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Lynne Herself

RAFF Protests Halite Decision

Unfortunately they’re doing it wrong.

For once Residents Action on Fylde Fracking and I have something in common.  Sort of.

Who is Halite?  Once calling themselves Canatxx they are the people who want to store pressurised gas in salt caverns slap bang in the middle of a geologically unstable area, full of brine wells, a collapsed salt mine and geological faults, in my neck of the woods.  The YouTube video I have linked to will explain why 40,000 local residents have been fighting for years to resist this insanity.

There are no weasel words like might or could or maybe.  Brine wells at Preesall have collapsed in the past and one is in the process of collapsing.  The depression in the ground is growing fast and an entire field has been lost to it already  Another well is filled with God knows how many tons of mercury sludge courtesy of the now departed ICI.  Just image what will happen to the water table if that bad boy collapsed.  And Halite want to store pressurised gas right next to the brine well field.  Let’s not forget the partially collapsed salt mine.  And did I mention the natural faults that gas can migrate along?  Well it needs saying over and over.

Anti-fracking campaigners have reacted with anger and frustration at a Government decision to allow a controversial gas storage facility on the Fylde Coast.

And I agree with their reaction.  Three applications from Canatxx/Halite have been rejected by local government because of the real danger of catastrophe yet some cretin in central government has given the green light to this insanity.

Energy minister Lord Bourne has, on appeal, granted permission to Halite to create a huge underground gas store in salt caverns at Preesall despite three rejections of the plan and massive public opposition.

Now residents and campaigners opposing shale gas say that decision by the Department of Energy and Climate Change was undemocratic and bodes ill for their own battle against energy company Cuadrilla.

But this is where my strange comradeship with RAFF and their associate anti-fracking groups parts way.  You see their “protest” appears to be purely selfish.  They don’t seem to care about the real dangers of the Halite proposal.  They only seem to care about how it will affect their own cause and how they can exploit it.

Two bids by Cuadrilla to test frack on the Fylde were rejected last month by Lancashire County Council, but the shale gas explorer could yet appeal to a Government inspector.

It’s not about Halite, you see.  It’s about Cuadrilla and the appeal they will no doubt be submitting.  A real danger has been hijacked to support an anti-capitalist cause that really would benefit all if fracking were permitted to go ahead.  That really piddles me off.

Barbara Richardson, from the Roseacre Awareness Group, said: “We are appalled by this decision to overrule local democracy and fear that Westminster will try and intervene in the fracking debate too against the wishes of the people and elected representatives.

What Barbara doesn’t tell you is that Mike Hill, who was campaigning on an anti-fracking ticket, was wiped out during the GE by the Tory incumbent who I believe is actually pro fracking.  It seems that democracy is something of a loose concept in Barbara’s world.  At this point I will add that the proposed Roseacre site is highly problematical because access will be a nightmare and Barbara does have a point.  However there is no such problem with the Plumpton proposal which I support and Barbara doesn’t.  She is opposed to fracking absolutely.

“We elect local councillors (parish, borough and county) to represent us and this is democracy in action. Local people understand local issues and the will of the people.

Yeah, I saw how the craven sods at Lancashire County Council were cowed by a few tens of anti-fracking protestors and voted against the advice of their own legal department.  Democracy my left nether cheek.  Perhaps you think the 40,000 plus local residents fighting the Halite plans can be co-opted by proxy to your own cause, eh Barbara?

“To blatantly ignore this is sheer arrogance and a recipe for disaster. We will stand with the people of the Wyre.

That’ll be a “yes” then.

“They have spent years to successfully defeat this, with good grounds, and even had the support of the Planning Inspector as well as local councils. They must be absolutely devastated.

We are devastated and we are still fighting.  But Barbara, where were you and your pals all those years we were fighting Canatxx?  How come we get your support now?

“Fracking is an altogether different game as it could affect over 60 per cent of the UK, and should Westminster intervene again, I am sure it will have serious repercussions.”

Whereas gas storage is a dangerous game and has the real potential to affect more than 60% of the residents of Fleetwood, Knott End, Presall, Stalmine, Steynall and parts of Thornton if the storage caverns rupture following the collapse of a brine well (it has already happened in the US which is why storage of the type proposed for Preesall has been banned in the US on safety grounds), the gas escapes and finds an ignition source.  All thanks to Westminster intervention.

All that seems to bother Barbara is the precedent set by overturning a decision made by local government.

Alan Tootill, from the Preston New Road Action Group, said: “This confirms our worst fears.

“This government has no concern for local democracy and local decision-making.

“Over 40,000 people objected to the Preesall applications and three times the plans were turned down at local level.

I didn’t hear your voice raised against the initial Canatxx/Halite proposals either Alan.  I don’t recall you standing up at the many meetings and voicing your concern.

There is also a familiar name mentioned in dispatches.  You’ll find her in the comments below the Mike Hill post.

