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« Talking of comedians | Main | Greenshirt thuggery condemned »

Greens: shale gas is not a tourist draw

For those with nothing better to do, the livestream of the Cuadrilla public inquiry can be seen here. For everyone else who wants to see what Friends of the Earth are getting up to, there are daily summaries at Drill or Drop, a green tinged website that tries hard to present a balanced view of the shale gas story.

Although FoE haven't tried their "sand is a carcinogen" line yet, they do seem to have come up with some fairly wild claims. Like this for example:

[FoE barrister Ms Dehon] put it to [Cuadrilla planning witness Mr Smith] that if Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road operated together they would generate waste fluid that would amount to 65% of the UK waste treatment capacity.

They have also knocked the exploration operation for only creating 22 jobs and...wait for it...not being a tourist draw.

[Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre Awareness Group] said: “As a tourism draw, fracking is unlikely to be up there as a draw”

For those who are interested, here are the tourism data for Pennsylvania.

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Reader Comments (39)

Hard to know where to start really. If this is the standard of argument one despairs of the legal profession apart from anything else.
I'm trying to remember which comedian (maybe Eric Morecambe in one if the plays wot Ernie wrote) said in an aside:
"I would like you to know that though I speak these words I did not write them".
Don't worry, Ms Dehon, we understand your problem, but how you manage to keep a straight face is beyond me!

Feb 11, 2016 at 11:06 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

When I worked in Houston I much enjoyed visiting various museums in the area: an offshore drilling rig at Galveston, the nearby Houston Space Center, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science with its extensive exhibits explaining geology, paleontology and the technology of the oil and gas industry, alongside the other exhibits. I'd call that a good tourist draw. Indeed, perhaps we need such inspirations on offer to our children and students here in the UK - and the opportunity to present the real achievements of the industry to a wider public.

Feb 11, 2016 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

[Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre Awareness Group] said: “As a tourism draw, fracking is unlikely to be up there as a draw”

Much like carpeting the countryside in windmills then!

Feb 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterDCL

Wigan Pier and The Iron Bridge are just two examples of Britain's Industrial heritage that are tourist attractions. Offhand, I can immediately think of two large working industrial facilities that I have visited as a tourist: Dinorwig Hydro-electric Power Station and Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.

However, FoE and their Cider-with-Rosie friends simply cannot conceive of a philosophy in which people think industrial activity is a good thing. They think it just belongs in a museum.

Feb 11, 2016 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@ Mike Jackson 11:06 AM

"Don't worry, Ms Dehon, we understand your problem, but how you manage to keep a straight face is beyond me!"

She's paid by the hour!

Feb 11, 2016 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

I am part of Pennsylvania's Tourism Industry. Gettysburg, Amish, Hershey, Philadelphia and Pittsburg are all doing just fine now. The revenues have just got back to where they were when the economy tanked in 2008. Our Governor, Tom Wolf, has refused to agree on a budget for over 200 days. The PA House and Senate won't let him put enormous new taxes on our booming New Natural Gas Industry.

Feb 11, 2016 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commentergudolpops

Most nuclear power stations used to have visitor centres, and they were very popular. They all closed after Greenpeace invaded Sizewell B and security had to be tightened up. I recall one couple who visited every year on holiday - it was the highlight of their holiday and they were very disappointed when they could no longer go on the tour. Which reminds me, FoE attended the Sizewell B public inquiry and were useless there. They were long on waffle and short on evidence. All they accomplished was to unnecessarily prolong the inquiry and cost the CEGB (hence electricity consumers) money.

Feb 11, 2016 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I am hoping to go on a tour of Sizwell later this year. A group I belong to are organising a trip (not to protest, I hasten to add).

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

DCL, wait until the turbines can be tuned like an orchestra to play compositions with their sonar rumblings. Vogon music, no?

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I suggested some time back that the gas companies could do worse than working with prominent modern artists - iirc I thought Christo and Jeanne Claude might be a viable starting point - although if the trough was deep enough I daresay the great Damian Hurst would deign to decorate a drilling rig or lorry or several.(they speak highly of him in Ilfracombe)

A gas drilling pad as modern art - what would The Guardian do?

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:04 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Rescreen 'Metropolis'.

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

The opening remarks of the FoE brief on day 1 (as reported by drillordrop) are interesting.

Ms Dehon said the inquiry was not limited to the reasons for refusal given by Lancashire County Council.

She said local policies DM2, CS5 and CS9 in the Lancashire Minerals and Waste core strategy and development plan required climate change, waste and public health to be considered.

Carbon emissions released from the proposed development could not supported under the UK’s existing carbon budget or under obligations signed up to under the Paris climate agreement.

