About Us
Back Issues
The free weekly direct action newsheet published in Brighton since 1994 - Copyleft - Information for Action

Coming Apart at the Seams

Fractivists oppose extreme energy in the West Country

It's West Country extreme action time! Unfortunately not shotgunning jugs of scrumpy while listening to the Wurzels though. Soon Somerset may be infamous for an even more  dangerous activity. Yep, that's right- The West Country is about to get fracked. 

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. On Tuesday 4th Sept three people from Bristol Rising Tide,who occupied a Cuadrilla Resources drilling rig at Banks, Lancashire for 13 hours, in December last year, go on trial in Preston magistrates Court accused of aggravated trespass. It will be the second time in recent months that anti-fracking activists have been in court. In July three people from Brighton and Liverpool also stood trial on similar charges for a previous rig occupation in November last year. A blockade of Cuadrilla's drilling rig in June (while it was undergoing maintainance in a contractors yard in Chesterfield) did not result in any arrests. All this is to try to stop Cuadrilla from coating the Lancashire countryside and potentially other parts of the UK in fracking wells, access road and pipelines, threaten. Cuadrilla's plans call for 400-800 wells in Lancashire in coming years. Cuadrilla is busy installing sesmic monitoring equipment around the Banks site in preparation to frack the well and is likely to start drilling a fourth well, at its Anna's Road site, soon.

Coincidentally, just as this new trial of the Bristol activists is about to start things seem to be kicking off on their home turf. Another set of frackers, UK Methane Ltd, appear to be about to summit a planning application to drill a Coal Bed Methane well in the Somerset countryside close to the River Avon between Keynsham and Bristol. Coal Bed Methane (CBM) is another form of unconventional gas, very similarin most respects to shale gas. The gas is trapped in coal seams rather than shale rock but in general requires still requires fracking to extract it as well as pumping out large amounts of water. CBM has been associated with a similar range of negative effects (the usual flaming taps, contaminated water etc.) to shale gas wherever CBM has been widely used (mainly in the western US and Australia). As with shale gas it is an extreme process that involves drilling dense grids of wells across wide areas. In the UK CBM is a much larger threat than shale since there is a lot more coal still lurking under the ground than there is suitable shale rock. This is reflected in the fact that there are only about a dozen accepted planning applications for shale gas wells compared to over 60 for CBM. Particular CBM hot spots include Scotland, Cheshire and South Wales to which Somerset can now be added.

In other extreme energy news the campaign to stop the brazzenly hypocritcally named “Clean Coal Ltd” from setting fire to a billion tons of coal underneath Swansea Bay is starting to gain momentum. Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is an even more insane process than CBM that involves setting fire to coal seams underground and piping the resulting gases to the surface. It is highly experimental and has usually resulted in severe contamination of groundwater with carcinogenic benzene when it has been tested in the Australian outback and other remote locations. 18 licences for UCG in the UK have been issued so far including for right next to major cities like Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool, London and Swansea. As more Swansea residents discover that they may well be the first in the firing line, the campaign called Fracked Swansea has gaining support by the day.

Finally, for those interested in learning more about the various forms of coal related extreme energy that are threatening the UK there is a meeting near Russell Square in London on Tues 4th at 6:30pm (see frack-off.org.uk for details).

There is 1 comment on this story...
Added By: Sergey - 18th May 2013 @ 1:50 AM
thank you Dylan for following up on this. There is aotnher question that arises I live in eastern Oklahoma County during the last year and a half we have had more than 350 earthquakes in Oklahoma. Up until that point we had not had 100 earthquakes in the entire history of Oklahoma. Currently, the geological Society is attempting to address this problem. They currently do not feel that is related to fracturing. But that is a possibility. However, they state that it needs to be studied further that they have not found the culprit. My question is should we get the answer before we do any damage? Thank you for being one of the few voices of common sense today. Please keep up the good work.
Stories about similar subjects...

Resistance begins at Barton Moss fracking site.

SchNEWS digs a little deeper and has a look at the SAVE ROSIA MONTANA campaign that is trying to protect Romania's landscape and places beyond from the gold mining project that is sucking the earth dry.

"The more video footage I see of the beauty of the landscape in Combe Haven and the principled stand taken by the protesters in freezing conditions, to protest against a destructive, unnecessary and costly scheme, the more I think they've got the wrong people in court" - defendant Tom Druitt.

Update from Balcombe as the end of the drilling approaches.

From the Battle of Balcombe to the Battle of Barton Moss, IGas announce plans to begin drilling next month.

Anti-fracking campaigners plan a 28 day blockade at Balcombe.

Marches, blockades, arrested MPs and one helluva lot of cops...The campaign against the Balcombe fracketeers stepped up this weekend with the arrival of Reclaim the Power.

Day 23 of the Balcombe Blockade and Day 1 of the Reclaim the Power camp.

Twitter: @SchNEWS