Tina Rothery, from Residents Action of Fylde Fracking, said: “It is awful news not just for the people of Wyre but for the rights of local people anywhere in the UK.

“That central government can overrule the clear will of the people and their Council that has three times rejected this application, makes a mockery of our ‘democracy’.

“Many of us have been fighting to keep fracking out of Lancashire for nearly four years now and the recent support of Lancashire County Council was very welcome; with this announcement today though at the overturning of the decision on Halite, we are of course deeply concerned about what will happen next in this campaign as well.

See what I mean?  They’ve tagged on their anti-fracking campaign to the Halite fight.  I know Tina by sight having seen her on TV and in the papers several times but I don’t recall seeing her at the Stop Canatxx meetings either.  All of a sudden the Canatxx/Halite cause has become the No Fracking cause.  At least in the anti-fracking eyes.

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: ‘This decision raises big questions about the Government’s commitment to local democracy because this facility was turned down several times before Westminster stepped in to make it happen.

Then maybe Friends of the Earth ought to hand back the millions in taxpayer money, whether taxpayers agreed with it or not, that has been handed to FoE by various governments over the years.  It’s obviously a matter of principal after all.  But I guess, like Barbara, your perception of democracy only goes so far, eh, Tony?

“This must not be repeated in order to force fracking on Lancashire after the county refused to swallow the hype from central Government and the fracking industry.”

“This must not be repeated in order to refuse fracking on Lancashire after the county swallowed the hype from minority anti-frackers and the Big Green industry.”

There, fixed it.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Bourne, who is the Minister responsible for energy planning consents, said the Halite plan was strategically important for the nation.

Yeah, because what the Scammell truck would a Professor of Law know about geological faults, collapsed mines. the unsuitability of layered salt beds, unsafe brine wells and other unimportant shit that affects the lives and safety of tens of thousands of locals?  Oh and we’re considered an area of Special Scientific Interest too because of the rare fauna and flora living in and around Morecambe Bay which will be grossly affected by the brine outfall. Why, after so many years,  has central government, after even that towering intellect, John Prescott, recognised the serious flaw in Canatxx/Halite’s planning applications, suddenly made this perverse decision?  Well I have a theory.

Wyre has been a marginal seat for a long time.  Since 1997 it has been tinkered with twice which gave us Hilton Dawson (Lab) a decent MP who worked hard for the constituency before resigning and returning home to his native Northumberland. Then came Ben Wallace (Con) who also fought hard on the Canatxx front and moved over to the newly created Wyre and Preston North in 2010.  Despite Labour stacking the boundary decks in its favour we got Eric Ollerenshaw (Con) clinging to his seat by the skin of his marginal teeth, only ever rebelling (well abstaining really) against the Tory whip once but who still recognised the dangers posed by the gas storage proposal and added his effort to the fight against corporate venality and stupidity.

Then in May, 2015 we get Cat Smith (Lab) also on the slimmest of majorities, with her BA in sociology and gender studies who, while paying lip service to both the anti-Halite and anti-fracking camps, clearly hasn’t got a bloody clue what she’s talking about.  Perhaps, once in a while, when she isn’t too busy identifying herself as a Christian, socialist, feminist, republican, trade unionist and LGBT, she’ll pick up and read The Idiot’s Guide to Wyre Estuary Geology so she doesn’t look a total fool and will finally be able to tell the difference between a landslide and a great big Scammell off sinkhole.  Meanwhile we get the standard leftie gobshite response to Lord Bourne’s decision by calling for the “launch of a new action” and “seeking urgent clarification” rather than going up to the idiot and hitting him with FACTS.  But then she did previously work for Jezza Corbyn so she quite possibly has a good grounding in political stupid.

And my theory?  Well Lord Bourne has nasty previous when it comes to the opposition.  He plays very dirty tricks and then lies about what he’s done before being forced to come clean.  Ask Rhodri Morgan.  Lord Bourne got handed this particular chalice when it turned out that Amber Rudd’s brother , Roland, heads a lobbying company, Finsbury, that numbers Halite amongst its clients.  Given Bourne’s scandalous history could the recently tinkered with constituency returning a Labour MP be an underlying reason for his perverse, against all common sense decision?  I think we should be told.

Here’s the “offical” reason for the decision.

He said: “Investment in new energy infrastructure is essential if we are to keep the lights on and bills down.

“This is a major project which will benefit the local economy by creating jobs and stimulating businesses.

Yes, we’ve seen how central government keeps the bills down with bills hiked up to feed the heavily subsidised and deeply despised renewables monster.  As for the local economy, destruction of the environment aside, there may be a temporary injection of jobs to construct the storage caverns and build a pipeline to connect with the main grid at Garstang.  But honestly, long term, how many people will it take to press a button at the control station in order to release or store gas?   Three hundred?  Four hundred?  Try a handful.

