Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Breaking news: Dover District Council votes against Fracking

More good news from Kent - Dover District Council votes against fracking

"This Council is concerned by the prospect of fracking and related drilling activity in the Dover District area and requests that a report is brought forward to the next meeting of this Council to inform the Council of the nature of the process, the potential impact on subsurface water resources and geological formations, the type and scale of the surface structures, and the impact of anti-fracking demonstrations in the light of recent experience in Sussex on the local communities and on the police."

Good grounds for going for a frack free zone ?  They said they would pass this on to KCC .  

Good work from the Scrutiny committee, who thanked us again for all the good work we had done......

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Deal Town Council opposes Fracking




Members of Deal Town Council have voted overwhelmingly against fracking in east Kent.

The vote took place at a council meeting on Monday 25th November after a motion was put forward by Cllr Ben Bano that 'Deal Town Council supports the campaign both by neighbouring parish councils and local action groups to resist any moves to allow fracking in East Kent.   This council places on record its opposition to fracking on environmental, health as well as economic grounds." The motion was seconded by Cllr Deryck Murray and passed with one abstention and only one councillor, Bob Frost, voting against.

Rosemary Rechter, Chair East Kent Against Fracking, addressed the meeting, which followed the recent Dover District Council Scutiny Meeting on fracking in east Kent.

Dianna Jones, a Sandwich resident and EKAF Committee member who was also at the Deal Town Council meeting said, "the really good news here is that this
motion was tabled independently of any planning applications to drill in east Kent. Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd recently withdrew their applications for exploratory drilling at Shepherdswell Guston and Tilmanstone and this vote is clear evidence of the overwhelming support for the all the parish councils and campaign groups such as EKAF, and their offshoots, who worked so hard to oppose those applications."
Dover District Councillors will be discussing fracking at their meeting on Wednesday, 27th November at 6pm at the Council Offices in the White Cliffs Business Park at Whitfield, CT16 3PJ. 

Cllr Mike Eddy put a motion forward on fracking to the District Council on 18th September, which was then studied by the Scrutiny Committee. EKAF and Keep Shepherdswell Well, as well as Shepherdswell and Guston parish council representatives, were invited to speak to the Committee on 11th November and presented an extremely convincing case, which clearly impressed councillors. The Committee will be reporting back to the Full Council on Wednesday - it is Item 12 on the agenda. The documents presented can be viewed at


Thursday, 21 November 2013

EKAF Delivers letter to 10 Downing St...

On Friday, 22nd November 2013 a delegation of five members of the committee of East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) delivered a letter to the Prime Minister setting out the case against fracking in the UK. 

They were joined by Gayzer Frackman, who had already made two 250-mile walks from Lancashire to London with the same aim. The letter he delivered to 10, Downing Street on the second occasion was co-signed by Andy Pemberton, the dairy farmer from Lancashire featuring in Greenpeace’s Wrong Move campaign whose land is threatened by fracking, by Louise from Frack Free Somerset, by Kathryn from Balcombe and by Ian Crane, the ex-oilfield executive of Fracktured Future fame, who presented the anti-fracking case so convincingly at the EKAF event in Dover on 16th October.

Our Letter

The Rt Hon David Cameron, MP
Prime Minister
10, Downing Street

Dear Prime Minister

We are writing to you on behalf of East Kent Against Fracking, an organisation which represents hundreds of residents of East Kent, by no means inveterate protesters or trouble-makers but ordinary people who have taken the trouble to examine the issue of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and become extremely concerned about the dangers it presents for the UK. We are standing up alongside our fellow citizens to protect our environment, public health, local economy and social cohesion against the deteriorating effects which fracking and related drilling practices have brought to many parts of the USA over the past decade.

We would like to put the case against fracking in the UK to you and trust that you will give it as much attention as you have so far given to the pro-fracking lobby.

First of all, it is a myth that the kind of fracking proposed has a long history in this country. In fact, it has been carried out (with damage to 80 homes from earth tremors) only at Preese Hall in Lancashire, starting in 2011. The process involved is slick water fracking, used since 2003. We are fortunate in being able to learn from the decade-long experience in the USA and the operations in Australia that this kind of extraction of unconventional gas and oil should be opposed on principle, not just as a localised or NIMBY issue, for the following reasons:
1.      There is mounting evidence that fracking inevitably causes water, air and soil pollution, even if a borehole has been properly drilled and sealed. 7% on average of new boreholes leak immediately[1]: it is simply impossible for the most experienced geologists and the most highly skilled engineers to guarantee that drilling can be carried out with complete safety to the environment. Even when a borehole is successfully drilled and lined, it is likely to fail eventually[2] and toxic fluids left underground by the fracking process will seep up the annulus to overlying aquifers and soil, causing contamination which will be a threat to human and animal health, as well as making the area uninhabitable. This may be 20-30 years after the borehole has been drilled – a very long time after the company responsible for securing the environment has left the area. The clean-up operation will, of course, devolve onto the local government authorities and cost considerably more than the £100,000 originally granted to the community for permitting the drilling. Indeed, the loss in value of one single property in the East Kent area would amount to far more than this sum.

