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Fracking Inquiry: Week 2

CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE

DAY 6   (17 FEBRUARY 2016)

EVENING SESSION FOR PUBLIC SPEAKERS

DAY 7 OPENING REMARKS

DAY 8:   (19 FEBRUARY 2016)


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 DAY 6:    (17 FEBRUARY 2016) 

Fracking Inquiry Week 2We were unable to be at the Inquiry on Friday last week and Tuesday this week, so we're picking up the story on Wednesday 17th and hope to be updating during the day again - as we did in Week 1.

From those we spoke to who were here yesterday to hear Cuadrilla's Landscape specialist, mostly spent the time pointing out all the structures visible in Fylde that were taller than a drilling rig Prebonds, HMS Inskip's transmitting masts, Blackpool Tower and so on.. Mind you, there was a bit of argy bargy about how tall the drilling rig would be anyway, whether it would be one that was 56m or 36 m tall (that's roughly 100 to 180 feet in real money).

According to what we were told, the cross examination by Mr Evans of LCC was considered to be the most impressive.

The day also saw Mr Ojeil (Cuadrilla's Highway man) present his 'Evidence in Chief' as it's called.

 Cross examination by Mr Evans of LCC.

Mr Evans began his cross examination of Mr Ojeil and in particular looked at the routes for HGV's which, he said was an important aspect of transport.

He argued that  what might Mr Ojeil might describe as the 'best performing route' did not necessarily lead to the conclusion that it is an appropriate route. (The argument here seemed to be that something describes as the 'best performing route' might still be 'useless')

There was also some discussion that the cited width of the HGVs didn't include their mirrors, and it was implied that, even with the mitigation proposed, passing places on Dagger Road would be at best 'tight' and possibly worse. There followed an interesting exchange where the witness argued you wouldn't need to count the nearside mirror because it was 2m tall and the hedges were no more than 1m tall.

Mr Evans asked for confirmation that the height of the hedges were not within Cuadrilla's control. The witness stonewalled that they were only 1m tall and there would be no problem, but eventually had to agree that it was not under Cuadrilla's control.

The cross examination continued with various technical points being discussed. (Such as the Safety Audit that had been prepared for the route to be used, and whether it covered the whole of the route or just parts of it)

At times, we thought Mr Ojeil gave a pretty good impression of a politician being interviewed on 'Newsnight' - seeking to answer a question he wanted to answer rather than the question he had been asked. Perhaps not quite a 'hostile' witness, but heading that way.

The inspector must have thought so too because at one point she interrupted him sharply and said "You really must concentrate on the question you are being asked"

That's the first time we've heard her intervene and as the inquiry proceeds, we are more and more impressed with this lady's capability and performance. She is the most unobtrusive Inspector we have ever seen, but she knows exactly when to speak if and when it is necessary.

We thought one other interesting point was that whilst the proposed route suggests going through HMS Inskip, that's only going to be at the start and end of the use, and not for the whole of the works. This seemed to be because the traffic would be greatest at these times.

When pressed on the legal agreement that would give Cuadrilla the use of HMS Inskip it was established that this had not yet been finalised.

Then we had a morning break and resumed at 11:45 with Mr Evans of LCC still cross examining Mr Ojeil.

Mr Evans drew attention to the fact that without mitigation Dagger Road was unsuitable for use, and that the proposed mitigation consisted of five passing places. But he said, to use it you needed visibility to see whether you needed to stop in the one you are approaching if something was coming the other way.

The witness appeared to recognise this shortcoming and said it could be picked up in the detailed design later on. Mr Evans pointed out that such proposals were not before the Inspector in this application was it?   'No' After a bit more cross examination, Mr Evans ended his cross examination.

  Cross examination by Robin Green of RAG 

Began with the technical classification of HGVs which break down into other classifications, with OGV1 and OGV2 (Other Goods Vehicle) being the main ones. The witness said they were presuming OGV2 and within that 6 axle articulated vehicles of 44 Tons. Mr Green said the biggest could be up to 16.5m long.

Mr Green then referred to email correspondence with RAG in which it was said that a breakdown of HGVs would be in Mr Ojeil's proof of evidence.

Mr Ojeil admitted it was not. Mr Green said Cuadrilla must have looked at the breakdown to produce the number of traffic movements they had stated. The witness said the information had not been provided to him.

Mr. Green said: "So the proposed cap of 50 lorries a day could be 50 of the biggest HGV's a day couldn't it?"  Cuadrilla's QC intervened at this stage and said they did not intend to produce the breakdown unless it would be helpful to the Inspector.

The Inspector said she thought it might be, and Ms Lieven said she would see what was available.