What is the impact of millions of gallons of concentrated brine that Halite propose to pump into the sea off Anchorsholme as they carve holes in the salt?  What will happen if the geology ruptures a cavern and the project goes sky high tits up?  The infrastructure to deal with an explosion doesn’t exist.  There are mainly small villages and narrow country lanes in this part of the world.  That is providing, of course that no structure damaged in the blast doesn’t block those narrow country lanes and blocks access to the grossly inadequate emergency services.

Oh and the storage capacity that Halite proposes will give a close to zero contribution to keeping the lights on.  Selling the gas back to the grid at premium rates will keep bills down how?   The man is a moral bankrupt and a weapons grade pudendum

“Gas is also the greenest fossil fuel and helps us lower our carbon emissions, which is important in the UK’s move to a cleaner energy future.”

I agree but what would be the point of pumping gas from underground only to pump it back underground?  The only people to benefit from storage is Halite who will buy cheap and sell at a premium rate at great risk to the locals.  Halite propose to do it here because back in their native US they would be given very short shrift.  You see storing gas in layered salt, most particularly anywhere near a field of brine wells (we have more than a hundred of them), is banned because it is demonstrably unsafe and a threat to life. Is that what Bourne calls stimulating businesses?

And if he really believes that gas is the greenest fossil fuel will he be insisting that the Drax power station will be converted to gas instead of burning CO2 producing wood pellets from felled US forests?

No?  Thought not.

For Fox Sake!

Rod Liddle, Sun columnist, goes off on one.

TALLY Ho! No sooner are the Conservatives back in office than they’ve decided to have a go at the poor foxes once again.

Actually I am of the opinion that they are trying to fix a half-arsed law that does little for either camp.  Trying to turn it into a Toffs or Us campaign because it suits your townie tunnel vision is unworthy of decent journalism.  But then, this is the Sun we are talking about.

Probably because there’s not much important going on in the world, is there?

When trying to repeal bad laws you have to begin somewhere.  The fox hunting travesty is as good a place to start as any.

Just the EU falling to bits and jihadi maniacs chopping heads off all over the place and Britain swamped by more and more immigration.

More bad laws to repeal, yes?

The Prime Minister wanted to waste some parliamentary time loosening the laws on fox hunting.

I assume this was David Cameron’s gift to his local pals — the Cotswold Posse.

All those rich monkeys in his constituency who enjoy nothing more than ripping a defenceless animal to bits.

But wait! Riding to the rescue are the Scottish nationalists!

Because Toffs on horseback are far more dangerous than the SNP interfering in English matters that should not concern them?  Your priorities are as skewed as the perceived ones you are whinging about, Ron.

They’ve said they will vote against any Tory proposals to relax the hunting ban. Despite the fact that they shouldn’t have anything to do with the matter because the rules don’t apply to Scotland.

But Ron agrees with them so it’s okay for the SNP to gang up in the House of Commons in precisely the way they promised not to.  The English faction of Parliament should interfere right back and give the SNP a bloody nose.  Oh, wait.  We don’t get to practice that privilege.  But that’s okay because foxes are cute and cuddly and never kill livestock.  Evah!

Opportunistic hypocrites, says Mr Cameron. But the foxes don’t care where salvation comes from — any port in a storm.

I despise Cameron but he has a point.  As for any port in a storm, it depends what is waiting for you on the dock.  In the foxes case it’s poison, lethal gas or a spade over the head.  At least they have a chance to escape horse and hounds.

My own guess is that the SNP are furiously against fox hunting because most members of the party have the same coloured fur as a fox.

Waaaaaycist!  That’s waaaaycist against gingers that is.  To presume they have fur and not hair.  Tut tut.

They’re worried the hunters might get confused. The toffs out on horseback spending the entire day pursuing what they think is a fox — and then they find the hounds have just eaten Nicola Sturgeon.

Ron thinks Nicola is a fox.  Does he kiss her picture every night before he goes to bed?

Still, at least the Nats are on the right side for once.

No, they’re not.  This is political interference on steroids. Will you still feel the same way if they join the Guardianista inspired witch hunt against Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid journalists?  Only stupid turkeys vote for Christmas.

The British public is hugely opposed to fox hunting, according to every opinion poll carried out on the matter.

According the opinion polls we were going to have another hung Parliament.  How is Coalition 2.0 going for you Ron?

Rightly, they consider it a horrible and barbaric business.

So was the invasion of Iraq but that didn’t stop New Labour did it?  They believed that foxes were more deserving of protection than the civilians who died during the ousting of Saddam.  They are still dying because IS filled the void.  Save your indignation for them, Ron.  Let’s have some honest perspective here.

Every bit as barbaric as all those other sports we’ve banned over the years — bear baiting, for example. Or cock fights, or dog fights.

Which take place in pits with no chance of escape.

