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« Frack fluid on the rocks | Main | Houston, we may have a sceptic problem »

Enemies of the people

A couple of weeks back I took a trip over the Forth to Stirlingshire and the coalbed methane company Dart Energy. I was shown around by general manager Douglas Bain and he has some pretty interesting stories to tell.

The process of developing coalbed methane in the area has been ongoing for many years now. In 2004 a local entrepreneur with a background in coal started drilling for gas, and latterly another company had taken on the task. Neither could make the process economic. In 2011, however, the licence passed into the hands of Dart Energy, a coalbed methane specialist, who have found a way to extract the gas profitably. CBM involves drilling along a coal seam and then pumping water out to reduce the pressure to the point at which the gas flows. Dart's breakthrough was simply to pump the water out through a second, vertical well, which intersects with the horizontal one. No fracking is currently involved and, according to Bain, nor is it likely to be in the future, because the narrowness of the coal seams involved mean that fracking is unlikely to be economic.

With gas flow rates now favourable, a pilot production facility has been set up, with the gas sent to an on-site generator, from where it supplies direct to the grid electricity sufficient for several hundred homes.

The pilot plant is shown in the image here (click for full size). It's pretty small-scale stuff and in truth even then the impression is misleading because the site also incorporates the generation equipment and a wastewater treatment plant.

A production wellhead would look more like what is shown in the second image on the right.

So with 14 wells drilled and the technology honed to the point at which extraction became profitable, the company applied for planning permission to start drilling production wells, the intention being to connect these direct to the gas grid, which passes close by the site.

But this plan reckoned without the intentions of the greens. Despite an incident-free operations history, despite electricity having been generated without incident, despite Dart being a local business, putting money into the hands of local people, a major campaign was launched to try to prevent any further development of the site.

The details of the campaign are instructional. The approach adopted by Friends of the Earth, Frack Off et al appear to have been based on a strategy of "fib like fury". So we had Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith (PhD in law!) claiming that Dart were dumping "extraordinary" levels of benzene into the Firth of Forth. The idea that the regulator would allow such a thing is pretty absurd and in fact the levels were almost low enough to pass drinking water standards, let alone levels for industrial effluent.

Then there was the Frack Off's claim that fracking had been ongoing at Airth for years without any of the operators telling anyone. Was this a case of Frack Off putting the record straight? Well, "not quite" seems to be the answer. It appears that the original operator of the site had tried to frack once, but hadn't been able to get gas to flow at economic rates. As far as I can tell their attempt didn't result in contamination of water supplies, no earthquakes were reported, and the world didn't actually end. Nobody seems to have tried again since and, as noted above, it is unlikely that anyone ever will.

And what about Friends of the Earth's claim that Dart had told the Australian Stock Exchange that they planned to frack, while telling residents in Airth that they weren't?

Commenting on the revelation that Dart Energy has told the Australian Stock Exchange that they plan to use the controversial fracking technique while telling communities and planning officials in Scotland that they have no plans to exploit shale gas, Friends of the Earth  Scotland Campaigns Co-ordinator Mary Church said:

"Dart Energy needs to be straight with the public and its shareholders about its plans to frack for shale gas in the central belt. What they are saying to the local community and what their company reports say to shareholders doesn't add up."

It turns out that Dart had been describing its shale assets to the stock exchange. As readers at BH know, shale has to be fracked to get the gas to flow; CBM doesn't. Dart had therefore been telling the truth to everyone. This must have been obvious to anyone who glanced at the details for even a second, so the conduct of FoE's Mary Church is quite extraordinarily blatant. (But apparently not so blatant that a green journalist like Rob Edwards at the Herald would feel that he should explain the misrepresentation to his readers.)

I could carry on in this vein for a while - as I explained above, Douglas Bain had some amazing stories to tell. But perhaps I'll save some of these up for another day.

In the meantime, let us just consider the nature of green activism in this country and wonder just what goes on in these people's heads. How do they actually manage to sleep at night?

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Reader Comments (31)

"A lie told often enough becomes the truth."
Vladimir Lenin

And clearly it is acceptable to lie because the goal of saving mother earth is so noble.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

We were doing methane drainage at Cortonwood Colliery Yorkshire 50 years ago, selling it to the Gas Board.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Elliot

I greatly appreciate this report Bish. Someone has to tell the story.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:42 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Dart should sue.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

It is foolish to judge the greenies, the watermelons, by our standards. They are totally amoral. Complete hypocrites, total liars, without a shred of conscience. The end always justifies the means. Keep on Keepin' on!

