Campaigners pledge to put their lives on the line as fracking operation edges closer

Anti-fracking campaigners have pledged to put their lives on the line to stop a company drilling for shale gas in North Yorkshire – after seeing a letter saying work on site will start ‘on or after Thursday’.

Two protesters – who locked their arms together in a metal device – have been removed from a road near the site this morning. The road closure during this operation caused severe traffic delays.

Protesters had locked arms together in a metal device.
Protesters had locked arms together in a metal device. Credit: ITV News

They are threatening to step up their efforts to stop fracking going ahead in Kirby Misperton – amid fears it could be the first of many sites to be targeted.

North Yorkshire County Council gave Third Energy permission to frack in September.

Credit: ITV News

This morning there was further activity at the site as protestors tried to prevent a convoy of lorries getting through to the fracking site.

Police closed Kirkby Misperton Road as they attempted to move the two protestors locked into a heavy metal tube to try to stop the lorries.

I know that protest activity has had an effect on the local community, but I want to reassure everyone that we are doing all we can to make sure residents can go about their daily lives safely and without disruption. It’s challenging to balance that against the right of people to assemble and protest peacefully, so we’ll continue to talk to people on all sides of the issue, to help make this a safe and peaceful protest.


The Guardian continues with an anti-fracking stance –  (at last)

Pollutants from fracking could pose health risk to children, warn researchers

Analysis of US fracking sites suggests pollutants including airborne particulates and heavy metals could affect neurodevelopment of babies and children

The study’s authors say that better monitoring is needed to truly understand the health impacts of exposure to the pollutants. Photograph: Mark Waugh for the Guardian

Pollutants released during fracking processes could pose a health risk to infants and children, according to researchers studying chemicals involved in shale gas operations.

The extraction of shale gas using pressurised fluid – a process known as fracking – has been used commercially since the 1950s and in recent years has fuelled an energy boom in the US. Many countries around the world are looking to follow suit – including Australia and the UK, where the first drilling in six years is expected to begin this week in the North Yorkshire village of Kirby Misperton, despite staunch opposition from protesters.


The research, published in the journal Reviews on Environmental Health, details evidence of the neurological and neurodevelopmental effects and long-term health impacts of chemicals that other studies have linked to unconventional oil and gas operations – techniques that include fracking.

The research highlights a number of ways by which such pollutants are released by fracking and other such operations, including through leaks, equipment use and trucks for transportation.

It also reports that levels of various pollutants in air and water samples – including particulate matter, manganese and benzene – have been found by some studies to exceed US guidelines at certain fracking sites.

“Given the profound sensitivity of the developing brain and the central nervous system, it is very reasonable to conclude that young children who experience frequent exposure to these pollutants are at particularly high risk for chronic neurological problems and disease,” said Webb.

But, she noted, questions remain around what the exact health impacts of such levels of exposure might be..

“One of the major unknowns is how low level but long term exposure from multiple chemicals might affect people’s health,” said Webb.

The authors make a number of recommendations, including that buildings such as schools be set at least 1.6km (one mile) away from where drilling occurs. They also say better monitoring is needed to unpick the health impacts of human exposure to the pollutants.

“Currently, only a small number of studies document a causal relationship between pollution created by unconventional oil and gas operations and undesirable health outcomes,” the authors note.

Laura Grant, senior policy adviser at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management in the UK reiterated the point, noting that while the research detailed health impacts linked to the various pollutants, there was no clear evidence that fracking has directly caused such problems among those near shale gas sites. But, she added, “that is not to say there aren’t any risks,” although she observed that regulations around fracking differ between the US and the UK.

“The limits on what you can put into your fracking fluid are a lot more stringent in the UK,” said Grant. “At the moment it is only very few substances, and they are all non-hazardous.”

Professor Andrew Watterson, director of the centre for public health and population health research at the University of Stirling, said some of the pollutants flagged by the researchers will also be present at sites in the UK and may include particulate matter and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. He added that more needs to be done to determine what constitutes a “safe” level.

“Preventing exposure is the critical step and even with a small number of pilot wells under relatively tight surveillance by regulators, there have already been multiple breaches and planning creep issues,” said Watterson.

But Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry, said research had shown that levels of risk were low in a properly-regulated industry.

“Approval by the Environment Agency for the use of chemicals in the UK
will only occur if consideration of the likely concentrations and pathways from a source to a given receptor is minimal,” he noted.

However Antoine Simon, extractive industries campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said the latest study adds to a growing body of research highlighting health dangers for those living near fracking sites, and called for a ban on the technology.

“Fracking technology is inherently risky wherever its used and it would be foolish to think the health impacts seen in the US would be avoided in the UK,” he said. “The risks to people exposed to air and water pollutants associated with fracking have to be taken seriously.”

Back in Shropshire –

Protestors want fracking ban for England

By Sue Austin | North Shropshire | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Campaigners who successfully blocked fracking on fields in Shropshire are calling for England to follow moves in the rest of the UK to ban the controversial energy extraction.

Moves to stop fracking across Wales will go to the Welsh Assembly today in a bill brought by Plaid Cymru.

The party wants to see new legislation to ensure a presumption against the gas drilling.

Residents of north Shropshire who fear fracking could be back on the agenda in the area in years to come say a similar move across England would all but stop the process

Mid and West Welsh Assembly member, Simon Thomas, was today due to move a member’s legislative proposal in the Senedd.

He said: “Plaid Cymru is calling on the Labour Government to commit to a precautionary approach to unconventional gas activity, including opposing fracking.

“We don’t need fracking in Wales. We don’t want fracking in Wales. Fracking is the old way of doing things. It’s time to throw out the solutions of the past.”

“Instead we should amend land use planning legislation to fast track community owned energy schemes, with a presumption in favour of development.”

Chris Hesketh, one of the leading figures in the campaign in 2016, Frack Free Dudleston, which brought to an end plans to extract coal bed methane from fields between Ellesmere and St Martins, said he hoped the bill would be successful.

“Scotland has led the way in banning fracking and now it looks as if Wales could follow,” he said.

“Sadly the spectre of fracking is still hanging over us. If we had a presumption against planning permission that would all but see fracking disappear.”

Mr Hesketh said that the plight of the people of Misperton in north Yorkshire, where the exploratory rigs were being moved onto a site could so easily have happened in north Shropshire.

“We were just weeks away from the rigs moving in,” he said.

Shropshire county councillor, Steve Davenport, said he would also like to see a presumption against fracking.

“I would like to see it banned across the whole of the UK, but most particularly in open countryside,” he said.

The case in Dudleston went to the Planning Inspectorate before it was eventually withdrawn in July 2016 when the licence with the landowner ended.

But residents from the village of Kirby Misperton in Rydale, north Yorkshire, have not been successful in a bid to block a decision to allow hydraulic fracturing near their homes.



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