Just because fox hunting is undertaken, in the main, by posh people, it doesn’t make it any less barbaric. A psychopath wearing a pink jacket is still a psychopath.

Where to begin?  Foxes are an apex predator and are culled because they kill livestock.  You know, all those cute and fluffy lambs, chickens and ducklings.  Dressing up in costume and riding to hounds, in Ron’s world, is psychotic because it is mostly done by toffs even though, in reality, it isn’t.  Bashing an animal’s brains out with the back of a shovel gets no mention, presumably because the deed is done by salt of the earth common man and is therefore not psychotic at all.  This is pure hypocrisy.  It is bare-faced, townie lefty, no nowt bollocks.

But there’s something about the Conservatives that revels in ripping an animal to bits.

I seem to recall a few Conservatives voting for the ban.  Must have slipped Ron’s mind.

If they’re not trying to bring back fox hunting they’re gassing badgers — for no sane reason whatsoever.

Because TB infected badgers don’t exist and neither does Bovine TB.

Mr Cameron and his well-bred cronies have no time for our wildlife, as they show time and time again.

There’s an awful lot of Labour voting farmers and country folk in my part of the world who regularly shoot rabbits and crows.  Aren’t they wildlife too?

If it’s furry and it’s got a pulse, kill it. If it’s a bird of prey, let the gamekeepers shoot it or poison it.

Your PETA-coat is showing, Ron.

And yet I thought the Conservatives were sick of being portrayed as the “nasty party”?

It’s all Fatcha’s fault.

Here’s the deal, Dave. Sort out the economy. Try to raise the wages of our poorest people a little bit, huh?

Nine quid an hour isn’t enough then?   What do you suppose this piece of Tory socialist insanity is going to do for the economy?

Decide what we’re going to do about IS and all those refugees trying to get into the country.

With all those bleeding hearts and EUphiles voting against him?  Not a chance.

And leave the foxes alone.

If you saw what a fox does to livestock it would make you puke, Ron.  But since you are a townie you keep yourself insulated against red blooded reality and arrogantly insist that you know what the scamelling hell you are talking about.

Frack Yeah!

The Graun is glumly reporting the go ahead Lancashire County Council had given to Cuadrilla to frack for shale gas.  It is an anonymous piece and therefore lacking the usual colourful alarmist hyperbole so loved by the Moonbatistas of this world.  Even so, it contains lefty bias.

Rejecting plans for test fracking in Lancashire would send a message that the county was not open for business and investment, a coalition of local businesses, academics, farmers and students has warned.

So not everyone is buying the climate alarmist claims then.  What a shame.

Planning officers at Lancashire council have recommended the application for a site at Preston New Road near Little Plumpton be passed, subject to a number of conditions being met, but plans for a similar site at Roseacre Wood should be turned down because of an increase in traffic.

Both sensible decisions.  Preston New Road is a major ‘A’ road linking Blackpool with Preston.  Roseacre is a tiny village served by narrow and winding country lanes not suitable for heavy traffic.

The council’s development control committee will have the final say this week on whether Cuadrilla can explore for shale gas by drilling, fracking and testing the flow of gas. Separate applications would need to be submitted if the firm wanted to progress to commercial fracking.

And not a single subsidy in sight.  Private enterprise is footing the entire bill.  Shame the same can’t be said about Big Wind and Big Solar.

Among those speaking on Monday was Steve Pye, a former chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, who pointed out that concerns had been voiced when the nuclear, aerospace and chemicals industries all set up in the region.  That had not led to an adverse impact on local people or local house prices, he said.

Clearly not a member of one of the local anti-fracking activist groups then.  They think that fracking will bring about Ragnarok.

It is a brand new industry that could create a lot of jobs. It would lift the the average wage and it would boost the local economy significantly.

Brand new, no.  The Yanks have been fracking for years.  It’s certainly an economic game changer and, unless you are a watermelon, a welcome one.

Janet Thornton, founder of Kirkham-based consultancy firm Inspired Energy, said: “I believe it will expand jobs everywhere.  The cost of energy is the biggest issue to growth of any business. Some of the companies that we have been working with say they have gone down to three-day weeks and they have lost contracts and orders.

Yes, it’s high time we stopped driving British companies to the wall or abroad because spiraling energy costs at home are crippling them.

She added: “I think you will always have strong opposition because people in the north-west don’t like change.

Because even in the twenty-first century we Lancastrians still refuse to put aside our clogs, shawls and whippet pies or cease muttering darkly about “Trouble at t’mill.”  You were doing fine right up until that stupid, condescending comment, Janet.

We need to progress as a community. Lancashire needs putting on the map.

Oh, goody.  I’ll phone Ordnance Survey first thing.

