Sunday, July 15, 2018

Fracking Dangers for Coal Aston and Dronfield

Image result for Gosforth Colliery Dronfield

Gosforth Colliery, Dronfield. In 1896 it employed 95 underground and 35 surface workers.

To access significant areas of shale gas, INEOS's need to engage in underground fracking operations using horizontal techniques in areas which have either (a) remaining untouched coal seams and/or (b) have had past coal mine workings. The appropriately named "COAL Aston and Dronfield Against Fracking" body covers territory which completely fits both of these categories. Untouched coal seams remain in areas such as the High Street and Church Street, because they had been built upon before coal mining operations expanded throughout the rest of what was then Dronfield's green fields, especially in the 19th and early 20th Century. And also at times well before that.

To see the range of former coal mining activity across the whole area covered by the Dronfield Town Council, it is essentail to visit this Coal Authority Interactive Map and home into our area - which is south of Sheffield. There is a key index to link into at the top right hand corner of their map. The former mining operations which have been discovered so far, mainly took place in the 19th Century. Although some go back much longer than that. (Of course, the general points I make below about the Interactive Map also apply to many other parts of the country and they should be more widely checked out.)

All of Dronfield is supposed to be part of the Coal Authority's area of concern. We fall completely into their three categories as (1) a surface coal research area (2) a coal mining report area and (3) a coalfield consultation area. Then they cover over 90% of the area in their abandoned mine catalogue. Red crosses used on the Interactive map show over 250 mine entries, whilst brown crosses are used to show over 80 separate mine exits - although many mines also used their entrances as exits.

A whole range of other categories reveal problems - including Development High Risk Areas, Past Surface Mining, Shallow Coal Mine Workings and Coal Outcrops. A series of green crosses can be found. If you click into these it will tell you the deepth of the pit shafts concerned. Many of these being about just 100 feet deep. The working dates of the operations can be found by linking into a range of some 40 purple crosses. These are mainly from the 19th century.

There is much more information which can be obtained. Those living in the territory can check to see how close they live, work, shop, school, park, walk, drive, worship or obtain entertainment near such areas. Then they can assess how they would feel if INEOS's seismic operations were to take place beneath such areas. Without INEOS being under an obligations to cover the costs of any damages. And without anyone having the right to stop INEOS operating beneath their properties - not even the Derbyshire County Council when it comes to our schools.

The Coal Authority Interactive Map may be difficult to master, but it is well worth the effort. But it is a pity that the Coal Authority are not themselves also pressing such matters. They raised no objections to INEOS's proposals at the recent Bramleymoor Lane enquiry. Even though their interactive map shows two mine shafts in close proximity to INEOS's proposed operations. And these are also categorised as being "Development Risk Areas".

If eventually INEOS came to be able to use its Bramleymoor Lane site for underground fracking operations, these would easily reach to Coal Aston. Then a firm Haliburton in the USA operated over a much longer distance in Texas - far enough to get from the Bramleymoor Lane site to the Unstone-Dronfield By-Pass. The main entrances to the former Gosforth Valley mine (as shown in the above photo) being close to the point where the By-Pass is now carried over a viaduct. There it is close to the entry to the large Tarmac housing estate on Gosforth Valley.

Added 19 July, 2013. Here is a link to a 351 page article by A.N. Bridgewater concerning former North Derbyshire Coal Mines. It contains many maps and photos. Pages 128 to 133 (with some later items) give details about many former coal mines which operated in the Dronfield and Unstone areas. Showing detailed maps and photos. Then "Bramley Moor Old Mine" (of relevance to the recent INEOS application) appears on page 140 during coverage of mines in the Eckington and Mosborough areas. Killamarsh is then dealt with. The writer also points out that sections of the Chesterfield area show the existence of 900 former mining operations. See here. 

A book (with numerious photos) which is also well worth pursuing is "The Coal Industry of Sheffield and North East Derbyshire" by Ken Wain (Amberly 2014).  Link here. 

This is the Coal Authority Map which you need to click into (via the earlier link above) -


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Once More - Beyond Our Ken


The statement which led to Ken Livingstone's suspension from Labour Party membership (and now to his resignation) was his claim that Hitler had "supported Zionism" when first coming to power in Germany "before he went mad and killed six million Jews". This is a clumsy reference to a deal which the Third Reich struck with leaders of the Zionist Movement on 7th August, 1933. Hitler engaged in the deal in order to remove many Jews from Germany. It was a prelude to events such as resorting to prison camps, Kristallnacht (and the like) and then to his fully fledged mass extermination programme. The words used by Ken to described the early start of such developments clearly need to be have been adjusted.

For Hitler was "mad" in terms of the depth and nature of his anti-semitism (and on many other matters) well before the above deal was ever agreed to. For instance, Mein Kampf was published in two volumes back in 1925 and 1926 and contained clear anti-Semitic claims and attacks upon Judaism. It claimed that Aryans were the master race.