Mr Green also made the point that at present there were 2 or 3 HGVs using the route each day, but Cuadrilla's  proposal would allow 50 HGV's a day and that was a big increase in both absolute and especially in percentage terms.

He went on to ask "Where does the Safety Audit consider the safety of those junctions - all of them". Mr Ojeil seemed to struggle with this answer and suggested they were considered as part of other aspects of the route.

He then referred to a proof of evidence from RAG (which was an alternative safety assessment of the route), and asked Mr Ojeil why he had not responded to it, Mr Ojeil said he didn't think it was necessary. Pressed further, he said it was not requested (and by implication he wasn't placing a lot of store on it).

Mr Green had more on this though, and he began taking locations referred to in the RAG assessment. The witness stonewalled saying he has looked at them and he did not believe there was a problem.

Mr Green and the witness clashed repeatedly on this matter. Mr Green saying he had not undertaken a methodical assessment as RAG had done. The witness more or less aid he had done it his own way, and there it rested. as we broke for lunch at 1:30pm

  Peter Collins for Newton With Clifton Parish Council  

Cross examined  Mr Ojeil and in particular about the distance and route from the site to the Strategic Road Network. (ie more or less the motorway).

The point he was making is that the chosen route comes down to Clifton village before turning right onto the Blackpool Preston Road as far as Ribby Hall, then right again along the Wesham by-pass to Fairfield and the Motorway junction.

He made the point that the road signs at Clifton sign traffic leaving the village left to the M6 not right to Ribby Hall and he couldn't understand why when the motorway was to the east why he was sending it west. Why did it not go left to the A6 and M6 without going on the M55 at all. The witness' answer was that this was the preferred route.

 Inspectors Questions 

The Inspector asked about Sustainable Transport in the National Planning Policy Framework and whether the assessment had been made before or after the proposed improvements had been made. Mr Ojeil said It was after the improvements.

She also asked about the number of HGV's and their impact, and especially whether he considered it would be severe or not.  Mr Ojeil said It was not severe.

She also asked questions relating to the Environmental Assessment and transport together with driver training, and she addressed that matter that the proof seemed to only take account of inbound traffic (we think this was into the site) and she wondered about outbound traffic. Mr Ojeil said he could assure here he had taken that into account. She noted that she didn't seem to have anything in front of her to show what he had done in this regard.

  Re examination by Nathalie Lieven for Cuadrilla 

She addressed the issues of whether cars and HGV's could pass on Dagger Road, (giving her witness a chance to emphasise what he had said) and she sought clarification of the 'give way' signage that Mr Evans has referred to. She also addressed issues of visibility.

She also addressed the alleged need for lorries to park up on lay-bys on the main road." Very very unlikely" was Mr Ojeil's reply.

She went on to imply criticism of RAG's road safety risk assessment seeking Mr Ojeil's view that it did not follow any recommended process to quantify the risk (by doing it the way it had been done), before looking at some specific examples within it in order to discredit it. Mostly this seemed to be done by the witness saying he didn't think it was a problem and LCC hadn't raised it as a problem either.

There was one public speaker (local resident Chris Noad) who asked a question about the location of the site entrance to the Roseacre Wood site. Mr Ojeil said is wasn't exactly right and might be moved about 50m away. He also asked about the width of the access and some tracks, suggesting that they appeared to be 9.5m and he thought this was not sufficient for two HGV's to pass

And with that the afternoon session ended. We look forward to the first of the Public Speaking sessions this evening.

 PUBLIC SPEAKERS FOR EVENING SESSION

 SUPPORTING THE APPEAL 

 Paul Hennessey

Works with a water treatment company base in Wigan and he said as one of the  potential business that will benefit from a new shale gas industry (he assumed 40 to 50 jobs, which, he said, would double the size of his company) he gave the business case which would help his business, and the fracking industry,  to develop. Sadly, he missed the point, he supported the principle of shale gas, not the planning applications under consideration.

  Steve Pye

He said mineral exploration and extraction was commonplace, and he noted that the brick, grit, sand, and metals under our feet had been extracted from the ground and drew the obvious parallels. He said no-one questioned how this was managed or monitored. He said we trust the EA and the DECC to do that for us, and they say that it is safe to extract shale gas so we should not discriminate and trust them. Again, he was supporting shale gas not the application under consideration by the Inquiry.

 John Standing

Works offshore in the gas industry. Has recently done a thesis on the Bowland Shale. He supports the current applications. Extraction can be undertaken reasonably safely. The public are misinformed by information from pressure groups and experience in the USA. He said the UK has one of the most stringent regulatory regimes in the world.

 Tim Freshney

MD of local engineering company, living in Blackpool. He has been shocked at the response and the reaction to what could change the fortunes of our town. Supported shale even before he knew the facts, because of its potential to generate economic growth, and his company to supply engineering skills into that new industry. Another speaker that wanted to support the principle of shale exploration/extraction, not the specific applications under consideration by the Inquiry.


