Minister of State Refuted

UK Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Clare Perry’s reply to a recent query by Bill Esterson MP has been thoroughly refuted by Refracktion.

MP for Sefton Central, Bill Esterson wrote to the Minister of State raising concerns about the safety of shale gas extraction on behalf of his constituents. The letter of reply from Clare Perry contained the usual government platitudes and misleading statements (click letter to view the full reply).

Her assertions that “…there are strong protections in place to ensure the planning concerns of affected local communities are addressed…” directly contradicts her struggle to justify the government’s attempts to remove precisely the protections she refers to.

The letter also contains the “shale gas myth-buster”, which she attached in the hope that Bill Esterson and the constituents of Sefton Central would find it useful. The organisation Refracktion assert that this is an appallingly badly researched, badly written piece of misleading propaganda.

Click here for full details of Refracktion’s debunking of the “shale gas myth-buster”


Threats Map

8 BoreholesFrack Free Formby has studied a number of maps showing geological features and protection areas around Aurora’s proposed fracking site at Great Altcar. These maps have now been converted to the same scale and combined, in order to demonstrate some of the constraints governing the direction of lateral drilling from the well pad.

The end result (above) shows the major fault lines running close to the proposed well pad and potential subsurface works, the nearby groundwater protection area and monitoring points, the flood defence area around the site, and the boreholes drilled in and around the old Formby oilfield.

It clearly demonstrates the problems and constraints of drilling lateral wells deep underground in the location chosen by Aurora, and in other parts of PEDL 164.

Please click on the above map or here to see how the different layers of the maps were combined.

Scoping Opinion Concerns

Following Lancashire County Council’s scoping opinion (issued 22nd March) on Aurora’s plans for fracking at Great Altcar, we have contacted some consultees to determine whether the views they expressed were adequately reflected in the response. Frack Free Formby and The Moss Alliance believe some issues have been glossed over. The full Scoping Opinion can be read by clicking on the image below.

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The Scoping exercise identifies issues for consideration in the impending Environmental Impact Assessment. So far we feel that the following were not adequately stressed in LCC’s Scoping Opinion, and do not therefore form part of the instruction to Aurora of issues they need to cover as part of their planning application.

Site Preparation

Aurora’s scoping request claimed that it will only take 40 days of daytime working to surface the dirt track that is Sutton’s Lane and construct the well pad (phase 1 works). It has been pointed out that this is grossly optimistic, inferring night time (or longer) working will be required to meet the timetable. LCC has not picked up the point.


Sefton MBC specifically asked that Aurora should be instructed to provide an assessment of the impact of additional heavy traffic on the junctions on the Formby by pass. It was also pointed out to LCC that the B5195 provides the direct route to Ormskirk hospital and children’s A&E  from Formby, and that there is a risk of delays to emergency vehicles. LCC does not seem to have stressed either of these issues in its response and scoping opinion.

Seismic Events

Aurora’s scoping request made no mention of the 50+ disused oils and gas wells which lie within its footprint map of drilling intentions. It was pointed out to LCC that these provide potential pathways and conduits for the migration of fugitive Fracking fluid to fault lines and the surface. This prospect is not specifically covered in LCC’s response.

Other issues (e.g. ecology impact) are likely to be identified as inadequately dealt with once we get responses from consultees to our inquiries.

We have established who owns the land on which Aurora intends to build its well pad along Sutton’s Lane in Great Altcar, which was purchased in 2005 from the Leverhulme Estate along with a number of other large parcels of land to the east and west of the Formby bypass. We will now validate all the landholders and tenant farmers who will be affected by Aurora’s immediate drilling plans, and will be contacting them in due course.

Frack Free Formby and The Moss Alliance will be employing expert advice to help frame objections to the planning application, and we are commencing on a fundraising campaign to raise the necessary finance.

United Resistance Campaign

Supporters of Frack Free Formby joined with other anti-fracking campaigners at the gates of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near to Blackpool yesterday. The peaceful demonstration, which celebrated 100 years of female emancipation, raised awareness of the negative aspects of fracking on women’s health and successfully closed down the site for the whole day. This marked the beginning of a 3-month long coordinated campaign by United Resistance to stop Cuadrilla from fracking. Click on the image below to watch the amazing and inspiring dance.

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A US research article from Science Advances found that mothers living within 1km of a fracking site saw a

“…25% increase in the probability of low birth weight… and significant declines in average birth weight and in an index of infant health.”

For further reporting on the day and to see how 100 women threw their bras at Cuadrilla, visit theCanary

“EVERY Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:30pm we urgently need all who can come, please to help us as we near the worst of what this industry intends on doing to our community and our country. An hour or a few, a day or a week… whatever you can spare, we would be so grateful for your presence at the gates.” (Tina Louise Rothery)

Whatever time you can spare, join the resistance at PNR and meet some amazing people. For details of the three-month sustained campaign against fracking in Lancashire and beyond click here.

Danger To Wildlife Sites

Aurora’s proposed drilling location is within 2km of seven protected wildlife sites and eight species protected by European or national law. In its response to Aurora’s scoping request, the National Trust expressed concerns that there could be impacts on protected wildlife areas because of changes in water level, water and air pollution or induced seismicity. National Trust


“At Formby the Trust cares for over 300 hectares of land, comprising a stretch of unspoilt coastline, made up of rolling sand dunes and pine woods set between the sea and Formby town. The property is a popular recreational attraction – receiving over 350,000 visitors per year. In addition to its interesting plant and bird life, Formby is also one of the last places in England where the rare red squirrel may be seen. The environmental sensitivity and importance of the area is reflected in the variety of designations which apply. Our land includes part of the Sefton Coast SSSI/SAC and Ribble & Alt estuaries Ramsar site.”

The National Trust added that there was not enough detail on potential hydrogeology or contamination to “adequately assess” the baseline condition of the internationally-important wildlife sites nearby and “…at the very least, Aurora will need to address the lack of transparency in their final Environmental Statement.”

“The greatest potential direct impacts appear to be on the protected and priority species that use the SAC/Ramsar/SSSI, if they also use the area around the Great Altcar site for over- wintering/feeding/loafing/genetic exchange/etc. These adverse impacts could be in the form of light pollution, noise, dust and/or vibration.”

See also our page about Biodiversity