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Roseacre Inquiry: Prelude

Roseacre Inquiry: A PreludeAs a prelude to the Roseacre Public Inquiry (which will be presided over by Planning Inspector Mr Melvyn Middleton, left), we're doing a quick fracking update.

It culminates in a report of the LCC meeting that refused Cuadrilla's latest plan for Roseacre, followed by a look ahead to next week's Inquiry.

But first, we look at a few fracking matters  that have caught our eye

First we advise readers of what's being billed as 'Three Months of Love and Defiance'  but is really called 'The United Resistance' - a series of events that will raise awareness of the protests against fracking generally.

Next we have a look What David Cameron has been saying in America about the UK not doing enough to get fracking moving here.

Then we have a look at some aspects of The Policing Situation with a Crude Cost benefit analysis of progress so far, before moving to an Open Letter to Police Officers by campaigner Tina Rothery.

Then we have a bit of news about how the Parish Councils are preparing for the Inquiry, before reporting What happened at the Lancashire County Council Planning Committee meeting in January that considered and rejected Cuadrilla's latest mitigation measures, then voted to maintain their objection at the Public Inquiry.

We report who said what at the LCC planning meeting: Barbara Richardson; Peter Collins; Carol Berry; John Hobday; Maxine Chew; Gillian Cookson and Liz Oades, before hearing some of what the councillors said including the Chairman's introduction; Cllr David Foxcroft; Cllr Stephen Holgate; Cllr Kevin Ellard; Cllr Alan Schofield; Cllr Malcolm Barron; Cllr Jimmy Eaton; Cllr Paul Hayhurst; Cllr Munsif Dad; Cllr Margaret Pattinson, and the Chairman again, before providing Our own take on the meeting.

Finally, we Introduce Next Week's planning Inquiry - so readers who might want to attend any of the Inquiry sessions will have an idea what it's about and how it will work.


Or perhaps - as they have the honour of being  first event - the Nannas are upping  the ante....

As the Roseacre Wood inquiry is about to get under way, and as Cuadrilla announce their first horizontal drilling (up to now it's been vertical drilling, but Cuadrilla now say they have successfully curved the bore and completed horizontal drilling - in preparation for the actual fracking that is expected to take place at Preston new Road later this year), those opposed to what they are doing are stepping up their action.

Appealingly christened: 'The United Resistance - Three months of Love and Defiance', the idea seems to be to divide up the protesting and activism amongst a whole series of different groups, each of which is taking on a day's 'slot' between Monday and Friday each week.

Those attending - and we're told all are welcome - will find space at the 'Community Hub' (10 mins from the Cuadrilla site) for breakfast and evening meals (at no cost) and lunch at the roadside. Those from away can access three free camping areas, or take advantage of the plenty of B&B options nearby.

The organisers say those taking part will also experience 'a huge sense of warm solidarity, self empowerment and a real sense of community and purpose'. The list of events organised so far are:

  • Week One, 2nd - 6th April: Nanas/Women against Fracking
  • Week Two, 9th - 13th April: Political Colours
  • Week Three, 16th - 20th April: North West Week
  • Week Four, 23rd - 27th April: No Faith in Fracking
  • Week Five, 30th April - 4th May: Art And Music Against Fracking
  • Week Six, 7th - 11th May: Save Our Land
  • Week Seven, 14th - 18th May: Uniting the Roses
  • Week Eight, 21st - 25th May: Local Camps and Health day
  • Week Nine, 28th May - 1st June: International Week
  • Week Ten, 4th - 8th June: Unions
  • Week Eleven, 11th - 15th June: Green Party Week
  • Week Twelve 18th - 22nd June: Preston New Road
  • Week Thirteen 25th - 29th June: Reclaim the Power + Finale Week

Readers keen to get involved can follow this link to find out more about 13 weeks of Love and Defiance


A reader very kindly sent us a report (originating from S&P Global Platts) in which former UK Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted.

Readers will remember we used to keep track of all the legislative changes he introduced to support fracking (in 'Dave'll Fix It') because we were appalled that he was prepared to adopt the same sort practices that Canada had done to modify laws to favour the fracking industry.

In particular Mr Cameron changed the law to allow people to frack under other people's property without their agreement and without having to go through the established legal procedure to deprive the property owner of their ownership rights. But in the end there were so many changes we lost count of them all.

