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Fracking Inquiry: Week 5

The business this week deals with the Cases for Preston New Road Action Group (PNR / PNRAG); Newton-with-Clifton Parish Council (NWCPC); Two lots of Public Speaking; The Conditions (in the event the appeal were to be allowed); and closing presentations by most of the 'Rule 6 Parties'

It is a very long page, covering four days of proceedings and a record of the main points made by every public speaker, so, as with other long pages we have prefaces it with a clickable list of contents which, if you're looking for something particular, can take you straight to that part.

For us, the most notable points of the week were the evidence of Noise Expert Mr Stigwood for the Preston New Road Group, whose amazing grasp of the intricacies of his subject and the confident manner in which he presented them was quite astounding.

We also took very much to the very able closing remarks of both Dr Bowes and Ms Dehon.

But there were also some surprisingly good public contributions as well, especially from local Councillors from Lancashire (although we were not graced with the presence of a single Conservative from Fylde BC), and we were particularly impressed when Laurence Rankin, a former Environment Agency regulator spoke as an ex-insider, and did so critically about their role in this matter and - of course, the contribution by local man Mike Hill whose technical expertise in the matter of shale gas is recognised and valued by governments at the local, national, and European levels.


CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE

DAY 15  (8 MARCH 2016)

EVENING SESSION FOR PUBLIC SPEAKERS

REFRESHMENT BREAK 7.15pm - 7.30pm

DAY 16  (9 MARCH 2016) 

DAY 17  (10 MARCH 2016)  - FULL DAY SESSION FOR PUBLIC SPEAKERS

COFFEE BREAK AROUND 11AM 11.15am

LUNCH BREAK - approx 1pm - 2pm

COFFEE BREAK - approx 3.30pm 3.45pm

 

DAY 18   (11 MARCH 2016)  CLOSING SUBMISSIONS


 INTRODUCTION:

Fracking Inquiry Week 5As we move towards the close of what has truly been a mammoth Inquiry  and the focus begins to shift to Government to determine the matter, we couldn't do better to sum things up than the words of this protest banner posing the question- "Remember Localism Greg?"

When this week (week 5) closes, there will remain just one more day of public inquiry - the day when the main protagonists - Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council - conduct the finale in their closing statements.

That will bring the Great Lancashire Fracking Inquiry to a close, and leave the inspector taking home a small lorryload of documents to digest as she ponders how to advise, and what to say, to Greg Clark.

But we're not quite there yet, and there are still two enormous list of public speakers to go this week.

Sadly, it's now apparent that our MP hasn't been able attend, or to send anyone to speak for him (or at least no one is registered as speaking for him as Ben Wallace MP did). We think that's both a missed opportunity and a shame when so many of his electors are expressing concern.

We continue to fully support his long-standing call for 'Gold Standard' Regulation of the industry and, given the criticism made of Regulators at this Inquiry, would have been good to hear whether he thinks that's been achieved, or whether - (as was said by one Noble Lord during consideration of the Infrastructure Bill (Hansard (Col 44) 10th November 2014) it is "... already covered by existing regulations or industry guidelines, and there is no need to [even] gold-plate them ...."

We also fully supported Mr Menzies' call for the decision on this matter to be taken locally - not by the Government.

Another, and in our view, huge omission from the Inquiry, has been the fact that none of the Conservative Councillors from Fylde have spoken at it.

We have heard or will hear from several Independents and a Lib Dem councillor (Liz Oades, Paul Hayhurst, Linda Nulty, Heather Speak, and Karen Henshaw),

But there has not been a Conservative councillor in sight.

This inquiry is setting a major precedent for the future (not just in Fylde, but in the whole of the UK). It is a major national and local issue affecting Fylde's economy and its employment, tourism, agriculture, health, and wellbeing - and the (Conservative) Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Tourism and Leisure, and the Environment, Health, and Housing Committees - Fylde's 'leading lights' for tourism, and for the environment, and for public health and wellbeing, are nowhere to be seen.

We regard their absence from this inquiry as a shocking dereliction of duty because they should be articulating views (whether for, neutral, or against) about the likely impact of these applications on their electorate, so as to help the Inspector understand the local perspective.

These are (or at least should be) the spokespeople we elected on our behalf.

But as readers will see from our previous public speaking reports, and from the lists below, none of Fylde's ruling Conservative Group have found the time or the inclination.

We've set out below a framework for the week's potential format, and  for all the speakers,  and we will extend and adjust the report as the Inquiry progresses.

 DAY 15:    (8 MARCH 2016) 

There was a short delay whilst Dr Boles (for PNR) found some documents  for his witness (documents that Cuadrilla intended to use in cross examination).

 EVIDENCE OF MIKE STIGWOOD - (Noise)

Mr. Stigwood now a consultant, but formerly an Environmental Health Officer, presented his evidence on noise, and basically he rubbished the evidence Cuadrilla had provided.

We thought that held the promise of an interesting cross examination.

He said there would be significant adverse effect from noise, and the mitigation measures could not reduce the noise at night to acceptable levels.

He then cited errors in the Cuadrilla study, including

  • Not enough study being undertaken
  • Non-acoustic sources being ignored
  • Inappropriate and selective use of quotations
  • levels being actually higher than stated
  • Assumptions that were not supported by evidence

He also claimed there were failures in Cuadrilla's modelling, and that the mitigation they propose can't meet the noise issues and the proposal therefore conflicts with planning policies.

Dr Boles for PNR asked him about the 42 dBA maximum and whether levels below 42dBA could cause  sleep disturbance. Mr Stigwood said 42 worked reasonably well for what is called 'transport noise' (i.e. traffic noise), but there are two other categories (neighbour noise and neighbourhood noise) which will produce waking below 42 dBA.

To explain this further, he gave the example of a dog whining at night having been left alone. He said that may be well below 42 dBA but, because of our human evolution, our fight or flight mechanism kicks in, and results in waking, because we are attuned for our safety to respond to certain sorts of sound, and will wake at less than 42 dBA.

He expanded this further to address what is called 'anonymous noise' where it is not the noise level, but rather the message conveyed by the noise that will disturb.

For example, he said the noise of someone breaking into your home might well be less than 42 dBA, but the message conveyed by the noise is enough to disturb.

So, he said, we draw distinctions between pleasant and unpleasant sound, and this conditions our reaction..

He also made particular reference to low frequency noise which he said Cuadrilla's evidence had simply not addressed, and made other technical criticisms of the evidence submitted by Cuadrilla.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

In what we saw as an unusual move, and probably as a measure of how worried they were about  Mr Stigwood's evidence, Ms Lieven had, at her elbow, her own noise expert Dr Hiller.

She began with an attempted full frontal attack on Mr Stigwood, (which seemed to us like an attempt to shake and discredit him) to say that some of his data seemed to be related to a site about excavating Potash, not Shale Gas didn't it? (The implication here seemed to be that it was not relevant to the matters under consideration).

Unfortunately, she seemed to have picked the wrong topic for the first battle, because Mr Stigwood said the results were drawn from two sources, one from Potash excavation and one from Shale Gas. He went on to explain further, and he seemed to say that he was one of the consultants who had actually worked on the study regarding the shale gas part. Ms Lieven tried to make something of her argument, but he had left her so little ground to stand on, she left this topic and moved on.

She tried another couple of angles and arguments, but this was a confident witness who could both see the big picture and he had mastery of the detail of the arguments that was second to none.

He was entirely credible and - clearly confident with the evidence and case he had presented - he was happy to readily agree with Ms Lieven where he did so, but equally he was not hesitant to point out where he did not.

To be honest, we thought she was struggling.

She moved on to noise levels and, taking one paragraph out of the report,  tried to say that sleep disturbance would not happen below 42 dBA. Mr Stigwood agreed that was what the paragraph said, but added that taking one paragraph out of context failed to recognise the guidance and qualifications elsewhere in the same document.

He also went on to quote the introductory paragraph of the document and explained that the document she was referring to and using was, in effect, a summary of the World Health Organisation's Noise document which set things out in more detail.

To us it seemed clear that Mr Stigwood had a much better understanding and grasp of the matter of noise than the evidence that had been prepared and presented by Dr Hiller for Cuadrilla, and Ms Lieven was therefore struggling to make any headway, with or without Dr Hiller at her elbow.

On the matter of night noise, things got quite heated and Ms Lieven was clearly rattled at one point. We saw her switch off her microphone and issue what appeared to be an involuntary expletive - the face said it all really.

This reaction seemed to us to be borne of frustration as a result of her not being able to hammer home the point she was trying to make. Whether this was because she thought Mr Stigwood was prevaricating, or because he insisted on providing explanations that were wider than the question she had framed,  was unclear. But either way, she didn't seem to be making any ground with her arguments.

