Thank you again for the massive response to the planning application.  We have been making sure that the councillors are aware of just how strong and united the local opinion is.  We think that the application is going to be heard at the next Shropshire North Planning meeting on 23rd September at 2pm in the council chambers at Shirehall in Shrewsbury.  As soon as we have confirmation of the agenda we will write again to confirm.  The meeting is open to the public and the more people who are able to attend the better.
Also at Shirehall, we have been promised a head to head debate with a representative from Dart.  All Shropshire Councillors will be encouraged to attend, along with the press and the public.  We must thank Councillor Steve Davenport for arranging the debate and you may already have started to see articles in the local papers about it.  The debate will be about the proposals for unconventional gas extraction in Shropshire, however it will be quite separate to the planning process for the Dudleston CBM test drill.
One of the most remarkable things about the Government push for unconventional gas extraction is the lack of public involvement in the decision.  The Conservative Party fought the last election under the headline promise of forming the “greenest Government ever”.  Ever since gaining power they have sought to achieve the opposite and indeed David Cameron wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph this week reaffirming his commitment to unconventional gas.  His core argument is around providing cheap energy, which according to industry experts is not going to happen as a result of fracking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shale_gas_in_the_United_Kingdom).  America went all out for fracking at a time when they had no gas export capability which is why their gas prices went down.  If the UK were to succeed in extracting some gas then prices will not change because we are connected to continental Europe by pipelines.  Furthermore the fracking process is expensive which is why the drilling companies in the US have accumulated staggering levels of debt.
Time for a good debate!!!
Recently we have found that a good way to keep in touch with news about unconventional gas extraction is through twitter.  Previously twitter seemed to be all about trivia, but now it is clear that it can be an amazingly effective way to share information.  Thus we now have a twitter address, @FFDudleston, and will be linking the twitter feed to the campaign website.
We use the hash tag #fracking as a generic term referring to unconventional gas extraction.  By adding in the hash tag, the messages are then highlighted to a wide audience, thus helping the grapevine.  If you come across any relevant websites and wish to help the process then you can either:
 – create a twitter account and tweet it yourself.  You might then also wish to follow @FFDudleston, we’ll reciprocate and then be able to re-tweet your tweet
 – email us the link and we will tweet it
Interesting articles that you will find include:
 – Analysis showing that public opinion is fast turning against fracking as people realise that it is an ill-conceived solution to the country’s energy needs
 – Financial institutions Citigroup and UBS assessing solar as being the way forwards for energy
 – Germany are adding huge amounts of renewable energy to their electricity grid and still managing to make it three times as stable as the UK grid – it can be done!!
Thanks to the grapevine, we have also recently found out that Dart have applied for a waste extraction permit.  The process is open to public comment until 16th September and the Environment Agency promise to respond to all points raised.  Personal data is kept confidential and there is an option to make comments with complete anonymity.
The permit documents make interesting reading in a macabre way.  One of them indicates that immediately underneath the coal layer at Dudleston is a layer of strata containing shale.  The application is for a permit relating to CBM but then once a company starts drilling it is hard to know exactly what they are up to.  Dart’s new owners IGas had permission to drill for CBM at Ince Marshes and then managed to overshoot enormously, going through a thick layer of millstone grit to reach the Bowland Shale more than two miles below the surface.  Their press release indicated that they had “stumbled” upon the shale!
We called the campaign FrackFreeDudleston to show unity with the wider campaign against unconventional gas extraction.  Now we need to make sure that we don’t have CBM or shale fracking here!  The good news is that just as CBM extraction has been assessed by the DECC as not viable in this area, the same applies to shale.

 

CBM and shale under Dudleston