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The silence of the wells

Readers will recall my amusement at the antics of the anti-fracking fraternity at the Cuadrilla shale gas inquiry in Lancashire, who had found a tame noise consultant who was willing to testify that the sounds emitted by a shale gas operation, which were expected to reach the levels of the dawn chorus at times, would be wholly unacceptable.

Given that Cuadrilla have already drilled and fracked a well at Preese Hall in Lancashire, this begged the question of how residents in that area had coped. Backing Fracking, the pro-shale group, has gently inquired of Lancashire County Council to see what complaints had been received by council noise abatement officers and they have now had a response.

Press release: for immediate release

Legal officer confirms that earlier drilling and fracking on the Fylde didn’t result in a single nuisance complaint. 

A request for information made to Fylde Borough Council has revealed that during the construction, drilling and fracking carried out previously by Cuadrilla Resources at sites in Weeton, Singleton and Westby, the local council didn’t receive a single complaint about noise nuisance from nearby residents.

When asked for clarification, and whether or not the council had received any complaints about other sources of potential nuisance such as odour, dust, traffic or light pollution, Fylde Borough Council’s legal officer replied saying that the responsible environmental health officer had received no complaints at all.

The request for information was made by campaigners at Backing Fracking, who support shale gas exploration in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK, after hearing testimony from local opponents at the recent six-week long public inquiry in Blackpool saying that noise had been a problem before and would be again.

The inquiry was established to consider Cuadrilla’s appeals against the refusal of planning permission for two temporary shale gas sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, and heard from a number of local people expressing views both for and against fracking.

Chris Evans, from Backing Fracking, says the lack of complaints is a real eye opener.

“The fact that the council didn’t receive a single public complaint about noise or other potential sources of nuisance when Cuadrilla was operating at its earlier three sites on the Fylde, just goes to show how unobtrusive and tolerable those activities must have been at the time.

“I think what’s happening now is that some opponents are unfairly using the threat of noise and sleep disturbance to influence residents into objecting to shale gas exploration. Without any current frame of reference, those residents are understandably going to be worried about what it will be like, but all they need to do is look to past experience which tells us it wasn’t as bad as it is now being claimed.”

The group also obtained copies of the planning permissions relating to Cuadrilla’s earlier sites, and found that they each imposed a planning condition limiting night time noise to a maximum of 42 decibels. During the public inquiry, representatives for Lancashire County Council and local opponents argued that 42 dB limit was insufficient to provide protection from noise nuisance.

“Faced with this evidence of a previous precedent, you have to ask why it is that Lancashire County Council and others would now try to argue that 42 dB is too high a limit, especially in light of the fact that nearby residents were undisturbed by it. What’s different now that wasn’t a problem back then in virtually identical rural settings?

“The fact that there were no complaints to Fylde Borough Council in the past means it really does look like the opponents are deliberately scaremongering in order to stop shale gas at any cost, which would not only mean we could lose out on the potential economic benefits but would lock us into coal and higher CO2 gas imports for longer,” concludes Chris. 

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Reader Comments (53)

Well, people should know the drill by now. So they better get cracking. It will be a real gas.

I shale stop making puns now.

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterClimateOtter

Do we have to make such gushing comments?

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Oil second that motion.

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterClimateOtter

Joking aside – since when have facts been of any interest or relevance to the anti-frackers?

Just me thayin’…

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:47 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

What fracking good news.

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

As I stand in the dark in my room, hoping against all hope that my gesture will give the earth one more second of life while cranking a lever to produce sufficient electricity with which to make this recycled computer function, I proclaim th...

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyla

Another Dalai Lama quote:-

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

Keep on buzzing Bishop Hill!

IIRC - A typical decibel level for a buzzing mosquito is 40 dB?

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:32 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

+1 @GS

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:42 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

LOL @ Ayla!

Did the lever brake? Or did you run out of breath?
Let me know when (if) you ever get back online.

