BIG MEETING IN EASTRY
I’m not very good at counting but there must have been a hundred people at Bore Free Eastry’s meeting last night (Wednesday 23 July). The anti-fracking campaign is still on the march in East Kent!
Eastry is a lovely village next door to Woodnesborough, where Coastal Oil and Gas still have a licence to drill. Bore Free Eastry is a relatively new campaign and organised a tremendous event. It was billed as a ‘public debate’ and the fracking companies and pro-fracking politicians were invited to put their case. But as usual none turned up. Instead, we heard excellent presentations from Graham Warren, an expert hydrogeoloist, and Laura Targett, a ‘Kentish girl’ now fighting fracking in Australia. The highlight was a moving account of the suffering of the Balcombe villagers from Sue Taylor. Representatives from neighbouring villages, including Shepherdswell were there. As was Clair Hawkins, the local Labour Parliamentary Candidate, who pledged her support for the campaign and made a clear statement against fracking and in favour of a strategy to develop renewables. We hope the Labour Party will start to say these sort of things at national level.
To contact Bore Free Eastry:
They are also on Facebook
The Keep Shepherdswell Well Action Group meets this coming TUESDAY 18 MARCH at 7.30 in the Village Hall. It will discuss the next stages in the ongoing campaign.
Wednesday 5 March: Successful meeting in Barham
Report from Pamela Mudge-Wood
Barham Village Hall hosted a crowd of over 100 villagers and campaigners last night on 5 March for a showing of Marco Jackson’s UK-based anti-fracking documentary, The Truth Behind the Dash for Gas. This was followed by an engaging and informative explanation by hydro-geologist Graham Warren of the disastrous effects that unconventional oil and gas exploration (commonly referred to as ‘fracking’) could have on the local geology, both in terms of seismic risk and in terms of multiple threats to the water supply through over-use, through above-ground contamination caused by spillage or poor chemical disposal, and through underground aquifer contamination due to leaking cement casings.
Questions indicated that the people present were keen to find ways to harness the ‘people power’ they were already exercising through their attendance, and fortifying with information from the film and the talk. The first question, posed by a farmer, Mr Neame, was quite pertinent: “Why must we rely on ‘people power’ to fight this? Why aren’t the big corporations whose vital natural assets are threatened by fracking, such as water companies, the food and drinks industries, and insurance companies speaking out to protect their assets?” Graham Warren’s response was intriguing: he noted that at the numerous meetings he has addressed about this issue, such organisations and companies have been conspicuous by their absence. “I have two words of explanation for you,” he replied. “Share price.” It would seem that high-risk stakeholders are often very careful to maintain a public ‘ostrich’ posture – to remain ‘impartial’ about fracking, and to keep the potential threats to their assets quiet, in order to protect their share price. In the same way, homeowners in local villages may prefer not to acknowledge the risks posed by the possibility of local unconventional gas extraction, in case rumours could affect the property value of their homes.
The mood of the gathering was positive and forward-looking. EKAF Chair Rosie Rechter spoke briefly about ways to get involved in local campaigning, and I spoke up to encourage Barham residents to form an ongoing campaign group, noting how important we in Shepherdswell how found it since COG’s withdrawal to keep meeting, keep monitoring and strategising, and keep spreading the word.
Big thanks to Pat Marsh and Steve Wakeford of EKAF who organised and chaired the meeting admirably; and to Margaret Creear and James Pellatt-Shand who came with me from the Keep Shepherdswell Well group to help publicise last night’s meeting by leafleting with Barham resident Steve Lambert earlier in February.
The Anti-Fracking Campaign spreads to Barham
Members of East Kent against Fracking and Keep Shepherdswell Well have been campaigning in Barham.
We are pleased to announce a new website about Fracking in Kent. It is hosted by a MultiMedia Journalism student, James Rose.
Check it out by clicking on the image.
Dates for the Diary
The next meeting of Keep Shepherdswell Well Action Group is on Monday 17 February at 7.30. If you would like to attend, please contact us for venue. (You can use the contact form on this site.)
This is an important meeting at which we will be discussing some exciting proposals to build the campaign in the village and across the East Kent region.
From March all our meetings will be in the Village Hall. The March meeting will be on Tuesday 18 March in the Village Hall at 7.30.
An excellent special edition of New Internationalist magazine – full of information and news about fracking.