If you have any doubts about the threat to water supplies, three applications for exploratory boreholes to assess the viability of extracting unconventional gas from the former Kent coalfield have recently been withdrawn by the applicant (Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd) owing to the unassailable arguments made by the Environment Agency about the risks which operations of this kind would pose to the vital chalk aquifer. It lies not far above the coal and shale strata and supports a high density of public supply boreholes, forming part of the North Downs groundwater resource, which supplies at least 70% of the county's domestic and commercial requirements.

2.      As for the question of strict controls on the extraction of unconventional gas or oil from underground, your government has accepted that the regulations which apply to conventional gas and oil exploration and extraction (such as in the North Sea) are inadequate. That is why you have set up the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO). However, this body has so far failed to produce anything appropriate to the risks involved, the most serious of which I have already outlined: irreversible water contamination, air and soil pollution, leading to health problems.
The US government has reduced standards of monitoring and regulation by excluding the extraction of unconventional gas and oil from the jurisdiction of federal environmental protection legislation (“the Halliburton loophole”), thus leaving the states and local authorities to take up the responsibility for regulating, monitoring and dealing with accidents. The UK government is giving every indication that it intends to follow the same agenda:
§   by cutting Environment Agency budgets further and faster than expected;
§   by proposing the closure of air quality monitoring stations and the abolition of Air Quality Management Zones;
§   by indicating it will seek to end a landowner’s right to refuse permission to drill under his/her land;
§   by putting political pressure on local authorities to permit drilling applications;
§   by pledging deregulation, while at the same time assuring us that accidents which have happened abroad could never happen in our highly regulated industrial scenario; and
§   by appointing gas industry moguls to cabinet posts, including Lord John Browne, former CEO of BP, who while in office has made extensive use of his power to appoint non-executive members of his choice to government departments concerned with regulating the oil and gas industry[3].

Conflict of interest in the highest offices of state, rampant deregulation, exemption from environmental protection legislation, dismissal of risk, denial of alleged harm, disparagement of dissent and legal gagging of dissenters – these are all hallmarks of the political climate which have allowed fracking to spread unrestricted across rural America over the past decade.  This laissez-faire approach enabled fracking companies to go from a small handful of vertical test bores in Western Pennsylvania in 2007 to over 3,000 wells, about half of which are now horizontal fracking wells, spreading like a fungus across the once-rural landscape of Northwestern Pennsylvania[4].

From an economic point of view, it may conceivably be acceptable for certain areas to be made uninhabitable in vast continents such as North America or Australia, but we clearly do not have this option on our small, densely-populated island. Our geology is also much more sensitive and riddled with faults, making drilling hazardous at the best of times.

  1. Another myth which is going the rounds is that there have been no cases of harm from fracking in the USA. This argument relies on semantics, depending on the usage of 'case' meaning litigation in the courts. Owing to “the Halliburton loophole” cited above, victims of contamination are forced to go directly to the fracking companies and non-disclosure agreements are often signed as a prelude to any compensation. As reported by The Guardian in August, settlements of up to $750,000 have been made by US fracking companies using lifetime gagging orders even on children as young as seven[5].

Serious effects on human health have also been documented in Australia among people living close to unconventional gas extraction operations. This has been confirmed by The Australian Medical Association's incoming president in Queensland[6]. The effects range from nose bleeds and skin rashes to debilitating headaches and an increased risk of cancer.

To add to these concerns, the exposure of residents to constant noise and lighting at sites is known to affect their health. The consequences of loud noise are well understood and serious, but now the problems of low frequency and subsonic sound exposure, especially in the long term, are becoming known and studied. It has been shown by the Centre for Human Performance (Portugal), School of Biomedical Engineering, Sciences and Health Systems at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) and CITIDEP (Portugal)[7] that such exposure can cause major health effects, including cardiac infarcts, stroke, cancer, epilepsy, rage reactions and suicide.