At this point the Inquiry broke for lunch, but when it resumed, it seemed Ms Lieven had had time to 'regroup.' She began in a much more confident style than she had ended the morning.

But despite this, we couldn't see much difference in practice. She was undoubtedly struggling because the witness presented by Dr Bowes appeared to be someone who lived his topic. The depth of his immersion into it, and his knowledge and understanding was immense.

Furthermore, like all such single minded experts, he was on a mission to explain all the ramifications of what he is telling you. That resulted in him appearing not simply to answer questions, but to give a lecture on that topic - a process that he was revelling in, and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to explain his fascinating topic to all who would listen.

Ms Lieven then turned to low frequency noise, suggesting that none of her experts had raised it was because it was not a problem inside the property.  Mr Stigwood said the WHO process to measure it required that it be measured outside the property (which is what he had done), then a standard calculation should be undertaken to convert this figure to what it would be inside the property - and when you used the recommended method it gave a noise result that unacceptable.

Unable to make this go any further Ms Lieven changed tack and asked Mr Stigwood for examples of sites lasting only two years being regulated as low as the 30 dBA he was proposing in his evidence. He was unable to provide any examples for two years, only for permanent sites.

With the exception of his last  answer, we thought it was game, set and match to Mr Stigwood.

  Re examination by Dr Bowes for PNR  

Dr Bowes asked about noise vs. background noise. Mr Stigwood set out the position again.

Dr Bowes also asked him about night noise and in particular the updated versions in the evidence document he was referring to.

 Inspectors Questions 

The Inspector asked whether he could recommend any additional conditions that could improve things. He said the biggest would be not to work over the weekend. He also thought some amelioration could be done with screening, but that brought the reasonableness of cost into the equation.

The inspector then asked him to explain further what he meant when he had said there would be  "A significant adverse effect" and he said on his calculations, the proposal would exceed the level that was appropriate.

 EVIDENCE OF STEVEN SCOTT-BROWN - (Planning & Landscape)

Presented his evidence which was essentially to do with the proposal conflicting with planning policy. He referred to the (now infamous) Ministerial Statement.

He said he was not a landscape architect but for his planning evidence on landscape he was drawing on evidence from a landscape expert.

He went on to look at the specifics of the application at PNR, setting out what he described as 'alien features' and highlighting access problems for transport. He said it would also need ancillary infrastructure works which would add further to the alien and industrial nature of the area.

Dr Bowes asked if he thought it was a localised impact change. Mr Scott-Brown said no it wasn't. The landscape characterisation speaks of the area having long open views, so it wasn't just local. He also mentioned a propensity to flooding.

He then went on to cite a decision on an application to extract natural gas which had been refused on the basis of its landscape impact where when set against "the established character of the existing landscape" it would have introduced industrialisation, noise screening etc would introduce "incongruous industrial elements in a rural landscape" and the earth mounds that had been proposed there would only make it's impact on the landscape worse.

Significantly, we thought, he noted that this decision had been taken within the current planning regime - i.e. after the infamous Ministerial Statement had become known.

He concluded that it was in conflict with local planning policy so there should be an effective presumption against development, and full weight should be given to planning policy, and in his view, development other than agriculture would cause avoidable harm.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

This witness was easier meat for her. He had used the term "couldn't be more rural" in part of his evidence  and (predictably) she went straight to the Preston-Blackpool road and the motorway, and views of Blackpool to rubbish what he had said.

Next she turned to his statement in his evidence about the proposals being damaging to the separation of existing settlements, and he readily conceded this was not as dramatic as he had painted.

Turning to his description of rural ambience being damaged by lighting, she of course said the road and the motorway were sited as damaging already and he had to agree.

She then picked up his statement about there not being compelling reasons to override policy and asked where this was set out in national or local policy. Mr Scott Brown admitted it was not there, it was his own statement based on his own view, especially because the horizontal drilling could be up to 3km away from the wellhead.

To be honest, we thought this was a very poor witness. Our opinion was that each time he opened his mouth he dug the hole even deeper, and we thought it would have been better if he had not given evidence at all.

  Re examination by Dr Bowes for PNR  

Dr Bowes provided some clarification of one aspect in his evidence which, he said, he intended to refer to in [his closing] submissions.

 Inspectors Questions 

The Inspector was gentle and generous with him, but for the most part, his answers did not convince us to change our mind about how he performed.

For example she asked whether the Inspector in the decision that he had referred to in his evidence had made specific reference to the Ministerial Statement. He said "No"

 EVENING SESSION FOR PUBLIC SPEAKERS

There are seven scheduled speakers in support of the appeal, and thirty speaking against it. Each person has 5 minutes.

 Supporting the appeal: James Rudd

Spoke to the Roseacre application. He is a Mechanical Engineer and he sees shale gas as the next big thing. Wholeheartedly support the application in the region because it will offer financial benefits and employment to the region. It will also increase energy security, and renewables cannot meet the need..

 Supporting the appeal: Michael Roberts

Mr Roberts said he was a Lancashire resident from Garstang. Said the EA concur this will be done safely. It is within the 'Paris Agreement'. There is only one way to find out how much gas is here and that is to try it. He's also a cyclist and he didn't think it would be a problem for cyclists. Said there were only 22 jobs because this is for exploration, not development. Inspector asked why it was within the Paris Agreement. Answer seemed confused and not satisfactory to us

 Supporting the appeal: Stuart Livesey

From Accrington, now in Lytham St Anne's, background in petrochemical industry. Believes we are 100 years from losing dependence on fossil fuels. Said the chief of climate change is in support of fracking. Spoke of sacrifices made by former miners and EU will block all tidal energy schemes between Liverpool and Barrow.

 Supporting the appeal: Frank McLaughlin

We understand he is a member of the SME panel of the N W Energy Task Force (which is funded) by Cuadrilla. Lives in Lytham St Annes, supports fracking, He is a retired Real Estate professional. Said he had no relationship with Cuadrilla. Spoken with experts at Cuadrilla event at Annas Road and was satisfied everything is OK.

 Supporting the appeal: Clare Smith

Outspoken Blackpool hotelier. President of 'Stay Blackpool' industry group. Said Blackpool has lost 4 million visitors over the years. Blackpool now has 17% unemployment and a catalogue of social problems. Said she had done her homework and speaks from an informed position. True position is that more people support fracking than are willing to say.

 Jill Sutcliffe

Said she was an mp (member of the public) and she objected that the push from Government was denying people in England the chance to make a rational decision. Her objection is based on negative evidence,  changing terminology to favour fracking, Oil prices, problems with abandoned wells, inadequate monitoring, Water consumption, waste and NORM,  gaps in the regulatory framework, health and climate change and the impact on the local community.

 Paul Harrison

Owner of Ribby Hall - one of just seven five star holiday villages in the UK. It is located between the two sites employing 850 people directly and another 200 indirectly He is a significant local employer and has over 600 businesses in his own supply chain. He has a 25m turnover and an annual 1.5 million footfall. Said his business had good capacity to grow and had an enormous positive impact in the local community. Plans to continue investment, but if fracking goes ahead that will have to be re-thought. Eventual development could involve 100 pads and be damaging to his, and other tourism businesses. Inspector had several questions.

 Martin West

Acoustic engineer. Director of an acoustic software consultancy. Spoke of serious problems in Arup's methodology in noise predictions. Spoke of the problems and of the acoustic barrier. Also spoke of night time noise.  Seemed to say that the problem is the figures used by Arup as output from the likely machinery, and said the figures they had used cast enormous doubt on the conclusions drawn from them..

 Greg Plummer

Retired police officer. Keen cyclist and races in time trial events, Club based in Wesham close to Roseacre. Uses the same 9 mile circuit every week for training. These are the same roads that will be used by HGV's.  But they have to restrict their training group size according to likely traffic. The implication was that more HGV's would damage their use of the area. also spoke of several charitable cycle rides.

 Olivia Cookson

Teenager from Treales. First full time job working at Ribby Hall which is the largest [tourism?] employer in the Fylde. The future of tourism will be at risk, her future is at risk, and my family is being affected by the threat of fracking. Should not be sited in the middle of the countryside and close to properties. Should be in industrial areas..

 Roger Hurton

Chartered chemical engineer. Proposed wellhead is in an area of almost zero night time light. The drilling rig will be illuminated 24/7. Parts of the rig will be 10 times as bright as recommended. It will bring light pollution and blight to thee area.

 Barbara Hurton

Lives 850m from Roseacre Wood site. Many concerns and fracking is not a legacy she wants to leave to her children and grandchildren. Regularly walks along routes the HGVs would take. There are areas where the public simply cannot step aside in summer when hedges have grown. Traffic can legally do 60mph. Noted that use of HMS Inskip has not been finally agreed.

