Saturday, August 19, 2017

Lee Rowley Acts

Lee Rowley is the recently elected Conservative Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire. Taking the seat from Labour.
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He has made a 15 page submission to the Derbyshire County Council opposing a planning application related to fracking as submitted by INEOS for the operation of a Vertical Hydrocarbon Exploratory Core Well to be situated on land adjacent to Bramleymoor Lane, near Marsh Lane in his constiituency. His submission can be found via this link

Although my own submission (see here) against the proposal by INEOS tended to stress different considerations, Lee Rowley's submission from his own perspective is well presented with 86 footnotes providing key supportive references. Its substantial nature indicates that he has drawn his case from professional sources - and with their help.  Perhaps it gives hope that the Conservative controlled County Council will reject the application from INEOS. Although this would only be the first stage of efforts to block the INEOS proposal.

On the issue concerned, click here for my earlier open letter on the matter to Lee Rowley. He is fully aware of it.  


Sunday, August 13, 2017

50 Years And A Day

Yesterday a meeting was held at the Contact Club, Snape Hill Lane, Dronfield to mark the 50th Anniversary of its formal opening as its permanent home. During the meeting, I distributed the following details for discussion purposes. The point being that when the opening cerimony took place, Labour had a majority in our local North East Derbyshire Constituency of 19,600, which is an all-time record. Yet recently, the Conservatives took the seat for the first time since the 1931 General Election. We discussed some of the reasons for this huge transformation.

The table also has wider implications. For even though Labour had a good result at the last General Election, back in 1966 it took a 101 more parliamentry seats.


                             LABOUR DURING THE CONTACT CLUB YEARS

Election Year     Labour Leader   % Votes      Seats    Percentage Turnout       Government

1966                           Wilson              47.7            363                  75.8                          Labour

1970                           Wilson              42.7            287                  72.0                          Con

1973 UK joins the EU.

Feb 1974                    Wilson              37.2           301                  78.8                          Labour

Oct 1974                     Wilson             39.3            319                  72.8                         Labour

1975 Referendum to remain in the EU.

1979                           Callaghan        36.9             268                  76.0                         Con

1983                           Foot                 27.6             209                  72.7                         Con

1987                           Kinnock          30.8              229                  75.3                        Con

1990 Poll Tax - start of electoral registration problems, which then grew for other reasons.

1992                          Kinnock            34.4              271                  77.7                       Con

Below this, move to lower turnouts.

1997                          Blair                  43.2              418                 71.4                        Labour

2001                          Blair                  40.7              412                 59.4                        Labour

2005                          Blair                  35.2              355                 61.4                        Labour

2010                         Brown                 29.0             258                  65.1                       Con/Lib Dem

2015                         Miliband             30.4             232                  66.1                       Con

2016 Referendum to leave the EU.

2017                        Corbyn                40.0             262                  68.7                       Con

2017 saw the third highest Labour % since the 1970 General Election. With an age divide in voting patterns replacing a more traditional divide by social class.

An impact on percentage Lab/Con votes throughout being the relative strengths and weaknesses of third parties.


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

50th Anniversary - Part 2.

The 50th Anniversary of the initial formation of the Dronfield Contact Club was celebrated three years ago. The Club having initially operated from the site of the former Comrades Club on the High Street in Dronfield. I covered details of this development via this link.

The Club was so incredibly popular on its High Street site that with a great deal of effort and commitment from its Committee Members and supporters, it was soon in a position to build and operate from a new permanent home on Snape Hill Lane. Some of those who dedicated their time and effort to this development are shown on this link.

So we are now in a position to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the formal opening of the Club's Snape Hill Lane site. At 8pm on Saturday 12th August the Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Group will hold on informal get together in the Functions Room of the Contact Club to mark the anniversary. The formal opening of the Club's permanent home having been undertaken on 12 August 1967 by Mannie Shinwell MP a leading Labour politician. I had been a sub-agent for him in his Constituency in County Durham in 1959.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Submission To Derbyshire County Council On Fracking

Some will recognise points I have used from their own work.
 
