This is a complex issue which has seriously threatens the amenities and the livelihood of everybody who lives in Ryedale without delivering any substantial advantages either to Ryedale or the UK.


You will find set out below a general statement, and following that, a menu with additional dopcuments which you are recommended reading. Nobody should doubt the seriousness of this threat.


The menu includes a scanned copy of a leaflet from Fylde in Lancashire. Readers may find this particularly interesting, especially in regard to how the district and county councils there have backed fracking.  Ryedale residents can expect Conservative controlled councils here to do the same - unless there is strong opposition.


The menu is followed by a summary of how Ryedale District Council has reacted to the threat.


General Statement


Fracking means the hydraulic fracturing of the shale beds which lie approximately 8,000 to 10,000 feet below ground level throughout the Vale of Pickering, the North York Mooors and other parts (if not the whole) of Ryedale.


This is a different process from what is known as the "conventional" method of gas extraction. Conventional wells are drilled vertically into rock formations where gas has already accumulated. The gas rises natuirally up the pipe without having to be forced. Fracking is known as an "unconventional" method of extracting gas, as it requires the rock to be broken up mechanically so that the gas is forced out of it by a fluid which is pumped underground under extreme pressure.


Water laced with chemicals is pumped underground through a narrow pipe at extreme pressures in order to make cracks in the shale and release gas.


The vertical pipes of a fracking well are bent horizontally into the shale, but the maximum range of each borehole is at most two and a quarter kilometers. This means that in order to fully exploit the entire gas field, the Vale of Pickering and the rest of the gas field will have to be peper potted with a grid of gas boreholes and "gas farms" spaced out at intervals of four kilometers in all directions.


Each gas farm is likely to comprise between 5 - 20 acres, and to be effective would have to have underground fracking pipes going out in all directions and at all levels in the shale. A five acre site could have as many as 50 boreholes, and in order to drill these and keep them service, it is estimated that each five acre site would have to have two drilling rigs on site and be in almost constant operation, and lit like christmas trees at night.


Each site will need to liquefy the gas before it can be transported. Some of this process will be carried out at the Knapton works, where there is a gas pipeline from Third Energy's existing seven conventional gas wells (which they expect to use for fracking). This means on-site cryogenic processes operating at many "gas farms".


third Energy have indicated that they intend to use their existing 7 Ryedale conventional wells for fracking, and are already looking for more sites. They told a select committee of the House of Commons that they are looking at 19 sites in Ryedale, each with between ten and fifty boreholes. They are known to be considering sites near Hovingham, Terrington, Sherriff Hutton, Great Habton, as well as the site where they are already seeking planning permission at Kirby Misperton.


The liquid used in the fracking process is water mixed with one per cent of chemicals. Many of these chemicals are toxic, and after use the waste liquid has to be given specialist toxic/radioactive treatment. It goes without saying, therefore that if it enters the aquifer which farmers use, it will contaminate the water supply.


The gas which is retrieved comprises different types of gas,and the unwanted elements have to be burned off or released into the atmosphere


There is a pipe from some of Third energy's conventional gas sites to their processing plant at Knapton. This will take gas, but is understood not to be used for taking away the waste liquid. This will have to be tankered.


Each fracking operation takes anywhere between 2-6 years worth of water used by Royal Lytham and St. Anne's Golf Course.So, with the countryside peperpotted with a grid of "gas farms" one can imagine just how much heavy traffic is going to enter our rural road network.


If the borehole pipe fractures, fracking liquid can escape into the aquifer, which is used by most farms for the purposes of the farm and their own domestic purposes - they get much (if not all) of their water from artesian wells which go down into this aquifer.


This is not a hypothetical situation. There have only been three fracking wells in the UK to date, and the one in Cumbria operated by Cuadrilla fractured, and it is believed the company carried on with its operations for some six weeks after the fracture.


It is true that where the borehole goes through the aquifer, the pipe will be surrounded by several casings of concrete and steel. However, this will not prevent leakages through cracks and faults if the pipe fractures above or below the extra thick casings.