 Rosemary Conlon

Lived Roseacre for 15 years after being in an urban area. Came here to retire. Enjoys clean air, countryside and gardening. Also took up horse riding, but peace and quiet now under threat. Traffic incidents listed, one especially notable with a fatality as a car overtook a tractor and hit an oncoming vehicle. Demonstrates the impatience of some drivers. Risks to property values also a concern. Emotional declaration of a medical condition that is aggravated by stress. This is all too much for her.

 Ruth Turner

From Treales. Doesn't want the disturbance this will bring. Worried about HGV's.  Police say not enough  resources to police traffic on local roads. An industrial site in the middle of agricultural area contravenes planning policies.. Impact on house prices.  Already seen flowback confusion in Cuadrilla report. We don't deserve to be the guinea pigs for this practice.

 Roy Harrison

An engineer living close to Roseacre wood. Said the community should not be expected to bear the unreasonable burden. This drilling does not need to be close to homes, the type of drilling  can be more distant. Urged Inspector to condition any allowed appeal to comply with BS1412 and to use this to quantify the impact on residents. Cuadrilla have refused to do this and are pressing LCC to remove this from the conditions. Spoke of flaws in Arup noise assessment, especially too much subjectivity in it. Said noise alone is sufficient to refuse the appeal..

 Shaun Turner

Lived in Wharles for 10 years. Opposes it based on safety. Now a gardener. Said Government was not being honest about it. Walk and cycles locally and mostly the lanes are quiet. Fracking may bring employment but at what cost. Jobs in the tourist industry. Is it really worth the risk.

 Neive-Marie Rowlandson

Mothers perspective. Lives 2 miles from Roseacre. Worried about health implications and water quality. If well integrity fails, the outcome could be catastrophic for farms running on boreholes. Children ask pertinent questions she can't answer. Why have so many countries put a moratorium on fracking?

  Nick Danby

Lives 2 miles from Roseacre site. Wants to outline the legal framework. Shares concerns about regulators. This is an embryonic industry and it amounts to self regulation not regulation. Criticised the Infrastructure Act which allows drilling under his property and to put waste products in the fracking voids. 99% of people opposed the bill in consultation but Government went ahead anyway. Needs to be a bond to cover compensation in the event of company failure. Also concerned about arrangements for insurance. If we can't trust them with a webcast how can we trust them with fracking. Quoted correspondence with Greg Clark.

 Sally Livesey

Wants to formally oppose the application. Lives on what was a derelict mink farm and after an investment of 300,000 she now has a livery yard with 12 liveries in a quiet rural area. The HGV's will damage her business and lose her customers. Roads are unsuitable for HGV's. Various planning permissions refused (House, garage, stables). all told there would be unacceptable increased traffic and would change the character of the area. Self evidently these were strong points.

 Jules Burton

Lives in Roseacre speaking against both sites. In 2011 fracking was halted by seismic activity until risks could be mitigated to an acceptable level. Government accepted all findings. There is no evidence that these 10 recommendations have been implemented. In fact only one of them has been implemented in full.  No evidence that any of the 61 separate health and safety recommendations have been implemented to protect public health. These appeals fail these standards and he urged her to refuse both appeals..

 Samantha Harrison

Lives 1 km from Roseacre wood. Contrasted the unreasonable burden for noise reduction with spend on corporate PR. Cuadrilla chooses words carefully and she believes this is pilot development pad. Letter from Cuadrilla to Government outlines this approach as the one they plan to adopt. Cuadrilla have objected to a condition to remove the gas pipework after completion of the test and she thinks the Inspector should consider the appeal as being for a production use during extending flow testing..

 Carol Berry

Lives in Inskip 2 miles from Roseacre. Will affect her as a mother, homeowner, horse rider and dog walker. HGV's will cause local traffic to avoid the designated route and increase traffic on other roads where she lives. She is concerned about viability of traffic calming measures proposed by Cuadrilla. She and others successfully campaigned for speed reduction locally, but it has made no difference because there is no policing of the lower limit.

 Cheryl Gilbertson

Young Mother. Moved into the area but now under stress and facing possible financial loss from falling house prices. Also worried about health issues. No-one should have to live with this. .

 Gary Broadbent

Shale gas extraction should not be pursued. Contrasted the benefits and value of conventional and shale gas. Also looked at the issue of best practice and safety

 Stephen Hunter

Chartered accountant. Worked for KPMG. Specialised in advising the tourism Industry. His comminute to work for last 21 years has been along the proposed HGV route. Lives about 2 miles downwind of the Roseacre site. Doesn't recall ever seeing an HGV of the size being proposed by Cuadrilla. He said this proposal will industrialise the area and damage an idyllic rural spot..

 Paul Hayhurst

County Councillor and Member of LCC Development Control Committee. Said LCC has not banned fracking it has refused two planning applications. Never known any application allowed against highway recommendations. Committee was also at fault by not properly considering the arrays. Cuadrilla has abandoned plans for screening and wants to increase the height of the rig. Was amazed how far the balloon could be seen on the day of the site visit. No doubt it will be conspicuous especially at night. Cuadrilla's history is not good they have frequently overrun their timescale or applied for extensions or in some cases both. Gave some insight into committee consideration of the matters. Spoke also of personal medical conditions of individuals living at Preston New Road area. Not impressed with the regulators when they met them prior to the planning application being considered.

 Joyce Whittle

Spoke about Annas Road and West Moss Lane site. Residents had increased traffic when Cuadrilla in operation. Could be heard 24/7 whilst work was in progress. Also disturbed by bright light at night. Spoke of health risks and other matters.

 Tony Young

Not addressing the site specifically, wanted to address the economics of fracking. Fossil fuels are more heavily subsidised than renewables. Removal of subsidy would show the true cost of renewables and we also need to take account of costs of damage to land and water caused by fossil fuels. Also spoke of other financial matters.

 Tom Hastey

Spoke as an expert witness on transport last Tuesday on behalf of RAG. Transport Management Operator. Gave his credentials. Ms Lieven challenged some of his evidence. He has since checked and confirmed it for the Inspector. He spoke of the A583 this evening and gave traffic statistics and spoke about the access from the site onto the A583 and he said a vehicle exiting would block both traffic lanes and would need clear visibility in both directions at the same time in order to satisfactorily exit. he gave an example that the drivers of the HGV's would not have time to exit before oncoming vehicles would be on top of them

Gordon Smith

Parish Councillor. Said it was possible to locate the sites in industrial areas or enterprise zones. No need to use up farmland. Also spoke about compensation to adversely impacted individuals and there is no undertaking from Cuadrilla to meet these. Urged the inspector to dismiss all the appeals

 DAY 16    (9 MARCH 2016) 

 EVIDENCE OF CLLR. PETER COLLINS (Newton with Clifton PC)

Cllr Collins said the transport assessment from Cuadrilla was not thorough enough and it did not provide access to the 'Strategic Road Network' (Motorways to most folk) in conformity with policy.

He argued that the most direct (ie shortest) route would not be the one proposed which, when it reaches Preston New Road from Clifton village, turns right and goes to the Ribby Hall roundabout before heading to the M55.

He argued the most direct and shortest route would be from Clifton village junction on the Preston-Blackpool Road to follow the road traffic signs and turn LEFT toward Preston, and to strike the M6 direct from there.

He went on to argue that this was the most direct route, and that it complied best with the policy if it were the one chosen. The one proposed would add 850km of transport miles every day over the most direct route.

He argued that the other routes (that has been considered as possibilities) had not received adequate assessment, and that the longer route should not be applied as a condition if the appeal was allowed because it did not conform with policy.

He concluded that the appellant had not identified a suitable route, and there was no Plan B' so the proposal did not conform with policy, and it should be refused.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Surprisingly for us, Ms Lieven had no cross examination to undertake. That suggested to us that she thought she could dismiss these arguments in her closing submission and did not need to refute them.

 Inspectors Questions 

The Inspector asked Cllr Collins what route he would have chosen and why. He said it was a difficult to answer except to use the directness principle which he had done. He said all the routes had disadvantages and there was not a good one, but the most direct was the least bad.

She next said that 'directness' is one principle, what did he think of the other principles. He said most local people were simply astounded when they saw the route proposed.

She also asked about traffic from the Westinghouse (Springfields) site accessing the motorway. Cllr Collins agreed that they used the route to the M55 as is proposed here, but that was because of the sensitive nature of the load they were carrying.


The remainder of this  day is a day set aside to discuss what conditions should be applied to the permission if the appeal were to be granted.

We were able to stay long enough to hear a fundamental disagreement when Friends of the Earth wanted a condition about securing the measurement and monitoring of Public Health and Cuadrilla were implacably opposed to this. FoE's call was supported in principle by LCC, RAG, and PNR.