4.    It seems, however, that you and your government are in favour of slick water fracking in the UK because you believe that it will lead to cheaper energy. You are clearly of the opinion that this benefit outweighs the risks to our environment, health and quality of life. However, Lord Stern, a cross-bench peer and professor at the London School of Economics, has said that the claim of cheaper energy from UK unconventional gas supplies is "baseless". Since UK gas is traded internationally, any shale gas boom in the UK would be unlikely to have an impact on the gas price. In the USA, where fracking artificially lowered gas prices significantly at the outset, gas is rarely exported because other markets are too far away. Expert commentators from the International Energy Agency to Deutsche Bank have also said different geological, legal and regulatory conditions make it unlikely the US shale gas boom would be repeated in the UK[8]. The CBI, Chatham House and OFGEM have also expressed their doubts about shale gas bringing prices down.

  1. As for the supposed prospect of more jobs, unemployment is growing in Pennsylvania in spite of its self-proclaimed “booming” Marcellus shale production. Fracking is not labour-intensive: it requires a small team of skilled and trained operatives, who will not be recruited locally in the UK. While some temporary jobs may be created in the area of a fracking site clearing land or possibly guarding it, many other jobs will be lost when businesses move out of an area which has become unpleasant to work in due to the noise and dust caused by 24/7 operations, let alone the frequent HGV traffic to and from sites, causing congestion on often narrow country roads. Farmers and the food industry will find their reputation and produce blighted by a real or perceived anxiety on the part of their customers about contamination from the gas extraction operations – many will prefer to exercise a precautionary principle and go elsewhere.

In the USA, SMEs have been impoverished as their businesses have faltered, struggled and failed. They are, however, the largest provider of net new jobs in the USA, in spite of all the oil and gas industry’s rhetoric. Independent analyses of shale plays throughout the country confirm that wells are short-lived and reserves not as great as industry promises. In addition, communities where drilling has occurred are now dealing with the expensive aftermath. The drilling companies have offloaded that significant burden onto the taxpayers and local businesses. This is true of the oil and gas industry as a whole. In fact, economists estimate that if all the external costs of oil and gas were included, gasoline would cost in excess of $12 per gallon (it costs on average $3.30).

What are these costs? Firstly, water must be provided for communities where it has been contaminated. Secondly, there are rising health care costs to pay for those suffering from the effects of fracking, everything from skin rashes to respiratory problems and cancer. Last but not least, county councils are left with the costs of repairing roads damaged by the constant stream of heavy goods vehicles to and from fracking sites. Some roads require annual maintenance at $70,000-$80,000 per mile; others need basic reconstruction at a cost of up to $920,000 per mile.

In conclusion, at EKAF we are well aware that solutions must be found to supply UK energy needs in the years to come. Unconventional gas from fracking can never be a “stop-gap” measure. Even if the most optimistic projections for its supply are realised and environmental risks ignored, it will be a decade before we can have the tens of thousands of wells necessary to make production viable. By then we could have already taken vital steps to end our country’s reliance on gas and to make homes more energy efficient, eventually converting them to using exclusively renewable sources of energy. Government subsidies would be far better spent aiding and hastening this adaptation than giving tax breaks to foreign fracking companies, which provide no lasting solution to our energy needs. This policy is already enshrined in the National Planning Policy Framework and is a far better strategy for reducing our energy bills in a long-term, sustainable manner. 

Many of the arguments for fracking are made by those who have vested interests in the multinational energy giants. We know that, as Prime Minister, you have the best interests of the country first and foremost at heart. We hope we have been able to alert you to some of the very real dangers we face if we go down the path to fracking, not least of which is that of turning our countryside into an industrialised toxic wasteland. This is not the legacy any of us want to leave to our children and grandchildren.

Yours sincerely

Julie Wassmer (Kasparian), EKAF Vice Chair (Petition Organiser – address supplied at head of letter)

Rosemary Rechter, EKAF Chair                   

Patricia Marsh, EKAF Secretary

Andrew Ogden, EKAF Technical Officer

Caroline Raffan, EKAF Online Media Officer

Stuart Cox, EKAF Committee Member

Gayzer Tarjanyi (Frackman), Frack Free Fylde

Supplementary Sources:
Osborn et al. “Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gaswell drilling and hydraulic fracturing”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2011
Bamberger, M. & Oswald, R. E. “Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health”, New Solut. 2012;22(1):51-77, doi: 10.2190/NS.22.1.e.
Brundage et al. “Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment”, MSETC, August 2011
Barth, Janette M., “Hydrofracking offers short-term boom, long-­term bust”, ENR New York, 7 March 2011
Goldenberg, Suzanne, “A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water”,, 11 August 2013
Food & Water Watch, “Fracking and the food system”, 6 J

[2] Schlumberger, the world’s No.1 fracking company, cites 60% failure over a 30-year time span
[7] Alves-Pereira, M. & Nuno Castelo Branco,Vibroacoustic disease: the need for a new attitude   towards noise”, CITIDEP, 2000
[8] Deutsche Bank, “European Gas: A First Look At EU Shale-­Gas Prospects” 2011

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dover District Council Scrutiny Committee

Dover District Council decided in October to remit the planning fracking decision to its Scrutiny Committee.

