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« Is there a backstory to the EPA pollution incident? | Main | This year's walrus articles »
Thursday
Aug132015

Fracking planning

I haven't a lot of time to write this morning, but here is a thread to discuss the government's announcement that it is going to try to expedite the planning process for shale gas developments.

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Reader Comments (21)

Actually there appears to be very little that is new here. Planning applications that are not determined by the LPA within the statutory 16 week period can always be appealed by the applicant and will be decided by an Inspector at the Planning Inspectorate. The SoS at DCLG can always call in the appeal which means he will make the decision based on the Inspector's recommendation.

All that the announcement means is that the time periods that LPAs take will be monitored closely, that the Inspectorate will prioritise fracking appeals and the SoS will (as he can in any appeal) call in appeals as he sees fit, particularly those from poorly performing LPAs.

That's how I see it - no big deal and nothing for the likes of Harrabin, Greenpeace and other "environmental" organisations to get worked up about as here

Aug 13, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Dagnamit, Phillip Bratby, but I’ve just commented on that on Unthreaded! It is odd how people think it undemocratic when things do not go the way they want.

Aug 13, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

The reason that Harrabin, Greenpeace et al are getting worked up, Phillip, is because their bluff is finally being called.
They were always on a long-term loser unless they could persuade a Conservative government to follow in the foosteps of the Coalition. We'll never really know why Cameron allowed the Lib-Dems to have the DECC, though we could speculate, but once it became obvious that the US has actually met its Kyoto targets (without even ratifying that treaty) on the back of shale gas then a majority Conservative government was always likely suffer an outbreak of common sense especially when the figures on energy security and balance of payments start to look good.
Add in the possibility of a sovereign wealth fund and the Blob really may as well pack up and go home. The British public is probably one of the most reasonable group of people on earth and won't take a lot of convincing once all the facts, costs, and benefits are honestly stated.
The reason for the Blob's distress in a nutshell.

Aug 13, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

For anyone who was lucky enough to miss it, here is the biased bbc' s take on the subject.
Note the little attack dog's preprinted sheet of questions presumably dictated by Harribin or his ilk.
Not having seen Amber Rudd previously, I thought she did rather well.
She more or less said that which Phillip Bratby states above.

Http://www.bbc.co.UK/news/science-environment-33894307

Aug 13, 2015 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterwaterside4

Splendid piece of biased reporting on fracking by Roger "Even my Sh1t is green" Harrabin, on the BBC lunchtime news. Interview a Greenpiece propagandist but not someone from a fracking company! Good old BBC, don't let your standards of bias reporting drop!

Aug 13, 2015 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Now they are just complaining about being (potentially) deprived of the ability to unreasonably delay lawful decision-making processes. Small mercies, or what?

But it is a measure of the low standards the BBC has generally set that I feel almost pleasantly surprised that they can write a web article about fracking without using the word "controversial" or droning on about global warming, kemicals, global warming, earthquakes, or global warming.
Or climate change (aka global warming).

Now, about the planning and licensing laws for nuclear power stations....

Aug 13, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Harrabin did start his news item with the word "controversial".

Aug 13, 2015 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The only mystery is why this is still being offered to local planners to decide on.

It should be a nationwide infrastructure issue and thus be decided at government level. Once half a dozen wells have been drilled the greens exaggerations and outright scaremongering would be exposed for the drivel it is and local opposition (no doubt sweetened with generous bungs / incentives / community financial initiatives) would melt away.

Aug 13, 2015 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

cheshirered
I'm still optimistic enough (or maybe the word is naive) to believe that much of the problem lies with the coalition and the fact that the Lib-Dems were instinctively opposed to anything other than wind and solar. If a similar situation had arisen in the 80s, somebody would have had a quiet word with a company (let's call them Cuadrilla) and a (Tory) local authority with shale reserves and "arranged" to get things moving.
As you say, "once half a dozen wells have been drilled the greens exaggerations and outright scaremongering would be exposed for the drivel it is and local opposition ... would melt away". Vide Wytch Farm.
I doubt if even the "incentives" would have been necessary. As I said above we are a very reasonable people and will happily put up with a bit of inconvenience if we know it's for the common good.

Aug 13, 2015 at 4:30 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

You sound like a highly sensible chap, Mike, and far too nice for this rough n tumble debate.

I'm just getting heartily fed-up with almost all things 'environmental' at the moment and one day soon I may even explode. These clowns are preventing the sort of progress our country is (or rather WAS) renowned for, and they're doing it on a green alter of utter gibberish. More than anything I think it's the egregious lies that do it. For a perfect example see the Guardians latest BS offering about European holiday resorts.....in the year 2100. A normal person couldn't make it up, but the EU managed to just fine. They're stark raving bonkers.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/13/climate-change-tourists-swap-med-for-baltics

Aug 13, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

I keep having to go back to the Conservative Manifesto to check.
Yes, they did say "We will halt the spread of onshore windfarms"
and "We will continue to support the safe development of shale gas".
Anti-democrats like Harrabin are furious that the elected Government is doing what they said they'd do.