We thought Ms Dehon did a good job in arguing her corner, despite Cuadrilla maintaining their opposition. But we think the Inspector will have noted Ms Dehon's comment that this is a new, novel and in fact is defined as an  'unconventional' industry and, because of that, it might require unconventional conditions.

Clever, we thought !

Ms Dehon also wanted conditions adding about waste and pollution.

In particular she wanted a condition that recognised that the remit of the Environment Agency does not regulate or consider the CAPACITY of waste treatment plants and which required Cuadrilla to provide information about the capacity of their waste and treatment.

Ms Lieven said it was a mischievous condition and it did  not meet the tests that a condition must meet.

There was shadow-boxing going on here. They were dancing around an issue that Cuadrilla clearly didn't want to discuss or make more known, and that FoE saw as something of a silver bullet to help their case.

The argument seemed to us to be to require Cuadrilla to make sure LCC knew all about it, and in doing so, that would allow them to take it into account when they were considering broader issues, or where - if there *was* a problem - LCC would get early warning of it and be better prepared to take action if they deemed it necessary. Again she took the line that it was an unconventional industry and there was no precedent she could cite.

Mr Evans said the LCC took an agnostic stance on this proposed condition. He separated it from the capacity argument itself which he thought was valid and he would address in closing submissions. He also said providing information was a 'point in time' thing  and he thought the underlying issues were more substantive.

Sadly, we are not able to attend for the rest of today, but readers can follow progress at the Drill or Drop website

.

 DAY 17   (10 MARCH 2016) 
 FULL DAY SESSION FOR PUBLIC SPEAKERS

There are three people speaking in support of the appeal, and sixty-nine speaking against it. Each has 5 minutes to speak.

 Supporting the appeal: Devon Platt

Studying geology at Durham University. We mustn't lose sight of the bigger picture. Concerned about energy security and the need to import gas. Will be searching for a job soon. Can we really afford to turn down 1000 jobs in Lancashire. Houses will be worth more because of the improved economic impacts.

 Supporting the appeal: Paul Linderman

Said it was not production but exploration. He doesn't think anything else will bring this level of economic benefit to the area. Even these will produce 22 people spending their money in the local community. Blackpool is a deprived area and it needs the help that this application could bring. It will have economic benefits which will reduce the druggies and give Blackpool a better image.

 Supporting the appeal: Tony Raynor

Has property 2.6 miles from the site. Thinks job creation will be better than opponents suggest. His company supplied the telephone system to Cuadrilla's new offices but it has affected his view. He has seen small businesses supplying a wide range of goods to Cuadrilla offices. Seemed to suggest that redundant hangars at Blackpool airport could be rejuvenated to make shale gas equipment as part of the enterprise zone scheme.

 David Kenworthy

Worried about energy security. Worried that UK is too regulated. Where would be without the M55 now, and that took a lot of building. There will be less building disturbance than a wind turbine. Strongly criticised those who oppose the scheme and media who were biased.

 John Ditchfield

Nearest neighbour to the Grange hill site. Told it would only be there for 9 weeks. It went on for 11 months. During the time, he was approached by 2 men who asked to do tests on the water in his well, but they refused to give him the results of a sample. He is a craftsman glassmaking business has also has fishing lakes with thousands of pounds worth of fish as well, and they said they would test these as well but they did not. He had serious reservations about the way things had been done.

 Karen Ditchfield

Lives less than 450m from Grange Hill which was like Cape Canaveral. Did NOT get used to light and vibration at night. She thinks this application is really about production not exploration because they are objecting to the disconnection of services from the sites once exploration is finished. Spoke of a number of disadvantages and risks to health and character and amenity. Worried that if the appeal is granted Cuadrilla would simply fold and leave the taxpayers to pick up the bill to fix things. She submitted 2 documents as evidence concerning financial matters and other aspects not previously considered by the inquiry.

 Anika Ditchfield

Spoke as a young economics graduate. Has a friend who went to Pennsylvania to find the facts. Big differences in population (4 times more dense in UK) and large open spaces with big woodlands where development can be away from houses. UK has no minimum distance for setting back from houses.

 Dianne Whitegarth

Lived here for 50 years. Moss House Lane. One of the closest 'receptors' to the PNR site. Spoke of neighbours with important animal businesses - specialist pig breeder, horse rescue etc. She said these would not survive if fracking is allowed to continue. She became deeply emotional when speaking of elderly residents who lived nearby. Lost a sale of her parents home in Lytham St Annes with the reason being given by the potential buyer as fracking in the Fylde

She said a kidney donation she made lass year was less stressful than this process initiated by Cuadrilla.

She said she and a friend worked in a local convenience store and a man had come in and offered them 15 each if they would attend the inquiry and speak up for Cuadrilla.

Struggling to hold back emotions, she said "Cuadrilla do not and never will have, social license to frack in Fylde"

 Shirley Seed

Statement read on her behalf. Moved here 27 year ago to operate a market garden. Live in a timber lodge on site. Hoped to develop a house, but has been advised by estate agent that it will not be financially worthwhile. Worried about rising of the water table, noise and pollution.

 Elizabeth Bullock

Mother and grandmother and artist. Worried about the effect on the landscape. Also worried about health effects. Especially flaring with 10 tons per day being burned. She said the best method would be to capture the methane and use it rather than flare it off. Speaking with evident emotion and anger she concluded "The people and children of Fylde do not deserve to be used in Cuadrilla's experiment"

 James Marsh

Was a resident of Moss House Lane. Said this would have no significant economic benefit to the UK economy. Spoke in some detail of the likely extent of the volume of gas that would be produced. Using Institute of Directors Said it would not be anything like Cuadrilla had claimed. He cited Lord Brown who had told the Telegraph that it would take to 2020 and up to 40 fracking wells to tell how much benefit would be achieved. He argued these applications should be judged in their individual merits and when that is done he said it failed the test and asked the Inspector to reject the appeal.

Dorothy Kelk

Spoke from the green perspective about the importance of planning taking account of climate change and how it placed a duty on planning authorities

 Stephen Garsed

27 years as a Health and Safety Inspector. Used the Institute of Director's report to attack Cuadrilla's claim of there being a 'Shale Bonanza' Spoke powerfully about lack of information on flowback waste storage and treatment. Said Cuadrilla had  provided more details on how they would dispose of the very small quantity of human waste. He said the public must be told about the flowback and the figures must be disclosed. Also addressed other issues with powerful arguments.

 Gillian Wood

Lives 5 miles away. Spoke of the regulatory system being the best in the world. So you'd think that the regulators would be working for us. She then gave examples to show how they were not, one of which was instances of rig deployment that did not conform with regulations. Also failed to promptly report the deformation of the casing at Preese Hall. She said Cuadrilla's approach to safety and regulation had been haphazard and unreliable.

 Graham Daniels

Lives on park homes estate close to PNR. Came here for peace and tranquillity. That's about to be destroyed. Said the human aspect is being disregarded here yet NPPF requires it to be considered. Also said health and wellbeing should be considered in planning decisions. He concluded that people matter and they should not be treated as collateral damage.

 Kate Styles

Defined and spoke at length about 'social license' and how businesses may or may not acquire it. It all depended on trust and  it was not commonly found in the oil an gas industry where companies and their employers often moved in for a time them moved out again once the extraction was completed. As such they did not become part of the community and earn a social license to operate.

 John Tootill

Lives Maple Farm Nursery, 80m from the PNR site which he said as "An obscene threat to drill under our home and business.". Worried that customers would not come because of health risks.  If fracking comes, for his family's health, he would have to move away, but he believes his business would become undesirable and un-viable, and his lifetime work of 32 years would be destroyed. Sale of his property would only release of about 50% of its value because no-one would want to move there. He spoke very powerfully about the impact it would have because it released toxic contaminants into the air and because they live in a shallow valley, so the polluted air and all water and spillages will flow toward where they live. Plus fracking fluid will migrate along existing natural and possibly new geological faults. asked the Inspector to take notice of those affected and not those driven by greed.

 John Sutcliffe

Spoke of human aspect in terms of age, proximity, health of residents and vehicle movements. Gave statistics regarding pollution and the impact it would have. also spoke of social isolation with people not wanting to go out. Criticised lack of information about flowback waste treatment. Worried about increased traffic when elderly residents had to cross the road for the bus to Blackpool or the hospital.

 John Taylor

Registered engineer with road transport qualifications and experience especially in the Fire service. Criticised the Traffic Management Plan and its absence for PNR. Gave technical considerations about HGV's, turning circles etc. Said it was not credible that PNR site did not have a slip road. Also said a vehicle on the road which would be approaching maximum speed would come across a slow moving vehicle leaving the site. Considers Transport Assessment is not fit for purpose and needs to be revised.