He's now admitted what he did. We're going to reproduce some of what Platts reported him as saying - because we think it is of sufficient public importance to justify it.

The following are an extract of the Platts report of what he said as the keynote speaker at the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers annual conference in San Antonio.

"I passionately believe that there is big potential for fracking and unconventional gas in Britain, which has some shale reserves that could make a real difference"

"In the United States, there are 15,000, 16,000 shale wells. In Europe there are about 10 - this is pathetic. We are going to fall behind if we don't extract the gas that we have that can make us more competitive, more energy independent, less reliant on Russian gas."

"We passed the laws, changed the planning rules, talked to the companies, changed the regulations, set out the bonuses communities would stand to get if wells went ahead, but it was painfully slow and incredibly frustrating,"

"The green movements have become absolutely obsessed with the notion that any new form of energy that has any reliance on carbon is a bad thing, so they are just opposed to fracking, come what may."

"Yes, we will do it because there is so much in our national interest, it just may take some time. What we need are some wells up and running where the local community can see that they are not that disruptive, that there are big financial benefits, that they can see an industry can build up around it."

He's mistaken if he thinks industrialising the Fylde countryside is something local people won't mind. And it's already disruptive - as we have seen.

We'd say his approach of changing planning laws and making other regulations - intended to put fracking above the lives of local people - is exactly the sort of attitude that's turning the hearts and minds of many local people against what he wants to achieve.

We'd also say he has consistently failed to comprehend the extent of opposition from ordinary, sensible, community-minded, 'Jam and Jerusalem' residents, as well as the more predictable opposition from organised environmental groups of which he complains.

But this is what happens when you start to believe your own press releases and think your edicts are believed by others as well.

We remain unimpressed.



We came across a claim from Cuadrilla that to date, it had spent a total of £6.8m in the Lancashire economy, (including sums given for local community benefit), in the past two years.

That's an impressive figure, but it is dwarfed by the cost of the policing operation deemed necessary.

That's said to be around £6 million for just one year.

On a crude comparison, it would be cheaper not to have Cuadrilla there.

No doubt Cuadrilla would argue the policing costs exist only because of those protesting and opposing what they are doing - but, on the other hand, if they were not there, then we doubt many of the protestors, or the policing costs, would be there either.

In the matter of the chicken and the egg, it's pretty clear to us the residents were here first.


We were recently sent a copy of an open letter to the Police written by local campaigner Tina Rothery.

She's a lady who is known to us, and we regard her as being dangerous.

We say she's dangerous simply because she is quick thinking, sees with a pin-sharp perspective, knows instinctively how to get her message across, and isn't afraid to speak up.

For some she's a rather strong and acquired taste - a bit like Marmite, but from our own experience, we can cheerfully say that with the qualities she brings, we'd much rather have her on our side than anywhere else, and we listen to what she says because it's almost always worth considering even if you don't agree with her - and to be honest, that doesn't happen very often.

The letter she's written clearly hopes for a change-of-heart in policing methods, and although some of her underlying logic is a bit, shall we say, 'obvious' what's also evident is a genuine sense of frustration borne of a deep conviction that what's happening is simply wrong.

Sadly, we doubt she's going to be successful in causing a change of heart from the police.

That's because from where we are standing, it looks as though control of the police in this matter stems from higher up the chain of command, and we would not be surprised to find the hand of political influence behind or directing what is, in fact, Her Majesty's Constabulary rather than the Government's Constabulary.

We invite our readers to see what she says on the matter for themselves, by following this link to read her Open Letter to the Police


Local Town and Parish Councils have been discussing a unified approach of objection for the planning inquiry and it has been disclosed that

  • Treales Roseacre Wharles PC,
  • Kirkham TC,
  • Wesham TC,
  • Greenhalgh-with-Thistleton PC,
  • Newton-with-Clifton PC, and
  • Inskip-with-Sowerby PC

have been considering applying to the Secretary of State for what's known as 'Rule 6' status at the public inquiry, and also to consider the joint appointment of a Barrister to act on behalf of the Parish Councils.