As the fracking process requires the fluid to be pumped under extreme pressure into the rock, the pipe cannot be made out of stainless steel, which is too soft to withstand this kind of pressure. The steel pipes are therefore liable to corrosion from the oxygen in the gas which is extracted and the water in the fracking fluid. The steel pipe is surrounded by concrete, but concrete crumbles over time. The pressures generated by the fracking process can cause the pipe to fracture, giving rise to a risk of contamination of the aquifer (as can any unconnected minor earth movement), and generate minor earthquakes, as happened to the Cuadrilla borehole in Cumbria..


All of this will have a disastrous impact on our rural and domestic amenity. No insurance company is prepared to insure a house against any risk arising from fracking. House prices will collapse (if it is possible to sell your house at all), and there will be no compensation payable for this kind of blight.


In order to make fracking viable, the Coalition Government has included in its new Infrastructure Act a provision which takes away the right of landowners to prohibit fracking companies from driving horizontal pipes under their land.This is a valuable legal right.It has been taken from landowners without the grant of any kind of compensation and amounts to a kind of legalised theft, and the benefit is passed to the fracking companies free, gratis and for nothing.


Councillor Paul Andrews says: "We used to believe that the Conservative Party were the political guardians of the countryside. Not any more! All they seem to be interested in is big business and the South East. UKIP are no help, as they support fracking. It is astonishing that Labour have not made fracking an election issue, and disappointing that the LibDems have gone along with the Conservatives, in spite of their environmental policies.."


Menu of documents explaining why you should be concerned:.


Will fracking affect you?


What's the fuss about fracking


Frackfree info


The Third Energy Gas Field: how many new gas fracking wells?


Press release on well numbers


What John Dewar said   to a select parliamentary Committee on behalf of Third Energy.


Comments on what John Dewar saying at the select committe


Myths and propaganda exploded - do not believe what we are being told.


The Prospect of Fracking in Ryedale


The facts that everyone in Ryedale needs to know


Did Ryedale Conservatives vote in favour of fracking  at the Council meeting of 17th February 2015?


Fracking in Fylde: A story of Big Business and Corporate Greed - Part 1


Fracking in Fylde - Part 2


The Reaction of Ryedale District Council to the Threat


Ryedale Conservatives have spent the last few years concocting a "Ryedale Plan" which imposes 90% of all new development on the five market towns (50% of all new houses and 80% of all new employment development in Malton and Norton). Their intention was to keep new development out of the 500 sq.miles or so of countryside outside the towns - in order to preserve - so they say - rural amenity. The fact that the towns don't have the infrastructure to support this level of development just did not bother them at all.


Then the Government decided to make the North of England the guinea pig for the fracking industry. A spokesman in the House of Lords made it clear that fracking should take place in the North - rather than where the Tory Westminster elite lives!


The Tory government has done everything it can to facilitate fracking, including opposing new EU regulations which would have put frackers off the UK, and enacting an Infrastructure Bill which enables frackers to drive horizontal pipes under people's property without permission and without even informing them in advance.


So the Tory party which up to now has been avidly keen to protect its supporters in the open countryside has now unleashed the frackers on the Vale of Pickering - and possibly on the surrounding AONB's and National Park (we will not know their decision on the AONB or the North York Moors National Park until July 2015, when the Secretary of State will decide which areas of the UK will be "protected") If anybody has any doubt about what the Tories think should happen to the AONB's or National Parks, they have only to read the attached leading article of the Daily Telegraph (which prints the official Tory views) which was published in November 2014.


Telegraph Article November 2014


It should by now be clear to everybody that the Tory Party has ceased to be the party of the countryside. It's just a cabinet of millionaires  who are totally arriogant and have no idea how the rest of us live. They are only interested in big business, as has also become apparent from the way they have dealt with the supermarket issue. In that case Mr. Pickles would not even support the decision of his own inspector (who said the proposed superstore at Wentworth Street car Park was contrary to government policy) and call the matter in the second time his colleagues in the District Council tried to push their favourite scheme through - against the opposition of Malton and Norton town councils and local business. Clearly Mr. Pickles and his cronies would far prefer to support the TESCO's of this world rather than enforce his own department'spolicies and help local business.


Well, I digress. So back to fracking.


