Anyone travelling along the A634 from Barnby Moor to Blyth, cannot fail to see a strange sight at a field entry. Huge steel fences and gates are in place. The adjacent layby has been filled with large concrete blocks. The latter were put in to stop any protesters who tried to park a car there. What are they protesting about?
“We would rather call ourselves protectors, not protesters. We wish to protect the beauty of our environment, and our health and drinking water from the frackers who soon will be bringing in a 60m high drill on this Tinker Lane site. That drill is 10m higher than the highest pylon,” said David Larder, Chair of Bassetlaw Against Fracking. He pointed out that it will be very difficult for there to be any room for any peaceful expression of concern, and if anyone stands at all on the road they could be liable for arrest for impeding the highway.
IGas Energy plans to construct a shale gas exploration site Initially to drill one well over several months to core sample the shale, as well as make a number of small monitoring boreholes in vicinity.
French utility company GDF Suez has a 25 percent stake in IGas’s licence block covering the area, PEDL 200. Privately owned multinational chemicals company INEOS has a 20 percent stake in the licence block. The area is in the Gainsborough Trough, a geological formation where the Bowland Shale is thought to contain gas that could potentially be extracted. However, this would require covering the North Notts area with thousands of fracking wells.
In late 2017, InEos, the petrochemical giant, obtained a High Court injunction to prevent every form of protest from taking place — even slow walking in front of lorries delivering millions of gallons of clean water for drilling. “We cannot even deliver a petition to their head office,” David said. “Freedom of speech for an opposite point of view to that of this company is being stifled.”
Recently, Aloc Sharma, a junior housing and planning minister, revealed that the government was working to bring fracking decisions under the remit of the National Planning Regime. This would effectively prevent local councillors from considering planning applications for fracking, and so the process would be put in train without accountability locally. Surveys have shown that 87% of local people oppose fracking. David said that InEos had already called upon the Planning Inspectorate to deal directly with them over their application near Rotherham, because of what they consider to be a delay by that council.
He explained that the shale gas was not required by InEos to service ovens or gas fires in people’s houses as many have thought, but to turn it into plastics. This process takes place up at Grangemouth, where there have been serious industrial accidents. “I’m sure that most people do not wish to see more and more plastic put on this planet. It is destroying the seas and the marine life and we are starting to breathe in small particles of plastic and no one has yet determined how harmful this is over a long period,” said David.
He pointed out that many countries have banned fracking, including the Scottish government and was disappointed that the Conservatives and Independents on the Notts County planning committee had opposed a motion put forward by county councillor Alan Rhodes, the Labour leader, that no seismic testing on council owned land should take place. It will be determined on a case by case basis.
“It is disgraceful that our country at a time when large-scale battery technology has been developed in Australia to store energy to make up for any temporary shortfall in wind or solar power, is not leading the world with this technology,” David concluded. With tidal energy on our coastline, solar panels in fields and windmills taking up the wind that goes over Britain, the country could be self-sufficient for its power needs. “We do not need the dirty fracking business that will leak methane up into the atmosphere and cause further global warming” David said.