 OPPOSING THE APPEAL 

 Keith Hulme

Lives in Roseacre, presenting personal concerns. Shares the concerns of others on health, wellbeing, transport, noise, etc. He said this Inquiry applies only to an application for potential production. He described this as the lid to Pandora's box and said it should be recognised as such. He noted that it would only be temporary if the project failed to deliver. He cited figures to show a possibility of continuous drilling for 20 or 30 years if it was a success, with potentially 400 well a year.

 Chris Noad

Lives locally to Roseacre Wood site. Retired Chartered Engineer and MD of various companies managing HGV fleets. Fylde provided a respite from the hurly burly of city life for him and his family when he moved here. He has heard today that hedges on Dagger Road were only 1m tall, adding that an earlier speaker in the day was misinformed, they are vary between 1m and 3.5m tall. He criticised the traffic information he had heard today, and said the passing places were an illusory cosmetic.

 Shirley Powney

Argued that the focus on shale gas was taking our national our eye off the ball of offshore natural gas. Gave lots of stats for the benefits of North Sea Gas over shale. Another speaker that missed the point about dealing with these applications. She spoke to the principle of Shale gas which, as Ms Lieven has said, was not the topic of this inquiry.

Alf Clempson (For Ben Wallace MP)

Apologise on his behalf that Mr Wallace not able to be present in person. Drew attention to the unsatisfactory route from the site to the motorway. Small local roads and lanes for serving the need of villages and agriculture, and designed to accommodate farm, domestic and equestrian traffic movements were not suitable

 Lucy Cookson

Without doubt, Lucy was the star of the show. A teenager born and raised in Treales she said her family has worked the land here for 6 generations. She is part of an active social life in a rural community. The roads are safe from heavy traffic and safe for cycling. Mr Egan says it will be biggest gasfield in western Europe. How can that happen without destroying our rural way of life and our community. We must tread lightly on the earth to protect it for the future, As a young person she said please don't ruin our future in the cause of corporate greed.

Simply Brilliant, and it was clear to us that the Inspector thought as much as well.

 Gillian Cookson

Parish Cllr for Treales Wharles and Roseacre. Has seen it from the inside and met many form the industry. She said the Industry is not safe or adequately regulated.. She noted the arrangements and proposals for Cuadrilla's monitoring arrays, which, she said, would not be the small, low impact sites that Cuadrilla claim.

 Barbara Richardson

Lives 600m from the exploration site, she retired to a rural area with peace and tranquillity, which is also used for recreation by walkers and cyclists. Lots of wildlife. Wonderful place to live which is now faced with a big industrial development right in the middle of our community. Site will be lit up like a giant UFO. This development will have a devastating effect on our lives. She questioned the need for so many monitoring sites.

 Jacqueline Sylvester

Lived in Roseacre since 1968, lives around 300m from the site. Especially concerned about the impact on her and her family's health. She cited numerous examples of the threats they suffered, and said even now, just the worry of the development is damaging her and her family's health. It has already damaged the community, splitting families and the community asunder.

 Richard Moore

Another plain-speaking young farmer from 4.5 miles east of the site (at Woodplumpton).  Fylde in one of the best grass-growing places in the whole world, and it is outstanding for dairy farming, Farmers really worried that farm produce will be shunned if this goes ahead. We didn't ask for this we're not gaining from it. Using a generalised collective noun he was we're just custodians of the land and it's not up to us to take from it . Their farm uses water from borehole in aquifers

 Haley Smith

Lives in Newton, and this proposal will affect her business which is based on horses - and it has a bigger effect on Fylde than you would think.  She runs a livery stables with about 19 acres of land. She said there were more horses on the Fylde than anywhere else in Lancashire. All produce and services for the horses is bought locally, but big traffic on country lanes will be very damaging for her business, her suppliers, and those of her neighbouring stables. Se believes her customers will be driven elsewhere.

 Craig Hughes

Farmer lives in hamlet of Crossmoor half a mile away from Roseacre Wood. Said he was here because he wanted to leave a question hanging in the air. Spoke of Clostrospiridium in water in fracking areas in the USA and worries about it here. He is the only commercial beekeeper in Lancashire, but the thing they like least of all is vibration. He also worries about being blacklisted if fracking goes ahead. Also has egg company to rejuvenate old battery hens which produce eggs he thinks no-one will buy from in an industrial landscape that has been "ravaged and raped by the likes of Cuadrilla"

 Elaine Smith

Masters degree in Tourism. Worried about what the application will do to tourism. Fylde's main industries are tourism, food production, and manufacturing. Shale gas cannot compete with tourism, and will damage the tourism industry. A current holiday brochure says One of the cleanest, greenest and quietest areas of the country. Shale gas will damage it. Will, it still pull people here with security barriers, HGV's and fracking. No it won't. They will choose to avoid this area and choose to go elsewhere.

