Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fracking along the Ribble

UPDATE on Fracking in Lancashire:

We will be joining other residents along the Ribble in keeping an eye on the situation as, despite calling a halt to the fracking process at Preese Hall on the Fylde while investigations are carried out into the tremors in the Blackpool area, the drilling activities are continuing, as are plans to drill on the South side of the Ribble in the Banks area between Preston and Southport. See the Southport Visitor for more on this.

There is a well-organised campaign against Fracking on the Fylde, so do check out their blog  for further information and to find out about any further developments as they are leading the campaign against this highly controversial activity in the area: What the Frack?


Philip Mitchell from the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party gave a talk about the Shale Fracking/Coalbed Methane issues at Lytham YMCA, Mythop Rd, Lytham
Tuesday 22nd March (UN World Water Day) 7:30pm

The meeting was well-attended by local residents who raised significant conserns about the potential impacts of the fracking - not least to their fresh water supplies in the area.

Please sign the PETITION at

Here's an interesting extract from Philip Mitchell's Parliamentary Memorandum:

"In Lancashire it has been reported that the Shale Gas field potentially reached from Blackpool to Pendle Hill, and in the DECC map includes the Forest of Bowland and extends to the West side of the Yorkshire Dales. This itself suggests a field of approximately 400 square miles, and on a purely commercial consideration would mean 100 gas wells extracting gas from a well 2 miles apart ( the approximate distance of the first three test wells in the Fylde). THIS IS A TINY PROPORTION OF THE POTENTIAL FIELD across the UK, .

The main risk and source of public outcry in the US has been the contamination of drinking water. In Lancashire the aquifers used in drinking cover this likely area of drilling and in the AJ Lucas press release [... ref attachments of evidence submitted to Parliament] re Preese Hall, Grange Hill, Singleton], appears to be in the location of the Aquifer [...ref attachments of evidence submitted to Parliament ] and Carbonate Rock. Purely commercial Interest would also mean many of the wells would be in the area of the aquifers.

The committee should also consider the risk of extracting 1 billion gallons of water from the surface water of the potential gas field in Lancashire.

The routes to pollution are multiple, and include leakage from the well, spillage from the site and handling of thousands of gallons of liquid which flows back from the well after fracking. The control mechanisms cannot be relied upon alone. I would also urge the committee to seriously consider the long term risks of deterioration of control mechanisms of the vertical well linings meant to protect the well from leakage.

When the liquid used for fracking leaks it has natural gas dissolved in it, this entering the water table has caused wells to explode and domestic water drawn from the aquifer to be inflammable and explosive.[...]
There is a need to dispose of the millions of gallons of highly toxic liquid flow-back following fracking and the committee needs to consider the risks of inadequate numbers of treatment centres to process this waste, for example in Lancashire on the basis of using up to 1 billion gallons of water for fracking. Contamination of water supplies and Rivers would be considered disastrous. This is already a huge problem in New York State and Pennsylvania.

The risk to locally produced food is serious. Contamination with the chemicals involved through any of the many routes of pollution will pose a threat to the farming and local food retail industry as well as the consumers.

The risk to wildlife and animals is huge. [ref attachments of evidence submitted to Parliament ].

There is also a risk of a well blowout which in a reported case spewed out explosive gas and polluting liquid 75 feet into the air and onto the ground for 16 hours. The area around for one square mile had to be evacuated and flight routes diverted.

Experiences in the Fylde

Experiences in the Fylde of the first three production test sites (Weeton – Preese Hall, Singleton and Lytham Moss Anna’s Road) Cuadrilla Resources. Cuadrilla Resources Limited gives its postal address in Lichfield, Leicestershire, UK. AJLucas describe their activities as only in the UK and Europe and that this has been the first time they have carried out "true" shale gas extraction methods (ref attachments of evidence submitted to Parliament ).