Development Management,
Derbyshire County Council,
County Hall,
Matlock,
Derbyshire,
DE4 3AG.
                                                                                                  18 July, 2017.

                Planning Application Reference : CM4/0517/10
(As submitted by Ineos Upstream Ltd, for planning permission to drill a vertical hydrocarbon exploratory core well on land adjacent to Bramleymoor Lane, near Marsh Lane, Eckington.)

I object to the above planning application for the reasons which will appear below. But because of the wider implications of this planning application, I start in (a) with a suggestion as to how your Council should approach its investigations into the full implications of Ineos's lengthy submission.

(a) Under “Petroleum Exploration Development Licences”, Ineos Upstream Ltd have the right to seek to apply for a series of similar applications to the above across wide areas of Derbyshire. The examination by the County Council of this initial application is ,therefore, of great significance as it could set a pattern for future applications, including conclusions that might come to be drawn upon later. So the closest possible form of scrutiny needs to be applied to this initial planning application. This would be assisted by a full site visit by those County Councillors who serve on your Planning Committee. It would be especially helpful to include the local Eckington County Councillor in both the preparations for such an inspection and in the site visit itself, to draw from local knowledge. Further relevant information could come from experts outside of the County Council, including relevant academics (e.g. at Sheffield University such as Dr Domenico Bau) and officials and representatives from both North East Derbyshire District Council and the Eckington Parish Council. The local MP has also taken a clear interest in this application.

(b) The closest examination will, of course, need to be applied to the very site which Ineos is seeking to use for its operations. A start can be made by examining the site via the Coal Authorities Interactive Map and making full use of its “Planning Themes” as shown in the top right corner of their map. The Coal Authority have, however, pointed out to me that the matters on their interactive map only refer to their current knowledge and more problematic information could come to be unearthed at any time in the future - see http://mapapps2.bgs.ac.uk/coalauthority/home.html

A further source of relevant and valuable Coal Authority information for our area can also be found here -
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coalfield-plans-derbyshire-county-coucil-area In fact INEOS have drawn from this source in producing a map relating to their proposed Bramleymoor Lane development in their submission to you. Their proposed site is in a red box which they have added to the Coal Authority Map. This map is shown later. It shows that there are two old mine entries (or exits) in the field where they wish to engage in drilling. It is possible that other such entries and exits exist in that field, but have not yet been discovered. How safe will deep excavation and the construction of a substantial rig be in such circumstances ?

It should also be noticed that the black shaded areas and the black round circles on the Coal Authority's maps reveal a wide range of other “High Risk Development Areas” (including many old entrances) in the vicinity of the site. These include a nearby housing estate at Marsh Lane. Clearly, your Council should err on the side of being cautious rather than being sorry.

(c) It should also be taken into account that the North East Derbyshire District Council (on three occasions) rejected applications for the use of the Bramleymoor Lane site as land for the operation of a car boot sale. On their 6 March 2009 response see application number 09/00038/FL. You can pursue this matter with the District Council. One of their concerns was the problem about likely heavy traffic in a rural area, this is related to my next point.
    (d) The amount, size, nature and regularity of heavy traffic proposed by Ineos into and out of the Bramleymoor Lane site is extremely worrying. The proposed extensive use of the already busy narrow traffic routes of Dyche Lane and Eckington Lane is a matter of serious concern, especially given materials being driven to the site and then taken away – especially by major HGVs . This matter should be given the considerable attention , especially during the site visit which I propose in (a) above.
    (e) Ineos seek to give the impression that the work they are seeking to undertake will occur in a rather isolated rural area. But this is not the case. In the close proximity to the proposed site, there is the community of Marsh Lane – and a school. This is a village of almost 1,000 people many of whom live on a housing estate in close proximity to the proposed site – starting out only some 330 yards away according to the map from Ineos which appears on your own page 40 of their submission here - http://www.ineos.com/globalassets/ineos-group/businesses/ineos-shale/our-operations/bramleymoor-lane/pedl-doc/pedl-300-1-doc-7-environmental-report.pdf This results in problems of noise, pollutants and nearby heavy traffic for long periods over several years. There will also be unsightly, round the clock intrusion of a rig operating over much of this time, which will often provide serious light pollution - including throughout the night. The rig from proposals submitted by Ineos could stand at 86% the height of the dominant Crooked Spire at Chesterfield. It is not something which can be hidden from view from such a short distance. .
    This map is referred to in item (b) above.