 Emeilia Ansell

16 years old from Weeton. Part time weekend job at cafe nearby the site. Spoke about the need not to use fossil fuels. Said "Your generation has put people on the moon but you can't, or don't want to, see what's going on under your noses" Spoke in support of renewable energy. Said Cuadrilla already had a 100% fail rate with sites they had tried so far.

 Liz Oades

Lancs. County Councillor. Speaking as ward councillor for Roseacre Wood site. Asked Inspector to ensure residents will be protected. She is not against fracking but is in favour of safety. Should be done within world class standards. Need to look carefully at regulatory regime. Said it should take place from industrial areas rather than close to homes. She stressed need for a unified regulatory regime and asked the Inspector to ask for a unified specialist regulator in her report. Also said countryside should be protected for its intrinsic value. It will also have a detrimental impact on the local tourism industry, farming and countryside pursuits. Roads at Roseacre ate totally unacceptable for industrial use.

 Angela Livesey

Lives 400m from Roseacre site. Spoke of what Roseacre means to her.  Comes from a farming background. Welcomed into a diverse community. Spoke of her quiet rural environment and clean air. Then Cuadrilla came along. She now has a library of evidence on fracking. Said evasive answers seemed to be the plan, and the devil is in in the detail - at least when it isn't redacted. This application has caused her stress for which she has already had to seek help.

 Francesca Sullivan

'Unite' Executive Council member and mother living in Wharles. Composite conference motion on fracking noted international opposition and potential for environmental damage. Unite oppose fracking and she is articulating that support today. Renewable energy is much better. Spoke of address by a Cuadrilla representative at a Labour Party meeting who said that all the scare stories from the US couldn't happen here because of better regulation. She concluded that based on 100% failure by Cuadrilla and other instances she gave. She said Cuadrilla are happy to mislead us and happy to take health and safety risks with their employees Urged refusal on behalf of over 1m members of Unite.

 Neil Lewis

Lives halfway between the tow sites but originally from Ohio next to Pennsylvania. Said the more that people know about fracking the more they oppose it. Said there is no social license. Cuadrilla is not a philanthropic but a commercial organisation driven by the needs of its shareholders and they are a company registered in the EU blacklisted Cayman Islands. Spoke in a quiet measured tone and using  light humour in a storytelling tone but really got home the points he was making. The Preese Hall tremor shook his and he thought pictures would come off the walls. Government is stepping forward robustly on this matter to sidestep the democratic process. Terrific oration.

 Kristen Durose

On board of managing company for the Winter Gardens but not speaking on their behalf. Speaking in a personal capacity. Spoke of the impact on tourism. Many Blackpool visitors come from Scotland where fracking is now banned. Said it is the visitors perception of a place that causes people to go there, and the perception of fracking is a negative one and people will not want to come here. Gave stats about economic value of tourism, saying that the tourism spend put Cuadrilla's claims to shame.

 John Powney

Is a technician with PepsiCo and formally was a gas engineer. Spoke of risk to health from RAG and PNR sites. Criticised the lack of setback distances. Regulators have failed to set ANY distances, so planners have to come to their own view as to what is safe. Gave examples of heath problems  at only 800m. Spoke of instances under consideration in the UK of 2,000 and 1,600m. Preese Hall shows things don't always work out. "This is a new industry and we're gambling with people's health"

 Emma Bartlet

Spoke of dangers of fossil fuels and the negative impacts of climate change and need to keep 80% of fossil fuels in the ground. Spoke of the Paris agreement limiting carbon emissions to 1.5%. Need to focus on renewables.

 Muriel Lord

Geology graduate. For last 50 years has lived on a farm on boundary of Cusadrilla's area. Speaking about geology and sillica sand. In terms of geology said the shale is a mile wide but very thick, deposited in a large ocean basin greatly disturbed with earth movements. Bee astonished how the geology has not featured. This is because all Cuadrilla's data is 'commercially confidential' She explained what had happened at Grange Road. Moving on said a fracking company seeks geologically faulted shale to make fracking easier. Especially worried about fracking in shallow shale. In terms of sand she said it is pumped into fissures to keep fracks open. There is nothing in Cuadrilla's plans about where it comes from, how it will be stored  and transported. Needs to be spherical to roll into fissures. 460odd tons were used for six small fracks. Cheshire sand in huge quantities will be needed. She estimates 3.500 to 3,000 tons would be needed. Has the impact in Cheshire been considered.

 Mavis Kemp

Called for appeals to be dismissed. Lives here because of air quality. Has COPD and lives at Foxwood Chase, 300m from PNR. Said Australia has 2000m setback distance why should we be different. Said she had heard it said that6 years is temporary, but at my age 6 years is permanent. Public Health Inspector recommended a baseline survey of health needs after having met her and her neighbours. She said I feel trapped. I can't sell my house, I have tried and the estate agent says it is not saleable. I can't move and I can't live here. Parish, Borough and County Councils have all said it should be refused and I ask you to recognise that, dismiss this appeal and give me back my life.

 Ros Wills

Lives near Singleton. One of the 'Blackpool NANA's'. Knowledge of  pharmacological chemicals. Spoke of the use of hazardous substances and chemicals with long technical names. Said flowback fluid is almost as salty as the Dead Sea. Also spoke of flowback being 9 times the limit of some forms of radioactivity.

 Nick Caunt

From Freckleton. Representing his family who live between the two sites. Concerned about air quality which is a basic human right.  Regulatory environment is inadequate. Current air quality is good that's why people come to live here, but baseline data has not been recorded. The only areas of Fylde that do not have good air quality are on the route of the HGV's.

 Christine Shields

Felt and saw her house shake as a result of Preese Hall. Worried about the mechanics of fracking and subsequent capping. Worried about long term implications of abandoned well drillings and their monitoring and who will do it. Worried about contamination of local produce. Argued that Lancashire's decision has not been accepted and wanted to add her voice to those calling for refusal of the appeal

 Dave Penney

Member of 'Keep Lancashire Frack Free'. It is said it does not need to have a full Environmental Impact Assessment, but he believes it should. Attached information as to the risks. Also concerned with pollutants. Also fracking companied will be allowed to pump back underground any material including toxic waste. Worried about the lack of requirement to maintain and monitor the infrastructure left underground. Worried about insurance cover as well, and that they can set off explosive charges without planning permission.

 Dave Kitts

Recently put several concerns to Cuadrilla still not had answers.  Will they be importing radioactives for use in the fracking operation as elsewhere. Also asked about migration of gasses within overlying geology. Worried about long term monitoring. What are Cuadrilla's emergency response proposals. worried about self regulation and self monitoring.

 Gina Dowding

County Cllr for Lancaster Central. Spoke of huge opposition to fracking. Worried about flooding. Fracking poses challenges with respect to fracking, partly because it is a fossil fuel and also because of risk of flooding moving materials from site into watercourses. Worried about the need for thousands of fracking sites and the damage that it will do to tourism and agriculture. Also worried about health aspects and gave examples. Passionately committed to democracy and LCC considered a huge amount of information. Said it was vital lay local decision should be respected.

 Gail Hodson

Member of West Lancs. Borough Council. Written to Amber Rudd but no response from her. Asked for guarantee that her family would not be exposed to health risks. Said Government admitted that some wellsites are abandoned. No requirement to monitor. How many are leaking. Worried about vague wording in regulations. Pointed out that the regulator  was also the promoter of the industry.

 Gayzer Frackman

Lives in  Lytham St Anne's. Said Aprils Fools Day this year will mark the anniversary of the earthquake. He said by now we should have an outright ban on fracking, echoing what is happening in New York state in the USA. Fracking damages public health and the Government has a duty of care not to do so. Infrastructure Act allows drilling under homes and the deposition of toxic waste. Because of people like Pat Davies Cameron will not frack Blackpool

 Graham Lloyd

Lived in Fylde all his life. Opposes fracking for many reasons but will focus on the Sherwood Aquifer. He said as he understood it, the drilling would cut through the aquifer. He asked if Cuadrilla could guarantee that it will not be breached, that it will not be polluted, if it is, can they guarantee a complete clean up and finally he was concerned about the introduction of waste material and specifically flowback or fracking fluid being pumped into abandoned wells in which metal and even concrete will eventually corrode

 Helen Dryden

Spoke about the length of time that permission might be extended to, especially using a technique called re-fracking. Wanted the future to be based on renewable energy not fossil fuels.

 Stephen Holgate

County Councillor interested in fracking but not a member of DM committee at the time of the decisions. This inquiry has allowed debate on matters that are not exactly planning matters and that is a good thing. Wanted to focus on post well abandonment and planning. Abandoned wells are capped and plugged with steel and concrete. Said the earth moves naturally and will eventually degrade or fracture such structures. He was worried about impact of this, and he provided supporting evidence from an industry expert. Also spoke of the limitations of the development control process which could only look at the applications for two wells and a more strategic view was needed.