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Prangwizard of England

We need a Loo Paper to tell us what goes on in these people's heads.

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:04 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

They are saving the planet against the evil sceptic heretic.

The Green Taliban do not care about truth or justice like all zealots!

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Excellent coverage Bish. The pressure of all the alarmists lies and deceit is building in upon them. It is like an abscess.

The truth will out in the end.

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

It's the money, unless it can be filtered through the preferred tossers, who do not give a fig about the energy poor who will die of cold this winter, the scheme will be thwarted at every turn. The greens of course will get their tax funded trips to somewhere warm this winter except the stupid ones gloriously held in the Russian jail.

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

Sir! May I do a partial re-posting of this to another site, with links back to here, of course!?

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

"Truth is a bourgeois construct"

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

I am no longer astonished by the shameless tactics and the feeble foundations of eco-zealotry. Theirs is a detachment from reality that is so pronounced it is unsettling. One day, if 'citizenship' is still taught in our schools, it will include some time on the duties of citizens to make themselves well-informed on scientific and technological issues that are raised by zealots in search of ways to gain political and financial advantages for themselves. The internet, and especially blogs such as this one, makes this task feasible through the sharing of expertise and insights, helping sharpen arguments and exposing the demonstrable nonsense that we have been bombarded with now for decades from people acutely alarmed, or in some cases merely purporting to be, about one vividly imagined eco-crisis after another.

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Given the influence that Greens have on public policy it is high time that some of the leading lights of greenery (if you can have leading lights in an organisation that will lead to lights going out) were given really searching interviews by someone like Paxman in his most bullying form.

One question they should certainly be asked is "why are you so willing to tell lies?"

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Surely some law- possibly libel has been broken here. Dart should sue these Luddites.

Also this looks like a good national press story?
David Rose?
Chris Booker?

Questions in the House of Commons (Graham Stringer) and/or House of Lords (Matt Ridley)?

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The answer is that most Greens are essentially misanthropic. They neither like nor care much for other people and would rather indulge their fantasies than take any interest in the well-being of ordinary people.

Nov 5, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAde-oh

How do they actually manage to sleep at night?

Like a wee babby.

Because they lie their heads off with the approval of their conscience.

Nov 5, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

I don't know why people buy the Herald or the Scotsman when all the green advocacy groups provide their press releases for free.

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

How do they actually manage to sleep at night?

The end justifies the means and when your 'saving the planet ' any means is justfied .

The Greens want an energy crisis as they see it as an 'opportunity ' to get their ideas imposed on a population that otherwise would have nothing to do with them , so its not a bad thing from there point of view. While anything that means this crisis is not going to happy needs to be opposed .

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Why would they not be happy to lie?
Apart from the 'noble cause corruption', there is the point that the movers and shakers of the Thermogeddonist NGOs are on excellent terms with DECC, DEFRA, and the political 'elite' in this Country and in the EU.
Remember Samantha Cameron?
Remember the number of times Huhne and Davey have met with the NGOs compared to the number of times these Secretaries of State had spoken to Cuadrilla?
How many Court trials for vandalism and so on have been deliberately subverted by the Government to ensure 'not-guilty' verdicts (or the CPS pulling the case) and not-infrequently compensation for those arrested?

After all, both HMG and the EU deliberately channel funds to these crooks so that they can all the better lobby them to stick even closer to the hard Greenie party line.
So why should they have any pangs of conscience about being (at the very least) 'economical with the truth'?

Their whole business strategy is based on shaking money from the pockets of the gullible by blatant shroud-waving.
I'm sure they would happily grow turnips on their mothers' graves, let alone worry about spreading a few porkies.

It is to be hoped that Putin's merry men will be made of much sterner stuff when dealing with the 'hooligans' and their PR agit-prop purveyors.

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commentermartin brumby

What was the outcome of the application? Is it still in play?

Nov 5, 2013 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

We should be thankful to Dart for recovering methane, a greenhouse gas that is far more potent than CO2, rather than allowing it to gradually seep into the atmosphere.

