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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.

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.

Witless Downfall

It had to happen.  The infamous Downfall internet meme has finally entered the orbit of the Fylde’s anti-fracking fraternity.  According to the Blackpool Evening Gazette, the attempt by Frack Free Fylde (FFF) to land this turkey has resulted in it burning up on reentry.

A ‘comedy’ video which shows gas fracking bosses as high-ranking Nazis has sparked controversy after it was aired at a public meeting.

I think the Gazette means niche comedy video.  It must have had the anti-frackers rolling in the aisles.  The Cuadrilla CEO is really a frustrated double glazing salesman?  It has me laughing too but not for the reason FFF intended.

The video, a scene from the war film Downfall, had been overdubbed so Adolf Hitler appears to rant about people on the Fylde coast rising up to oppose to the controversial shale gas exploration process.

Those stratosphere bound people apparently being our old friends Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) since they are mentioned both in the narrative and the credits.

The five-minute long film was met with laughter at the meeting at St Annes community centre where Gayzer Frackman, from the pressure group Frack Free Fylde, gave a lecture.

Clearly not everyone was amused.  There was a stoolie in the audience.  And it was a shade over four minutes but why let a little thing like accuracy get in the way.

But Fylde Council leader, Coun David Eaves, has described the video as “a disgrace”.

I prefer to call it an “insight”.

And Tina Rothery, from another anti-fracking group Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF), distanced her group from the video – which has received almost 300 hits on YouTube.

Was that before or after Councillor Eaves took umbrage I wonder?  RAFF is associated with the video by name – twice.  It is partly a tribute to RAFF.  Distancing itself from the video apparently doesn’t include posting a comment below the video condemning the use of RAFF’s name.

She said: “We all have different audiences. What Gayzer attracts and what we attract are different crowds.”

Because the likes of the infamous and equally wrong Gasland is the video of choice in RAFF circles?

St Annes Town Council member Coun Carol Lanyon said: “From my personal point of view I find it distasteful.

I’d go for humourless.  Satire is supposed to be witty and/or funny even if the message is bonkers wrong.

“It’s not to say I’m in agreement with fracking, but I think there’s a better way to go about it (opposing the process) than tasteless satire.”

By using, for example, one’s position on the local council to make the case for your prejudice via a soundbite in the local rag?

However, Mr Frackman has defended his decision to show the video at the meeting, which was attended by around 40 people.

Well he would, wouldn’t he.  After all he has no hard science to fall back on, only fear-mongering and ad hominem.

He said: “You’ve got to have a little bit of humour every now and then. It’s satire and that’s been going on for years.”

I think he might mean satyr because when it comes to humour the video has the wit of a goat’s arse.

Downfall is a German language film which depicts the final 10 days of Hitler’s rule.

Mr Frackman says he found the fracking version of the film while searching for something else on internet video site YouTube, and does not know who created it.

Perhaps he was looking for the latest release of that famous eco-rock band, Shale Gas Devastation, but had to settle for second best – the Titanic of protracted, double glazing salesman punchlines.

A link to Frack Off’s website appears beneath the video, but the group has denied it is responsible.

Poor Gayzer, abandoned not once but twice.  If you can’t rely on your fellow anti-fracking activists who can you rely on?

During his speech to the meeting Mr Frackman also accused the Government of “pandering” to big oil and gas companies over plans to drill at sites on the Fylde, and hit out at claims the process could lead to cheaper energy bills for householders.

Yet despite the knives in the back he remains stolidly on-message and off the reality trolley.

Fracking is the process whereby chemicals and water are forced deep underground at high pressure to release gas

Mr Frackman said: “The only people going for (fracking) are the Government, fracking companies and their shareholders.

Yet Gayzer has no qualms about benefiting from the fruits of Gaia’s rape.  His talk wasn’t given by candlelight.  His computer isn’t made out of wood and organic cotton.  And no doubt the carpark outside wasn’t devoid of motor vehicles.

“When they get the shale out, we won’t be getting it – they’ll be selling it to the highest bidder.”

I think Gayzer should get his mental lead out.  Cuadrilla is not a charity.  Making a profit out of supplying energy is not a crime against humanity, it’s what makes the world go round and raises our standard of living from the mire of a short and often brutal primitive existence.  Unlike renewables Cuardrilla does not soak up billions in public subsidies.  Remove the money extorted from us all in order to subsidise “sustainable” wind and solar industries and they will sink without trace because they are parasites, not honest businesses.  Cuardrilla actually has the real potential to produce a commodity we desperately need – a cheap, reliable source of energy that doesn’t depend on our volatile and unpredictable weather or upon mass deforestation to make wood chip pellets for back-up power plants when the weather goes moody, as it so often does.

