UK to allow fracking companies to use 'any substance' under homes

 The government appears to be trying to sneak through an amendment which would allow fracking firms to reinject their waste under people’s homes and businesses.

The government appears to be trying to sneak through an amendment which would allow fracking firms to reinject their waste under people’s homes and businesses.

Proposed amendment in infrastructure bill would make mockery of world class shale gas regulation claims, campaigners say.

The UK government plans to allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, as part of the Infrastructure Bill which will be debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday.

The legal change makes a “mockery” of ministers’ claims that the UK has the best shale gas regulation in the world, according to green campaigners, who said it is so loosely worded it could also enable the burial of nuclear waste. The government said the changes were “vital to kickstarting shale” gas exploration.

Changes to trespass law to remove the ability of landowners to block fracking below their property are being pushed through by the government as part of the infrastructure bill.

It now includes an amendment by Baroness Kramer, the Liberal Democrat minister guiding the bill through the Lords, that permits the “passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land” and gives “the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land”.

The trespass law change has attracted controversy before, when the government decided to push ahead despite the opposition of 99% of the respondents to its consultation. Author and activist Naomi Klein said it flouted basic democratic rights. Ministers were also accused of rushing legal changes through parliament at the start of 2014, which removed the need to notify each home in an areas of fracking plans.

The new amendment permitting “any substance” was attacked by Simon Clydesdale, a campaigner at Greenpeace UK: “Ministers are effectively trying to absolve fracking firms from responsibility for whatever mess they’ll end up leaving underground. This amendment makes a mockery of the government’s repeated claims about Britain’s world-class fracking regulations. Far from toughening up rules, ministers are bending over backwards to put the interests of shale drillers before the safety of our environment and our climate.”

Tony Bosworth, at Friends of the Earth, said the amendment would allow companies to dispose of fracking fluid, often contaminated with toxic metals and radioactive elements. “The government appears to be trying to sneak through an amendment which would allow fracking firms to reinject their waste under people’s homes and businesses. Reinjection has caused countless problems in the US and you have to question how far this government will go to make fracking a reality.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said: “Shale and geothermal have the potential to bolster our energy security, create jobs and growth and provide a bridge to a greener future. These changes are vital to kick starting shale and make sure it’s not delayed by one single landowner. These new rules are all part of our robust regulatory framework [making] sure public safety is always our number one priority.”

“Operators must demonstrate that where any chemicals are left in the waste frack fluid this will not lead to pollution of groundwater. The Environment Agency will not permit the use of chemicals where these are hazardous to groundwater,” she said, adding that the amendment did not change the need for companies to obtain all the necessary planning and environmental permits.

On the prospect of the new amendment being used to bury nuclear waste, the Decc spokeswoman said the amendment gave the right to put substances into deep-level land only in the context of exploiting gas and petroleum.

But Ralph Smyth, a barrister at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the amendment was very loosely worded and risked unintended consequences.

“This seems another example in the infrastructure bill where the rushing to remove obstacles has led to officials making it up as they go along, without thinking through the consequences,” he said. “Powers to alter deep-level land in any way under people’s houses or ‘putting any substance’ under schools or homes is surely going too far.” He noted that the bill stresses the maximum economic recovery of gas and oil and that storing waste underground as part of drilling operations would increase the economic viability of fracking.

Ken Cronin, the chief executive of fracking trade body UK Onshore Oil & Gas, said: “The onshore oil and gas industry is committed to baseline monitoring before, during and after any shale activity to ensure the highest safety and environmental standards. We need to study all of the additional amendments to the bill in detail but any amendments that do not support high environmental and safety standards will not be supported by the onshore oil and gas industry.”

Article link:


Fracking will take place below Britons’ homes without their permission after ministers rejected 40,000 objections to controversial changes to trespass laws.

The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.

There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners’ permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. The plans were strongly opposed by the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association.