What she appears to be saying is that a planning enquiry should interpret public policy for themselves. As far I am aware those on a planning inquiry must follow the guidelines laid down for planning inquirers. Also, if national policy conflicts with international agreements, then it should be challenged in the appropriate court. Good luck with that one, as the EU signed up to a vague aim of cutting emissions by 40% by 2030 on the 1990 level. Switching from coal to gas would achieve this in the energy sector. Alternatively the UK produced gas might just replace imported gas or North Sea gas.

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

I expect the FoE case will be feeble, incoherent, and intent on distraction. This sort of forum, where calmness can reign and evidence listened to by, I hope, reasonably bright participants, is not their forte. For them it will just have to suffice that they contested 'the frackers', and can make some use of that in their agit-prop elsewhere.

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:22 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I have to agree with Robin Green: “As a tourism draw, fracking is unlikely to be up there as a draw”

The site in Elswick is Cuadrilla’s only permanent site and was hydraulically fractured in 1993.

Elswick generated 1MW of electricity continuously during it’s early life. Gas is extracted from the sandstone formation and is sent to the electric grid via the onsite generator and underground cables.

Located off the main road into Elswick, the site is visually unobtrusive, with many people in the area unaware of its existence.

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

The gas is extracted and sent to the electric grid? Impressive!

But seriously - fracked in 1993??

What in blazes is everyone arguing about, then?

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

There is an oil well operating very successfully near Poole Harbour. Thete is nothing much to see.

Wind turbines are visible for miles, doing nothing very useful.

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Andrew Duffin - not only has fracking been used (elsewhere) since the 1940's, but I believe I'm right in saying that it has been used at Wych Farm in Dorset since about 1985....

But - hey..! Enough about facts..! Its all new; untried; and DANGEROUS......

Feb 11, 2016 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1


At least they allowed fracking in PA and many people benefited from it. They have a moratorium in New York and all the landowners (and the economies in the affected counties) are pretty much screwed.

Feb 11, 2016 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

Don't forget the BH post from 2013 showing hidden oil production in Los Angeles -

It seems that LA are bringing in regulations to put the kaibosh on it - natch.

Feb 11, 2016 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

A Facebook cartoon explains the problem with the Greens over simplistic "only natural is good" approach.

(ie Ban farming , cos it's "unnatural" ..people need to spent their lives foraging like the ancestors did)

Feb 11, 2016 at 1:58 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

FoE tactics ="By any means necessary"

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:06 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The shale industry just has to do what the wind scammers did:

Put up a "visitor centre" at a specially commissioned site. Invite school children to visit (free coaches will get them rolling in).
Then count all the bored witless school children as "tourists" - ignore all the data showing real tourists are being put off because of wind - and then proclaim (falsely) that wind increases the number of tourists.

And it will help that, unlike wind, shale oil/gas plants are virtually invisible and I bet most protesters couldn't find them without gps satellites (another benefit that comes from fossil fuel).

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:23 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

I notice quite a lot of comments on the fracking threads about flaring gas. Can anyone get it across to the muppets that flaring WILL occur but ONLY during initial testing of the well(s). Perhaps they would prefer the test flows just to be vented to the atmosphere? Nothing wrong with that but its a bit unsociable.

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:22 PM VernonE

copied over from unthreaded

Feb 11, 2016 at 2:59 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

C'mon guys - don't give the muppets ammunition. Sure hydraulic fracturing has bee around in oil and gas exploration for decades but not in shale. Different animal altogether. So far not one molecule of gas has been drawn from UK shale so far.

Feb 11, 2016 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernonE

VernonE -
You say it's a different animal in shale...can you expand on that? Are the proppants different?

Feb 11, 2016 at 5:34 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

There is a interesting site close to where i live in Nottinghamshire , located in the village of Eakring and known as Dukes Wood , where i take my dog a walk now and again , its where oil was first extracted commercially in the UK , British Petroleum was founded there and based from there, pioneered the discovery and development of oil in the North sea , also it was the base of the volunteer American " Rough necks " during the war . These days there is a small museum at the site and Dukes wood is a Nature reserve , i sometimes give it a mention on various blogs in the hope that some of the more rational enviromentalists will visit the site and have their fears over local enviromental damage from oil drilling and fracking etc dispelled . ps They have a website so if your interested in learning more just type Dukes wood oil into your search engine . cheers

Feb 11, 2016 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterdoubtingdave

Is the CONTINUOUS 1MW of energy more than all the ground unicorn and mirrors generate in a year?


Feb 11, 2016 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

To echo golf charlie, Dorset hosts the UK's largest onshore oil field without affecting its tourism.

Feb 11, 2016 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

According to Eddie O'Connor, CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power, sponsors of the 2013 Arctic Northwest Passage rowboat transit attempt that foundered in the ice (which had perversely declined to melt)
windfarms are a huge tourist attraction bringing hundreds of thousands to view the harvesting of the "free fuel".