As for “get the shale out” I’d like to see how they extract rock from a borehole measured in inches.

Energy firm Cuadrilla has several potential drilling sites on the Fylde coast.

They’ve never made a secret of it.

Cuadrilla has declined to comment on the issue of the video.

So what?  The video says more about the anti-frackers than it does Cuadrilla.  Even the activists understand that.  With the exception of Gayzer and the Judean People’s Front FFF of course.

However a spokesman for the company said: “While we are at the exploration stage in our work to unlock Lancashire’s considerable shale gas potential, we are confident that natural gas from shale could play an important part in Britain’s energy mix.

“A growing number of reports show that shale gas could help to replace gas imports, improve energy security and create well-paid jobs in the sector.

“Gas is a commodity and, like all commodities, increasing supply, in particular supply located close to domestic demand, will exert downward pressure on price.”

Providing they frack with care because the Fylde aquifer is between them and the shale deposit, I’m not going to argue with that.

As for the Vale of Glamorgan issue alluded to in the video, I’ll let you Google that for yourselves.  It’s not the victory the anti-frackers want you to think it is, particularly since Welsh Water has now retracted its “small risk of contamination” assessment upon which the local council based it’s refusal to allow test drilling.

Fracking Confidential.

Are you enjoying the end of a rather splendid Summer  by spending it protesting against something you know absolutely nothing about, but which you have been told is evil incarnate?  Er just because it makes a profit and may very well cut your energy bills by half?

Have you had your picture taken with a parachuted in disapproving  international Celebrity like designer Vivienne Westwood, who is as clueless as you are? Been arrested with our one and only Green MP Caroline Lucas then?

Oh come on! some of you must want your name in the papers? No takers yet?

PS Will you be turning up in equal numbers when HS2 starts trashing our Green and Pleasant, all to shave 20 minutes off the travelling time from London to Birmingham?

No thought not!

Total Fucking Barbarians…

From The Guardian

One of seven Saudis due to be put to death on Tuesday by crucifixion and firing squad for armed robbery, speaking over a smuggled mobile phone from his prison cell, has appealed for help to stop the executions.

Nasser al-Qahtani told Associated Press from Abha general prison on Monday that he was arrested as part of 23-member ring that stole from jewellery stores in 2004 and 2005. He said they had been tortured to confess and had no access to lawyers.

They were apparently juves at the time which don’t matter a jot to me. Nothing much does when I hear the word “crucifixion” uttered in anger in 2013AD. And I bet it’s done in public though you won’t be able to sup a beer during the hilarity for that would be immoral. Or watch girls in their summer clothes for that too would be immoral. Crucifixion for three days though is moral. Sometimes allegedly they behead you first – with a sword. Thank heavens for small mercies. God almighty, even the bloody Romans would take a few coins to break the condemned’s legs and help ‘em on their way. These depraved camel fuckers are beyond anything I can imagine – 3 days! Is that in the Qu’ran? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it ain’t anyway it’s 2013 for the love of fuck. A kid was born recently who was HIV+ and is now not. Dennis Tito is planning a second honeymoon for a middle-aged couple to Mars! My wife’s new phone has more computing power than Alan Turing ever played with. But not it would seem in the Un-Magic Kingdom (the unhappiest place on Earth). What an epic shit-hole!

1. 9/11 terrorists – 15/19 were Saudis.

2. One enlightened princeling owns an airline (as you do) and employs a female pilot. This is progress – w only got there with Amy and Amelia when my grandad wasn’t even in short pants – of course we could have got there sooner but we had to wait for two guys from Ohio to build a ‘plane. Of course whilst she can fly (because they never got around to banning it) she can’t drive to the airport because women can’t drive. She’s allowed to fly a Boeing or Airbus but a Toyota is beyond her.

3. The last King (the one before Abdullah) had hordes of children due to his harem and due to his alleged “dicky ticker” had the planet’s only one-step escalator installed in the Royal Palace.

4. I can’t go to Mecca on pain of death! Only Muslims can. Not that there is much point anyway because it’s all been paved to build 5* hotels for rich folk on the Hajj (have you seen the cost of that?). The archaeological stuff has just been flattened. It’s like Vegas without the gambling and booze and broads. Or a complete fucking waste of concrete in the desert.