(f) Under the planning procedures which are in place, the current application for an exploratory well are dealt with theoretically as if they were entirely separate from a later application for the hydraulic fracking of shale gas. Yet everyone knows that this is not the case. Ineos would not be seeking the authority to operate an exploratory well near Marsh Lane unless it had very strong reasons to believe that this will lead on to evidence which would enable them to make an application in the future for hydraulic fracking operations, either from the same area or nearby.

The dangers of hydraulic fracking in the vicinity in the future are massive. The main sources for the extraction of shale gas will be former areas where coal extractions have taken place or coal seams remain. In the immediate Eckington, Marsh Lane and Coal Aston areas, these are mainly beneath built upon urban areas and not mainly in the green belt.

The Coal Authority sources which I refer to in point (b) above reveal that surrounding built up areas near the proposed site are pock marked with former mine entry points. Such areas are likely to be the leading sources for access to shale gas. On page 6 of the INEOS publication entitled "INEOS : the energy behind UK manufacturing" it claims that its horizontal fracking activities can run up to 2,000 metres (which is around a mile and a quarter). From the proposed site this would reach Eckington, Apperknowle, West Handley and Middle Handley. Then there is also a possibility that horizontal underground fracking could reach much further than INEOS indicate. A firm called Halliburton in the USA having engaged in such operations for three and a half miles. See -

It needs to be appreciated that the Coal Authority have been obliged to conduct treatment works in the area for mine stabilisation purposes. There was a case at the back of a property on Eckington Road itself in July 2011. See their contract reference CA18/2295.

Local people are naturally concerned about the impact which moves to fracking in their vicinity would have on (a) the safety of their property, (b) its commercial value and (c) the costs and availability of appropriate house insurance.

There is a rich literature on relevant past coal mining operations in Derbyshire, especially the 993 page “The Derbyshire Miners” by J.E. Williams (George Allen and Unwin,1962) which can fruitfully be consulted so that fracking dangers are not missed. Also see http://www.oldminer.co.uk/

(g) There is a further source which may be as significant as that provided by the Coal Authority. It is the British Geological Survey. The British Geological Survey (BGS) runs this web-site - http://www.bgs.ac.uk/
I have been able to establish a much better relationship with the Coal Authority than with this body. But hopefully you are in receipt of other relevant submissions about their work in your area. You can also turn to them yourselves on the following matters.

The Marsh Lane area (and much of Derbyshire) sits on an active geological fault line running from south Humberside to the Cannock area of the West Midlands. There was an earthquake centred on Market Raisen on 27 February 2008, which had a wide ranging damaging impact in Derbyshire. The following survey shows that 7,872 reports of damage were received from Telegraph readers as a consequence. However, many people were unaware that the survey was even taking place. 150 reports were received from Derby, 83 from Chesterfield and 303 from nearby Sheffield. Several other areas in Derbyshire are also listed, including four from Dronfield where I live. I know of others locally which were not recorded. See - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1580010/UK-earthquake-town-by-town-statistics.html

The question arises as to how far underground excavation leading to eventual underground fracking will replicate such problems given the nature of local geological fault lines. Earth tremors having halted drilling near Blackpool in the past.

(h) Other safety related concerns include – (i) Groundwater quality – contamination via the use of chemicals and the mobilisation of naturally occurring radioactive materials, (ii) waste from the contamination of drilling and fracturing activities; such as drill cuttings, waste drilling mud from the use of oil and water, (iii) loss of local habitats through noise and vibration, air and water, as well as the truck movements mentioned earlier, (iv) possible methane and nitrogen oxides released into the atmosphere during the recovery of shale gas itself and (v) the impact on the supply of water on local supplies if catchments are over-abstracted.