Pye said: “Henry Ford would not have got any further if they all had told him at the time when he went to build his first car: ‘Oh by the way Henry, there is going to be 100 people a week in the UK who will die on the roads, we are not going to let you go ahead and manufacture your cars because it’s not going to be safe.’”

The Graun reporter must have put some effort into finding the two most media-unsavvy people in the room.  Capitalism kills – geddit?

A group of local sixth formers, college and university students later gathered on the steps of County Hall in Preston to call for the approval of the plans.

All those years of CAGW indoctrinatiion in our schools gone to waste.  Tut, tut.

Julian Hine, a student at Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “At the college we’re learning a lot about the technical aspects of shale gas and the skills required to work in the industry. The approval of the applications would be great news for Lancashire and the whole of the UK.

“For me and my friends, further exploration would be an exciting step towards Lancashire becoming a hub for a major new industry.”

I share your sentiments, Julian.  So do a lot of not-so-averse-to-change- as-some-would-have-you-believe north-westerners.

The government is pushing for the development of a shale gas industry in the UK, claiming it would create jobs and growth, reduce energy prices and cut the country’s reliance on gas imports.

Nowt wrong with that.  Unless, of course, you are on a mission to save the planet from a non-existent threat world slaying plant food.

Opponents have raised fears that the process causes earthquakes, can pollute water supplies and could lead to inappropriate development in the countryside and damage house prices.

Ably assisted and widely reported by the Beeboids and Grauniadistas ad nauseam.

Give Appeasement a Chance*

Everybody’s talking about
Terrorism, Islamism, extremism, point-the-fingerism
This-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.

C’mon, everybody’s talking about
GOP vulture, spy culture, mess up, ‘fess up,
Prisoner hoarding, waterboarding, secret torture, now we’ve caught ya.
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.

C’mon, everybody should be talking about
Sainthood, brotherhood, fluffy kittens, woollen mittens,
Inviting Osama’s buddies for tea (let’s forget Obie threw him into the sea)
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.

C’mon, everybody stop talking about
Suicidal blame game, WTC up in flames,
Thousands dead, this is an auto da fe what’s to be said?
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.
All Obama’s saying is give appeasement a chance.

No, I don’t condone torture although I do accept that sometimes it is a necessary evil and hard decisions have to be made.

No I don’t believe showing the terrorists this level of state weakness and cowardice will in any way stop them trying to destroy us all. In fact I believe it will encourage them.

Yes, I do believe that Obama is salting the earth before the next US election. Forcing an entire nation to fall on its own sword in order to crush one’s political opponents (no, not the terrorists) is not the way a sane person would go about it.

Obama had the chance to close down Guantanamo, I seem to recall it was one of his electioneering promises before he became POTUS. But he didn’t.  Let’s not forget that this is also the creature who wanted to bomb the crap out of Syrians and was thwarted by the democratic process. He’s a thrice damned hypocrite. And he has fatally weakened the country he is supposed to protect and damaged its international standing. It is world class hubris.  It makes him either very vindictive or very stupid. I vote for both.

*Apologies to John Lennon for torturing his lyrics.

If wishes were Porsches…

…our political effete, according to the recent (and ongoing) ano-cerebral effusions emanating from the LibLabCon party political conferences, remain incompetently pedestrian and intellectually gastropodal.

Trying to out-stupid everyone else by applying a thick coat of Pledge (sic) to turds and desperately making outrageous and unworkable promises that we know from bitter experience will perish faster than a duck on a lava lake if they get into office, is just scamelling embarrassing. Come the next general election, if there is a reason to vote for any these morons hidden deep within their rabid electioneering rhetorical bollocks I haven’t found it yet.

F**K You Obama…

…and the wilfully blind donkey you boomeranged back in on.

That goes double for our Westminster village idiots who for years have been turning sinister somersaults [see what I did there?], while waving the flag of anti-terrorism, to grab a piece of this fascist action.

Oh, a final word for our unelected EU puppet-masters just in case you’re listening – f**k you too!

A Balanced Contribution

Further to SaoT’s “not a debate” thread (which I have no issue with) and referring in particular to the last sentence of Robert Edwards’ comment:

The sad truth is that some birds are, as you say, ‘easier on the eye’ than others, so good luck to them; it must be q. rough being a munter, but those are the breaks, I’m afraid…

I’m afraid I can’t let Robert’s gauntlet lie unmolested.

You see, I’m no oil painting.  Neither are most of the women in my family.  We are all Plain Janes and therefore, if you accept Robert’s point of view, munters.  We do, however, possess brains, personality and, in the main, senses of humour.  We are also, by and large, with a slight emphasis on the large in my case, successful.  I don’t feel, or have ever felt, hard done by in the looks department.  Despite the lack of visually stunning facial attributes I still managed to bag a successful man.  A design engineer in fact.  We have a comfortable, if modest life together, we live in a nice area and after almost thirty years of marriage he still treats me like the sun shines out of my every orifice.  The lack of any kind of easy on the eye beauty ideal has never held me back so no, it isn’t q. rough being a munter.