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Brilliant logic. Compelling evidence. Defies meaningful rebuttal. Alas logic and evidence are not highly prized among the pot bangers.

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

But this is "Fracking" noise. It disturbs the residents without them even noticing.
This makes it insidious and even more dangerous!

Mar 24, 2016 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

So this appears to be conclusive. The biggest mess, noise, disruption etc in the Fracking industry, is caused by the idiots trying to oppose it.

Could the UK be designated a World Heritage Site, with traditional means of power delivery guaranteed, and Anti-Frackers banned? Maybe jail sentences for persistent offenders, or deportation to Zimbabwe, so they could learn the consequences of State Controlled Stupidity.

Perhaps the USA should relabel the EPA, the Energy Poverty Alliance, to match the UK spawned Green Blob.

Mar 24, 2016 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

On second thought, maybe deportment to Zimbabwe is too harsh, even for anti-frackers, and there is no restorative justice.

The Village Stocks should be reinvented for the 21st century, consisting of treadmills, geared to electricity generators. They will need to be functional whenever it is dark, and also when the wind isn't blowing.

You could even charge people for the right to throw rotten fruit and vegetables (organic only) at the sullen trudgers, and have a pit beneath the treadmill, so it doubled up, as a community composting site. Children would think composting was fun and entertaining, and would scour the streets looking for rubbish material to throw.

Mar 24, 2016 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

42 decibels does not sound much, but you only need a tiny amount getting into the drinking water and their will be catastrophic consequences.
Decibel poisoning is closely associated with heavy metal toxins, although there is some debate whether decibels cause heavy metals or heavy metal causes decibels. Either way , we must think of the children and use the precautionary principle

Mar 24, 2016 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Having observed Cameron for 6 years; first opposing shale on safety and environmental grounds and secondly going 'all out for shale' I can report that there is no statistically significant difference between the results of the two policies.
6 years is roughly what it takes to build a gas liquification/export terminal. ^.^

Mar 24, 2016 at 1:02 PM | Registered CommenterDung

EternalOptimist, I am sure you need reliable electricity to make the heavy metal, and prolonged exposure to heavy metal does cause deafness.

In the film 'Heroes of Telemark', the Norwegian Resistance fighters led by Richard Harris, dumped a load of Heavy Water into the sea, but no records are available to indicate whether the fish went deaf, but Mr Hitler probably turned a redder shade of pale, and it was not drinking Heavily Fortified Sea Water that did for Richard Harris.

Our respective posts, combined with Ayla's outstanding contribution, make more sense than the entire legal case of the anti-frackers. Cheaper too.

Mar 24, 2016 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

...means it really does look like the opponents are deliberately scaremongering in order to stop shale gas at any cost,...

In other news, spoor of Ursus Americanus found in forested areas of Canada, while the Supreme Pontiff is confirmed as having taken Holy Orders in 1969...

Mar 24, 2016 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Oh dear, Phil C won't like this one bit.
I bet he's choking on his vegan nut-burger right now.

Mar 24, 2016 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterdavid smith

Deliberate scare-mongering? Who would have thought!

Mar 24, 2016 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

golfCharlie, just how do you keep doing it? endlessly producing gems of surreal wit. A few days ago, dissolving polar bears (victims of ocean acidification), today deaf fish as products of wartime heavy water spillage (cod-lateral damage?). I'm beginning to wonder if you might be some amalgam of surviving Monty Python writers.

Mar 24, 2016 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Ayla how much extra CO2 are your lungs pushing out whilst you,re cranking that lever
Lot more than the Internal combustion engine for a multitude times the work produced.

Ayla imagine a power cut where all the lights go out and everything stops working but you don't have enough money in your current account to get them switched back on again.

For thousands of people living in the modern industrialised UK in the 21 century they don't have to imagine it they have that for real.

According to BBC Panorama on Monday night when David Cameron first took " power " with Nick Clegg they promised that by 2016 they would eradicate all fuel Fuel Poverty in the UK.Obviously missed that target.