The government response to the consultation, concluded: “Having carefully considered the consultation responses, we believe that the proposed policy remains the right approach to underground access and that no issues have been identified that would mean that our overall policy approach is not the best available solution.”

New laws will now be passed giving automatic access for gas and oil development below 300m and a notification and compensation scheme will be run by the industry on a voluntary basis.

FFF urges everyone to write to their local MP making it clear that it is unacceptable for OUR REPRESENTATIVES to ignore our views.

Update: Further to the article above, here is an extract from a letter dated 9th September from Matt Hancock, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Energy to Andrew Tyrie MP.......

"Our proposal, as set out in the consultation, is to legislate on this policy [the change to trespass laws]. However, I can assure you that any legislation will be dependent on the outcome of the consultation process."

What a blatant lie.

Please everyone write to your local MP expressing your concerns over the Infrastructure Bill and changes to trespass laws

 Our local MP Andrew Tyrie

Our local MP Andrew Tyrie

Below is a letter from local resident to Andrew Tyrie MP for Chichester (and Fernhurst).........

Dear Andrew
I hope you are well.

As you are aware the Infrastructure Bill is currently making its way through Parliament. I have previously written to you about my concerns over the proposed changes to trespass law. I was one of the people who responded to the DECC consultation which closed on 15 August. 99% of those who responded were against the change to trespass. Despite this, and despite assurances from your colleague, the Rt Hon Matthew Hancock that "any legislation will be dependent on the outcome of the consultation process" (letter addressed to you dated 9 September 2014), the proposals remain unchanged.

More worryingly, late amendments were put forward on Saturday 11 October, just one working day before the matter is to be considered by the House of Lords on Tuesday 15 October. Under these new amendments, the land under our property could be used ‘in any way for the purposes of exploiting petroleum or deep geothermal energy.’ One new clause approves ‘passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land or infrastructure installed in deep-level land.’ Deep level ground within the context of this bill can be as little as 300 metres below the surface. Apart from the ‘substances’ involved in the act of fracking, this could then include re-injection of radioactive waste under our property without our permission. Fracking will produce very large quantities of waste flow-back fluid, laced with radioactive substances flushed out from the depths.

I am seriously concerned about these proposals, and more significantly, about the erosion of the democratic process; not only was the outcome of the consultation process ignored, but significant proposals have been brought forward that were not included in the consultation process.

I would urge you to press the Government to think again about these proposals and to vote against them at the appropriate time.

Yours sincerely

CHANGE TO TRESPASS LAWS........LATEST NEWS (and it's not good)

The latest amendment to the Infrastructure Bill proposes not just drilling under land.. but to 'use in any way'.

This can include the storing of (radioactive) waste.

This amendment released today (Saturday) comes just one working day before the House of Lords hearing on Tuesday at 3pm.

These amendments have been made after the DECC public consultation are people expected to comment on proposals that are subsequently changed? It is further evidence that the whole consultation process was a sham.

By pushing ahead with these proposals are doing all it can to promote Fracking, this government will be responsible for the single biggest transfer of wealth from the many (every property owner) to a few Frackers and their financial backers.

On Friday 17 October, Full Council will debate a petition “calling on West Sussex County Council to declare West Sussex a "Frack-Free Zone"

Due to the limited space at the venue and the likely public interest, tickets are available in advance for people wishing to attend. To apply for a ticket please email or write to Democratic Services, West Sussex County Council, County Hall, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1RQ.

York has become the latest local council to declare itself frack free - West Sussex next?

 City of York Council

City of York Council

In the full local council meeting, councillors voted on an anti-fracking motion put forward by Labour Councillor Anna Semlyen. It was passed with a vote of 23 for, 11 against with 5 abstentions.

The full motion text is below:

This council believes that climate change is real and that it is a serious problem that is causing deaths and migration
that fracking (hydraulic fracturing for shale gas) adds to climate change,
Recognises the over 2100 name petition submitted by Frack Free York requesting a York Councillor decision on fracking
asks that Councillors vote that York should, where possible, publicly state its position as wanting to resist planning applications for drilling for shale gas as this is likely to deter applications from drilling companies.