Downstream effects of turbine wakes have been investigated but I wonder if there is an upstream suction component the which pulls in the tourists or perhaps the hypnotic rotation is responsible?

Feb 11, 2016 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

So? Everyone knows that dams and wind farms are tourist draws. Drilling rigs, not so much.

Then again, tourism is so bourgeois, I'm appalled by the argument.

Feb 11, 2016 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAila

There are 26 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in mainland UK. Four of these (Blaenavon, Pontcysyllte, Ironbridge and the Devon and Cornwall mining area) are directly associated with metal and coal mining and the iron industry. The Welsh slate industry is flagged as another potential candidate.

The UK's industrial heritage, and particularly those sites linked to fossil fuels and so-called unrenewable industries are a potent tourist draw. If the greenies knew how much dosh the HLF and Historic England, and its devolved counterparts were putting into conserving these sites, they would be thrashing about on the floor and foaming at the mouth.

Feb 11, 2016 at 9:39 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Surely there must be some tourists keen to go to Frackville, PA (pop: 3,739):,_Pennsylvania

Last time I was in Pennsylvania, in March 2014, I stayed in Clarks Summit, just north of Scranton. I have to say that the number of rowdy oil/gas shift workers staying in the hotel did not add to the ambience of the place. There are 7,788 active wells in the Marcellus shale in PA, the majority to the NW of Scranton and around Pittsburgh:

Feb 11, 2016 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

seriously - fracked in 1993??

What in blazes is everyone arguing about, then?

I was on a frac job in the Forth Valley in 1993. Which doesn't compute with 21st century "Save Forth Valley from fracking" types at all when I tell them.

Feb 11, 2016 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Interesting that the 'untried' & 'uneconomic' arguments about shale gas from the greens are similar to sceptic arguments about CCS which has also been practised for years for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Interesting too that the arguments about visual and environmental impacts for shale gas are similar to the overblown sceptic arguments about windmills and solar farms. Sceptics also rail against tax breaks for electric car buyers slightly prior to defending tax breaks for oil producers. How much is just partisan gainsaying?

Feb 12, 2016 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Sceptics also rail against tax breaks for electric car buyers slightly prior to defending tax breaks for oil producers.

One of these things is no like the other. Not remotely, and nothing to do with "sceptics", whoever they are.

The taxes ,windfall taxes etc on the oil business are huge and extraordinary. The tax-breaks they're calling for are to be treated more like other industries rather than a super cash cow for governments.

Same with the visual impact: the visual impact of thousands of permanent solar or wind installations is huge compared to the temporary impact of a drilling rig and the permanent feature of a small wellhead which is less noticeable than a telephone exchange.

Feb 12, 2016 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

HaroldW: appreciate your interest. My understanding is that hydraulic fracture is a widely used technique to stimulate older wells to squeeze the secondary oil out of them. These are wells that will have paid for themselves times over and the enhanced recovery will immediately have value. Shale, on the other hand, is much deeper and more impermeable, the horizontal displacement of wells is greater and there is no return - if any - for some years after the operation begins. I don't imagine the fluid medium varies much - just water with a few drops of additives to make it more "slippery" but shale operations will involve greater quantities. Don't misunderstand me though; the sooner a well is drilled, fracked and tested the better - then we will have some facts instead of all the guesswork and speculation that surrounds this topic.

Feb 13, 2016 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterVernonE


The majority of shale wells generate a return very quickly if they are going to generate one at all: production from a fracked zone in shale tends to be rather front-ended in time. Of course, the same well can be used progressively, by fraccing zones closer and closer to the downbore as the more remote ones along the horizontal section become exhausted, and the downbore can be diverted into new horizontals (maybe in different directions, or at a higher level in the shale stratum), increasing the production and life of the well. Sectional development of longer horizontal bores reduces the requirements for pump capacity and fraccing fluids at the surface when fraccing, as only a smaller volume of rock has to be pressured at one time. Optimisation of the operation is the job of reservoir engineers who will take account of other factors as well.

Feb 13, 2016 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Perhaps I should have mentioned that restimulating a well in a more conventional field takes place in a variety of contexts. Some fields do not need any significant stimulation - merely perforation of the casing - when they are first brought into production, because the flows and pressures are already extremely good. Other times, some fraccing may take place when the well is initially brought into production to enhance production flows. It is the job of reservoir engineers to work out how best to exploit each field, which will depend on a complex interaction between short term production optimisation and potentially damaging ultimate recovery volumes.

Feb 13, 2016 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

VernonE and Idau --
I appreciate the information from both. If I may paraphrase, it sounds as though the operation in shale is quite similar in nature to that in a conventional well, but at a greater level of intensity -- more volume fractured on a per well or per year basis. Is that about right?

Feb 13, 2016 at 1:33 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

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