Quite a lot going on, both on and off of the Tinker lane site on the 12th and 13th November. A splendid set of images from both of those days by local photographer Eric Walton. Our thanks to Eric for letting us use the images on the website, enabling our local communities to keep in touch with what is happening on the ground, from up on high! The images from both days are available in the website gallery here, 12th November and 13th November.
Re: News coverage of earthquakes caused by fracking
My name is Natascha Engel and I have recently been appointed as the Government’s new Commissioner for Shale Gas. In this role I have been visiting groups and residents in areas around the UK affected by fracking applications.
I have just returned from Yorkshire and have become alarmed at the effect that the local and national media coverage on fracking and earthquakes is having on people. It’s even worse in Lancashire.
There is constant coverage of the “earthquakes” caused by fracking at the Cuadrilla site in Preston. Whilst technically true because even the slightest movement underground is called an earthquake, it is not what normal people understand by the word.
A tremor over one mile underground reading 1.1 in magnitude on the surface is not only something that can’t be felt, it is something that would never be reported if it was caused by anything other than fracking.
Quarry blasting is common in Derbyshire and causes earth tremors many times greater than fracking. In fact, a blast in the Peak District in August was so strong that it was picked up by Cuadrilla’s highly sensitive equipment as a 1.7 magnitude event. But it wasn’t reported because it had nothing to do with fracking. Geothermal energy falls into the renewables category and is therefore embraced by the very organisations that oppose fracking for gas. The same process of injecting water into rock (fracking) is used to access geothermal energy. It is a process which often causes larger tremors since it injects water directly into faults. Geothermal projects, though, like quarrying, do not have a traffic light system to stop them if they breach 0.5 magnitude.
The traffic light system for earthquakes related to fracking was applied to the industry after it caused small tremors in Blackpool in 2011. It was set extremely low so that if a tremor of 0.5 is detected (and it can only be detected because of the highly sensitive equipment that has been installed to do so), operations have to pause so that everyone can be sure that fracking can continue safely.
It was never intended to stop the industry but rather to reassure people. No such traffic light system exists for other construction projects that cause far greater tremors because they are not the targets of a well-organised and concerted campaign to stop fracking from happening in the UK.
By reporting fracking events that cause tremors of 1.1 (or indeed anything below 2 magnitude) as earthquakes but not reporting similar or greater events in other industries, the media is feeding the narrative of fear that originates from those who have been spreading scare stories because they want to stop fracking at all cost.
Where is the science in this debate? Without putting these earthquakes into a proper context and making people fearful about something that can’t even be felt, we can’t ever look at the wider picture and ask ourselves why extracting gas from beneath our feet is so important.
Gas is significantly cleaner than coal. By changing our coal-fired power stations to gas the UK reduced its carbon emissions by over 7% between 2015 and 2016.
85% of us use gas to heat our homes and over 60% of us use it for cooking. Since 2004, we have been importing gas – more and more of it as our North Sea fields run out. That means billions of taxpayer pounds being spent on buying in gas from Qatar and, yes, fracked gas from America.
Last year, of all the energy we consumed, only 2.2% came from wind and 0.5% came from solar. We are a very long way off a time when renewables plug the energy gap. To help us do so, getting gas from underground in Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, creating hundreds if not thousands of good jobs in places that really need them, with the potential billions in tax receipts from a developed shale gas industry, we could save the money we are spending on imports and invest it in renewables instead.
The real story that everyone seems to be missing by focusing on tiny tremors that can’t even be felt at the surface is that Cuadrilla’s test results look like there is plenty of gas down there. Forty years ago when we found North Sea oil and gas we rightly celebrated our energy independence, the hundreds and thousands of jobs that it has brought over the years and the boon to our public finances.
But today we are behaving like we did in the mid-1800s when our nascent car industry was nearly destroyed by forcing a man with a red flag to walk in front of automated road vehicles to stop them from driving faster than 4 miles per hour. If we stopped all industries that caused 0.5 magnitude earthquakes there wouldn’t be a house, hospital, school or road built.
That’s not precaution. It’s anti-progress.
I would be very happy to discuss this further or point you in the direction of the Science Media Centre http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/working-w…/forjournalists/ where there is a database of independent experts and academics ready and willing to participate in this important debate.
All good wishes
Commissioner for Shale Gas
Another convoy of heavy equipment was delivered to Tinker lane today. Equipment included some rather large mud pumps (2 off), generator and what appeared to be heavy duty pipe manifolds. The image shows one of the mud pumps as it enters the bellmouth. The image was taken from the top of the new Section 14 enclosure, introduced yesterday under the Public Order Act or “spectator corral” as it is being referred to locally.
Two large lumps of what appeared to be a dismembered HH220 drilling rig, from PR Marriott, were delivered to Tinker lane yesterday. It looks as though we shall see more bits of the beast as the week progresses. This rig seems to have done the rounds with previous airings at IGas Barton Moss and more recently Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. More updates from Tinker lane as events unfold at the site.
Another great set of aerial images courtesy of Eric Walton. Showing the site, poised as it is to receive the drilling rig and other heavy equipment. An image above taken from an unusual viewpoint looking towards the south and overlooking the gate capturing the mood of the day, an angry sky, perhaps.
IGas advised us this afternoon that three HGV’s had left the site this morning (5th November 2018) outside of the permitted hours during term time of the Primary School of St Mary and St Martin on Retford Road Blyth. The restrictions apply during term time and are between 07-30 to 09-00 and 15.00 to 16.30 hrs Monday to Friday except in cases of emergency. The breaches were apparently self reported to the Enforcement Officer at Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) by the IGas Communications Manager. It seems that there had been some confusion on site over when half term finished.
The NCC Enforcement Officer then raised an issue during communications with IGas today about reports that the wheel wash was not being used and that the miscreant HGV’s (as above) were reported as abnormal loads. IGas position on the use of the wheel wash is that planning conditions do not state that the wheel wash should always be used, rather that the highway should be free of mud, which is what IGas believe they are achieving. IGas stated that the vehicles that left site this morning were undoubtedly in breach but were in fact standard HGV’s.
Some great images of the Tinker lane site taken by Eric Walton during the mobilisation phase on 25th October and now on view in the gallery.
Eric’s drone images show the work ongoing during the first week that will we believe culminate in the delivery of the rig itself during week 2 (this week). The “X” is where we might expect to see the drill rig superstructure, now believed to be the Marriotts HH 220 rig that IGas have used previously at Barton Moss.
IGas confirmed yesterday that the two high stacking of portacabins is a temporary measure. Local people had concerns that the noise profile of the rig might be adversely affected. The top portacabins will be removed before drilling starts. Something like the image, perhaps?
Image from this morning.
Activity recommenced this morning at the Tinker lane site as contractors craned portacabins into position around the well pad. It certainly looks as though this is the first step towards mobilisation of rig and ancilliary equipment and that the borehole will indeed be drilled during the winter months.