Aug 13, 2015 at 5:05 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Mike Jackson:

Closet Greens pop up even in areas you might consider to be solidly Tory: look at the 7 year delay to the planning application for an exploratory well just outside Dorking. Mole Valley is one of the safest seats in the country, 60.6% Tory vote in May, Lib Dems a distant second on 14.5% with UKIP next on 11.2%, Labour (8.3%) and Green (5.4%). The local group had the money to provide top legal counsel and witnesses for their objections.

Aug 13, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I am really pleased by some of the actions taken by Rudd but we still have the Climate Change Act and so renewable energy must always be used before other energy. The Climate Change Act makes the running of modern gas power stations unprofitable regardless of where the gas comes from.
Those who blame the coalition for the crazy policies during that period are ignoring David Cameron and his 'Greenest Government ever', nothing has changed there.

Aug 13, 2015 at 8:35 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Most of the comments (and the media) are missing the point completely - just getting approval does not take us in one giant step to a shale gas bonanza. The vital step is getting approval to drill, frack and test a few wells and find out what this resource comprises and what its exploitation will entail. As I have said many times, shale is a low permeability pay zone with low well flow rates and high depletion rates. Only when the developers have the data will they be able to formulate firm proposals for a production operation - and then there will be screams like you ain't heard yet. To be viable there will be hundreds of wells in each development, spread over large areas, all inter-connected and all requiring re-fracking every couple of years. Let me introduce another issue that will affect viability. The successful US shale wells use "multi laterals" to increase well deliveries. This technology is awesome but it suffers one huge draw-back: the laterals cannot be cased. I can visualise no circumstances whatsoever in the present climate when approvals will be given for numerous uncased wells to be operated. In short, we ain't there yet.

Aug 14, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterVernonE

As has already been pointed out, this changes nothing. It does fire a warning shot over the bows of the local planning departments. All that is missing is the threat to charge back central government time in making a determination to the already cash-strapped local authorities.

It's surprising the anti-frackers are willing to sink so much time and effort into producing emotive and anecdotal evidence. Perhaps this will loose its value and be seen as what it is, a delaying tactic which local planning departments will not have the luxury of considering if there is no factual content.

Unfortunately the chances that other authorities to learn from the Lancashire pathfinding are a slim. They will plough their own furrow and make the same mistakes. Precedent will not work. My prediction is that eventually this will be come a central planning issue. The local authorities will be paralysed by not wanting to upset their constituents.

(I have worked with enough local authorities and central government over the last 30 years to understand that getting central processes and common frameworks in place is an virtually impossible. The ODPM tried when John Prescott was in charge. They all think they are special, whereas they all deliver the same services in the same regulatory framework.)

And that's why I use an alias ;)

Aug 14, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

@VernonE

There will not be any need for hundreds of wells in each development; where did you get that tosh from?
It is already the case that horizontal drilling does not involve casing, not much point in fracking a lined and cased drill hole hehe. There is no need for casing within the shale deposits themselves.

Aug 17, 2015 at 10:31 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung: There are numerous references to my tosh on the net - do some homework before mouthing off. Even the MSM has referred to the need for "thousands" of wells. To guide you, a US shale well typically delivers 400 - 600 MCFD, a fraction of what, say, a Morecombe Bay or Groeningen well delivers and to produce the same amount of gas as Morecombe Bay delivered at peak (about ten percent of UK needs) will need about six hundred wells. Let's not get into the discussion about how many wells per pad - that's for the developers to decide when they formulate their plans based on firm data (but I do notice that the speculated areas needed to produce shale gas as measured in the highly scientific unit of football pitches has been creeping up over the years). I concede that you may have a point on the issue of casing multi-laterals but my understanding is that single horizontal wells are cased and the casing is perforated prior to fracking.

Aug 17, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Vernon E: I suspect that Dung might be getting his wells mixed up with his well-heads. My understanding is that there could be many wells drilled from one well-head; is this the case, here?

(BTW, and just to be pickily pedantic, it is “Morecambe Bay”… unless you are NOT talking about bay to the NE of the Irish sea.)

Aug 17, 2015 at 12:45 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Dear companion of Danger Mouse ^.^

It may be that you are right about me being confused but I also thing it is just terminology. I would suggest that each well head is indicative of a single well even though each well has both vertical and horizontal (radiating) extensions each of which is fracked. The point was this comment by VernonE:

and then there will be screams like you ain't heard yet. To be viable there will be hundreds of wells in each development, spread over large areas, all inter-connected and all requiring re-fracking every couple of years.

The public will see only the well heads and of course the road traffic. Reference to US shale wells is not relevant because they have nothing like the Bowland shale deposits in the US. We will get much more gas from each well head than the US can dream of. All the estimates of UK shale gas are massively underestimating the resource.

The media in the UK are not the people to provide you with the facts and neither is the British Geological Survey, it just maybe that I have already done my homework.

Aug 17, 2015 at 8:47 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung: mmmmmm....... I would be very interested indeed to read the source of your claim that Bowland shale is radically different from, say, Marcellus. I would be happy to be wrong but my understanding to date is that (a) all shale is of low permeability and (b) no UK shale has yet been fracked and tested. But my point is that the powers that be need to get on with it and put an end to all this speculation.

Aug 18, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernonE

Radical Rodent : oooooh - so it is.

Aug 18, 2015 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernonE

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