 Heather Speak

Lives at Rose Cottage in Wharles. Loves her home and esp her garden. The fracking site is 400m from her home. she told the Inspector "I need you to know how this application has caused anxiety and depression, ruined friendships and split the community." She spoke with deep emotion of intimidation and she outlined several threatening measures she believed were undertaken on Cuadrilla's behalf. She also spoke of a neighbour who had sent a letter of support  for the application after a visit from Cuadrilla at which she was told compensation  had been discussed.

 Sally Lowe

Lives in Wharles 800m from the site. Chose this area because of tranquillity and health benefits of clean air for her partner who was recovering from cancer. She is a horse rider and said there were currently 6 equestrian yards in Dagger Hall Lane. These would be negatively impacted by HGVs and industrialisation.

 Luisa Sanz

She is concerned with mental health services in Cumbria.  She said she was not giving an opinion on fracking but on where it is planned to be undertaken and how the negative effects it will have on sleep deprivation and increased stress, anxiety and depression She said it was a fact that the perceived threat and hazard to the population was self evident. She gave instances where sleep deprivation and disturbance gave rise to health problems.

 Jane Barnes

Lives in Wharles, dairy farmer's daughter married to agricultural engineer. She believes it will adversely affect the rural economy as the DERFA report showed. Increased industrialisation will damage the perception of the rural pursuits that available in the area and the agricultural businesses on which they depend. They need clean air, good water, and healthy soil. Shale gas will put those at risk.

 Lucy Barnes

Has a young family and lives locally about 500m from the site. Spoke of a caring sociable happy people where drivers would stop cars and turn off engines to let her past on her horse. She said their community had lost its shine Friendships had been ruined. Even the plan for fracking is already causing damage. We do not have a gold standard, and we are people not 'receptors.'

 Peter Jackson

Lives near Garstang and builds gas and water structures for a living. Keen countryman. Agricultural background. Over the years he has seen more and more what goes on underground. Question he wants to raise is what impact it will have on old infrastructure such as cast iron gas mains underground.

Sean Smith

Lives in Wharles. His young family catch the bus outside the house which Cuadrilla's lorries will go past. He has experience of fire protection in the gas industry, and he worries about reducing safety standards which he has seen during current low oil prices in particular. Site not set up for fire safety.

Celia Bryer

Lives in Lancaster, walks in Bowland. Doesn't want to see Fylde industrialised. Worried about flooding and fracking, St Michaels which flooded several times in November and December and that is only 3 miles from the proposed site. But mostly she spoke about the principle of fracking, not so much about the applications before the inquiry.

And with that the session ended for the evening. We resume tomorrow.

 DAY 7:    (18 FEBRUARY 2016)

Day 7 began with some updates of paperwork which had been prepared in response to matters raised in the last couple of days.

Mostly these were innocuous, but there was one contentious issue regarding access though the HMS Inskip site.

Responding to a question from yesterday, Cuadrilla's QC said the reason they did not plan to go through the Inskip site for the whole of the works was simply because the cost was unreasonably high, and it would only be around 3 or so vehicles a week that would use it outside the start and finishing periods of the expected six year term.

In answer to a question from the inspector she said Cuadrilla were not prepared to disclose this cost because it was commercially confidential.

This puzzled us, because given Boy George's declared commitment to supporting shale gas extraction in Lancashire, you'd have thought his mates at the Treasury would have leaned on the military and told them to be helpful and not charge at all for the vehicles to go through HMS Inskip

  EVIDENCE OF BABS MURPHY 

She gave evidence on behalf of the North West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce who support and advise the business community. She said they have 1,600 members ranging from big multi-national organisations to sole traders. Their members contribute over 3bn to the local economy.

Cuadrilla are a member of the Chamber and were at one time a tenant of one of the Chamber's properties. They also provide sponsorship for Business Awards that the Chamber run.

She said she was not speaking on matters of planning or noise, or the environment, and she had listed a large number of documents from other credible experts to support her case that the Inquiry should take account of the future benefits of fracking.

She simply didn't get it

The whole basis of her case was not about the appeals in front of - and to be considered by - the Inquiry, it was about future production, and we felt sure that would be pointed out to her under cross examination.

It was.

 Cross examination by Mr Evans of LCC.

Beautiful to watch, her arguments were gently, but thoroughly, shredded.

Several polite but devastating arguments were advanced ever so gently by Mr Evans, but we thought chief amongst them was this......