(i) Vertical drilling is also an unproven technology which could involve or disturb naturally occurring gas deposits including benzene which is cancer causing when drilling fluids are used. The operator Ineos are in an impossible position to tackle these and other potential problems having no experience of operating an onshore drilling site. See - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/shale-gas-extraction-review-of-the-potential-public-health-impacts-of-exposures-to-chemical-and-radioactive-pollutants
    Yours sincerely,
    Harry Barnes.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

An Open Letter To Lee Rowley MP





Image result for Lee Rowley MP
Dear Lee Rowley,

You will appreciate that as I first joined the Labour Party almost 60 years ago, voted Labour in 16 subsequent General Elections and served as the Labour MP for North East Derbyshire for 18 years, that I am not a supporter of yours. But on specific items in politics, opponents can sometimes find themselves looking in a similar direction. So on the matter below I am attempting to be helpful, in the hope that you can deliver on a matter of common concern.

During your election campaign you made numbers of commitments against moves towards fracking operations on the Bramleymoor Lane site near Marsh Lane in your constituency. It is quite likely that the stance you took was a key factor in your election.

Hopefully, you will now use your position as MP to press the case against INEOS pursuing its intentions in that area. Yet in doing so you may need to act as something of a rebel against the Government's current stance. The Government's minority position does, however, give you some leverage for the pursuit of your expressed concerns.

There are a number of early avenues which you can pursue. When I served as an MP from 1987 I only tended to come across these in bits and pieces. But you don't have this luxury as the Bramleymoor Lane situation is on top of us. Below I give something of a menu for you to draw from. What can be done and when, will (of course) rest upon passing opportunities.

First of all, you can put your name in to the Speaker to make your maiden speech as soon as possible. Some new MPs are even lucky enough to be called to do this during the initial debate on the Queen's Speech. Your maiden speech will then give you a clear opportunity to raise opposition to the Bramleymoor Lane proposal. For with a maiden speech you are not stuck to the subject matter of the issues under discussion.

You can then pursue numbers of other parliamentary avenues. For instance, you can quickly apply for an Adjournment Debate on the matter. This provides a half hour session at the end of the day, during which you can press your case. A relevant Government Minister will respond to you in that time, giving you a chance for then to intervene - especially if the Minister isn't being helpful. There are no votes on Adjournment Debates, but they are valuable for raising and pursuing concerns. And  on the back of such a debate, you can seek to get a meeting in the Government Minister's Office where you could lead a deputation from (say) "Eckington Against Fracking".   

You could also then seek to introduce a "Ten Minute Rule Bill" to place a ban on the Bramleymoor Lane development. That would give you ten minutes in which to spell out your case. If the Commons then agreed to the Bill being printed, you can announce the names of a dozen or so MPs who have agreed to back your measure - perhaps on a cross party basis. If the Government is not happy with your proposal, it will move to block further advances to your measure by its control over various parliamentary procedures. But your efforts will gain support in your constituency and add to your (and our) pressures.

To find out who might join you in supporting your efforts you can always put down an Early Day Motion (EDM), spelling out what you are seeking on the matter. The convention is that front-benchers won't sign these specific forms of EDM, but it will help you to discover what wider support you have amongst back-bench MPs on a cross-party basis.  

You will then have other avenues to pursue to further your case. These include parliamentary questions to relevant Government Ministers, weekly questions on the future business of the Commons (during which you can refer to your EDM) and a debate in Westminster Hall.

There is always the possibility that when the Government know what you are up to, they will make significant concessions to you to contain your pressures. You will, of course, find private avenues within the Parliamentary Conservative Party to pursue your concerns.

You also need to be in touch with the Conservative administration at the Derbyshire County Council to seek to block the initial application for the Marsh Lane area.

I hope that the avenues I have outlined are helpful to you on this issue.

