Environment agency pension’s investment in fracking: ‘conflict of interest’

An independent investigation compiled by national newpaper, ‘The Independent’, has found that the Environmnetal Agency (EA), who are held responsible for regulating unconventional shale gas extraction across the United Kingdom of Great Britainaa nd Northern Ireland, have in fact invested their pension funds in the very energy extraction process that they are held responsible for regulating.

What has resulted from the investigation, is an accusation by the Independant of a conflict of interest between the Environmental Agency’s duties as environmental regulators, and the investments of their pensions in the industry it is charged with regulating.

The Independant report:

In the UK the EA’s pension fund – worth a huge £2.3bn – invests in companies investing in fracking, incineration and nuclear power, all of which the Agency is involved in regulating…….The pension details are contained in a response to a Freedom of Information request from the EA, which lists the companies it had a stake in as of March this year, its latest available audited information. And its investments are in marked contrast to the Agency’s public image of being a leading “responsible” investor that integrates “environmental, social and governance considerations into all decision-making.” The Agency champions its commitment that by 2015 “25 per cent of the fund will be invested in the sustainable and green economy”.

The Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Preston, Lancashire.
The Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Preston, Lancashire.

 

The Independent further state:

It is with issues such as fracking, incineration and nuclear that the EA is probably at its most vulnerable. Its investments could potentially open it up to legal challenges if the it were to grant permits to companies in which its pension pot has a financial interest.

The fund is investing in two companies financially intertwined with fracking giant Cuadrilla, the company that has been the subject of fierce protests in Lancashire and West Sussex. The first is Centrica, which is investing £60m in Cuadrilla’s Lancashire operations and the second is Riverstone Energy, which owns 44 per cent of Cuadrilla.

To read the article in full, click here.

 

 

Anti-fracking protesters keep up the pressure at Belcoo test site

The Fermanagh Herald has reported:

THE CULMINATION of a week’s’ worth of daily protests was one in which around 400 attended on Sunday evening. Opposition has been growing following the announcement that fracking company Tamboran are to begin test drilling at a site in Belcoo in the coming weeks.

The test drilling, which will not involved ‘fracking’ is the first of two planned by the company and will give them more details of natural gas here. Since the ‘opening day’ protest, held on Monday July 21, where around 300 were in attendance, there have been daily protests at the site – with protesters encouraging a larger attendance for the Sunday night.

Local cross-community, campaign group, Belcoo Frack Free, formed following the first night of protests, unveiled the first phase of its campaign to halt gas exploration works at Creenahoe Quarry near Belcoo. Following a demonstration held on Sunday, a spokesman for Belcoo Frack Free said:

“Our campaign has established, and is maintaining, a continuous presence at the gates since Tamboran moved onsite last Monday (July 21). We are organising daily, peaceful evening protests which are attracting growing numbers and which end with locals and visitors providing a musical performance at the gates most nights.” Over the weekend the group published a code of conduct ‘to ensure that our demonstrations remain peaceful and dignified and keep the focus on what Tamboran are doing at the site’.

A renovated mill is now in use as a campsite, the group said, ‘to accommodate the growing numbers of campaigners coming to support the protest from across Ireland and the UK’. “The population of Fermanagh, from both communities, is highly concerned with the threat posed by this industry and remains implacably opposed to its development,” the spokesman concluded.

To access the article, click here.

N.I. Minister for the environment visits enniskillen

Today, the BBC reported that Minister of the Department of the Environment, Mr Mark H. Durkin MLA, visited the town of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh to discuss topics relating to Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction within County Fermanagh.

Mark-H-Durkan

The talks were held with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, Ban Fracking Fermanagh, Sinn Fein representatives Mr. Phil Flanagan MLA, Ms. Michelle Gildernew MP, Mr. Michael Colreavy TD, and SDLP Councillor Mr. Brendan Gallagher. Further to this, the meeting was attended by concerned citizens of Belcoo, where a proposed exploratory well bore is due to take place.

The BBC report:

Tamboran Resources wants to drill an exploratory borehole in a quarry near Belcoo to find out how much shale gas is in the ground.

Opponents see it as a first step that could lead to fracking.

Mr Durkan said his department would take into account people’s concerns before deciding if drilling can go ahead.

“There were a lot of suggestions today as to what and how my department should be looking at this notification or application from Tamboran,” he said.

