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Editor: 13th April 2017

Stop Cuadrilla coming back

A massive thank you to everyone who helped produce the official FFBRA response to the Environment Agency (EA) consultation. Given that a significant part of Cuadrilla’s application wasn’t made available until Friday 21st April 2017, we believe the EA should extend the consultation period such that the whole application is available for comments for the required length of time.  This late publication of a critical part of the application has meant that we were unable to obtain a professional review of the Air Quality Technical Report before the official end date.

We also owe a huge thank you to all those who produced the consultation leaflet and helped distribute it, not just in Balcombe, but all around the area. Over 2,000 leaflets were posted through letter boxes, handed out to the public or left with shops, pubs, estate agents and others for people to pick up. We see this leaflet as increasing the knowledge of a wider audience on the issues surrounding onshore oil and gas exploitation, as well as advising people on how to submit their comments.

Act now! Help stop Cuadrilla coming back!

Deadline midnight April 25th!

Cuadrilla has applied to make changes to its Environmental Permit, an important element of its planning permission. If you want to keep the oil industry out of Balcombe (as a strong majority of us do), please write a personal objection to the Environment Agency’s consultation. The more objections they receive, the stronger our voice.

Get the full application here:
Application Variation and Partial Surrender Application Forms

Although for the moment Cuadrilla says it has no intention to frack, Lower Stumble would be no simple little free-flowing well with a nodding donkey. Cuadrilla would acidise, a sister process of fracking raising similar serious concerns. 

It’s easy to object, on line or by letter. It need take only a few minutes. 

What is wrong with Cuadrilla’s application?

Of course we do not want Cuadrilla here at all. We do not want HEAVY INDUSTRY in our village, and the TRAFFIC it will bring, not to mention the RISK to our HEALTH and ENVIRONMENT. Balcombe would be a ‘foot in the door’ for the industry, who would need A GREAT MANY WELLS across the Weald to access the unyielding rocks they are now targeting.

But arguments that will carry weight with the Environment Agency relate specifically to the changes Cuadrilla now wants to make. You could pick out just one of the following three issues for a short objection, or cover all three, or you could read the ‘further information’ at the end of this leaflet (or even Cuadrilla’s 94 pages of documents!) and give a more detailed response. These are the changes:

  • A new flare Cuadrilla have designed a new 45ft (nearly 14m) flare to burn off unwanted gas. Flares are extremely noisy and give off serious pollutants. The top of this flare, like the one previously proposed, would be lower than the centre of the village, because Lower Stumble lies down in a dip. A study on pollution from the new flare is missing from the documents. Also, Cuadrilla’s original application was based on the wrong assumption that no sulphur compounds would be present in the oil here – even though sulphur compounds were found when a well was drilled on the site in 1986. Public Health England said in 2014 that Cuadrilla should address the risk to the community from toxic sulphur dioxide from the flare. They have not done so.
  • Waste water The waste water flowing back from the well would be extremely salty, and could contain radioactive and toxic substances, a mix of the original chemicals used, the products of their reactions underground, and substances leached out from the rocks. Cuadrilla says the ‘salty water’ would be ‘low risk’ and ‘non-hazardous’. Back in 2013 it was officially considered hazardous! Cuadrilla now want to call the flowback water an ‘engineering fluid’ and no longer a ‘mining waste’. On the contrary, it should remain classified as ‘mining waste’ so that it will be more closely scrutinised.
  • Monitoring Cuadrilla have proposed new yet still inadequate methods for monitoring air, ground and surface water. There should be many more collection points for samples, and sampling should be done continuously, rather than the spot checks that are proposed. For instance, it is proposed that laser monitors to check for escaping methane would be used only on two occasions during testing, for ‘up to eight hours’ – so a few minutes’ use would count! 

A couple of important ‘don’ts’

  • Don’t mention the F word! At this point in the exercise (testing the well, by acidising) Cuadrilla do not need to frack. Mentioning fracking may make the Environment Agency believe that you don’t understand the issues, and they may discount your objection.
  • Don’t fill in the ‘Organisation’ box – leave it blank.

What you can do to strengthen our case:

  • Write it in your own words. If the Environment Agency thinks you are simply copying a template objection, they may count all such objections as one. Read the simple guidance below, then put this leaflet aside and don’t peek at it too much as you write!
  • Give your objection some local and personal colour. Tell the Environment Agency, for instance, ‘My granddaughter is at Barn Meadow Nursery School in Balcombe village and I am concerned because the top of the flare is below the level of the school so that the lie of the land and the prevailing wind would carry pollutants towards the school.’
  • Get your friends and family to respond – they don’t need to live locally.

Respond on line by midnight April 25th!

https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/psc/rh17-6jh-cuadrilla-balcombe/

or search EA Balcombe permit consultation

Or write to:  Permitting Support Centre, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Parkway Business Park, Sheffield, S9 4WF

Further information:

Read Ruth Hayhurst’s summary of Cuadrilla’s application on the excellent website Drill or Drop: https://drillordrop.com/2017/03/24/cuadrilla-reveals-details-of-tests-on-balcombe-oil-well/

Visit FFBRA’s official website http://www.frackfreebalcombe.co.uk/

A leaflet should be delivered throughout all of Balcombe Parish over the next few days, containing the same information as above.

If you would like to discuss these issues, or join FFBRA, please contact Malcolm Kenward or Sue Taylor, or phone Malcolm on 01444 811862 or Sue on 01444 819329

Everything you always wanted to know about ACIDISING

A paper prepared for the  Weald Action Group, a strategic umbrella for community groups across the region

Acidising, little understood outside the  oil and gas industry, is coming to communities from Sussex and Surrey to Lincolnshire. Acidising poses its own threats, and is likely to lead on to fracking at a later stage.

The need for this report was highlighted at the inaugural meeting of the Weald Action Group at Horsham in October 2016.

Click here to download: Acidising Report