what they are up to. They again brought Drillcorp in to do that test borehole, but my understanding is that they had to abandon it because Drillcorps equipment was not up to the job.
Gerwyn is getting on a bit. Speculating on unconventional gas is his pension plan, I believe. He has picked up licences to explore for resources for very little investment (just a few thousand pounds) in South Wales, the Mendips and Kent. By undertaking some test drilling and conjuring up fanciful figures for the potential resource, he will look to sell on his licences at substantial profit and disappear into the sunset well before the frackers roll in and wreak their havoc.
There are now local opposition groups springing up across South Wales , and in order to share knowledge and resources we have recently seen FRACK-FREE WALES launched in Cardiff, which in turn belongs to a national (and increasingly international) network e.g. FRACK OFF and the ANTI-FRACKING NETWORK. We are watching them closely, but even with all the immense time, energy and effort of the fractivists, we still desperately need the general public to wake up to what is at stake. It needs to become a major political issue with peoples votes at stake, because this is the biggest threat to face the people of South Wales (and other threatened regions) for a generation at least.
The Tories in government have nailed their colours to the mast – short term profit and tax revenue, at any cost. The ‘Greenest Government Ever’ was laughable when they first uttered it. It is now just another nauseating lie. The Labour administration in the Welsh Government have steadfastly sat on the fence over this issue, and shamefully kowtowed to Westminster at every opportunity. Our Labour controlled Council in Bridgend (in common with all Local Authorities) are completely out of their depth; have nobody providing leadership or expertise; and yet are still the planning body we have to rely on to save us from this menace. As last week’s rubber-stamping exercise demonstrated, we simply cannot rely on them for that.
So finally, a plea for everybody to educate themselves and wise-up quickly. Just google fracking, or else check all the resources and information on the local situation at bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/?s=fracking . You can contact me for more information via the about page there.
Chair Bridgend Green Party
Co-Founder of the Anti-Fracking Network
SUBMITTED TO GLAMORGAN GAZETTE / WESTERN MAIL / SOUTH WALES ECHO / BRIDGEND GEM