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Not in my Frack Yard: Cuadrilla lambasted by protestors

John Freeman

 (via SchNews): Executives of Caudrilla Resources, the company engaged in 'fracking' in Lancashire to extract resources, a tecnhnology causing plenty of controversy, were left quaking in their boots after angry fracking meetings in the US and the UK last week.

Campaigners have called for a moratorium on fracking in the UK in the face of theearthquakes and amid fears it could lead to pollution of drinking water by methane gas or chemicals in the liquid used in the process. 

In Lancashire, Caudrilla Resources have obtained planning permission for five sites in the Blackpool area. They have completed drilling and fracked the Preese Hall well (causing several earthquakes) and drilled the Grange Road well. Their drilling rig is presently working at their Marsh Road site. With only one rig at present they will need to drill the wells sequentially.

Radical news site SchNews reports on two large public meetings on fracking - the process of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas. The first took place in the old steel town of Youngstown, Ohio - held on Tuesday in the wake of a magnitude 4.0 earthquake, the latest in a series of 11 over the last 12 months. 

Earthquakes have followed fracking activity in Lancashire, too and it's believed the earthquakes are linked to an injection well disposing of fracking fluid, a mix of groundwater and industrial chemicals. 

The second took place in the sleepy, extremely affluent commuter belt village of Balcombe, in Sussex, just north of the Ouse Valley Viaduct on the London to Brighton railway line. Cuadrilla Resources, made infamous by their alleged earthquake producing facilities in Lancashire, have planning permission to drill a test well south of the village. 

The process has been compared by some to setting off a small nuclear bomb underground and, needless to say there are some ruffled feathers in well manicured lawns of this community.

The meeting was extremely well attended with no standing room let alone seats free, and began with a screening of the short film, Fracking Hell. Two of Cuadrilla's most masochistic senior management, CEO Mark Miller and COO Eric Vaughan, turned up, along with their PR guru, Nick Sutcliffe.

(A Guildford Burough Councillor in his spare time, Sutcliffe is from PR company PPS Group, which has been accused of writing fake letters and posing as students to help their clients secure planning permission. pPS denies these cliams). 

Cuadrilla were on the defensive from the outset and it's reported they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot throughout trying to defend their technology, until even their opponents found it painful to watch. 

Many concerns were raised - with effects on water supplies in the area and the potential of earthquakes damage to the 170 year old railway viaduct were top of the list. 

The meeting was mercifully brought to a close through lack of time with residents still keen to continue haranguing Cuadrilla. It's unlikely the Caudrilla chiefs will be back any time soon. 

The real question for opponents of fracking is whether this outpouring of nimby rage can lead to anything more substantive. The road protests of the 1990's are an example of a movement that had supporters from across all walks of life. The fracking issue with its potentially large numbers of sites that can affect anyone in their path certainly have some similarities with threat to the countryside back then. 

The somewhat awkward and tentative interaction between local residents and activists in the Balcombe village hall on Wednesday, if built upon, has the potential to produce such a broad based movement against the tidal wave of extreme energy processes that is also bearing down on Lancashire. It will be interesting to see whether such alliances can be forged again under the present conditions. 

Cuadrilla and other such companies will certainly be hoping not, but recently claimed, after the publication of a report from the British Geological Society, that it was  “extremely unlikely” that ground water supplies would be polluted by methane asa result of controversial “fracking” for shale gas.

And although the process, which uses high-pressure liquid pumped deepunderground to fracture shale rock and release gas, caused two earthquakes inLancashire last year, they were too small to cause damage, UK geologists said. 

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