I was a beautiful baby and have the pics to prove it.  However, I didn’t live up to the early promise.  Never gave it a second thought because you see, I could beat the pants off the pretty, giggly girly girls when it came to smarts.  Boys, make-up and fashion have never featured on my conversational radar because I would much sooner watch paint dry.  Like the bulk of the female population I don’t envy good looks and I’m of the opinion that if you’ve got it then why not flaunt it.  And, as Robert says, good luck to those who do.  If they want to decorate some bloke’s arm or use their physical attributes to sell goods or catch a well to do hubby then go for it and go for it hard because there is a shelf life to beauty unless you want to go the way of the scalpel.  Smarts last a hell of a lot longer.

I’ve seen pretty girls bed hop like sex crazed frogs in the hope of catching the man of their dreams.  It never seemed to quite work out for them and all they got was a rep for being easy; popular but not wifely material.  I never had to do that to catch a bloke but it isn’t because I’m a munter and no one ever asked me.  I wouldn’t lower myself.  In fact I feel sorry for the lasses who believe they have to flit from bloke to bloke in order to work their way up the social ladder.  I got there through sheer hard graft and using my noggin.  My significant other half came along later.  However it was my well fitted uniform skirt over suspenders (it was bloody hot in the summer of 1976) that initially snagged him.  Right after I nicked him for speeding…

I might be a munter in the eyes of some but I’m not some hairy-lipped, envious as hell, face that sucked a thousand lemons femiloon.  I scorn the harridans who dictate how a gorgeous lass should behave.  How very dare they vilify any woman with the guts to strut her stuff.  They should give us all a break, STFU and go shave their armpits.

Having said that I have a confession to make.

If some fairy godmother popped up and offered to make me easy on the eye as well a keep my intelligence I’d jump at it.  Who wouldn’t want the best of both worlds?  However, if the same FG offered beauty at the expense of 25% of my IQ I’d tell her where to stick her wand.  You see I prize intelligence more than looks.  As for todays female role models – gawd help us!  I’ll never be inspired by or aspire to be a Cheryl Cole, a Jordan or a WAG.  The very idea of living a life like that leaves me cold.  I’d sooner put out my eyes than read about them or watch them.  They have no interest for me.  I’m far more interested in politics, science, shooting clay and off-roading.

Being a munter is no bar to ambition.  All you need to do is look at Charlie Jug-ears’ squeeze.  She might look rough but that didn’t stop her hooking the heir to the throne.

Being plain ordinary isn’t a burden.  Lacking the ability to turn heads never killed me nor turned me into an envious bitch.  My existence isn’t rough by any stretch of the imagination.  Munter is just a name.  I shall wear it with pride because I had to fight for what I have.  It didn’t get offered to me because I have perky boobs and a face that the Royal Navy could use to supplement their depleted fleet.  If individuals need to pigeonhole me as a munter because nature didn’t grace me with a certain type of physiology then it says more about them than about me.  I inhabit the middle ground, a place between stunning and munter.  And let me tell you, it’s bloody crowded.

The State of Independence

No, not the song.

I like to keep an occasional eye on the local anti-fracking activists.  One particular group, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF – featured here) puts a lot of store in what an engineer called Michael Hill has to say about regulating the fracking industry.  Since these activists are comfortable with the notion that a suitable go to person on fighting Big Frack is an ex-BBC journalist now working for Al Jazeera, I wondered about the provenance of Michael Hill.  Here is what RAFF have to say about him.

Mike Hill is an independent engineer, with drilling experience, who has been Technical Advisor to RAFF since last year. Those of you who have been to any of our public meetings will have heard him speak on the lack of any regulatory framework surrounding the shale gas industry.  He has also answered numerous technical questions that we all have as we try to get to grips with fracking technology.

A grass roots group with its very own technical advisor?  Well it’s not unknown.  He is obviously held in high esteem by the group because they seem to promote his views on fracking industry regulation and safety at every opportunity.   I don’t have much of a problem with that providing regulations are rational and practical rather than oppressive and over-precautionary.  What interests me about Mr. Hill is that he has drilling experience yet he has become the technical advisor to a bunch of post modern Luddites.  So who is Michael Hill and what does he know that we don’t?

Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET.

Chartered Electrical Engineer

Ex-oil and gas (wireline and seismic)

Fylde Borough Council Technical Advisor to Task and Finish Group Shale Gas

Local resident in the key U.K. shale gas zone

Fylde Borough Council has apparently appointed an activist for a shale gas technical advisor?  No conflict of interest there then.  He’s also a local.  He styles himself as an independent expert who commenced an investigation into shale gas regulation in the UK in December 2010.  Here is what he has to say about his independent status.