The 1933 development which Ken expressed briefly and badly is, however, contained in great detail in Edwin Black's book "The Transfer Agreement'. The introduction to the 1984 edition of his book stating that - "On August 7, 1933, leaders of the Zionist movement concluded a controversial pact with the Third Reich which, in various forms, transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 Jewish Palestine".

Edwin Black is himself Jewish. His grandmother was murdered in Treblinka, having pushed her young daughter (who was later to become Edwin's mother) out of the train that was taking them to the camp. The young man who was to become Edwin's father escaping from a group of Jews who were being led to their execution by Nazis in Poland. Edwin's book is solidly researched and he is certainly in no way anti-semitic. If Ken had stuck with its approach, he would not have upset the apple cart. Yet the fact that he badly expressed the nature of this significant historical arrangement does not by itself make him anti-semitic. Nor can I find other evidence to substantiate this claim. But he could have conceded my point.

Informaton on Edwin Black's book and extracts from it can be found via this link.

22 May : According to a Guardian report, Ken Livingstone has now "apologised for his controversial remarks" on Hitler and Jews. If he had done this some time ago (even pointing to what actually happened), it would have been helpful and might have saved a lot of hassle within the Labour Party by cutting the ground from under his opponents.

25 May : Link here for a two year old Foreign Office definition of anti-semitism, although others may employ other definitions as useages often only share family resemblances. But on which items in the Foreign Office's criteria was Ken Livingstone and some other 80 Labour Party members accused ? 

28 May : Link here for 39 cases of claimed anti-semitism in the Labour Party, although one is the late Gerald Kaufman who himself had Jewish parents. Another is Ken Livingstone. But it provides numbers of claims that can be further checked out.

29 May : Link here for Ken's full statement on his resignation from the Labour Party, which I have just discovered.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Michael Martin

I am very sorry to hear about the death of Michael Martin who was a former Speaker of the House of Commons for a period when I was an MP.

A huge personal debt I owed to him is explained in this item which I placed on this blog back in 2009.     

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Does The Left Have A Jewish Problem ?

A problem which I am seeking to pay attention to is whether anti-semitism has become a matter of significance within the Labour Party, especially with (and around) the election of Jeremy Corbyn as our leader. It is a matter I hope to return to in the future.

Within the last 18 months or so, I read Dave Rich's book "The Left's Jewish Problem : Jeremy Corbyn and Anti-Semitism". I made some notes of it at the time and slipped the following comment inside the copy I hold - now slightly tweaked. Did I say anything of significance or just get hold of the wrong end of this slippery stick?

In criticizing Dave Rich's book, I need to point out that I never voted for Jeremy Corbyn for leader - making a positive abstention in the second vote. And amongst a number of reservations I had about Jeremy was his rather uncritical links with Hamas. Although I now feel that Jeremy has adjusted his stance in numbers of the areas of my concern and I would certainly not favour a further leadership contest at this stage, nor a gang-of-four type split. When confronted by two extreme viewpoints, it can sometimes be helpful to seek to transcend these by working for a synthesis - which is more than a surrender or a compromise. This can be done (in this case) without people being involved in a sell-out of their basic values.
The Left's Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism

"One page 236 of his book, Dave Rich states that the "left is divided between those who identify with Jewish aspirations for nationhood and oppose anti-Semitism as part of their anti-racism, and those who oppose Israel and Zionism for exactly the same reason". This conclusion is typical  of his wider approach, where he argues for the first position.

Yet don't many of us fall into alternative positions - not just one of these two extremes? Including those of us who were highly sympathetic to the needs of Jewish people to share a safe and common homeland (especially given our knowledge of the Holocaust), yet also have concerns about the problematic impact which the establishment of Israel had for many Arabs throughout Israel and Palestine. The resulting conflict between, say, Hamas and Israel being something many of us are keen to help to transcend via, say, a two-state solution. Just as many of us have been associated with moves to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland/the Irish Republic, we have the same approach in relation to Israel/Palestine. 

The fact that many of us have feelings of concern about the treatment of Aborigines in the formation of Australia and of Indians in the formation of the USA, does not mean that we feel that these nations should not be fully recognized in international law. Yet we can also still currently criticize moves made by such nations on whole hosts of current matters.

In the first words to the Forward of his book, David Rich indicates that his work is based upon a PhD which he has recently acquired. I have not come across a full link to his thesis, but I would be keen to access it. For I find it hard to believe that he would gain a Doctorate based on the one-sided analysis of his book - as readable and as itemised as it is. For academics usually insist on the dialectics of debate within a thesis, before awards are granted. (Although I admit I have never attempted one). Surely, this is necessary even when one goes on to draw conclusions in an academic analysis which finally come down solidly on one side. Academics (and the rest of us) also need to put their opponent's cases at its most plausible, if they then wish to cap it. In his book Dave Rich does not really attempt this. Yet as John Stuart Mill pointed out, a person who only knows their own side of the case knows little of that."  