 Jan Smith

Said this will not bring jobs, but investment in renewable energy will bring ten times as many jobs. Health and safety will also be compromised. Energy security is a red herring. Renewables are the path to energy security.

 John Hodson

Councillor and Cabinet Member West Lancs. BC. Said NPPF has caused planning to be redetermined on the basis of precedent. He said when Government realised this, they have had to rush out Ministerial Statements to promote their pet political obsessions such as shale gas which was not well enough supported in the NPPF. He said policy is being based on economic factors and the elephant in the room is that they do not address the social and environmental impacts which are also required by the NPPF. He said this resulted in a  view that it was being done to people, not with them. He concluded with some fairly strong criticism of Cuadrilla saying "We will not become guinea-pigs for this unwanted industry. We will not be persuaded by misinformation, disinformation, or dodgy PR practices, and certainly not with free pencils and carrier bags bearing the now hated logo of Cuadrilla. Whatever the outcome of these proceedings, we will not be browbeaten by central authority. Might is not right. We are Lancashire." This, of course, brought the house down.

 Laurence Rankin

Former EA regulator responsible for reviewing the regulatory framework. Spoke at length to say he did not believe it was adequate and gave examples. Said we should adopt the 'precautionary principle' He gave powerful evidence and to be honest, nothing more than his presence was needed to convince us that the regulator could simply not be trusted.

 Linda Nulty

Lives in Greenhalgh. Has represented Wesham for many years on parish and borough councils. Has absorbed a lot of evidence. Nothing has convinced her that we should be pursuing shale gas. It will be horribly intrusive. Spoke of heavy equipment on small rural roads. Worried about and has questioned the waste water arrangements without those questions being satisfactorily answered. Concerned about 180 monitoring sites which she is confident will become future production sites.

 Maggie Smith

From East Lancashire. Said risks of adverse health apply to mental as well as physical health. Anxiety and grief over the disintegration of a local landscape. The loss of popular and familiar environmental features is known to cause stress.

 Maureen Mills

Was a member of the NW Chamber of Commerce and is worried about the weight that might be put on their evidence. Said she did not believe the support that Ms Murphy from the Chamber existed. Said the issue of fracking had not been subject of a specific survey. She spoke of dissatisfaction with the way the Chamber had handled the matter. She said the view of the Chamber was based on perceived expedience. She disputes the assertion that the vast majority of members of the Camber oppose fracking. And she objects to her views being misrepresented by the Chamber.

 Mike Hill

Chartered electrical engineer an co-author of the MEDAC report.  Spoke about Royal Society's requirement for 10 recommendations to be implemented when only one has. He said their report (to which he contributed and in which he is cited) had not said fracking can be done safely. They said it can only be safer if proper regulation is in place, best practices are used, and there is strict enforcement. he said the report went on to say that this applied to the exploratory phase as well (not only on production). He went on to say that such development of a regulatory system has not appeared in the four years since the report was published. He said any fracking would not be acceptable at this point in time "due to insufficient regulation and totally adequate monitoring."  Explosively, he said  the EA's permits to frack at Roseacre and Little Plumpton were currently illegal under the Mining and Waste Directive and should be withdrawn. he said former EA Chairman Lord Smith had accepted that by law, all fracking waste, (some 3m gallons plus per borehole) must remain in the target formation for ever. The EA had simply relied on the operators statement that fracking waste would stay there forever and in a nutshell this defied evidence and logic. he said "The EA permits are obviously flawed and must be withdrawn, so rendering any planning application null and void."  He went on to cite a wide range of issues and produced, as ever, a very forceful argument which, in turn produced as standing ovation which brought the house down.

 Noreen Griffiths

Fylde resident. Said EA had said there will be no post abandonment checks. Worried about leaking of wellbores post abandonment. Biocides are used to stop this during the process, but after abandonment there is no treatment. Also possibility of methane accumulations which could cause explosions.

 Jean King

Resident of Fylde. Spoke of a gas drilling in the Netherlands that caused earthquakes and since then Hundreds of earthquakes have taken place, Initially any link with the drilling was denied, then limited responsibility was accepted. There have been 196 earthquakes in a two year period. Believed that Governments were at risk of contravening human rights. Dutch Government has since placed a moratorium on Fracking.

 Philip Mitchell

Campaigning against fracking for  5 years. Green Party member. Spoke against the principle of fracking and the use of fossil fuels.

 Rick Johnson

From Lancaster. made a written submission to planning committee. In the UK as long as the industry is regulated it is possible to do safely, but greenhouse gas emissions and the industrialisation of the countryside cannot be accepted. Spoke of a range of other issues that contributed to the reasons it should be refused.

 Ruth Owens

Speaking on behalf of PNR site. Will people stay here if it becomes called Frackpool. Will children play spotting the Fracking Rig rather than the Tower or the sea. No on can stop methane leaking into the air. It will damage the tourism industry. There are also health risks.

 Sarah Beddows

Spoke specifically about noise. Said she had heard the noise of drillhead drilling through the rocks beneath her and particularly at night during test drilling. She said it was incredibly disturbing and to give some impression she said it was like a dentist drill changing in pitch, but much louder and unavoidable throughout her home. Asked the Inspector to call for the decision to be deferred until there was more noise data available on the impact of the drillhead.

 Fred Moor

Former Local Authority officer now freelance writer and publisher. spoke of the issue of trust especially in the regulator and gave example of how the Environment Agency, when leaned on by Government, had retrospectively adjusted test results for bathing waters making - in his example - Fleetwood have 'Excellent" water quality when in fact it has failed. The EA had done this by completely discounting 80% of the samples it had taken and used only the best results. The point was that EA could not be relied upon to do a proper job when Government had indicated the results it wanted to achieve. Second point was another Ministerial Statement from Gregg Clark (2012 introducing NPPF to the Commons) where he had said the NPPF would work by "taking power away from remote bodies, and putting it firmly into the hands of the people of England". Said the ministerial statements were unreliable, incompatible and prejudicial and asked Inspector to pass on concerns to Minister.

 John Bailie

Lives in Poulton speaking against approval of the applications. Has produced an image of the rig next to a house based on the height of the tethered balloon at PNR. Spoke to a vide variety of topics which he said justified refusal of the appeal. Said this time it would be dark satanic drills rather than dark satanic mills. He concluded with a topical football analogy. "United are playing City in the Cup Final. Everyone would expect such a High profile match to be refereed impartially. But then it's announced that the referee will, in fact, be the President of United's Supporters Club. There would be an outcry. Such predetermination would simply not be allowed." and he urged the Inspector to ask the Minister to show Cuadrilla the Red Card.

Tina Rothery (RAFF)

Resident of Blackpool speaking on behalf of Residents Action On Fracking. Said originally most people didn't oppose fracking so the group name was not "against", just "action". Now, having had the gift of knowledge of the implications you couldn't walk away. Spoke of the effort everyone had put in to get here today. She said "Councillors did their jobs and we are now here again trying to defend the decision they made, at in inquiry we cannot afford, and on top of this it has been revealed that Cuadrilla will be going for costs if they can get them. Tell me again how much Cuadrilla care about our community. This threat of costs will deter other councils from refusing companies like Cuadrilla but I expect you knew that when you introduced the threat." She went on to highlight regulatory failure in care homes, the NHS, banking and other industries before saying "At times it seems the regulators themselves are putting aside rules to assist the industry, with changes to the Infrastructure Bill, the re-defining of what can now be termed fracking. Goalposts, rules, definitions and even laws are being shaped to fit this industry"

 Julie Daniels (NANA)

Cheryl Atkinson speaking for Julie Daniels. Spoke to oppose fracking in principle. Spoke of  a project by a team of photographers to document the changing landscape in the USA. Doesn't want that to happen here.

 Edward Cook

Came here from Eccles where there were a lot of chimneys and wanted more clean air. But now it is being shown that particulates in diesel fumes even here are a cause of worry. There will be particulates from these sites, and we should not make the problem worse. He asked would the planning authority allow permission for a house next to one of these drilling rigs and suggested not. He went on to express concern about leaks from abandoned wells and about flowback disposal.

 Samantha Mae

Local resident opposing both sites. Proud to be a part of this community who are people not 'receptors'. Saw people in yellow tops on the fields and wanted to know what it was about. Having now found out she is appalled and is campaigning to stop it. Our councillors have already said no, and that should be it. But this is wider than just planning. This is a violent, invasive, destructive intrusion into our lives. She concluded with a statement from her son Joshua (Age 6) in toe form of a letter to David Cameron asking him to abandon the idea.