In their situation, if you have enough time, and enough people of ability and willingness to give up 6 to 12 months of their lives to become mini-experts in specific topics, you can do a Rule 6 Party without any staffing costs (but there are still significant costs to reproduce all your evidence in bound written format). However, the better way is probably to fundraise to hire an expert planning barrister.

'Rule 6' (The name comes from the 6th rule of some planning inquiry regulations) was originally introduced as a way to avoid having large numbers of individuals wanting to challenge the proposer of the development.

The idea was that such folk would organise and group themselves into a single protagonist organisation so as not to take up so much of the inquiry's time.

We imagine the Inspector won't have been ecstatic to find six or more Parish Councils each applying for Rule 6 status, along with the Roseacre Action Group.

We suspect some sort of 'arrangement' or other accommodation will be put in place, perhaps where each is present as Rule 6 Party, but they will all conduct their cases through a 'communal' barrister.

Hiring professionals is not cheap. The estimated costs for the Parishes hiring a barrister were said to be in the order of £2,000 per Parish Council (something in the area of £12,000 overall).

We know at least one parish resolved to put £2,000 into a combined pot and we expect to report further on how this matter is being addressed,  (on the first day of the Inquiry).


Lancashire County Council's Planning Committee met on 24th January in what was a short re-run of Fylde's debate (which we covered in Roseacre Route).

These two meetings are likely to have rehearsed most of the main points that will come from those opposing Cuadrilla's latest transport arrangements.

Readers will remember that as well as keeping the route that gave the previous Inspector the reason to refuse their application, Cuadrilla have now added two more routes (or at least one more route with two variations at one end) so giving it three options to distribute the load of the transport more widely and thus dilute (but not remove) the problems on the previous (single) route.

The new Routes are called the Blue, Green, and Red routes - as above

The LCC Development Control meeting was held in a committee room at County Hall. A circular table dominated the centre of an oak-panelled room, with chairs all around the walls.

It was a packed meeting with some standing. We saw a couple of ladies from Cuadrilla who were taking copious notes, several councillors from Fylde, and a lot of familiar faces from the Roseacre and broader anti-fracking groups locally.

At the start of the meeting, some late observations had been submitted and, after a short time for councillors to read these, the meeting proper began.

The Chairman said the purpose of the meeting was to assess the amended vehicle routing and highway mitigation measures submitted by Cuadrilla, and to consider the extent to which those proposals address the County Council's previous objections. He said there were seven public speakers which would follow the officer's outline presentation of the new plan.

Following the officer's outline, (which included a note of the (obvious!) potential danger that would follow a section of road that was to be controlled by traffic lights, but which for most of the time would have green lights showing at both ends. Only when a large vehicle needed to use that section would the traffic lights be changed).

We could see his point and wondered - in the event of an accident where two drivers each believed they had right of way because 'their' light showed green - what the real position would be.

We also wondered about the confusion this could cause for a peloton of cyclists - or a herd of horses or cows - and an articulated lorry

The officer concluded that the addition of two further routes may have some benefits, but officers did not believe they did not overcome the reasons for the County Council's objection.

After his presentation, and after Cllr Paul Hayhurst declared several non-pecuniary interests (including the fact that parts of the red and green routes were within his Division, and he was chairman of Elswick Parish Council, and also the District councillor for Elswick and Little Eccleston, and 6 or 7 year ago, Elswick PC had received a donation for Britain in Bloom from Cuadrilla, and likewise the Elswick Community Projects Fund).

The first speaker public speaker was:


Barbara chairs the Roseacre Awareness Group who are leading the opposition to Cuadrilla's plan.

She said the matter revolved around one thing only and that was public safety, and she said it was LCC's duty to protect those they represent.

She said the need for public safety strongly outweighed the national interest to develop shale gas extraction, and noted these plans had been rejected at every level, by residents, Parish Councils, the Borough Council, LCC's own officers, CPRE, and even our Conservative MP.

She argued that the changes actually made matters worse and put more lives at risk, saying it was not if an accident would happen, it was only when it would happen.

She asked - when that happened, who would be accountable? Would it be a driver, the contractor, Cuadrilla, The Government, or LCC for letting it go through?

She quoted from a series of comments she had received local residents and from Mark Menzies' clear letter of objection that the proposal should not go ahead, and she called on the County Council to maintain its objection to the proposal for Roseacre Wood.