But they are a key ally in the “War on Terror” (see 1) and for some Godforsaken reason we sell ‘em Gen 4.5 Strike Fighters. Blimey. The first time I saw a Tiffy it was in RSAF colours in Malta. I assume on a ferry trip. They also crucify people. I wouldn’t trust those intellectual and moral retards with a propelling pencil let alone a fighter jet. And BAE Systems only managed to get the deal via grand an hour hookers and Scotch Whisky laid down when Rob Roy was knee-high to a grasshopper. If it wasn’t for the World-Class blow-jobs and the Malts they’d have bought Block-52-60+ F-16s like any sensible person. But so would we! And I guess when you are in a country that is dryer than an Arab’s sandal* and all the girls wear the Millet’s back catalogue God knows.

Perhaps the odd crucifixion relieves the tedium somewhat. God alone knows why we don’t call them for what they are. They aren’t the only gaff knee-deep in four-star. Alberta is but that involves fracking which is controversial. Now if fracking is controversial where does that put crucifixtion?

We live in a very morally troubled World.

*BTW the (in)famous episode of “Yes, Minister” in which Jim Hacker get’s pissed on a visit to a fictional Mid-East country is based on truth. That’s magic that is, “There is a call from the Scotch (sic) Office – a delegation of Teachers”. “A call from the Soviet Embassy – a Mr Smirnoff”.


So what are we up to in Mali?

I have never seen a more rapid and openly disingenuous escaltion ever. First it is a couple transport planes, then it’s a surveillance plane (but no boots on the ground – honest), then it’s “training” and it’s allowing tankers to operate from British airfields but still we’re “not going to be combatant”. It beggars belief. Finally all the pundit’s of Jane’s Fighting Armchairs are talking of a long-term commitment. I suppose that’s kinda like marriage. Except marriage is nice and being shot at by ragheads until HS2 is completed* (or for the duration) isn’t.

So why the interest?

iDave has annoyed the French with all this referendum on the EU nonce-sense. Helping out Hollande is some quid pro EU. He’s blotted his copy book but is now trying to get himself back in the good books by playing teacher’s pet.

Which of course begs the question. Why are the French getting involved? Could it just be that 80% of French electricity is nuclear and France buys 80% of it’s Uranium from Niger which is beginning to look almost surrounded by Islamist insurgencies…

If that domino falls to the beards France is up a gum-tree without an electric paddle.

Oh, and of course it’s back to the Caliphate. And not the future. To dark age tyranny over all of North Africa in the C21st. And boat people across the Med in huge numbers. Not that I’d blame them.

And if that happens expect the domino (I think that game is haram BTW) next to be Nigeria where we do have interests. Yet more refugees. Not that I’d blame them either. It’s not that I hate refugees – I don’t at all and they should be afforded our help, if it comes to that – but I hate the reasons for them which are universally vile – like polio better prevention than remedy (Yes, I did see Bill Gates at the RI last night – and he pussy-footed about saying polio would be no more if it wasn’t for Islamic fundamentalism – not that we can be too proud following the MMR fiasco). Politicians (by and large) do hate refugees because the Daily Wail can whip up an election killing stink over ‘em.

But there is another thing – returning to the energy issue** – and that is we have got into a position where these places matter to us.

So I suggest if iDave hadn’t engaged in a cockamamie grand-standing over the EU (the price of which is helping out France in a war that at first blush has nothing to do with us) and we hadn’t put ourselves in a situation where we simply can’t generate electricity sufficiently (I’m talking base-load here) we wouldn’t be embroiled in this utter mess.

I mean the sensible thing is to just get fracking! And of course build nuke plants. And yes, I’m calling Johnnie Porridge out on this. And all the bally rest of ‘em such as Chucles the Lugs all because they dream of their deranged visions of The Shire. Deranged because unlike the Hobbits we have the tech (sadly less advanced than it ought to be due to their meddlesome obstruction) and also deranged because they dream of sitting at the high-table and lording it over the rest of us. Oddly enough I don’t get the impression (and I am a Tolkienista) that was how Hobbits actually lived. They didn’t have a Central Committee of the Righteous.

Oh, well, it’s all going to pot. But I would warn them we’re only three power cuts from bloody revolution. I hope we do not go gentle into that last dark night.

*Why is that taking so long to build. Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have reached for the smelling salts on hearing the time-scale. I mean 20-odd years to build a railway not quite as good as that the French or Japanese, or… have had for decades. It’s like me being charged through the nose for a Ford Escort to be delivered just in time for turning 60. I’m 39 BTW. Yes, that is the time-scale!

**It would appear the Cumbrians have voted against a major nuclear waste storage facility so that is British nuclear power buggered and we’re stuck with playing with whirly-gigs and importing real power from France via the Channel cables. So in that sense Niger matters to us and therefore Mali does. How it should come to this is of course a sequence of unfortunate events. And of course the oil and gas from Nigeria.

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]

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