Ayla you jumping up and down on your lever coupled to the flywheel of a generator I suppose it might help.

PS Ayla quess which gesture I'm making it involves a fist and two fingers . Happy Easter by the way

Mar 24, 2016 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

It will be a long slow process to get people to understand just how deceitful the green mob has been, and for how long they have been using their deceit to shake down society for their parasitic lives.

Mar 24, 2016 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Anyone got any useful reference numbers to make meaningful comparisons? Philip Bratby?
42db doesn't sound like much when I read elsewhere that a typical office has "weighted" noise of 60dB(A). How are these calculations made and what do they actually represent?

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@Michael Hart
a bel is a log ratio. so 6 bels is a million times more signal than something else. 6 bels = 60 decibels.

Someone has decided that the dawn chorus is about 40 dB louder than something else and that frakking is 42 dB louder than something else. The something else is a measure of loudness.
Typically, very quiet breathing would be 1 bel or 10dB
very quiet room 20 dB

Its subjective, frequency sensitive, age sensitive.

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Have Environmental Health Officers ever been called to investigate noise disturbances caused by Green Blob activists?

Bob Dylan songs around a smoke-free, carbon-neutral, organic wood-pellet camp fire are one thing, but some of their repetitive chanting in built up areas, before dark, even scares the muggers into new neighboorhoods.

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ayla is on our side Jamspid, she is winding you up.

Mar 24, 2016 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Golf Charlie

please scroll up and see Mar 24, 2016 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered Commenter Alan Kendall ^.^

Mar 24, 2016 at 7:00 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Ayla is not the crank.

Mar 24, 2016 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterjferguson


Can't say that blah blah blah gender patriarchy blah blah blah.

Mar 24, 2016 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

"this begged the question of how residents in that area had coped"

Bish--please up your game. Begging the question doesn't mean what you think it means.

Mar 24, 2016 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

"Ayla is on our side Jamspid, she is winding you up." --Stonyground

And quite nicely, too!

"I'm beginning to wonder if you might be some amalgam..." --Alan Kendall

Will the heavy metal jokes never cease? [hoping not]

Alan Kendall & Dung,

I think some climate scientists are having a laugh at everybody else, with some of the rubbish they produce.
AND they expect to be paid and taken seriously for making stuff up.

Obviously if some of the anti-frackers wanted to try singing Kumbayah songs, in a confined space, sat around smoking Dungfires, so they could claim to have lived and breathed third world energy poverty, they would have so much more credibility at organic coffee mornings raising money for Greenpeace Legal fees and professional Lobbying.

Meanwhile back in the virtual Reality Climate of Science, Monty Python's Holy Grail 'Black Knight' scene does remind me of certain AGW Exponents.

Mar 24, 2016 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Re: michael hart

40db - Library, bird calls (44 dB); lowest limit of urban ambient sound

50db - Quiet suburb, conversation at home. Large electrical transformers at 100 feet.

Mar 24, 2016 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Just re-read "1984", and its scary how close we are getting to this being a documentary...

In this case, a perfect example of "doublespeak": fracking is noisy and bad, but people should just ignore the noise from wind farms (which doesn't exist anyway, but if it did, it wouldn't be as noisy as fracking, and even if it was, its all for the greater good. Report to Room 101".

Mar 24, 2016 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligula Jones

Caligula Jones, don't forget the avian blood splatter patterns that wind turbines generate. They are still there for all to see, even when the wind turbines aren't generating anything else. Splattering birdlife is a bit of an own goal though, because there is less background noise to mask the whirring blades.

As a former member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, it should be renamed the Royal Society for the Protection of Blobbies (green)

The RSPB should have it's heads hanged in shame that marauding gulls terrorising citizens, have more rights than noble eagles, diced to death by RSPB money spinning machines.