Self funded to remain independent. Cost is presently approx. £17K. Passionate I am. Study has told me what regs are needed and how it should be implemented.

Mr. Hill has dipped into his own pocket to the tune of seventeen thousand pounds in order to fund his investigation.  Passionate indeed.  Unfortunately he doesn’t give a breakdown on how the seventeen grand was spent.  He has been busy though.

On what basis: Freedom of Information Act responses (FOI), site trips, meetings, speaking at conferences, letters, mails and calls.

With the DECC, EA, HSE, BGS, Cuadrilla and Select Committee – DECC, IGEM, United Utilities, Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering

Mr. Hill’s main area of concern in his report seems not to be micro-earthquakes but rather the disposal of flow-back fracking fluid and the risk of aquifer contamination.  These are sensible concerns.  His main target appears to be the government rather than Cuadrilla, the company who owns and runs the Preece Hall fracking rig at Singleton.  He wants what he views as lax government practices tightened up and lists the areas of most concern to him.

8 site inspections all unannounced in 12 months – changed to 8 site inspections – all announced.

Taking Mr. Hill at his word, spot checks are not really spot checks if you tell the checkee you are going to pay them a visit.  Given the fear and suspicion surrounding fracking, being too close to Cuardrilla is not the best way to put the minds of locals at ease.

Fracking chemicals missing off ‘determinand’** list.

It would have been helpful if Mr. Hill had listed the chemicals he claims are missing from the determinand list.

No verification of quantity of flow back water (even though it is subject to a permit)

I do not know enough about this issue to comment.  I can say, though, that so far the borehole has been fracked twice, the last frack being over twelve months ago.  Drilling came to a standstill to allow a British Geological Survey investigation into the cause of the micro-earthquakes.  Cuadrilla has since been busy installing seismic sensors all over the Fylde.

Water found to be 10 – 90 times EA*** max permissible limit. Permit required since 1/Oct/2011.

I’m not sure what Mr. Hill is trying to say.  First he claims there was no verification and now he’s saying it’s grossly over the permitted limit. Ten to ninety times the maximum permissible limit is vagueness on steroids.   Either the figures exist or they do not.  Mr Hill does not supply evidence within the report to underpin his claim.  Guesstimating, which this appears to be, isn’t an acceptable substitute for verifiable facts.

RIA**** now required. Assessed dose to receptors accounting for accident.

Clearly Mr. Hill is at odds with DECC (Dept. of Energy & Climate change), the EA, H&SE and Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all who decided a RIA was not warranted.  Perhaps he’s right.  Perhaps he isn’t.

Recycling of flowback – illegal (London) – not clear – Preston.

United Utilities will be supplying the water required to frack the Preece Halle borehole.  Presumably they will ultimately be responsible for the disposal of the contaminated flow-back fluid.  It seems that Mr. Hill is uncertain whether or not the flow-back can be legally recycled in the North West rather than stored as non-recyclable hazardous waste.  Why he feels it pertinent to mention London is anyone’s guess since it is hardly likely the flow-back will be trucked all the way to the Big Smoke thus leaving a big fat hazardous waste contract going begging oop t’north.  Mr. Hill has time and resources, perhaps he should press UU harder for an answer?

Resource issues – Coping with any ramp up in number of wells in Lancashire.

An issue that certainly needs addressing.  Not so much supply of water but the safe disposal of millions of gallons of flow-back.

So Mr. Hill appears to be a philanthropist prepared to spend his own money collating information for a report in the name of safety.  Seventeen thousand pounds in two years is a lot of money.  Clearly Mr. Hill is comfortably off.  I certainly wouldn’t be able to dip into my pockets so deeply, not even for a cause so close to my heart.  Neither could anyone I know.  Mr. Hill promises to:

…continue as an independent engineer to push for regulation.

RAFF were very lucky to find him.

What’s that I hear you say?  Am I going soft on anti-technology greenies Scammelling up our energy security?

Nah, of course not.

Most people who have money to burn and want to push for regulation tend to lobby the government directly.  Or, if they are in a hurry, bung enormous bribes at corrupt politicians.  I’m cynical enough to wonder if Mr. Hill has an angle so I went trawling but where to start?  At the foot of each page of the report is © Michael Hill – GCAL.  GCAL could refer to Glasgow Caledonian University.  It also refers to this.

Gemini Control and Automation Ltd (GCAL) make bespoke filters for industrial centrifuges – Heinkel centrifuges in particular.  This company is based in Lytham, not a million miles from Preece Hall.  One of the uses for Heinkel centrifuges is in the fracking industry, specifically servicing flow-back.  By amazing coincidence a bloke called Mike Hill is associated with Gemini Control and Automation Ltd.

Well knock me down with a filleted kipper!

It’s possible that Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET has no connection with Gemini. If he is not associated with this GCAL then I apologise in advance for thinking him less of a philanthropist and more of a mercenary.  I also apologise to Gemini in advance if this is nothing more than a very weird coincidence.