Spoke as a member of Newton with Clifton Parish Council who object to the proposals. He said the routes now included had been proposed before by Cuadrilla but they had subsequently rejected them themselves. Now they were back in.

In contrast to the existing vehicles that use the roads (which have double wheeled axels and can cope with one wheel going onto soft ground on the edge of he road if two need to pass each other) he said Cuadrilla's 44 tonne juggernaughts have several axels with just a single wheel on each side, and if one of those goes over the side of the road and there is a ditch, there was a real risk of rollover.

He also said the vehicles were articulated and every time at a junction they have to use the full extent of the articulation, frequently having to swing to the far edge of the opposite carriageway to negotiate it and sometimes reversing as party of the process.

He said the junction at the Hand and Dagger pub was one of the worst, and he was really worried that a vehicle would overturn there because it is a very tight junction with a very narrow verge, and a ditch. He added that this was a special concern because travelling away from the pub, the road is adversely cambered in both directions and the lorry would have to accelerate as it takes the bend to be able to go up the incline.

He said a rollover could risk serious injury or even death, and the prospect of thousands of litres of potentially noxious substances going straight into the canal.

He pleaded with the Committee to maintain their objection.


Spoke about Inskip and in particular the blind, right-angled bend in the centre, saying that Cuadrilla's solution to this problem was to use a mirror. The hopelessness of this 'solution' will be obvious to those who know the road.


Spoke for Elswick Parish Council about the Green and Red routes, pointing out that Elswick already had a problem with a developing HGV business that was operating in and through Elswick without planning permission having had their planning application for it refused. He said Fylde Council was taking enforcement action to prevent the problems it was causing.


Spoke for herself and Greenhalgh with Singleton Parish Council. She pointed out the problems that another 50 wagons a day would bring to the A585 and to the M55 junction at Greenhalgh, saying it was always busy and had already had to have traffic lights installed to deal with the long queues of traffic at peak times. She also drew attention to the concerns of the Highways Agency about the turning into Thistleton which both the Red and Green routes proposed to use.


From Treales Roseacre and Wharles Parish Council, she spoke of cyclists and horse riders using the roads and one particular thing she said struck a chord with us.

Speaking about one of the HGV's passing a horse of Dagger Hall Lane she spoke of the serious danger that would arise even if the HGV had slowed down to, say, 5 mph, because hot gases from a lateral exhaust would hit the horse's legs, and if that happened, it might well panic.

We heard an experienced transport manager (Mr Hasty) tell the first inquiry of this problem. He said it risked the horse spooking and throwing the rider off in the path of the HGV.

His evidence made an impression on us at that time, and the problem was no less worrying when we heard it again at this LCC meeting.


Always worth listening to, she prepares well, and delivers a well argued case. She said she represented Treales Roseacre and Wharles on the County Council.

Heading straight for the jugular she reiterated the excellent points made by local resident Elaine Smith at the Fylde Planning Committee (readers can follow this link for more details of Mrs Smith's 3 minutes at FBC Planning Committee)  about Fylde's Holiday Brochure having a quote from the Royal Horticultural Society which says ' It's one of the greenest, cleanest, most beautiful places in Britain.'

The guide also suggests that visitors to Fylde can 'Escape the pressures of daily life, and be enchanted by the unspoilt villages and the scenery.'

Cllr Mrs Oades went on to say that LCC had already rejected the Blue Route because the increased traffic would have an unacceptable impact on the rural highway network, existing road users and vulnerable road users giving a severe reduction in highway safety. And the Inspector at the first Inquiry had agreed, as had the Secretary of State so far as what had been proposed at that time.

But, she said, the SoS had allowed the applicant to propose other or further measures before final decision. She contended this had not been done with the changes now proposed and, if anything, the three routes proposed would severely impact on even more vulnerable road users, and she urged the Committee to support the officer's recommendation.


At this point the Chairman read out the officer's recommendation:

'That the conclusions of the report be noted and that Officers be instructed to maintain the County Council's objection to the development by presenting evidence to the reopened public inquiry covering the issues set out in the report to the Committee.'

Then called for speakers:


After thanking those members of the public who had come to the meeting, and praising the contribution of the public speakers, he said he thought there would be a lot of concern, and potentially a lot of agreement amongst the councillors on this matter.