Mar 24, 2016 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Caligula Jones

I think it was supposed to be a script for a daring comedy show on the BBC but they didn't get the joke :(
Looks like Cameron didn't get it either hehe

Mar 24, 2016 at 9:10 PM | Registered CommenterDung

@Alan Kendall
golf Charlie does indeed have a surreal wit
I can't get 'The heroes of Tele-marketing' starring Rolf Harris out of my head

Mar 24, 2016 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist


good indicators, but they don't get to the root.

dB is a ratio. In electronics it's a measure of amplitude, in the real world it's a measure of power, not loudness.

It is possible to have a lot of power but no noise, because the human ear only works in a specific frequency range.

Think about a bat, squeaking away about 50 m away. It might be emitting at about 30dB but you cant hear it. The loudness is zero

The bat flies past your ear. Due to the range, the dB increases to 60dB, but the loudness stays at zero.

An acoustics expert will take all this into account, to give a fair picture of noise levels in terms of dB.
A Greenie acoustics person has an awful lot of wiggle room to paint a doom and gloom false picture.

Mar 24, 2016 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Mar 24, 2016 at 4:53 PM golf charlie

Newport '65 was a bit more than 42dB. Bob also advertised the Cadillac Escalade. He isn't on the Green Blob's side, Joan made that mistake too.

Mar 24, 2016 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterNigel S

I can confirm this having worked on a fracking rig in sleepy Eastern Poland. Remarkable how the noise of it was totally sswallowed by the North European plane. And that was a proper rig, no those wee tooty back of a lorry things used by Cuadrilla and co.

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin Macdonald

The relative loudness perceived by the human ear is defined as A-weighted decibels and are abbreviated dB(A) or dBA.
This is the standard definition used in industry to define the noise level of machines to which workers are allowed to be subjected. usually something like 85 dBA at a distance of one meter for an hour is the limit (from memory, the time limit could be off).

Here is another table of different sounds and their dB levels:

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Wijnand, the exaggerated and medlia amplified loudness of the Green Blob, drowns out the anguished cries of suffering they cause amongst the disadvantaged.

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Nigel S, if that was Newport Isle of Wight 65, I was not old enough for a pedal car. I have heard about more recent festivities at that location, however some peoples memories were rather hazey and confused, as they had failed to keep off the grass.

Mar 25, 2016 at 2:10 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

It's crucial that we all understand that not all dB's are alike.

When my druid strikes her bucket with a wooden spoon in order to summon the spirits of oaks and willow trees, are those dB's not entirely justified?

Mar 25, 2016 at 2:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyla


In support, respectfully:

Are dBs of the newly born not virtuous, or are they first signs of sin, for-telling harm? Do the great whales sin when they sing arias for loved ones across ocean deeps? So much to ponder, quietly.

Mar 25, 2016 at 5:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

@Lance Wallace

With all due respect to His Grace, I second your suggestion.

Mar 25, 2016 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterbiff33


Aston Martin is up to dB10. What happens when they turn that up to 11?

Mar 25, 2016 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Fracking has consistently failed to get its message across, probably because they don't know where the claims of "noise" are coming from. People who are against fracking know nothing about the process, else they'd know that a well is only fracked for between 1 and 5 hours, after which the oil/gas comes to the surface under pressure, so no pumps. It is my belief that those opposing fracking think that it is a continuous exercise that goes on through the life of the well. The people of Fylde aren't complaining because there isn't any noise after a well is fracked. Although I don't know how they are affected by lorries coming to and from the site.

Mar 25, 2016 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

golf charlie, Feeling my age now, it was Newport R.I., some good clips on line, Bob with Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper etc. ripping into 'Maggie's Farm' and upsetting Pete Seeger and the other right-on folkies, excellent stuff! You'll be telling me next that you weren't at Woodstock.

Mar 25, 2016 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterNigel S

Mar 24, 2016 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered Commenter golf charlie

Where exactly would you want the heads to be hung and what would be the method of removal?

Mar 25, 2016 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

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