FRACKING UNNECESSARY & ILLOGICAL ACCORDING TO EX-CUADRILLA BOSS & BP CHIEF, LORD BROWNE

This week, Cuadrilla has submitted their hydraulic fracturing plan for their second well (PNR2) at Preston New Road in Lancashire. Their failed attempts at fracking well one (PNR1Z) resulted in them only managing to frack 5% of the well alongside triggering 57 earth tremors, with the highest reaching 1.5ML.

 

During a recent interview with The Guardian, former boss of BP and the ex-chief executive of Cuadrilla, Lord John Browne, stated:

“Fracking in the UK doesn’t make much sense. I think it was a test to see if it worked. We probably don’t need to do it.

Fracking is still being pushed by the industry and its promoters, as a low-carbon solution, hence the government still being fond of claiming it will be a “bridge” fuel. Now it seems as though one of the most prominent backers of fracking has changed his mind.

Lord Browne, who left Cuadrilla in 2015 to work for Russian oil and gas firm, L1 Energy, was implicated as being involved in heavy lobbying within government on behalf of the fracking industry during his time with Cuadrilla, revealed through Freedom of Information requests as having held a series of “urgent meetings with the Environment Agency over regulations

Back in 2011, the current Cuadrilla chief executive, Francis Egan and Lord Browne strongly lobbied for Cuadrilla to be excluded from environmental regulations adopted in 2011, with Egan stating, “that the Mining Waste Directive does not apply”.

During 2013, the meetings between Browne, Cuadrilla, the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson and the Environment Agency, were held over fracking in both Lancashire and Balcombe. Also involved in meetings, were Lord Chris Smith from Environment Agency and Michael Fallon MP, the then Business and Energy Secretary.

Through Freedom of Information requests, it was claimed by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that “no notes were kept” for the secret meetings between Cuadrilla and government agencies.

This is in strong parallels with the recent failures by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and former Shale Gas Commissioner, Natascha Engel, where meeting notes with residents and industry groups were destroyed and data was not recorded or stored along with GDPR best practice.

There is no trust in the regulatory bodies to either know what other stakeholders have responsibility for or be strong enough to take action against corporations that continually seek to flout the law or bend it to suit themselves.

Additionally, this week Cuadrilla been granted approval to discharge surface water from the fracking site at Preston New Road into the local tributary – Carr Bridge Brook. The plan was strongly opposed by residents and farmers, but the Environment Agency has given in to the frackers’ demands and placed a polluting corporation’s commercial needs before those of the local community.

The Preston New Road site has regularly flooded in the past. The area is noted for it, and the run-off from the field in which fracking is taking place, heads into Carr Bridge Brook and spills over onto neighbouring land, including that of a nearby smallholding, which has previously seen water from Carr Bridge Brook flood their property. The images below are reflective of the state of the land surrounding the fracking site during heavy rain.

 

 

 

 

The resistance to fracking in Lancashire has been strong and on the increase for eight years now. If Cuadrilla decides that another round of fracking is worth the risk of further earthquakes and unwanted media attention, then it’s highly likely they will face a community backlash of resistance. And rightly so.