 James Nisbet

Lives at Roseacre close to the site. Said the issue is not just about planning it was about people and community and their health and wellbeing. The offer for his home fell through when Cuadrilla launched its appeal. Lancashire Councillors properly discharged their responsibility but they are being overridden. He spoke of being refused planning permission for a modified window installation to be told they were out of character and contrasted that with the decision that he worried was about to be taken.

 Roger Loyd

Fylde Cllr Born in Lytham 4 miles from PNR site. Most people don't want it. Small communities have come together to fight for their way of life, fight for their home, and to fight for democracy. Farmers are also under threat. It's time for things to change. Global warming is the elephant in the room. This winter was the warmest on record since the 1600s. Fields are waterlogged and totally unusable. This is global warming. Effect on wildlife disturbs him greatly and 220,000 birds use it from November to March. He argued that an in-depth study is needed now to assess the impact on wildlife. First duty of any state is to protect its people. Today it seems its first duty is to protect the oil and gas company and to ignore the health and wellbeing of people who live and work in the Fylde.


And with that, the mammoth session for public speaking ended.

Tomorrow we start the closing statements from the 'Rule 6' parties, and next Wednesday the closing statements from the two main protagonists, Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council will be heard.

Closing statements are where the participants explain their case, and try to convince the Inspector to place more weight on their arguments than she places on those of the others.

 DAY 18   (11 MARCH 2016)  CLOSING SUBMISSIONS   (PART 1)

In pre-meeting comments, Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla made some observations on matters outstanding from the conditions of the earlier day and offered to produce a composite list of who had agreed to what (or not) in respect to the various conditions. This was agreed by all and will become a new Inquiry Document within a few days.

 Newton with Clifton Parish Council 

Delivered by Cllr Peter Collins who spoke again about the route to be taken. He said there was no indication in the Traffic Assessment guidance as to the weight to be given to the constituent parts. he said the choice of the route through Clifton is not the most direct and it is the longest route by far, and 17km longer than the route through Broughton. He said the lanes are not designed for HGV's. There is literally no room for the HGV's this proposal would bring, and he requested the appeal be dismissed.

 Preston New Road Action Group 

Presented by Dr Ashley Bowes, who delivered a clear, firm, confident and very technical closing statement which we have to say although we couldn't follow all of the more technical arguments sounded very convincing to us. Most of the technical aspects seemed to us to be driving toward the conclusion that this was not a sustainable development. He addressed several aspects

PLANNING
Said the decision had to be based on the LCC Mineral and Waste Local Plan, the LCC Local plan and the FBC Local plan policies. And he cited a legal precedent showing that absence of policy (on the specific matter of shale gas development) cannot be considered to be 'silence' (which he said was the basis of Cuadrilla's case) if a body of policy existed elsewhere in the plan which was relevant to the matter (which he said it was). Turning to the Ministerial Statement he said if the development can be shown to be unsustainable, permission should be refused. He then gave reasons why he thought it did, adding that when those were taken into account, the weight attached to the ministerial statement "falls away"

LANDSCAPE
He outlined the adverse impact it would have and showed that any project which damaged the area cannot be considered a sustainable development.

NOISE
Was a main feature of his closing. This is entirely understandable giving what we thought was the overwhelming evidence of Mr Stigwood who spoke for PNR. He said the Appellant's case was that provided there was no noise above 42 dBA there would be no sleep disturbance, but the PNR case showed that the matter was much more nuanced than that, and the character of the noise had to be taken into account. he said the appellant's failure to engage with the issue of noise below 42dBA is hopelessly misconceived because it had been shown that noise below 42dBA can cause sleep disturbance, and he cited other parts of the WHO evidence (on which Cuadrilla had chiefly relied) to support his case, arguing their failure in this regard causes their entire case to collapse.

He argued that Mr Stigwood had done what the guidance said should be done, but the appellant has not, and had thus failed on 5 counts. He said their evidence had shown that night time noise should be limited to 30 dBA on weekdays and 40 at weekends, whilst Cuadrilla's proposal of 40 and 50 would produce a significant adverse impact on health. It was national policy to avoid noise and not to encourage unsustainable shale gas development. He said the proposal was "demonstrably unsustainable" and should be refused on this reason alone.

Readers will remember we had (perhaps unreasonably) high expectations of Dr Bowes before the Inquiry began, and the early days we were not sure he was living up to them. However, it now seems he had been working everything toward these closing remarks which, to our mind, amply justified his ability. His style was not to discredit the evidence of Cuadrilla's experts as  the inquiry progressed, but rather to build a solid technical case for his conclusion.

Closing on the matters of whether the benefits outweighed the adverse impacts, he concluded the Inspector had grounds to believe the scheme was unsustainable and permission should be withheld.

 Friends of the Earth 

The FoE case was presented by another 'Cornerstone' barrister Estelle Dehon - who has won our growing respect and admiration as the Inquiry has progressed. From nowhere, she carved out the ground she needed to stand on to advance her arguments, and she the advanced them with a logic and a cogency that convinced us we would not want to take her on ourselves.

She began with an overview of her case, saying "Climate change, waste generation and treatment capacity, and public health, are all matters of planning policy. They are referred to in development plans, covered in the National Planning Policy Framework. They have their own PPGs (Planning Policy Guidance notes)  and there is no question but that they are material considerations in these decisions."

This was her setting out the scope, and the firmness of the ground on which she was about to base her arguments.

Quoting Cuadrilla's own planning witness, she said:  "Mr Smith also accepted that the planning decision-maker is not limited to the reasons for refusal, alighted upon by the [Lancashire County] Council. It is open to you Madam to recommend that the Secretary of State refuse planning permission on each or all of the issues raised by Friends of the Earth, and open to the Secretary of State to follow such a recommendation."

We thought that was brilliant. The inspector will be making up her own mind of course, but that short statement left her with the warm glow that, from what she had already heard, and what Ms Dehon was about to summarise, there were indeed already sufficient grounds for her to recommend refusal if the weight of evidence convinced her to do so.

She briefly rehearsed the arguments already made by Dr Bowes about the proper legal basis on which to approach the decision, then went on to highlight the technical planning issues from her witnesses on climate change, waste ,and public health.

We don't have space to cover all that she said but we will mention a few of her quotes that caught our attention.....

"....It is simply incorrect, as a matter of law, for Cuadrilla to suggest that the development plan is silent because it does not contain criteria based policies specific to hydrocarbons, or site allocations for hydrocarbons."

Turning to the Ministerial Statement, she said - given that Cuadrilla have placed such tremendous and repeated weight on the ministerial statement, she would look at the correct legal approach to it, saying that "The written Ministerial Statement represents the view of the Government on shale or early gas development, and it does not impose presumptions. As a matter of law, it is simply not correct, that the written Ministerial Statement establishes that exploration for shale gas 'meets the national economic need' or that such exploration 'meets the needs of the climate change targets' by 'moving to a low carbon economy'

She concluded that "the Ministerial Statement cannot bear the extraordinary weight put on it by Cuadrilla" before going on to repeat the arguments about the loss of Carbon Capture and Storage proposals from the UK, and the 'Paris Agreement' on reduced carbon emissions.

Interestingly, at one point she referred to an unusual reference note in the written version of her closing text and said  "....and Madam, just to explain the referencing there, that is to the date and the particular recording of the webcast, and the numbers there are time signature at which that evidence was given"  We wondered if this was the first time the Planning Inspectorate might have been asked to use a time signature to in this way.

She then turned to the maters raised by FoE's evidence. On flowback waste she said "Cuadrilla's case requires the turning of a very blind eye to the repeated use of the word 'satisfied' in planning policy."

She said it had been established that "the planning authority's regulatory responsibility includes assessing the acceptability of sufficient waste water treatment capacity.

The Environment Agency examines the application for an environmental permit and assesses the proposals, including the availability in principle of suitable treatment capacity identified by the applicant for the waste proposed to be produced.

However, it is clear from the statement made by the Environment Agency in their report on the (concentration  ??) process that their responsibility does not extend to considering the availability in practice of this theoretical capacity.

Mr Watson's more robustly phrased evidence was that the Environment Agency has washed its hands of that matter.

It is a matter for the planning decision-maker."

 She said "The evidence before the Inquiry, in the words of the Environment Agency, is that availability of capacity is not a matter for them, but it is left to the operator.

Cuadrilla's response is that it can, via the choke manifold, control the rate of flowback fluid. As Mr Watson's evidence made clear, this is not such a simple matter, because the release of fluid is a safety and mitigation measure to limit seismicity, and allowing flowback of fluids particularly immediately post-fracking is important."