“There are a number of environmental concerns, health concerns, economic concerns and all of these are concerns that I have listened to today and that I will certainly consider when assessing this from Tamboran.”

Thomas McCaffrey, of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, said the test drill should be subject to a full planning application with an environmental impact assessment and potentially a public health impact assessment.

“We consider it to be unconventional gas exploration and extraction as one whole process and you can’t separate out the drilling of an initial exploratory borehole from the whole process of unconventional gas extraction,” he said.

“We impressed upon him the need for the public to see that their politicians are doing something to alleviate the situation, because people are out there camping and, if nothing’s done, they’re going to be there in December, because people are that passionate about it, they’re not going to leave until they’re convinced that something is being done about it.

“We want to impress upon him the public’s anger and concern that they are afraid about what is happening on their doorstep without any consultation from the company at all.”

To read the article in full, click here.

Fracking firm Tamboran obtains belcoo quarry injunction

The BBC have reported:

Tamboran Resources intends to drill an exploratory borehole near Belcoo next month to collect rock samples.

Since Monday, protesters against the controversial fracking technique have held a vigil at the site entrance.

Police say they have plans in place to deal with any protests.

The quarry is owned by Acheson and Glover and Tamboran has taken out a four-month lease to carry out exploratory drilling work.

The court order prohibits people from entering or occupying land at Gandrum Road, or preventing Tamboran from carrying out exploratory mining operations and obstructing access to and from the site.

Tamboran said that after they moved equipment into the quarry, a number of individuals sought to gain unlawful access to the site.

“In order to protect the safety of local people, site security and protesters we have sought and secured an order for an injunction to deter anyone from seeking unlawful access,” the company said.

“Tamboran respects people’s right to protest and we welcome calls from local people to ensure that the protests are peaceful.

“It is important to stress that the company is undertaking work it is required to do under the terms of the licence from government and intends to meet its obligations in full.”

To read the article in full, click here.

West sussex council reject exploratory shale gas license

In what is regarded as a UK first, a local county council in England have rejected an application for exploration license for shale gas.

Protest against Fracking traffic and Celtique Energie drilling rig in Fernhurst West Sussex

The Guardian report:

An application by a shale company to explore for oil and gas in a picturesque part of West Sussex has been turned down. West Sussex County Council’s planning committee refused the application by Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration near Wisborough Green, a conservation area just outside the South Downs National Park.

The refusal, thought to be the first time a council has rejected a planning application by a shale company, was welcomed by local campaigners and environmentalists who feared that the exploration would lead to controversial fracking for oil or gas. The county council said it turned down the application because Celtique did not demonstrate the site represented the best option compared with other sites, it had unsafe highways access and would have had an adverse impact on the area.

Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance. We have noted the objections of the local community and I felt that the debate today was a full and robust one.”
Almost 100 people attended the meeting at County Hall North in HORSHAM to hear the debate and the decision, including actor James Bolam and his wife, actress Susan Jameson, who are local residents who fought against the scheme.

After the decision, Brenda Pollack, South East campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “This was absolutely the right decision. Nobody wants to see Sussex ruined by industrial drilling for dirty fossil fuels. If Celtique had been allowed to test for oil or gas, then there’s every chance that fracking would have followed.

“Local people would have seen their peaceful neighbourhoods shattered by the drilling and the extra lorries and other industrial traffic that comes with it. It has been CLEAR from the start that this application must be refused for a range of reasons.”

To read the article in full, click here.

The news came a day after drilling equipment arrived in Belcoo, County Fermanagh for an exploratory borehole drill, to be carried out by Tamboran Resources, an event which is rejected by local residents.

Northern ireland youth forum debate fracking in ennsikillen

On Wednesday 23rd July, thirty youths aged 16-24 discussed the pros and cons of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE) in the Enniskillen Hotel, an event organised by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF).

NIYF

Representatives from Sinn Fein, DUP, SDLP, UUP and Tamboran Resources were asked by NIYF to attend a panel to debate the pros and cons of USGE to the youth group, yet none had shown up to participate.

However, Donal O’Cofaigh of the Socialist Party, Tanya Jones, a representative for the Green Party, and a representative from FFAN were in attendance for the informed debate. They placed emphasis on the inherent risks associated with USGE, against three youths who had to fill in for Tamboran Resources.

The event provided an opportunity for youths to engage and discuss a spectrum of topics relevant to the subject of USGE in County Fermanagh in a manner that was respectable and informative.