For the Commons' Debate related to this issue on 17 April   - Click here.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How To Use The Coal Authority Interactive Map - showing the dangers of fracking

The Coal Authority Interactive Map can be found via this link. You can use it to search for areas where coal seams have been discovered, including many which have been excavated in the past and where seismic activity (from say earthquakes or underground fracking operations) could lead to subsidence. Many of these areas have since been urbanized, so that seismic disturbances and other forms of ground instability can lead to subsidence beneath built-up areas such as homes, gardens, shops, public buildings, roadways and pathways. We can do little about earthquake dangers, but we should place a block on future fracking operations which will invariably be sort in areas with shale gas and thus linked to the existence of past or remaining coal seams. 

As shown below, the first Coal Authority Interactive Maps shows past and remaining coal seam areas throughout England, Scotland and Wales. You can then (via the Interative Map) home-in to the specific area which interests you. So that, for instance, my second map (to its east) shows the largest combined area of all, with Sheffield near its centre. Via the Interactive Map, specific areas can then be homed into such as the Bramleymoor Lane site being targeted by INEOS near Marsh Lane in Derbyshire.

By then using a list of categories shown in the indexes in the top right corner of the Interactive Map, a wide range of different categories can then be found for the area you have chosen to examine covering items such as Mine Entries, Development High Risk Areas, Underground Workings, Past Shallow Mine Workings and Mine Entry Potential Zones of Influence. Even the red crosses showing the Mine Entries can be clicked onto to see if the Coal Authority holds further details for a specific site, such as the depth of a former shaft. People will often be shocked by the numbers and shallow depths of former workings in their vicinity.

Unfortunately, it will often be unhappy hunting - showing that granting licences to fracking firms is highly dangerous. This is something the Coal Authority should be telling us from the quantity of the information they hold. Their silence is deafening. 


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Fracking, Flaws and Fracturing

This year the 4th Edition of the book shown below has just been published. It is 724 pages long, being made up of an introduction by its editors plus a further 19 articles drawing from a total of 35 highly qualified authors, including the editors themselves. Only four of the articles have a single author, the rest having two or three joint authors. I only temporally hold a Library copy of this book, which I obtained via the inter-library loan system. Below I quote from one of its key articles and later draw attention and give access to one of the key references it employs.
 Methods of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment: 4th Edition (Paperback) book cover

From page 87 in an article entitled "Soils, land and geology" by Chris Stapleton, Hugh Masters Williams and Martin J  Hodson  they make the following important statement related to fracking -
"Seismic Risk is a significant problem in some parts of the world.....For example, hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') can potentially cause significant geological problems that as ESIA (i.e. an "Environmental and Social Impact Assessment". HB) for a fracking operation would need to assess. Fracking involves pumping liquid under pressure into rock formations to force shale gas out. The main geological risks are that expelled gas might contaminate underground aquifers, and the possibility of earthquakes. Earthquakes caused by fracking are usually small, but associated waste-water disposal by injection into deep wells can induce larger earthquakes (Ellsworth 2013). For example, a fracking-induced 5.7 earthquake in central Oklahoma in November 2011 destroyed 14 homes and injured two people....Subsidence and slope stability are also factors that should be considered. Subsidence is caused by underground mining and is usually associated with traditional coalfield areas. where the subsidence extends for considerable distances around collieries".

The article referred to above under the reference "Ellsworth 2013" is by William L. Elsworth and is entitled "Injection-Induced Earthquakes". It was published on 12 July 2013 in Science Volume 341 (see and can be found via clicking into this link. It includes key sections to follow under the following sub-headings "Earthquakes Induced by Hydraulic Fracturing", "Earthquakes Induced by Deep Injection", "Paradox Valley" showing major seismic problems which arose on that site which is in Colorado and "Hazards and Risk of Induced Earthquakes".

The above pubications, therefore, back up the case I have kept pushing.

If it is thought that earthquake problems can never arise in areas such as Sheffield and Derbyshire, then click here for reports from places such as Sheffield, Chesterfield and Derby of the numbers of  events which occurred from a natural incident in February 2008. Then if you also conduct a search of the area via this Coal Authority Interactive Map you will work out the range of subsidence dangers in the area which would be likely to be seriously triggered by fracking-induced seismic activity.

Added 29 January. On the above theme also click here.

Added 30 January.To what extent has the Derbyshire County Council undertaken a full Environmental and Social Impact Assessment in response to INEOS applications over workings on the Bramleymoor Lane site ?  On the local community's behalf, it should clearly have pursued this proceedure (but so should have the Government before it even considered pro-fracking legislation) which is explained via this link.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

125th Anniversary of the ILP

  Coming of Age certif

 The founding conference of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) was held in Bradford exactly125 years ago today. A leading role in setting up the organisation was taken by Keir Hardie. He had been elected as an Independent Labour MP in West Ham the previous year. The ILP then went on to play a major role in the setting up of the Labour Representation Comittee in 1900, which itself became known as the Labour Party in 1906 with Keir Hardie becoming its first leader in the role of Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The ILP's successor organisation today is Independent Labour Publications.  Barry Winter, its former Secretary provides an important article about the ILP's history on their web-site. See this link.