He had walked her along the path (as is his way), and had secured her agreement that her evidence was predicated on, and she was speaking of, the whole fracking process as a continuous entity.

He first asked her to read out one of the Inquiry documents which said that a clear distinction needed to be made between the exploration,  appraisal, and production phases, and he asked if she understood and agreed with that.

In response she said "If you read that in isolation, you're right, but you can't have production without exploration first". Adding that her purpose in being here was to speak of the future benefits of shale gas extraction. It was the Chamber's view that you must take a long term view and assume production.

It was the Chamber's contention that the inquiry ought to hear and take account of the economic benefits.

Oh Dear.

She'd walked right up to the edge of the cliff  with Mr Evans, and when she got there, we knew absolutely that the rest of this cross examination was not going to be a pretty sight.

Mt Evans then asked her to look at a section of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Sadly, she did not have any of the inquiry documents (other than her proof of evidence).

Asking her to look at the paragraph in the NPPF meant that she had to borrow a copy from Cuadrilla's QC, and Ms Leiven asked Mr Evans that they would prefer not to have their documents used by other witnesses.

To the evident amusement of the public gallery, Mr Evans first apologised because he had not appreciated the witness would not have access to the Core Documents, and he was grateful to Ms Leiven for letting the witness borrow them. He then told the witness to be careful with it given Cuadrilla's concern about its safety.

Ms Murphy was unable to find the page he had referred to in the NPPF and she needed help to find it. Once she had it, Mr Evans indicated it asked the question as to whether the Mineral Planning Authority should take account of production at the exploration phase, before answering its own question by saying that "Exploration should be considered on its merits and should not take account of subsequent phases."

So he concluded that the Government's National Planning Policy Framework, the highest planning document that exists actually required the Inquiry to look ONLY at the exploration phase, and even then, ON ITS OWN MERITS.

As he stepped aside, over the cliff she went.

  Cross examination by Ms Dehon of FoE 

Ms Dehon first confirmed that Ms Murphy had no expertise in energy security or climate change. Ms Murphy confirmed she had not.

Ms Dehon continued, so when you support the shale gas industry, you do so without expertise in these matters don't you?

Ms Murphy said yes, but they had their own ordinary knowledge.

Asked if she had read the expert proof of evidence on these matters that was before the inquiry, Ms Murphy replied "No"

The cross examination continued in this vein, with Ms Dehon taking point after point and illustrating inconsistencies, factual inaccuracies, and misleading information from Ms Murphy's evidence and statements in the areas of:

  • The economic importance of tourism in Fylde
  • The economic importance of Agriculture in Fylde
  • The number of members that the Chamber of Commerce has cited as members in its evidence.
  • The number of members of the Chamber of Trade who were said to strongly support shale gas
  • The number of farmers that were members of the Chamber of Commerce
  • A survey produced by the Chamber of Commerce that was larger than the NWCC membership.
  • The way that the CoC survey questions were not neutrally phrased, but the results of which they were nevertheless asking the inquiry to rely on.

With regard to this survey we thought Ms Dehon entirely destroyed its credibility, especially when the survey form itself had said the data would be used for research purposes only, but it was here being used as the basis for what the inquiry was being told.

Ms Dehon then took Ms Murphy's reliance on information from a redacted DEFRA document, and contrasted it with the unredacted version which showed a very different perspective and contradicted the evidence Ms Murphy had relied on.

We're not going to report all of Ms Dehon's cross examination of Ms Murphy in detail, because there was simply too much blood on the carpet.

Our own conclusion was that Ms Murphy's performance did not enhance the status and credibility of the Chamber of Commerce. Our personal view was quite the opposite effect was evident. We thought the arguments she presented for the Chamber of Commerce were biased and prejudiced, and thus she was not a credible witness.

Ms Dehon seemed to agree with this when she concluded by saying "You have presented an entirely one sided view to this Inquiry, haven't you"

Then half a dozen members of the public were invited to, and did, ask questions of the witness (most notably a lady who spoke last night who had said she had a masters degree in Tourism). It was clear to us that Ms Murphy's insistence on the strong support that the Chamber of Commerce gave to the shale gas industry had raised the ire of the public in the meeting, and we guess that sort of approach doesn't improve their PR image much either.

At this point we broke for lunch.

On resumption, Ms Murphy was not required for re-examination by her own team, and the Inspector had no questions either. That didn't altogether surprise us.

  James Bream for the Chamber of Commerce  

He is the Research Policy Director for the Grampian Chamber of Commerce, and presented a credible case and examples of how the oil and gas industry had developed in Aberdeen.

We don't mean to be unkind to him, but we couldn't see why he had wasted his time coming. There was nothing of any real significance to the applications before the Inquiry save for the possibility of some understanding of how an oil and gas industry might develop if Fylde ever reached a production stage.