YouGov poll reveals UK youth are not for shale

A new poll reveals that young people in the UK have shunned shale and voted fracking as the energy source they are the least in favour of, with 71% agreeing that it will create environmental problems in the UK if it were to go ahead, including endangering wildlife and natural habitats.

The survey of 18-24 year olds which has been carried out by YouGov for Talk Fracking highlights young people’s concerns about fracking, including how it could effect the UK’s economy, house prices and environment as well as our health and wellbeing. A clear majority of those surveyed (74%) believe fracking will decrease the value of properties in areas where it will occur and a total of 74% would never/prefer not to purchase a house near a fracking site.

About the survey:
YouGov questioned 1,003 18-24 year olds online between 1st and 9th September 2014. Percentages given refer to the 809 respondents who understood or were aware of the term fracking. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18-24).

Aspiring frackers Celtique Energie have suffered another rejection in their latest oily attempt to seduce a community with their fracking plans

In the recent crucial planning meeting, the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) rejected Celtique’s plans to drill in the South Downs at the small town of Fernhurst.

This is a bodyblow for the fracking industry as a whole, not just Celtique. The industry and the government are desperate to get fracking but have utterly failed to convince any community that fracking is acceptable or appropriate. The new energy minister Matthew Hancock was recently asked to name a community that welcomed fracking. His silence was deafening. This complete absence of consent is a major problem for industry and government. The various attempts to throw money at the problem have failed miserably and now trouble is brewing as communities feel increasingly ignored in the run up to the general election next May.

So many of you objected to Celtique’s plans that the South Downs website wilted under the pressure and fell over. In contrast, local campaigners showed endless resilience, and the final tally was 5,517 objections, with 11 in support. Yes, E-LEV-EN. Additionally, over 14,500 South Downs residents expressed their opposition to fracking by signing up to the Greenpeace Not For Shale legal block denying permission to frack under their homes, or to a petition calling on David Cameron to ditch his support for fracking.

Fernhurst lead the way in establishing the first Not For Shale blockade, with local residents coming together to exercise their right to deny permission for Celtique to frack under their homes. This encircled the drill site, stopping Celtique’s fracking plans. This strategy really put the wind up the industry. In response they used their lobbying gazillions to get the government to table proposals to take away your rights and gift them to frackers, a move opposed by 74% of voters. We’re looking at every avenue to fight this shredding of your democratic and legal rights, and thousands of people are joining our petition to ask their MP to oppose this astonishing frack-fix.

The planning meeting heard that the local Tory MP, Andrew Tyrie, has expressed deep concerns about an ‘industrial experiment’ at Fernhurst. His neighbour and party colleague Nick Herbert MP has also finally got the bit between his teeth on fracking, recognising that swallowing the party line on fracking could lead to an indelicate conversation with the job centre one hollow Friday morning next May. MPs are waking up to the fact that they are facing deep and vocal disquiet on their doorstep, and there are plenty of MP doorsteps up for grabs. 505 constituencies – that’s three-quarters of the country - could face being fracked.

The room was reminded that the application had been recommended for refusal by SDNPA planners. Essentially Celtique had failed to demonstrate that drilling in the South Downs National Park could be justified on the necessary grounds of exceptional circumstances and the public interest.

Local representatives gave their submissions, all opposing the application. An eloquent and passionate speech by local resident John Buchanan summed up his deep scepticism about the application neatly, ‘I have been challenged, as in Alice in Wonderland, to believe six impossible things before breakfast’.

The committee members raised deep and abiding reservations, noting the special nature of the South Downs and the area around the site at Fernhurst. One committee member noted that Celtique ‘couldn’t have picked a worse location’. Concerns were raised about a wide range of impacts: water contamination, waste water, air quality, flaring, emissions, HGV impacts, road safety, noise, and light impacting the dark skies of the South Downs.