However, if Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET is indeed Mike Hill of Gemini Control and Automation Ltd I can only speculate about why he is playing technical advisor to an anti-fracking pressure group and lobbying government for more regulation. Any resulting regulation will have the potential to give a niche market company like Gemini a handy advantage if fracking takes off on a commercial scale and centrifuges are used to process back-flow.  As for his independent status, if we are dealing with one and the same person, it begs a leading question regarding where the money for the report is coming from.  Is Mr. Hill using his own private funds for the sole purpose of promoting safety in the fracking industry (honourable) or is the money coming out if a company slush fund in the hope the company might gain future benefit if Mr. Hill is successful (Machiavellian)?  Or maybe something in between?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I find the idea of an industrial company using a group of anti-fracking activists to drum up business for machinery that can be used to service the fracking industry both creative and amusing.  What I don’t find so amusing is the possibility that this same company may be engaged in a strategy to lobby for new regulations that will affect the whole industry, using a greenwash veneer to impress the morons at DECC, in anticipation of expanding its order books.  Would Mr. Hill be as keen to open his wallet if he worked for/owned a company that manufactured electrical domestic appliances?

Is this all a coincidence?  I don’t know.   The circumstantial evidence suggests…well what do you think?

**A determinand is a substance that may be or is known to be hazardous to health or the environment – usually associated with the water industry

***Environmental Agency

****Regulatory Impact Assessment: The role of a RIA is to provide a detailed and systematic of the potential impacts of a new regulation in order to assess whether the regulation is likely to achieve the desired objectives. The need for RIA arises from the fact that regulation commonly has numerous impacts and that these are often difficult to foresee without detailed study and consultation with affected parties. Economic approaches to the issue of regulation also emphasize the high risk that regulatory costs may exceed benefits. From this perspective, the central purpose of RIA is to ensure that regulation will be welfare-enhancing from the societal viewpoint – that is, that benefits will exceed costs. RIA is generally conducted in a comparative context, with different means of achieving the objective sought being analysed and the results compared. [Wiki]

Ode to a Hangover – Part I

I’m not sure about the future of CCiZ but if I have to go I’ll do it with a laugh.

The fuzzy mists of Autumn
Made golden by the sun,
Lent veils of light to trees and shrubs
And things that rhyme with “un”.

Into that crisp and mellow day
Emerged our hero, Bob,
Dressed to the nines in a suit and boots
He really looked a nob.

For a rabbit he was quite the man
A well-read, gentle soul.
Well, normally, that is to say
For today his mood was foul.

His head felt swollen, fit to burst
And he muttered something sinful.
The night before he’d hit the booze
And taken in a skinful.

High on a branch above his head,
A thrush sang out its heart.
Bob shook his fist and shouted out,
“You can quit that for a start!”

“That racket is intolerable,
That stupid high-pitched trilling.
It sets my teeth all on edge
Just like a dentist drilling!”

The thrush then stopped his warbling song.
“Shut up yourself,” he hissed.
“I’m not about to still my tongue
Just ’cos you got pissed!”

Bob glared at his tormentor
With eyes of blood-shot red.
His lip curled into quite a snarl
As he wished the bastard dead.

After turning up his collar
He slouched off down the lane
Then suddenly, a piercing shriek
Made worse his throbbing pain.

The Hedgehog boys jumped into sight,
“Good Morning Mr. Rabbit!”
Then they danced about and yelled a lot,
A normal children’s habit.

“Shut up! Shut up!” the bunny cried,
“There is no need to shout!
Shut up this awful caterwaul
Else I’ll land you each a clout!”

Out from her tidy burrow
Mrs. Hedgehog’s head did pop,
One paw clutched tight a duster,
The other held a mop.

Her shrewd brown eyes took in the scene
And she frowned at all the fuss.
She said, “Really, Mr. Rabbit
You’re behaving like a wuss!”

“My kids are playing in the sun
And doing no one harm.
You’ve never bawled them out like this,
What’s happened to your charm?”

“There’s a better place to play, I think,”
The bunny he did crow.
And inclined his head towards the road
Beyond the tall hedgerow.

Mother Hedgehog’s eyes grew round
And she chewed her bottom lip.
For a moment she was lost for words
Then finally let rip.

“Are you suggesting what I think,
You stupid lop-eared f***?
That my kids go play on the big highway
To get squished by a truck?”

With mop in hand she charged at him
And landed quite a thwack.
“Come here you drunken prick,” she yelled,
“’Cos your skull I’m going to crack!”

Common sense dictated
That the bunny run like Hell,
So he took off rather sharply
To the Tinkling Ringing Dell.

Will there be a Part II?  Who knows.  CCiZ in now in the lap of the gods.  Let’s hope that Blind Io is feeling mellow.

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