Bill Butterworth on fracking Lancashire
7 July 15
- Solution to “Unacceptable noise levels”
- Getting trucks off the road
- Imaginary “Adverse urbanising effect”
- The way forward
I worry about the word “integrity”. Difficult to define exactly but it certainly involves honesty. Can that word, “integrity” be applied to the avoidance action by the Planning Committee of the Lancashire County Council (LCC) when it recently rejected the application by Cuadrilla to start commercial fracking on the grounds of “unacceptable noise impact” and the “adverse urbanising effect on the landscape”.
To be fair, it depends.
Certainly, all drilling activity involves some heavy equipment and that creates noise. But no more than many other wealth-creating industrial activities. Further, the main noise is developed during the development of the site and it is not long term.
Some of that noise is produced by road trucks delivering equipment to the site. Again, that is short term. However, there is a choice as far as much of the long term trucking is concerned. I once calculated on the basis of some industry-produced figures (which may or may not be still relevant) that removal of the cuttings and spent fluids from drilling operations could involve very large amount of trucks on the road. However, the use of British technology allows the environmentally beneficial spreading of these materials on proximity farm land. This avoids all that trucking and noise.
I do have a bit of a problem with “unacceptable urbanisation”. Well, yes but that is temporary – a matter of months and then there is a very small amount of visible infrastructure. Something less than the LCC giving planning permission to house its share of the officially admitted figure of 390,000 net immigration into the UK last year. (Heaven knows what the true figure really is.)
All of this is a matter of choice. Do we want the economy to stabilise and to afford the Health Service, care for the increasingly aging population, defence in an increasingly extreme world, etc? Or not?