DDC invited Official bodies like the EA on an evening last week, Community campaigners against on Monday and in theory the company on a third.

The meeting with Environmental Agency happen last week where they voiced their concerns on the quality of the application from Coastal. Despite Coastal decision the stop their planning applications last Thursday DDC decided, rightly in our view, to continue the process so Councillors could gain more knowledge about the subject.

Last night they heard speakers from EKAF, CPRE, 'Keep Shepherdswell Well, local campaigners from Guston.

The general impression was that the Councillors recieved the testimony very positively and were impressed by the scope of argument and the clear voice from the communities affected.

and the session with Coastal ? .... apparantly they have not answered the orginial invite.

Yet another example of the inability of the company to engage with the Communities they seek to stream-roll into fracking.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Press Release - Coastal withdraws from Kent... for now

Friday, November 08 2013

Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd has abandoned plans to drill for coal bed methane gas in 3 east Kent villages.

The news was broken to the campaign group East Kent Against Fracking yesterday in an e-mail from Sharon Thompson, Head of Planning Applications at Kent County Council (KCC) explaining that the company had withdrawn its planning applications to drill exploratory boreholes at Shepherdswell, Tilmanstone and Guston after recent requests were made to provide further information about issues raised during the planning process.

Julie Wassmer, vice chair of East Kent Against Fracking, said: "On October 14th the Environment Agency wrote letters to KCC regarding each of the sites, stating that Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd had not provided sufficient information with their applications and the Environment Agency was therefore 'unable to advise whether or not the environment (in particular groundwater quality) can be protected from this development.' The agency further recommended that planning permission should not be granted on the basis of the information provided and that if the new information was not forthcoming, then the Environment Agency 'would be minded to object to the application.'" Ms Wassmer claims "The company's withdrawal of its applications clearly demonstrates that it was unable to satisfy the demands for information about how Kent water could be protected from contamination by drilling in this area. This is a victory in the sense that yesterday we had three applications for drilling in East Kent and today we have none."

All four parish councils relating to the 3 sites opposed the applications. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (Kent) opposed the applications. Further campaign groups sprang up in the villages to oppose the applications (Keep Shepherdswell Well and Eythorne in the Side of the Drilling etc) and Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke also spoke out against the applications on site specific concerns relating to the threat to the local Chalk aquifer.

Rosemary Rechter, chair of EKAF said, "We are delighted to have won the first round, and want to thank all the people who have worked so hard to understand the true facts about this industry, and to share those facts. This industry will not provide jobs and cheap energy but will threaten our water and industrialise our countryside so the battle will go on."

KCC confirms that no further action will be taken on the planning applications. Any new applications will be subject to the necessary consultations and publicity.


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Coastal Withdraw their three planning applications

East Kent Against Fracking recieved the following letter  from Kent County Council's Head of Planning Applications:-

Dear Sir/Madam
I refer to the above and write to advise that following the recent request for further information to address issues raised during the planning application process, Coastal Oil and Gas Limited has withdrawn the following planning applications:

1. Planning Application DO/0218/2013 - Proposed Exploratory Borehole at land south of Puckland Wood, Shepherdswell

2. Planning Application DO/0217/2013 - Proposed Exploratory Borehole at Former Tilmanstone Colliery, Eythorne

3. Planning Application DO/0216/2013 - Proposed Exploratory Borehole at Guston Court Farm, Guston, Dover

Coastal Oil and Gas Limited advise that they intend to collate the additional information requested and re-submit the applications in due course.

No further action will be taken on the above applications. Any new applications will be subject to the necessary consultations and publicity.
Kind Regards

Sharon Thompson
Head of Planning Applications
Planning and Environment,
Enterprise and Environment
Kent County Council
Invicta House, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1XX

This is a testiment of the campaign that the community in East Kent has waged. Small victories are good but Coastal has a track record of putting in applications and withdrawing them when faced by opposition. They will be come back. We wil be waiting....