Mr Evans' cross examination of Mr Bream once again made the point that the inquiry was considering the applications for an exploration phase. (The implication we took was that his evidence was mostly irrelevant).

Friends of the Earth did have some cross examination, but it was equally pointless really.

A member of the public asked: Is the Aberdeen Industry onshore shale gas? "No" Does your industry use vast quantities of water "No" Does Aberdeen have a massive waste problem "No" Does drilling take place in the middle of a tourist area in Aberdeen "No" This area is one of the top 3 most visited places in England. Is Aberdeen one of the top 3 places visited in Scotland? There was a longer answer, but essentially he was not able to answer.

QED really.

 That brought Mr Bream's evidence to a close.

 Paul Matich for the Chamber of Commerce

Senior Project Manager for PR Marriott Drilling Ltd and had worked on secondment to Cuadrilla. Spoke to the loss of economic benefits to the area from the LCC decision to refuse permission.

He said in total, 44 staff had been full time employees of Marriott and contracted to Cuadrilla, but when the applications were refused, this decision, together with the short term future for further exploratory operations in Lancashire, 36 members of staff had to be made redundant.

He said jobs, training, income and spending of considerable benefit to the area had been lost.

Of the 44 staff, eight were local recruits and another six were recruited as trainees, but after the LCC decision, 5 have gone to work elsewhere and the remainder were made redundant.

He said altogether his company had spent 2.5million of which 700,000 had been spent on hotel accommodation.

In total, 4.3 million was spent between 2010 and 2012 for a single rig in fuel and waste management costs.

We found him to be a refreshingly straightforward witness.

 Cross examination by Mr Evans of LCC.  

Only had questions of clarification (ie he was not walking him up to a cliff edge). He first asked about the programme of work that had been implemented. The witness gave a clear and straightforward answer and Mr Evans said - so the programme of work was the same as we are considering today, an exploratory drilling operation "Yes"

The second question was about earlier sites that had been drilled. Mr Evans asked, if it was expected that there would only be one drilling rig moved around between the sites. Answer was affirmative.

Mr Evans then asked whether the rig was still at Marriott's premises. It was. And how long had it been there About a year. has there been any indication that Cuadrilla intend to hire out the rig or put it on the market. What's your understanding of the position?

The witness said they worked closely with Cuadrilla to identify if there was any work for that rig, and they had used it for other clients whilst Cuadrilla's operations were suspended. Mr Evans then asked how long the rig usually would be out for? The witness said it all depended on the size of the well,  the depth of the well, what formations it's going to be drilling through and so on. Typically 45 days to 90 or 100 days.

The rig crew is 36 personnel is it ?"Yes" Would you expect another 8 or so local people in employment if you started up again? The witness said he expected there would be a higher proportion of local people, probably around 18 to 20.

Turning to the figures, Mr Evans asked about the spilt of costs for Fuel and Waste Management costs. The witness said they had arranged the fuel supply, but the waste management company were contracted directly to Cuadrilla through a long relationship that existed account to a company in the Midlands. Mr Evans asked if he had got the waste management costs from that company. The witness said the fuel was 1.95million and the Waste disposal 2.44million.

After confirming these costs were for a single rig operation, Mr Evans noted that Arup predicted the exploratory drilling work in this application would generate 11 full time equivalent jobs for each of the two sites so that would be 22 jobs in total. He asked - the evidence you've given today, have you been asked to input into the Arup figures. The witness said he'd had no communication with Arup at all. Mr Evans said - so they way they've arrived at their estimates hasn't been informed by any evidence you've been able to provide to them. The witness said "not from my information" and started to explain, but Mr Evans said Arup's figures were for local jobs, and there would be a higher figure in total.

Questioned further about the numbers the witness confirmed he had not input to the Cuadrilla figures, but he had had consultation with two of the other service companies that had historically worked with them. Mr Evans asked who they were, and the witness said "Clear Solutions" and FBG (who he said were a waste management company. Mr Evans asked if this was the waste disposal company and was told it was one of them) and his cross examination ended.

There was no cross examination by Friends of the Earth.