At Weeton , Preese Hall, the drilling is through "Clitheroe Limestone" [ref attachments of evidence submitted to Parliament ] whereas the Delaware River Keeper network wishes to ban drilling through" Karst Geology and Carbonate Rock"-
[Philip Mitchell here urges the committee to question Geologists on the significance of drilling through the rock quoted in the AJLucas press release e.g. to contamination of aquifers. ]"

You can read the whole Memorandum here and sign the PETITION at and keep up-tp-date with the campaign to stop fracking in the North West here:

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fracking: On Preston's Doorstep

"Hydraulic Fracturing" AKA 'Fracking', a method of extracting natural gas from the ground deep beneath our feet is becoming a deeply contraversial process. As we reported yesterday, it's coming to Preston's doorstep.

Here's a short video on the process and its possible consequences for the environment.

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Shale Gas Drilling - pursued with indecent haste and a Russian Roulette mentality

A large number of Lancashire residents and numerous scientists are extremely concerned about the deep-rock Gas Drilling company Cuadrilla's extraction operations which are about to start at sites at Weeton, Singleton, and Westby, near Kirkham and Blackpool.

There are serious and significant concerns about the potential safety of the process, where rock thousands of feet below Lancashire will be fractured using chemicals to release the gas stored in the rocks, as the process causes the rock to be polluted and there is a risk of contamination of the groundwater - and therefore our drinking water.

It is, of course, also the case that these chemicals could find their way into the Ribble's waters and pose a threat to its delicate ecosystem.

The rock in which the gas is stored stretches across a large area of Lancashire along the Ribble valley catchment, from Pendle Hill through to the Irish Sea, and concerns about the so-called "fracking" extraction process are being raised by reputable scientists world-wide, and we will be examining the research and charting the Lancashire and world-wide campaigns against the Gas Drilling over the coming weeks.

A report written by Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre in Manchester has led The Co-operative Financial Services' Chief Executive Neville Richardson to call for "a moratorium on any further exploitation of shale gas which will allow the wider environmental concerns to be fully exposed and addressed."

Research around the globe is currently forcing a ban on the process in New York State and is raising concerns in other states of the US, as well as in other countries across the world from Canada to South Africa.

Here in Lancashire, as the Lancashire Evening Post report, 'the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party claims the process causes pollution and could be dangerous.

Philip Mitchell, chairman of the party, said: “We demand that a ban is placed on all UK shale gas and coal bed methane industry activity, including testing sites.

“This technology has been used at a site of an important groundwater aquifer and there are over 80 further applications which have been applied for around the UK.

“Aquifers are a natural source of our drinking water, and there is risk of catastrophic harm to water resources, communities and the environment from this industry, which may roll out across Lancashire and the rest of the UK.”

Concerns have been fuelled by US documentary Gasland, which shows flames shooting from taps in areas where hydro fracking has taken place.

Some residents in areas where drilling for shale gas is taking place say they have become ill because of pollution by gas and chemicals, according to the documentary.'

Philip Mitchell has tabled a Parliamentary Memorandum which is a well-researched and illuminating assessment of the risks this process has, and he is calling for a serious re-think of the scheme before the damage is done.

Whilst the Government have made statements to the effect that:
- 'gas extraction is subject to thorough checks' (LEP)

Mark Miller, Cuadrilla chief executive, has said on the one hand that:
- the "solid rock between [the aquifer at Preese Hall Farm, Weeton, Blackpool] and where the fracking takes place would prevent the water mix contaminating the aquifer"
-whilst admitting on the other that "You never have control. Fractures will always go into the path of least resistance."

In other words, they're keeping their fingers crossed for us. Well, that's alright then.

See The Guardian article here for more details

Philip Mitchell's Parliamentary Memorandum makes for interesting reading and can be found in full here

We will be reproducing extracts from it on the STR website soon, and keeping you informed about the campaign as it progresses.

"The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart" Tanako Shozo Save The Ribble Logo