Yours sincerely,
Harry Barnes.





Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Index : INEOS Pre-Fracking Application

In the eight preceding blog entries below, I have summarized INEOS's application for pre-fracking rights at a site off Bramleymoor Lane near Marsh Lane. Although sometimes this is all little more than a list of contents, which people may then use to focus on items contained in the full 731 page submission. But there are some passing comments and explanations.

If people trawl backwards into these blog items they will move via parts 8,7,6,5.4,3,2 back to the start. Therefore, below I provide links to click so these items can more easily be examined in a logical order.

Part 1 which sets the scene for what follows, can be found via this link.

Part 2  gives (a) INEOS's three page covering letter, then (b) a summary of  a 38 page submission entitled "Application Form, Certificates and Checklist". Click here.

Part 3 gives a summary of a 38 page submission "Our Proposal Explained". The Link.

Part 4 gives a summary of a 42 page submission "The Proposals". Next.

Part 5 gives a summary of a 24 page submission "Application Drawings". Here.

Part 6 gives a summary of a 54 page submission "Planning Statement". It is here.

Part 7 gives a (impossible) summary of a 445 page submission "Environmental Report". The 445.

Part 8 gives a summary of a 56 page submission "Statement of Community Involvement". Last Time.


  

    

Part 8 : INEOS Pre-Fracking Application

This is the final summary (part 8) of INEOS"s application submitted to the Derbyshire County Council to start its operations on land adjacent to Bramleymoor Lane near Marsh Lane in North Derbyshire. It is entitled "Statement of Community Involvement" and covers 56 pages - see here. However, anyone visiting the community would be hard pressed to find anyone who agreed with the thrust of INEOS's case. I refer to the pages as they are numbered in the top left hand corner of the County Council's coverage.

Page 4.  1. Introduction.

Page 5.   2. National and Local Policy Guidance.
               2. 1. National Planning Policy Framework.
               2. 2. Planning Practice Guidance.
Page 6.   2. 3. MPA's Statement of Community Involvement (MPA = the Derbyshire County Council's Mineral Planning Authority).

Page 7.   3. Pre Application Stakeholder Consultation.
               3.1. Presentation to MPA Officers and Members.
               3.2. Meeting with MPA Officers. (So can we have similar meetings please ?)

Page 9.  4. Public Consultation.
              4. 1. "Town Hall" meetings. (These were INEOS meetings for Parish Councillors and the like. I arranged to attend two of these. See here for a report of the first of these, which was held at Staveley. I attended a similar event at Shirebrook).
              4.2.   Consultation website.
              4.3.   Public Exhibitions. (These were at Green Lawns and the Marsh Lane Community Centre. I attended the latter). This section also includes - "Natascha Engel MP met the company as part of her research into issues around shale gas extraction. INEOS hosted a visit by Ms Engel to their four well gas production facility near Warrington, Cheshire as part of her fact finding series of visits to well sites and protest camps in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire" .
           
Page 11.  5.  Exhibition Feedback
                5. 1. (Part of the feedback is drawn from those who bothered to complete forms at the close of these "public consultations". Yet most of the disgruntled just ignored them as being rubbish.)
                5.2. Exhibition - (Charts)

Page 18.  6.  Responding to the Feedback.

Page 24.   7. Conclusions.

Page 25. Appendix 1. Exhibition Invites (e.g. "Dear Resident"letter and advert).

Page 29.  Appendix 2. Newspaper Advert.

Page 31.  Appendix 3. Feedback Forms (page 35 gives a "current form").

Page 36.  Appendix  4. Exhibition 1 Banners. (Page 37 shows a huge map of the area surrounding the proposed INEOS site, covering an area of 4,000 metres x 3,000 metres).

Page 52.  Appendix 5. Exhibition 2 Banners. (gives a huge picture of a rig - but it is not lit up for nighttime). 

Page 53 - photo of the mound.

Page 54. - a large well-site diagram

Page 56-  an ariel photo of the wider area.