He said he would like to propose acceptance of the officer's recommendation. Cllr Jimmy Eaton said he would like to second the proposition, as did another Councillor whose name we didn't pick up.


Didn't want to duplicate comments of others but did think it important that councillors had the opportunity to express the strength of their views. He said they should make their comments in the strongest possible form for the Inspector to be aware of.

He said he had looked forward to seeing the Police's contribution about roads and traffic, but he said

"...But having read it I was slightly disappointed because whilst the focused almost exclusively on how they would deal with protestors and suchlike as that, and how they might contribute to road traffic safety and what have you, they've not really spoken at all about the road traffic contribution that the HGV's themselves will add to the dangers that would be apparent to other road users and members of the community, so I think their contribution is disappointing..."

He concluded by saying he did not believe that any of the mitigation measures proposed had achieved their objective. He said his view would apply to application with these sort of transport requirements and it was not because this was fracking. He said he would support the officer's recommendation.


Thought the site visit had shown what he called 'the true horrors of this thing' before noting that

"...In terms of adding the extra routes compared to the original, isn't really a matter of this diluting the impact, it's doing the opposite, if this had ever been approved or is ever to be approved, it would be simply magnifying the impact across the area of a much wider footprint. It would make things even worse rather than any better".


Said he was the councillor who proposed accepting the officers recommendation to refuse the application back in 2015 basically because of the problems with what is now called the Blue Route.

He said the proposals were an attempt at mitigating the Blue Route and adding two further routes but he agreed that it would magnify and make the problem worse.

He went on to say there were some questions he felt had not been answered well enough, and he worried about the way the word 'severe' (as in having a severe impact) was subjective and might be used inconsistently in different applications.


Said after visiting and partly walking the routes yesterday he had been 'appalled'


Picked up aspects of each of the routes and the differing vulnerable road users. He supported the recommendation.


Said he came expecting to make an impassioned plea but it didn't look as though he was going to have to do so. Turning to the detail he said:

"The Secretary of State has said he is minded to approve subject to us sorting out the traffic conditions, and he's thrown it back into Cuadrilla's remit. And what we've got to realise is that Cuadrilla themselves rejected the green and red route previously. These were two routes which they considered before they put the planning application in, and they felt these two routes were unsafe.

The Blue Route is one that the Inspector ruled was unsafe and went against, and what we've got to realise now is that whilst we've seen Cuadrilla and its advisers come up with a nice glossy book which has obviously cost thousands to produce, the improvements are cosmetic.

We saw from the officers that some of these so called lay-bys are about eight inches wide, and the other problem with them is that they don't address any of the narrow points. Most of these narrow sections are actually where there's buildings on both sides, both in Elswick, and Roseacre, you've got situations whereby you cannot get two vehicles - you cannot even get two cars down. I use these roads more than anybody in this room. I use this section every week, and I can assure you that I actually stop to allow traffic coming the opposite way in various sections.

And if we can just think about the situation, out of the three routes we've got, we've got 22 ninety-degree bends, we've got narrow roads in all three routes. We've got parked cars in all three routes, which further narrow the road. We've got a children's playground in Elswick, a children's school in Inskip, and a children's playground in Clifton"

He went of to speak about the photographs taken by officers and other matters - notably the concern from Highways England about frustrated drivers who were held up on the A585 'taking a chance' to get ahead, before concluding that the Roseacre site was simply unsuitable.


Said he would be supporting the officer's recommendation adding

"As the person who chaired the meeting a few years ago, I haven't seen anything to change my mind, so I'll be supporting the recommendations.


Said the roads might be nice for a Sunday drive out, but not for 44 tonne heavy goods vehicles, and she would be supporting the officer's recommendation.


Before moving to the vote, the Chairman added his thanks to the officers for an excellent report, and to the councillors and residents who had come to the meeting, and those who had made representations (Many of the other councillors who spoke earlier had echoed these thanks as well).

He then called the vote, and it was unanimous

'That the conclusions of the report be noted and that Officers be instructed to maintain the County Council's objection to the development by presenting evidence to the reopened public inquiry covering the issues set out in the report to the Committee.'


There could have been more dissent at LCC, but there was unanimity.

After seeing the officer's report and recommendation, we thought LCC's decision was never in any serious doubt.