 Public Questions

Ken Hopwood: asked a series of questions about the drilling operations

  • He said he understood they had drilled four wells: Banks, Preese Hall, Grange Road, and Annas Road. The witness confirmed.
  • There are all vertical wells, not horizontal? That is correct
  • At Banks, the time limit for drilling the well was exceeded. Preese Hall was drilled and subsequently fracked. Did you have any involvement in the fracking process? the witness said he and his staff were there to support the Cuadrilla operation.
  • At Grange Road, the drilling stopped because the drill had broken or something had failed in the drill, and it was out of action for a number of weeks, and when it resumed, instead of going down because of the contents of the well, you had to drill at an angle. Could you comment on that please. The witness said they did have a number of weeks where the rig was stopped, but they had drilled to the depth that was required, and it was a technically achievable well. there were no sub-surface issues and they had achieved the target for that one.
  • At the Anna's Road one, problems arose and eventually the site was abandoned? That is correct. the Anna's Road one was cut short for sub-surface technical reasons.
  • So the 'failure rate' on these four wells seems quite high. Would you agree with that. No I would disagree with that. The hole size and the hole depth were achieved at Preese Hall, Grange Road and Beconsall [Banks]. Anna's road was cut short. It was done on the basis of a technical decision.
  • On the Preece Hall site I believe the well was drilled into a fault line or close to one. Can we guarantee that won't happen again? The witness said it was really a matter for the Cuadrilla team but he understood that the 3D Seismic survey will give a very detailed map of the area.
  • Could you please talk a bit about shift patterns and what hours people would work? The witness said they had a four crew system with one 12 hour crew on day shifts and the other on night shifts who work the opposite 12 hours, and these crews work for two weeks at a time, then go off for two weeks vacation. The second pair of crews come in, and they pick up the same working process.
  • Have you any involvement in drilling the monitoring wells? The witness said they had worked with Cuadrilla by drilling monitoring wells when Cuadrilla was operational.

There was no re-examination, and the Inspector had no questions

 WEBCAST FURTHER UPDATE

The Inspector said she was unhappy there were complaints that people could not hear the proceedings. Cuadrilla's QC gave a further update on the webcasting situation, saying there had been complaints that people can't hear the sound, but implied that it may be to do with quiet speakers and microphones not close enough to them, but they would investigate further and come back with a formal statement.

A few more  miscellaneous documents were circulated as part of the general admin arrangements, and the Inquiry closed for the day. LCC starts to present its evidence tomorrow, and we expect to see Cuadrilla's QC in action for cross examination of the LCC witnesses.

 DAY 8:    (19 FEBRUARY 2016) 

 WEBCAST UPDATE

Cuadrilla advised that there were technical adaptions being made to the audio this morning which it was hoped would bring improvements, but they had also identified two broader webcast problems, firstly a technology problem which was being investigated, and secondly, in terms of the audio, whilst the barristers were used to projecting their voices, witnesses  were sometimes less familiar, and the issue was generally a personal one, sometimes made worse by too great a distance between the speaker and the microphone.

 SPEAKER REGISTRATION UPDATE

We understand from the Programme Officer that there may have been a glitch in the email arrangements for a few people who used the programme website to email a request to register to speak in one of the public sessions.

The problem has since been corrected and a notice about this has/will appear on the Programme Website, but we understand it would be advisable if any of our readers emailed to speak a while ago VIA THE EMAIL LINK ON THE PROGRAMME WEBSITE - AND YOU HAVE NOT YET HAD A RESPONSE FROM THE PROGRAMME OFFICER you should make contact again to ensure your request was received.

Anyone who has already had an acknowledgement need not take action on this matter


This last day of week 2 brought a couple of new documents from LCC about noise. Not new evidence but a re-presentation of existing evidence to make the meaning more clear, and an executive summary of an earlier edition of the Night Noise Guidelines.

 STEVE MASLEM (Landscape) FOR LCC

Presented his evidence and said he had not done a detailed assessment but rather had assessed the significant effects. He concluded that the development was a new and incongruous element in the landscape which would affect views from within a 1km range.

He said it was distant from the urban area; the impact was significant; and it would change and urbanise the rural landscape. He said as a result, it didn't meet several of the Planning Policies and it was not inkeeping with the surrounding landscape.

Questioned by Mr Evans, he said he had used the 1km descriptor after assessing the visual influence and the change in character it would bring. He said there were other ways of making assessments, for example to identify boundaries and analyse views from them, but a 1km range was a realistic summary.

He made some criticism of the Arup evidence (which Mr Evans said another of the Cuadrilla witnesses had seemed to distance themselves from). Mr. Maslem explained that in Arup's evidence, several residences had apparently been aggregated into a singe viewpoint, and it would have been more clear if an assessment had been done for each residence.

He said he considered the application to be medium term rather than short term.

He also gave evidence on the landscape impact of the 80 monitoring sites that are one of Cuadrilla's applications being considered in the appeal.

He noted that these would involve fencing, importing welfare facilities and equipment, so tracks may be needed, then there would need to be drilling rigs and other equipment for the monitoring activity, this would be followed by the installation of a concrete collar and after that the monitoring equipment, followed  removal of the access infrastructure and then fencing a small area.