Relying on Government promotion of fracking, Third Energy, a company which is over 90% controlled by Barclay's Bank(which is owned by the taxpapyer), have carried out investigations to see if land within the beautiful Vale of Pickering was suitable for fracking. They used drilling equipment which kept people at Kirby Misperton awake at night, and the rig was lit up like a christmas tree all night as well. They caused considerable distrurbance and then indicated they intended to apply for permission for a test, If they get this permission, it will establish the principle that the Vale of Pickering is a gas field which can be exploited under UK planning law.


Local people have received help from Frackfree Ryedale, for which we are very grateful. The issues were set out by them in the following document.


Frackfree info.


The matter became highly controversial, and as a result, Anne Macintosh MP arranged for Third Energy, the owners of the gas well at Kirby Misperton, to present their views to a public meeting of Kirby Misperton residents and the residents of the neighjbouring villages.


My notes of meeting chaired by Anne Macintosh MP at Kirby Misperton on 23rd January 2015


Suibsequently on 4th February 2015, a public meeting was held in the Milton Rooms at Malton, where Frackfree Ryedale, an academic and Third Energy were invited to debate their opposing views. In order to assist, I prepared a set of questions which I asked the Council's Chief Executive to put to both the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Third Energy. This was done, and I have been thanked by the Chief Executive for the work I did no preparing the questions, as Council staff found the questions helped them understand the respective issues which needed to be discussed.


My questions are set out in the document below which contains both the questions and DECC's answers.


My questions and DECC (Department of  Energy and Climate Change) Answers


Third Energy also replied to these questions before the meeting.


Third Energy Answers


I prepared a set of comments on the answers of both DECC and Third Energy, and distributed these after the meeting.


My comments on DECC Answers


My comments on Third Energy Answers


At the public meeting of 4th February, Mike Hill and Chris Redston from Frack free Ryedale easily won the argument, and most of my comments set out in the two documents uploaded above were confirmed.


In the meantime, Councillors John Clark, Sarah Ward, Robert Wainwright, myself , Luke Richardson, Tommy Woodward, Peter Walker and Joy Andrews called an extraordinary meeting of the District Council to discuss the motion in the upload below.(Please ignore my scribbles on the copy uploaded):


John Clark's Motion for  Extraordinary Council Meeting on 17th February 2015


The meeting took place on Tuesday 17th February 2015. The Council's monitoring officer advised that the first part of Councillor Clark's motion was unlawful, because it proposed an "absolute policy" on fracking and could "be interpreted as a blanket policy of opposition before hearing the facts of the case".


The advice given was disputed, but even if the advice had been correct, it would have been possible for the controlling Tory group to win a proposal amending Councillor Clark's motion, which would have established the principle of opposing fracking in the district without being a "blanket poicy of opposition". All that was necessary was to change the first part of Councillor Clark's motion by inserting the phrase "in principle" and deleting the word "all"


In other words the motion could have been amended to read: "Ryedale District Council opposes fracking in Ryedale in principle". This could not have been interpreted "as a blanket policy of opposition before hearing the facts of the case..


However, a simple change of this kind would have left the Conservative Group out of line with government policy. so they chose to propose a much more wordy, weak and vague motion. This is set out in the upload below.


The  Conservatives' amendment made at the Extraordinary Council Meeting meeting of 17th February 2015


The significant sentence of this reads: "The Council will only support applications for fracking or exploration preparatory to fracking if it is satisfied that such concerns have been resolved satisfactorily." At first sight, this does look like a motion against fracking - however weak and vague. However, the word "only" in this context amounts to nothing more than a double negative, and equates to "will not................unless". So the double negative cancels itself out and what we get is a motion which says the Council will positively support fracking applications if certain conditions are met. So instead of the Council being against the principle of fracking, the amended motion actually positively welcomes the principle of fracking.


I set out in the upload below my pre-meeting notes. I was able to cover all the points in this - and many more - at different points during the meeting..


My notes for the Extraordinary Council meeting of 17th February 2015


As the amended motion proposed by the Conservatives positively favours fracking and does not even oppose the principle of fracking in Ryedale, I and most other opposition members voted against it.


So what we have is a Tory amended motion which has been voted in as a pro-fracking motion masquerading as something else.


Nobody should rely on any Tory councillor to help in the fight against fracking.







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