One by one members revealed their intention to reject the application. I counted up the votes needed. Ten of the eleven committee members were in attendance, so six votes would stop Celtique. It built agonisingly slowly. We eventually got to five. Then at last we tipped over to the magic six, then seven and finally ten. Could it really be unanimous? But this had to go to an official vote. Having watched too many courtroom dramas I kept half an eye on the door for the bedraggled, sweaty lawyer bursting through the double doors, bellowing ‘stop the vote’ as he waved a killer document from his manicured fingers. But this is the South Downs not the Hollywood Hills. The vote was called. The hands shot up. Unanimous ‘no’ to drilling in the South Downs! Applause rang around the room. Wide smiles and a huge amount of relief spread everywhere. On these seemingly small moments turn the fate of entire communities.

The South Downs National Park has stood up for itself and all those who value it, rightly acting as gamekeeper not poacher to protect this special area. But despite government spin the possibility of fracking in protected areas such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty remains. Decision-makers in these areas should take a lead from the SDNPA and their rigorous approach to assessing this application. And of course this should apply to all applications, regardless of location.

Celtique can limp away to lick their wounds and count their losses knowing they have done a service to the fracking industry. The industry sent in the clowns to see what they could get away with. Not much in Sussex as it turns out. Celtique fatally underestimated the grit, initiative and commitment of local communities and their allies in fighting applications that are inappropriate locally, nationally and globally.

But Cuadrilla, IGas, Rathlin and the other fracking speculators salivating over the promised frack rush will have studied Celtique’s multiple fiascos at Wisborough Green and Fernhurst very closely. They will up their game. Those who recognise fracking as another fossil-fuel dead-end must do likewise. The stakes are high.

You can keep the pressure up by submitting your response to the consultations currently being run by Lancashire County Council who have received two applications from Cuadrilla to frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. Thousands of people have submitted their objections to Cuadrilla’s plans already. A massive and powerful opposition movement is growing in Lancashire but they need every bit of firepower they can get. Pile in now and make your voice heard.

Fracking is sending us in entirely the wrong direction, away from the renewable, efficient energy that is required to combat the impacts of climate change. Let’s keep making it clear, the UK’s Not For Shale.


 Fernhurst triumphant as South Downs says NO to fracking!

Fernhurst triumphant as South Downs says NO to fracking!


‘FFF is delighted that the SDNPA planning committee have turned down Celtique Energie's application for exploratory drilling at Nine Acre Copse. In rejecting this application they have not only taken the advice of their own planning officer and accepted the government's own confirmation that such development should only take place in a national park in exceptional circumstances but also listened to the over five and a half thousand people who have objected to this proposal (as opposed to the eleven who have expressed support of it). Clearly a national park is not the right place for a large-scale “industrial experiment” (Andrew Tyrie MP), and we are relieved to see that the SDNPA have upheld their objectives to protect the national park and the community within it.

Right up until the last minute Celtique demonstrated their lack of respect for our community with their continued attempts to mislead both the public and the planning authorities with disingenuous and incorrect statements and material.

We would like to thank all the organisations and individuals who have tirelessly campaigned for and contributed to our campaign – from Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the National Trust, the Woodland Trust, RSPB, CPRE, the South Downs Society to those who visit and love the national park and of course the residents of Fernhurst, Lynchmere and the surrounding area.

One thing that the last 16 months have shown is that we live in a community which is willing to work together and support each other when faced with a crisis. We hope that our village can now return to being the peaceful and happy place that it was before we faced this unwelcome and inappropriate threat.'



Members of the committee are being recommended to refuse planning permission for exploratory drilling in the national park.

A report by SDNPA officers says Celtique ‘failed to demonstrate that the exploration of this national resource could not be undertaken elsewhere outside this designated area’.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Brenda Pollack said: “This type of exploratory drilling should not take place in one of our most cherished landscapes. It would be madness.

“We hope the committee does the right thing and says no to drilling under our Downs.”