He thought it was possible to do that in 8 days, but complications could push it up to 12 days, and with much of the area being mossland there was potential for the ground conditions to be unsuitable for use, and for 208 days a year (7 months in total), the soils will be at field capacity and at risk of not being accessible for equipment and vehicles.

 Cross examination by Ms Leiven for Cuadrilla.

Hmm, on the early impressions, she was not quite as scary and aggressive as we had thought she might be. There were flashes, but her style was probably best described as pressured and a bit 'pushy'.

She used rapid fire questions and quick moving topics together with a dismissive tone, and a way of saying "Thank-You" - that sounded as though she had won the argument (irrespective of what you had said) - to secure her point and make the witness answer more quickly than he might otherwise have been comfortable.

The style was one of "You couldn't possibly disagree with that, could you?  Humph?" and the combination of her (well formed) questions and her forceful tone, unsettled a slow and thoughtful witness we thought.

We're not criticising here, it's her job to get the best result she can for her client, and whilst we don't know this lady, we do know folk who are doing the same job who are really nice people in 'private life' but absolute terrors for witnesses of less strong character when they put their professional face on.

In terms of the specific issues, she began by arguing that within a 1km area there were a lot of pylons that would detract from the landscape quality.

She also invited Mr Maslem to agree that things like Blackpool Tower and the Prebonds Building were also tall structures that adversely influenced the landscape quality.

He responded to disagree, saying in his view it was precisely those urban features that provided the value to the landscape because they were such a contrast to the agricultural land and it was that which gave the countryside its particular value.

She moved on to identify the factors that affected the value of the landscape, noting it had no special or formal designation (such as  area of outstanding natural beauty) and asked about its value for recreation etc. She said it demonstrated little value (No footpaths through site, no conservation designation) and it was not especially representative of the area, and so on.

In terms of the  representativeness of the site, we thought the witness missed a trick here because the defining character of this area is that of fields (making up a roling countryside). The very name of the whole peninsula is Fylde - which means 'field.' So we have to ask how much more representative could an agricultural field be in represening the peninsula of Fylde?

By now the witness seemed to be struggling a bit and we didn't think he was agile enough to keep proper pace with the arguments.

She also scored some heavy, telling points by saying that the impact on the landscape was completely reversible after the use wasn't it? The witness tried to argue that it will be marked on plans for evermore, but we thought it was a weak line to take.

Another very telling point was the fact that he had classified the period of impact as being medium term.

This actually relates to advice set out in a recognised guidance document for assessing the landscape, but he had taken the term of the works (6 years) and used that.

But Ms Lieven said that the drilling and fracking period was limited to 30 months. This was followed by the extended flow testing during which there would be no equipment on site - so for two and a half years it was a short term impact, not a medium term one wasn't it?

The witness did his best by saying there would be bunds and barbed wire fencing remaining, but that wouldn't wash much with the Inspector we're sure.

She also took apart his criticism of Arup's evidence citing the same official guidance as before to justify the way they had done it.

The cross examination continued in this vein and we thought if we were scoring in like a boxing match, she would have easily won on points.

We thought this witness was weak and hesitating in delivery and slow in thinking. He was not really suited for the environment in which he found himself.

We thought  this left Mr Evans a very big job to do under re-examination.

 Re-examination by Mr Evans of LCC

Started with 'Landscape Value' Asked whether undulating farmland was the character of the area. Yes it was. He also referred to the guidance that sets out how you should assess landscape value. It said the lack of designation did not mean the area had no value.

He mentioned representativeness of the area and the site's relation to it. The witness said it was representative of the area.

Mr Evans did his best to restore the damage that had been done under cross examination, but there was no knockout blow and if we're honest, the best he could manage probably didn't bring the session beyond 'even stevens'

 Inspector's Questions

The Inspector aked about the duration of the construction and whether it could be addressed by conditions.

They also spent a lot of time speaking about the colours that the drilling rigs and equipment might be painted to mitigate their visual impact, likewise about trees and planting. This must have been depressing listening for those who oppose the schemes altogether. These things have to be gone into at all the inquiries we've been to, but that doesn't mean that permission will be given, its just to save the time and huge cost of re-convening the inquiry decide the conditions later if the appeal were to be allowed.

Not a great day for those opposing the appeal, but definitely no worse (and we thought better) than the Chamber of Commerce did in support the day before. One the week, we rate it about evens. And there the second week ended. 

Next Tuesday we're due to see LCC presenting its evidence again, this time on noise, highways and planning policy.

There's a site visit on Wednesday (which we won't be attending), and a continuation of LCC's evidence on Thursday, followed by a public speaking session concerning  the Preston New Road group on Thursday evening, and  FoE starting their evidence and witnesses starting on Friday.

We hope to be reporting on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

Dated:   19 February 2016


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