The event, briefly attended by Phil Flanagan of Sinn Fein as an audience member, was also covered by BBC Northern Ireland and aired on the 6:30 news across the nation. To view their coverage, click here.

NIYF2

Tamboran’s belcoo ‘information leaflet’ in full

On the 21st of July 2014 at 5am with drilling equipment for the proposed exploratory borehole, they provided the following 4-page ‘Information Leaflet’ to the residents of Belcoo.

Here, the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network presents the 4 page leaflet in full for public viewing.

Page 1: Introduction
Here, Tamboran Resources introduce themselves, and their goals, drawing attention to the fact that they have been granted a five year exploration licence (that started 1st April 2011):

T1

Page 2: Purpose
Here, Tamboran Resources outline basic information about their exploratory borehole drill in Belcoo, following up with information on what happens after the exploratory borehole, before outlining perceived potential benefits of their project.

T2

Page 3: FAQ
The third page of the information leaflet outlines frequently asked questions, before drawing attention to a section entitled, “What the Independant experts have to say about shale gas.” This final section of page three is quite important, and teh Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network would encourage citizens of County Fermanagh and beyond to browse though those references in full, in particular, the InterGovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and The Public Health of England report which was recently and heavily criticised by the world renowned British Medical Journal:
T3

Page 4: Contact Details and References
Finally on page four, Tamboran Resources, provide a helpline number were one inclined to acquire more information:
T4

Before providing a list of eight references:
T5

The references of which FFAN would like to share electronically for public viewing below.

What is of concern for FFAN and citizens of County Fermanagh, isn’t so much what Tamboran Resources have put in their information leaflet, rather, the concern lies with the wealth of scientific research and evidence that they left out (For instance, the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, the Medical Journal of Australia, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, FFAN-FACTS). A wealth of scientific research which sadly, has become a stark reality for numerous communities around the world. Only when one weighs up all the scientific evidence together, can they make an informed, robust decision.

Question: Of the perceived potential benefits of unconventional shale gas extraction, as laid out by Tamboran Resources, which of them are supported by the references provided by Tamboran, laid out below?

Here are the eight references provided by Tamboran Resources:
1) Reference 1 click here.
2) Reference 2 click here.
3) Reference 3 click here.
4) Reference 4 click here.
5) Reference 5 click here.
6) Reference 6 click here.
7) Reference 7 click here.
8) Reference 8 click here.

Tamboran cover letter for residents of Belcoo

When Tamboran Resources arrived in Belcoo in the early hours of the morning (5am), 21st July, residents were not only greeted with the sound of traffic, but also this cover letter through their letter box by 9am:

Tamboran Cover letter

The third paragraph from the bottom states:

“We know there has been a campaign against shale gas, and regret the amount of misinformation that this has generated.”

Thankfully, the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network double checks and references all our facts, such as the British Medical Journal, who have stated the following about unconventional shale gas extraction:

“To the extent that they are technically and economically feasible, risk reduction technologies that mitigate adverse health outcomes should be deployed. However reviewing the public health aspects of the development of the shale gas industry requires more than merely gesturing to technological improvements that lack empirical data on their effectiveness in the real world. The optimism that fail-safe engineering solutions can ensure safe shale gas development may result more from a triumph of marketing than a demonstration of experience.”

The Medical Journal of Australia who stated that:

Unconventional gas extraction is responsible for air pollution from diesel fumes from infrastructure development and stationary equipment, gas processing, venting and flaring. Fugitive methane emissions can catalyse development of ground level ozone and combine with PM to form smog, both of which contribute to respiratory disease, among other health effects, and damage to crops — gas- field haze is a well known effect in the US, with such pollution capable of travelling substantial distances. Shale gas extraction can also involve the flaring or venting of “associated” gases, which can become hazardous air pollutants.

And world renowned medical Journal, The Lancet who stated that despite scientific study of the health effects of fracking being in its infancy, “findings suggest that this form of extraction might increase health risks compared with conventional oil and gas extraction [due to] larger surface footprints of fracking sites; their close proximity to locations where people live, work and play; and the need to transport and store large volumes of materials.”

The Lancet went further to state that the, “risks of environmental contamination occur at all stages in the development of shale gas extraction.”

Whilst in fact the proposed exploratory borehole drill will not include any hydraulic fracturing, it is recognised as the first step towards the process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction in County Fermanagh.