From consultations that have taken place, some 14 objections were raised by various organisations – seven of which were parish or town councils.


In total 5517 objections to Celtique's application were lodged with the South Downs National Park Authority.  By contrast there were just 11 letters of support.

Thanks everyone for taking the time and making the effort to write in.

The South Downs National Park Authority members will meet to decide on September 11.

Fracking should be completely banned from national parks, according to a strong majority of the UK public


The controversial issue of shale gas exploration in some of the country’s most precious landscapes forced ministers in July to claim they were tightening planning guidance on drilling in national parks, but a new poll for the Guardian shows the public has been unmoved by the assurances.

The poll, conducted by Panelbase, shows 60% of people think fracking should not be allowed in national parks, compared to 22% that do. It also shows rejection of another controversial move by ministers, who plan to change trespass laws to prevent people blocking fracking underneath their own land.

Over 70% of UK people disagree with the law change, with only 17% in favour. Even among the group describing themselves as in favour of fracking, 62% disagreed with removing the ability to block fracking under their homes.

Ministers have made large areas of the country available for shale gas licences, including 10 of the UK’s 13 national parks.

“The results of this poll are loud and clear: the public is against fracking in national parks,” said Nick Clack, senior energy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England. “We believe this opposition extends to other protected areas. The government must listen to such a strong message from voters and ensure that drilling for oil and gas does not take place in these areas. Given the huge uncertainties that still surround fracking, we need great caution and the highest possible safeguards if fracking is to go ahead anywhere.”

Article link:

BREAKING NEWS: South Downs National Park advised to refuse Celtique drilling application in Fernhurst



The SDNPA's planning officer has recommended rejection on the grounds of:

-Alternative Site Selection (Celtique have not demonstrated that there is a need for this in the National Park)
-Environmental Impact
-Noise Impact

We now have to wait for the decision from the SDNPA planning committee next week. Fingers crossed everyone!

WSCC Highways remove their objection to Celtique's application


Celtique recently submitted additional traffic information and a traffic management plan in an attempt to address objections from the Local Highways Authority.  Our own planning consultant reviewed this new information and, unsurprisingly, found it full of errors and mis-representations.  Despite the fact that the HGVs that Celtique plan to use cannot safely gain access to the site and have to cross into the opposing highway and will result in an unacceptable increase in the volume of traffic, WSCC Highways department decided to remove their original opposition.  WSCC seem to believe that all the problems can be solved by having a set of traffic lights at one of the pinch points along Vann Road.

Either WSCC Highways department are incompetent or have bowed to corporate and political pressure.

Please everyone who has previously submitted an objection, write to the SDNPA saying that the traffic management plan from Celtique does NOT address the traffic issues.

Submit an objection

Are political parties beginning to realise that Fracking is deeply unpopular & an issue for the next general election?


This week Labour tabled amendments in the House of Lords to the Government’s Infrastructure Bill that would significantly tighten the regulations for shale gas extraction in the UK.
Labour still believe that shale gas production is necessary but has now set out the environmental and regulatory conditions that need to be met to ensure that any future shale extraction is properly controlled.  Labour is pushing the Government to improve the current regulatory framework, which has crucial and unacceptable flaws.
  The Green Party remains to be the only major political party taking action to stop fracking.

IGas Annual General Meeting Demo


IGas are planning to drill for shale gas and coal bed methane in Cheshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire within the next year. Their proposed acquisition of Dart Energy will make them the biggest shale gas explorers in the UK with a portfolio covering one million acres of potential fracking land.

Their Annual General Meeting will be held at the offices of Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP, CityPoint, One Ropemaker Street, London EC2Y 9AW at 10.30 a.m. on Monday 1 September 2014. Come and join Friends of the Earth outside from 10am tell the Shareholders what you think, in the nicest possible way! Give it up and make some noise.

For more information contact

Let's Talk Fracking


In June a range of Government representatives were invited to address the public’s questions at five Talk Fracking debates around the country. We were shocked that not one of them agreed to attend.