Nov 5, 2013 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterwellers

I thought Dr Tim ball`s guest article on WUWT (at ) gave useful pointers to the approach adopted. He concluded as follows re AR5:
"They’ve already shown that being wrong or being caught doesn’t matter because the objective of the scary headline is achieved by the complete disconnect between their Science Reports and the Summary for Policymakers. It is also no coincidence that the SPM is released before national politicians meet to set their budgets for climate change and the IPCC. As Saul Alinsky insisted in rules for radicals, the end justifies the means."

See the rules for radicals here:

Nov 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

I don't know why I'm surprised - its the: 'Whatever you're doing, stop it' principle...

Just imagine how successful this country would be without these blatant liars, who also presumably having Ed Davey on speed-dial...

Oh - by the way - feature on the BBC News website, 'Environmental' section - reporting that an expert in carbon capture and storage is 'angry' about the government's slow take-up of this technology. Goes on to state that coal and gas power stations produce carbon dioxide which is causing climate change. You read it here first...

Nov 5, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

It is difficult to notice the low visual impact of this facility. And the apparent lack of tax payer money in support of it, as well.

Nov 5, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Presumably someone from the RSPB will wave his arms about and shout loudly about how these installations will seriously affect the flight patterns of migrating lesser-spotted boobies...

Nov 5, 2013 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Thank you Bishop for highlighting these crooks. The anti humanatarian objectives of these so-called green activists never fails to astound.
Perhaps one of your clever readers could do a post on the financial resourses behind them all.
The 'frack off'' mob are fairly new on the scene. Who are the financiers behind them? I know Shell and BP have put a lot of money into AGW. Shell for instance were the main backers of CRU at it's instigation.
On a more sober vein, I would like to recommend a great paper by Robert G Brown in last nights a masterly summation of the corruption behind the CAGW scam.

Keep up the good fight.

Nov 5, 2013 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Healy

What concerns me is that I do not receive the impression that companies such as Dart are geared up to deal with the lies. As M Twain said " A lie is half way around the World before the truth has got it's boots on". Engineers are experts in producing workable solutions and appear to problems with understanding those who deal in hysterical false hoods.

Dealing with these hysterical greenies is going to require the same skills as countering the false hoods of communism. All truths will be twisted to justify the ends and most engineers just do not think along these lines.The more I am wondering whether communism was defeated in 1989 or whether it has just gone underground.

Bukovsky , one of the last Soviet dissidents has said in the mid 80s left wing parties agreed with Gorbachev to take over the EU.

In 1992 I had unprecedented access to Politburo and Central Committee secret documents which have been classified, and still are even now, for 30 years. These documents show very clearly that the whole idea of turning the European common market into a federal state was agreed between the left-wing parties of Europe and Moscow as a joint project which [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev in 1988-89 called our “common European home.”
The idea was very simple. It first came up in 1985-86, when the Italian Communists visited Gorbachev, followed by the German Social-Democrats. They all complained that the changes in the world, particularly after [British Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher introduced privatisation and economic liberalisation, were threatening to wipe out the achievement (as they called it) of generations of Socialists and Social-Democrats – threatening to reverse it completely. Therefore the only way to withstand this onslaught of wild capitalism (as they called it) was to try to introduce the same socialist goals in all countries at once. Prior to that, the left-wing parties and the Soviet Union had opposed European integration very much because they perceived it as a means to block their socialist goals. From 1985 onwards they completely changed their view. The Soviets came to a conclusion and to an agreement with the left-wing parties that if they worked together they could hijack the whole European project and turn it upside down. Instead of an open market they would turn it into a federal state.

Nov 5, 2013 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

"How do they actually manage to sleep at night?"

On rubber sheets in most cases, I think.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterCatweazle

Nov 5, 2013 at 3:35 PM | Patrick Healy

The 'frack off'' mob are fairly new on the scene. Who are the financiers behind them?

Nov 6, 2013 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Except for a few egg heads most Greens are just Alpha educated blind followers. Critical observing and clear thinking is their Achilles' heel; emotionally demonstrating their forte. It is not ill all will, they really believe all the CO2 Armageddon hype. They can be convinced in a few years after "Mother Nature" shows them more moderate temperatures, sea levels etc.

Nov 6, 2013 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAntonyIndia

Thank you Billy Liar for the link above.
Fightening though all the misinformation on the web page is, surprising it is not.
In this world there has been the rare true prophet. George Orwell was one of them.

Nov 6, 2013 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

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