Thursday, September 01, 2016

Fracking Dangers in Chesterfield and Dronfield - Reject the Government's Bribes

 Image result for Chesterfield Crooked Spire

Click here for details of the bribe.    

Fracking can damage buildings, including homes and could even bring down Chesterfield's Crooked Spire (seen above) underneath which INEOS have the authority to search for shale gas and oil. Then in Dronfield in North Derbyshire, pillars holding up a section of the Unstone-Dronfield By-Pass (seen here at the time when I observed it under construction in the 1970's) and placed on the northern side of Gosforth Drive are almost built above the former entrances of shafts for the 19th century Gosforth Pit. So Fracking at this point (again a possibility by INEOS) could even help topple the viaduct itself. 

That these dangers exist is shown by the fact that INEOS have not been given permission to operate beneath Bolsover Castle, nor around a section of the M1 which includes the Heath Junction. Unfortunately, no similar caution has been taken concerning the Crooked Spire nor for my local By-Pass. The Government having ignored these points when I raised them during their consultative procedure.

Such problems are also massive across the whole of North Derbyshire (and in many other regions), which is pock-marked with a variety of different forms of historical coal extraction, from old fashioned "bell pits" to fully fledged deep-mines. The records for what has so far been discovered are open to the Government to investigate from the details held by the Coal Authority at Mansfield. But if they have even investigated these, they have learnt nothing. For the rest of us an investigation of the 993 pages of "The Derbyshire Miners" by J.E. Williams (George Allen and Unwin, 1962), will reveal the extent of some of the former coal operations in the area - and he doesn't by any means touch everything.

Then even if damage is miraculously avoided during both the initial search for shale gas/oil and then at its final extraction, there will be a regular long-term stream of tankers (day and night) which are larger than bin lorries which will service the sites used by INEOS  and others. It is to be hoped that people don't already suffer from traffic congestion, for the sites used for investigations and extractions don't need to be tucked away in distant rural areas, but could operate from part of say an industrial estate nearby or even a few kilometres away from people's homes. For extraction purposes, operations could go under homes, conservation areas, public buildings, shops, farms and local roads.

INEOS hold contracts to search for shale gas/oil across most of North Derbyshire granted by the Government, with the exception of the small bits I mentioned above and also the Peak District and the Chatsworth estate. The searching rights for the latter having gone to the Duke of Devonshire - who can at least (unlike the rest of us) thereby protect his own property at Chatsworth House. (Correction dated 6th April 2017 - I now understand that the Duke of Devonshire has historically owned the underground rights over his large section of land, well prior to the legislation which issued the above contracts to INEOS and others. Unfortunately, the rest of us in Derbyshire enjoy no such rights over the land and property we occupy. If the law was changed to place the Duke in the same position as the rest of us, we might then recruit him to the cause of anti-fracking. It would be better still if the law could be changed to put us all in the same position as the Duke - especially for those who rent their accommodation. HB)  

Even  if the Derbyshire County Council were to reject any final applications from INEOS for full fracking activities, INEOS can just apply over their heads to the Government who can accept the application under a fast track system.

In the end, what we need is a change in Government policy to protect our well-being. Not financial bribes to accept the fracking process. In any case, during the process of fracking itself (which can be lengthy) all forms of property will see a fall in their values. The Government bribes are not likely to cover such losses, which will include the need for individuals to pay more in insurance to cover the consequences of possible underground collapses.

On top of all this there are dangers from (1) contaminated groundwater, (2) the disposal of waste oil, water and gases - such as carbon dioxide, (3) strains on the use our water supplies (in an era subject to climate change), (4) the danger of shale gas, methane and nitrogen oxide being released into the atmosphere, (5) the impact on habitats, fauna and vegetation from noise, truck movements, vibrations, air and water movements, (6) possible earthquakes as with Caudrilla when drilling near Blackpool and (7) 24 hour workings with land loss, noise and disruption and (8) the serious lack of a professional, independent body to regulate operations.  All of these arises from North Derbyshire (and other targeted areas) being former heavy coal mining territory.  

Also click here
And here. (Its item 2 at the moment)

Note : I prepared this article a few week's ago, but thought that I had should first check out the exact details of the terms under which the Government had issued authority for INEOS to search for shale gas and oil in the area I was covering - in case I could be accused of scare mongering. So I emailed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) under Freedom of Information Legislation to obtain the exact details. Eventually, they informed me that they did not hold the information and that instead I should approach the Oil and Gas Authority. I have now made three attempts to gain the information from the Authority, but have not yet received even an acknowledgment to my requests.  So it is a matter of publish and be damned. (PS. 2 Sept. I now have an acknowledgment - my reply could take some 20 working days; say the end of this month)

Now see what Defra, the Oil and Gas Authority and other avenues of Government officialdom are up to in Dronfield. I will be pressing them for full details.

Note : it is the Derbyshire County Council (and not the North East Derbyshire District Council) who hold the planning and mineral rights mentioned above.