Tamboran to drill belcoo site by late august

It has been reported by the Impartial Reporter that Tamboran Resources are to begin their borehole drill in late august, amidst the news that equipment had arrived in the early hours of this morning.

FFAN

The Impartial Reporter state:

The scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep and will be drilled in a Belcoo site owned by Acheson and Glover’s (but not in its main Belcoo plant). There will be no fracking ivolved
Tamboran officials are on the ground in Belcoo this morning speaking to locals about their plans for fracking. The company says that it will NOT frack the Acheson and Glover site in the future.
In a statement released this morning a Tamboran spokesman said:Tamboran has today informed the Department of Environment and the Department of Enterprise, TRADE and Investment of its detailed plans to carry out this work before 30th September 2014. If granted permission to proceed, the company hopes to be able to commence drilling operations in late August.
The proposed scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep. It will be drilled using standard techniques and materials. The drilling operation will be completed in approximately 30 days and rock samples will be examined on site and subsequently sent for laboratory analysis to better understand its content.
The rock samples will be analysed to help confirm the presence of a natural gas source in County Fermanagh. This will enable the company to determine if it will be possible to extract the gas at a much later date, subject to full planning approval.
Making the announcement, Dr Tony Bazley, Director of Tamboran Resources (UK) Ltd said:
“Tamboran’s intention at this stage is only to verify that the elements necessary for natural gas and its recovery are contained within the shale in County Fermanagh. This is fact-finding, not fracking. If County Fermanagh is home to a significant natural gas resource that could provide Northern Ireland with decades of a local secure energy supply then we believe the people have a right to know.
“We believe that the presence of natural gas in Northern Ireland could bring considerable benefits to the local and regional economy with the potential for billions of pounds of investment; hundreds and potentially thousands of jobs created locally and importantly for Northern Ireland a secure supply of energy that could last for decades and potentially help reduce local energy costs. However, we first need to make sure enough gas is there to be commercially viable and that we will not know for certain until the end of the licence period. This is just the first stage in that process,” said Dr Bazley.
The spokesman added: “The site near Belcoo, County Fermanagh is in an enclosed commercial area already used for heavy industrial purposes that will have limited visual impact. It will be secured on a 24/7 basis and the company will be taking all appropriate precautions to ensure the site is safe for workers and crucially local people. The company can also confirm that it will not seek to ‘frack’ on this site at any time in the future.”
Dr Bazley continued: “If the indications are that there is not enough natural gas that can be released from the shale rock then we will know this quickly and almost certainly decide not to continue with our investment in Northern Ireland. If we find a significant gas resource is likely we will continue to the end of the licence term in 2016. Before the end of the licence term a single site would be tested for natural gas if given planning permission.”
“Any future application will be subject to the strictest environmental, health and safety standards and the public would have their opportunity to participate. This however, is still a long way off and ultimately any decision to use hydraulic fracturing will be made by the Government of Northern Ireland.
“We suggest that given the potential benefit this can bring to everyone in Northern Ireland that this deserves serious consideration and debate. We would ask that people approach with an open mind and willingness to listen to all the facts before making an informed decision. We believe the people and Government of Northern Ireland have a right to know if there is gas beneath our feet. People have a right to the facts and that is what we are seeking to establish.”

To vies the article, click here.

Concerned health professionals of New York release fracking compendium

The Concerned Health Professionals of New York just released a compendium that compiles a significant body of scientific, medical and journalistic findings that highlight the experienced health risks associated with the process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction.

CHPNY

One of the most thorough reports of its kind, the compendium draws upon scientific evidence and experience from across the globe, including USA, Canada and Australia, where Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction has been most predominant, drawing upon information provided by medical journals such as The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and the Medical Journal of Australia.

Topics covered by the compendium include:

  • Air Contamination
  • Water Contamination
  • Engineering Problems
  • Radioactive releases
  • Occupational Health and Safety Hazards
  • Noise pollution, light pollution and stress
  • Earthquakes and Seismic Activity
  • Abandoned wells
  • Flood risks
  • Threats to Agriculture and soil quality
  • Threats to the Climate
  • Inaccurate job claims, increased crime
  • Inflated oil and gas reserves
  • Medical and scientific calls for more study

A compilation of studies and findings from around the globe, the compendium provides irrefutable evidence of the risks, harms, and associated negative trends demonstrated by the process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction, a process earmarked for County Fermanagh.

To read the compendium in full, click here.