We know the roads and the area well, and - like all the speakers at the LCC Development Control meeting - we regard it as impossible to make enough alterations to the traffic and transportation arrangements to make the level of industrial traffic acceptable at all.

The roads are intended to serve farms and locals, not industry.

The industrialisation of Fylde's countryside ought not to be allowed.

But at the end of the day,  if the Government still believes what former Prime Minister David Cameron says of fracking, that "an industry can build up around it"  - and if Government continues to override the democratic planning decisions taken by ALL levels of Local Government - parish, borough and county , then the whole of its planning process will have been shown to be a charade.

What we have reported here from LCC (and from the FBC meeting that preceded it), is a microcosm of the arguments against the plans that will be presented, amplified and dissected in minute detail at the inquiry next week.

What we've not heard in any detail yet is what Cuadrilla plan to do to overcome these criticisms.

That's for next week.....


The purpose of next week's public inquiry is to let objectors and supporters present their evidence before an independent Planning Inspector.

It also provides them with the chance to test the evidence presented by the other parties and, if appropriate, to cross-examine witnesses.

The Inspector must take account of the evidence submitted; report on that evidence; and make recommendations to the Minister on the proposals.

Once again, the Inquiry is being held at Blackpool FC Hotel & Conference Centre, off Bloomfield Road commencing 10 April 2018 at 10.00am. Parking is easy but not reasonably priced. If it's handy for you, a bus might be a less expensive option.

Anyone may attend for all or any part of a day's proceedings

The first morning will likely be take up with administrative and procedural matters; (who the parties are, what matters may be considered, what the batting order will be, that sort of thing). But anyone wanting to have their own say to the Inspector probably needs to be present on the first day - because (usually) that's when the Inspector takes a list of the names of those who want to speak.

Anyone who plans to attend will need to be prepared for heavy (but in our experience very polite) security with bag searches.

Whilst there will be comfort and coffee breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon where (typically) tea coffee and biscuits can be bought, lunches are a bit more complicated.

The time allowed (usually an hour or less) doesn't really give time to leave the building, lunch, and return within the hour (and the choice of establishments is quite limited and not that close to the Stadium).

We're not sure if sandwiches will be available for sale, (so bring your own lunch might be a good idea), but if they are, that will be about the extent of it.

That said, at the last Inquiry, there was a very quiet and comfortable publicly available bar and restaurant in the hotel adjoining the Stadium. It might not be at the 'budget' end of things, but we found it to be very conveniently located (even if we were a little late back on occasions).

If the hotel is still operating (in the middle of the Oyston's trials tribulations) it might be a useful lunchtime venue according to your preference.

The Inspector’s stated intention is that only traffic and transport matters will be considered - and he will want to stick to that.

But this decision is somewhat controversial, and we can see circumstances where a wider perspective will probably be necessary. We expect some wrangling on this matter - if not on the first day, then as the Inquiry progresses.

As last time we expect the Inspector to sit at the far end of the rectangular room, with the 'opposing' sides at tables facing each other across the room and running between the inspector and the public gallery which will be set out theatre style facing the Inspector. There will also likely be a press table from which we and others will record and report what happens during the Inquiry.

A huge amount of evidence preparation has been taking place concerning impacts on the proposed routes, including surveys, photos and simulated scenarios, and all of that will be presented for the Inspector's attention and consideration.

'Defend Lytham' are also keeping an eye on what's happening. They tell us they think the decision at Roseacre will determine whether the fracking industry is able to exploit our area, because if Roseacre goes against Cuadrilla, the precedent will mean that large areas of Fylde will be off-limits to them. They're urging their supporters to attend the Planning Inquiry if they can.

We hope to be there for most, if not all of the time, and we're told there will be a live webcast of proceedings (We'll report the web address readers can use on day 1), and also that we will have a broadband link to allow journalists and reporters like us to upload their copy or (for those that want to) to tweet what's going on.

We have prepared template pages to carry the reports day by day and, depending on the expert witness timings, we hope to produce page updates at break times during each day.

We're not going to bombard readers with notifications about these updates. We expect to issue one notification on the first day of each week, and if anything momentous happens, we will send an additional one.

Anyone who wants to be added to our (free) email notifications list can simply use the link at the foot of this page.

Dated:  5 April 2018



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