Since then the new Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, has offered fracking companies half of the UK for drilling, completely ignoring the public's concerns.

But if enough of us stand together we can’t be ignored and so today we launch ‘My Fracking Questions’ – a website designed to make sure Mr Hancock answers your questions.

Question Mr Hancock in three simple steps:


Read the questions by clicking on the titles, then drag your top three into the circles above and click 'Get some answers'.

Choose whether you want to send your fracking questions by email or Twitter and please feel free to add your own questions into the email.

It’s time to make our voices louder. You can forward this email to your friends or share the following link on your preferred social network:

If enough of us demand real answers - answers based on fact, not spin - we will reveal the truth about fracking.

Fracking digs deep hole in house values

The industrialisation of our country at the hands of the frackers will have an impact on us all....'FRACKING could be such a blight on homes near drilling sites that they will be placed into lower council tax bands, the government’s property valuation agency admits.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which sets the values of properties for council tax purposes, said any industrial or commercial development near homes, potentially including fracking sites, could reduce their value.

Some homeowners living near proposed fracking sites say their properties are already worth considerably less than before the plans were submitted.

In Fylde, near Blackpool in Lancashire, one woman says her home, previously valued at £725,000, has been revalued at under £200,000 after a planning application to frack nearby.'

Government challenged over misleading fracking consultation


Greenpeace has urged the government to scrap a botched public consultation on controversial new under-house fracking plans after the main document put out for comment was found to contain incomplete and misleading information.

The request comes as ministers are facing heavy criticism for censoring large chunks of a study into the potential impacts of shale drilling on local communities. [1] Campaigners argue the heavily redacted report is likely to include evidence crucial to the proposals under consultation. 

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently canvassing public views on plans to change access rights for oil and gas exploration. Under the government proposals, energy firms would be allowed to drill fracking wells under private land and homes without having to obtain permission from the owners.

But a Greenpeace UK analysis of the consultation papers found a major flaw in the description of the very legislation ministers are seeking to change.

Under the current system, homeowners can refuse consent to companies seeking to drill under their property. The courts can be asked to overrule the refusal, and the judge has to weigh up two separate arguments in making a decision - i.e. whether the development is in the national interest and whether the landowner has reasonable grounds to refuse permission.

The government consultation completely failed to mention the ‘reasonable grounds’ argument, giving the misleading impression that courts can decide on the basis of national interest alone.

Greenpeace UK’s legal team first raised the issue with the energy department in a letter sent in June. In their response at the end of July, government officials partly acknowledged the issue and said they had clarified it on their website. [2]

Greenpeace lawyers have now written back to the energy secretary asking for the consultation to be scrapped. They point out the correction came just three weeks before the end of the consultation period, it doesn’t extend to all relevant documents, and no notice of it has been given to those who have already submitted their comments. The three-month consultation is due to close today [Friday, 15 August].

In their letter Greenpeace stresses the fact that ‘the defect in the consultation [...] is far from technical’ as it would ‘lead consultees to think that what is being proposed is a minor change in the law when in fact it is a very significant one.’

The lawyers also argue that the censored study into the social, environmental, and health-related impacts of fracking should have been made available to the public before the launch of the consultation in May. Instead, a heavily blacked-out version was published only last week following a request by Greenpeace under the Environmental Information Regulations.

The government launched the consultation at the end of May, just days before new legislation on fracking was announced in the Queen’s Speech. The changes would weaken trespass laws, allowing energy companies to drill under people’s homes without their permission.

A YouGov survey for Greenpeace published in June showed three quarters (74%) of people in Britain oppose the proposed changes to trespass law. [3]

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Louise Hutchins said:

"This consultation has failed the basic requirement of being straightforward and transparent with the public. If ministers don't discard this bungled process and start a fairer one, they'll lay themselves open to potential legal challenges. This is too important an issue to let the government get away with a dismissive attitude towards people's views - we're keeping all our options open in challenging this reckless dash to frack."