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Caudrilla execs left quaking in their boots after angry fracking meeing

The week saw two large public meetings on the fracking – the process of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, one on either side of the Pond. The first took place in the old steel town of Youngstown, Ohio- held on Tuesday in the wake of a magnitude 4.0 earthquake, the latest in a series of 11 over the last 12 months. The earthquakes are linked to an injection well disposing of fracking fluid (a mix of groundwater and industrial chemicals). The second took place in the sleepy, extremely affluent commuter belt village of Balcombe, in Sussex, just north of the Ouse Valley Viaduct on the London to Brighton railway line. Cuadrilla Resources, made infamous by their earthquake producing facilities in Lancashire, have planning permission to drill a test well south of the village. The process has been compared to setting off a small nuclear bomb underground. Needless to say there are some ruffled feathers in well manicured lawns of this community.

The meeting was extremely well attended with no standing room let alone seats free, and began with a screening of the short film, Fracking Hell. Two of Cuadrilla's most masochistic senior management, CEO Mark Miller and COO Eric Vaughan, turned up, along with their PR guru, Nick Sutcliffe,- a Guildford Burough Councillor in his spare time, Sutcliffe (from PR company PPS Group, which is accused of writing fake letters and posing as students to help their clients secure planning permission). Cuadrilla were on the defensive from the outset and they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot throughout, until even their opponents found it painful to watch. Many concerns were raised- effects on water supplies in the area and the potential of earthquakes damage to the 170 year old railway viaduct were top of the list. The meeting was mercifully brought to a close through lack of time with residents still keen to continue haranguing Cuadrilla. It's unlikely the Caudrilla chiefs will be back any time soon. The real question is whether this outpouring of nimby rage can lead to anything more substantive. The road protests of the 90's are an example of a movement that had supporters from across all walks of life. The fracking issue with its potentially large numbers of sites that can affect anyone in their path certainly have some similarities with threat to the countryside in the 90s. The somewhat awkward and tentative interaction between local residents and activists in the Balcombe village hall on Wednesday, if built upon, has the some potential to produce such a broad based movement against the tidal wave of extreme energy processes that is bearing down on us. It will be interesting to see whether such alliances can be forged again under the present conditions. Cuadrilla and other such companies will certainly be hoping not.


There is 1 comment on this story...
Added By: Vladimir - 19th February 2012 @ 12:37 PM
MOM's is the most Ithacan thing about DC. My wife and I too wneodr what fracking was until we googled it. The other mysterious message was on the radio, Don't move firewood, with not explanation. It turns out that is a concern about invasive species inhabiting the logs some people drag across half the state.
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