What she is saying here is that the EA are not prepared to regulate the overall national capacity to handle flowback fluid that flows back up the well after fracking, they leave it to the operator. And the operator is saying they can use a sort of  'tap' to regulate how much comes back up the pipe. BUT crucially, the tap is really there to minimise the risk of more earthquakes (if there are tiny tremors they can reduce the pressure in the well buy opening the tap and lowering the pressure, and the tremors will (or at least should) stop.) However the worry is that if they have to open the tap to release the pressure and there is more flowback coming up than they have the capacity to deal with, or if it produces more than the treatment works in the North East that can handle, they might have to close the tap and that could increase the risk of earthquakes.

Ms Dehon was arguing that the Inspector really must take account of the capacity issue as part of her consideration of the matter.

Finally, she went on to highlight the unreliability of the figures regarding flowback fluid. She said "It became clear that Cuadrilla's assessment of the traffic impact arising from the flowback fluid  [for trucking it away to the North East for treatment] assumed that 100% of that fluid which returns to the surface can be re-used during the fracking stages.

That was not the assumption made in the Environmental Statement, which assumed a proportion of flowback fluid would be reused. It was also not the assumption of the Environment Agency in its decision document which recognises that the flowback fluid can only be re-used if its composition is compatible with the friction reducer that will need to be added to it.

This is self-evidently be best case scenario. Cuadrilla state that they have not even assessed the worst case scenario - no recycling of the flowback fluid - but give no cogent justification for this.

Friends of the Earth's case is that, on the numbers in the Environmental Statement, the proposed development fails to comply with the requirements of [she listed a range of guidance and policy documents] .

There is also the outstanding issue of whether the Environmental Statement, or the Environment Agency's Permit is correct in establishing the volume of flowback fluid estimated to be produced from each well and from each of the two sites.

There has either been an error in the Environmental Statement, the implication of which is that the emissions have been underestimated by a factor of four, or the Permit is incorrect.

The discrepancy has not been diminished by either Cuadrilla's Note 22 or 27, which steadfastly refuse to engage with the evidence of Mr Watson as to why what is stated in the Permit can not be dismissed as a typographical error, and how the numbers in the Permit are internally consistent."

We just love this next bit.

 "There is a significant irony in the resulting condition. Cuadrilla is effectively asking the Planning Decision-Maker to find that the Environmental Permit is incorrect, whilst still asserting that none of the matters are relevant because they are addressed by the Permit"

Hogtied.

Absolutely brilliant, we thought.

She then went on to highlight other inconsistencies and errors in Cuadrilla's documentation and said they mean "... that the evidence before the Inquiry falls well short of the requirement of DM2 to provide appropriate information to you Madam, and to the Secretary of State, for you properly to assess the likely adverse impact of flowback fluid produced by the development has on traffic, on-site storage, and available treatment capacity."

Then she moved on to the topic of climate change and was equally destructive of Cuadrilla's case in this arena.

Finally, turning to Ms Murphy's evidence for the North West Chamber of Commerce. she said "Ms Murphy contended that there was 'strong support from within the Chamber's membership for shale gas exploration'

The Chamber of Commerce initially gave the impression that it represents diverse business interests across Lancashire.

In fact, it came out in cross-examination, that around 3% of the Chamber of Commerce's membership is in the tourism industry, and far less than 1% is in the agricultural industry, both of which Ms Murphy admitted were important industries in the income generation in the area.

In any event, Ms Murphy accepted that the survey on which she based her evidence was not intended to be neutral, but sought to elicit views as to how businesses who would supply into the sector could benefit from the establishment of a shale gas industry.

That being the case, any evidence of the Chamber, based on the survey, should be given vanishingly little weight.

Ms Murphy also admitted that she had not taken into account in her analysis, any potential negative economic impacts arising from either shale gas exploration or development. This was the case even when Ms Murphy relied on a document such as a DEFRA report which explicitly addressed potential negative economic impacts. It emerged that although Ms Murphy was aware that there was an unredacted version of the DEFRA Report, she had not read it.

That report found that there were potential adverse impacts on tourism, agriculture, organic farming, and outdoor recreation, to name a few.

Any such losses were acknowledged only to be partially capable of being offset by any workers or supplies entering the area.

Ms Murphy placed reliance on the Report when it was issued by DEFRA in its unredacted version. It is notable that it was published by DEFRA without any qualification or suggestion that the report was not robust, and I do recommend Madam that you look at the unredacted version."

She concluded by saying "Friends of the Earth places reliance on the unredacted version of the report"

She concluded that the impacts she had outlined each constituted sufficient grounds to the refuse the appeal, but despite Cuadrilla adopting this approach, it was not the correct approach because that required the cumulative impact to be taken into account was one or more of these interacted with the other, and she said that the arguments against were even more convincing when the cumulative effect of them was considered.

She said "The project does not comply with the development plan, to which full weight must be given, and material considerations in the form of the Climate Change Act, the national Planning Policy Framework, and the Planning Policy Guidance, weigh further against the grant of permission..."

She invited the Inspector to recommend that the appeal should be refused.

As our readers will be able to tell from what we've said, we thought this was a first class closing statement from a barrister we would certainly be asking for if we ever found ourselves in need.

 North West Lancs Chamber Of Commerce 

Presented by Chief Executive Babs Murphy. She began by saying she accepted these two sites would not achieve the economic benefits they would like to achieve - those would flow from the subsequent shale gas development.

Her delivery was much more conciliatory in tone after the beating she took under cross examination when she presented her evidence in the early days of the Inquiry . Her tone was now much more measured and less aggressive.

She agreed that no-one knew the true economic benefits of future development, but said at low estimates there would be 'thousands' of jobs.

Seeming to accept the flaws in the evidence she had presented earlier  to the inquiry she said "In the absence of hard data the Chamber had made reasonable assumptions about jobs and investment" 

To be honest, we thought that was not a very impressive basis for the evidence they presented to the Inquiry - which was dealing with facts not assumptions, and at the end of the day, this appeal (as Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla had said in her first words to the Inquiry), the Inquiry is concerned with these sites. It is not about the principle, or future development, of shale gas.

Ms Murphy went on to say she knew of tourism and agricultural businesses who support shale gas development. And said "We should get out there and become the European Hub for shale gas"

She then said "The Chamber, by standing for the economic benefits of this industry has been vilified on social media, has been in receipt of abusive correspondence and telephone calls. We have been subject to defamatory, slanderous and libellous comments. We have been subject to intimidation and have suffered aggravated trespass at our Blackpool office."

And she concluded "Yet we cannot bow down to this unrelenting abuse, simply because we support the economic opportunities that we believe this industry will bring to the county"

Going for the sympathy vote at the end is entirely understandable given the destruction of her case that was wrought by several of the barristers, and which was further driven home by Ms Dehon for Friends of the Earth this morning, but it is not one with which we have much sympathy to be honest.

We have been on the receiving end of the Chamber of Trade's arbitrary and factually incorrect decision making process ourselves - when they embarrassed one of their own members who had taken a table at the Lord Browne speech at the Trafalgar Hotel and had invited us to join her to hear what he said. She was subsequently selectively asked to provide a list of her guests (which we thought an impertinence, but which she nevertheless did), only to be told that some of them (ourselves included) would not be admitted to the event.

We were astonished at this because most of our friends in the anti-fracking movements at that time mildly criticised us for being too much on the fence (which indeed is where we sat then) so we were by no means convinced one way the other. But the Chamber of trade saw fit to both veto our attendance and embarrass one of the very able dynamic young businesses.

We only changed our position on this matter when our own Government did what we believed they never would, which was to change the established law of the land (with the Infrastructure Act) to permit excavation under your property without requiring your permission or an order from a court.  At that point we changed our view. Our own Government introducing such a law both shocked, and crossed a red line for us. We could no longer consider supporting them.

Another of the Chamber of Commerce's own members told us he suffered an even worse insult than our own experience when he tried to go to the same meeting himself and was pre-refused admission on entirely spurious grounds. He nevertheless went, and  ended up being removed by security staff and ejected into the car park. We accept that's not really relevant here except to emphasise our own view that we have no confidence in the executive of the Chamber of Commerce which, as we heard from their members and former members speaking at the Inquiry, clearly does not speak for all the  members it claims to speak for.

If the hurt Ms Murphy felt at the hands of those who disagreed with her, was causing her anguish, perhaps she would do well to reflect on the reputational damage that her  aggressively pro-shale stance has brought to all of the businesses within the umbrella of the Chamber of Trade, including many who have no connection whatsoever with this industry.

If we were a member (which we are not and would not be under the present regime), we would be looking for change given the reputational disaster Ms Murphy's approach has brought to the Chamber itself.


This was the last full week of the inquiry. next week there is just Wednesday when RAG gives its closing statement, followed by Lancashire County Council and finally Cuadrilla, after which the Inspector will take some time to reflect on what has been said and prepare her report.

We expect to report the closing statements next Wednesday and also give an analysis of the overall Inquiry process.

Dated:  11 March 2016


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