You can down load a copy here:the_fracking_files
Read our December Newsletter:
- What we have done and what we must do!
- Our objections to the drilling application
- Who we are
- Poem against Fracking
- News about our Christmas party! We are proud to welcome to Shepherdswell, Sue Taylor, Balcombe Resident, to the celebration on 21st December at 7pm. Join us in the village hall for MUSIC, DANCING and FOOD. Free tickets from the Post Office.
Click link below to download:
December newsletter 2 Dec final
Dover District Council Opposes Fracking
Dover District Council met on 27 November. Several members of Keep Shepherdswell Well were in attendance. The council passed the following resolution, with only one vote against:
‘This Council is concerned by the prospect of fracking and related drilling activity in the Dover District area and requests that a report is brought forward to the next meeting of this Council to inform the Council of the nature of the process, the potential impact on subsurface water resources and geological formations, the type and scale of the surface structures, and the impact of anti-fracking demonstrations in the light of recent experience in Sussex on the local communities and on the police.”
Read this report of the meeting by Pamela Mudge-Wood
The vote by Dover District councillors to oppose fracking in our area followed a Dover District (DD) Council Scrutiny Committee hearing on 18 November at which we, the studious citizen activists of Keep Shepherdswell Well and East Kent Against Fracking, along with parish councillors from the front-line villages, and hydro-geologist, Graham Warren of the CPRE, delivered a dozen carefully researched speeches which convinced the Scrutiny Committee to recommend that the Dover District Council should oppose fracking.
Several DD Councillors who had attended the Scrutiny hearing praised the efforts of those who had addressed the Nov 18 hearing, and the work of District Clerk Rebecca Brough, who organised the administration of the Scrutiny Committee’s investigation into fracking. This involved inviting groups with views on the issue from all sides, including major stakeholders like Affinity Water, and of course the applicants themselves, Coastal Oil and Gas. Neither Affinity Water nor COG attended these hearings.
Consequently all the arguments before the Scrutiny Committee showed that fracking, and even test drilling for any unconventional gas extraction through the chalk aquifer under East Kent, presents unavoidable risk of irreversible pollution to the area’s primary water resource. Councillors were also convinced by our arguments outlining potential damage in terms of traffic, noise, air pollution, risk to natural habitat and marring of the rural beauty of the area upon which its tourism income is based.
Councillors were largely unimpressed by the familiar half-truths we have all heard from central government and the gas industry, about ‘no cases of harm caused by fracking’ and the promise of jobs and economic revival through gas exploitation, that were put forward by the one councillor who spoke up against the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendation.
Keep Shepherdswell Well will keep using this straightforward democratic approach of researching the facts and telling the truth; it seems to be working so far. The difference in our case is that we knew enough to oppose it at parish level before it could go through on the nod. We have an excellent team of committed local residents with an amazingly fortuitous mix of skills and talents for creating a convincing case. Is that enough to stand up to the would-be frackers and the powers that be? Time will tell. For now, we can chalk up another victory for the protectors of the chalk aquifer.
Pamela Mudge-Wood, Keep Shepherdswell Well, 29 November 2013
Campaigners from Keep Shepherdswell Well action group visited Kent County Council offices to hand in letters of protest from villagers. They also handed in a petition with 2000 names on it collected by East Kent against Fracking.
Dover District Council puts Fracking under Scrutiny
Three members of Keep Shepherdswell Well action group, Pamela Mudge-Wood, Margaret Creear and Alan Williams addressed Dover District Council’s Scrutiny Committee on Monday (13 November). They had been invited along with other campaigns and local parish councils to speak about proposals for fracking within the Dover district. Other organisations in attendance were the Campaign for Rural England, East Kent against Fracking, Shepherdswell Parish Council, Eythorne Parish Council, Guston Parish Council and the Burgoyne Residents Association. Speakers from all organisations made presentations that together formed an unanswerable case against the plans to drill and frack in East Kent. They particularly highlighted the threat to the aquifer and concerns about health to residents.
You can read the excellent presentation by Pamela Mudge-Wood here: Pam DDC Scrutiny speech
Coastal Oil and Gas and others in the pro-fracking lobby were invited to attend but the polluters declined to turn up. They know their case does not stand up to public scrutiny. Not a single member of the Scrunity Committee spoke in favour of fracking and several Conservative councillors made forceful statements opposing fracking on the council’s territory.
The committee is preparing a report on a resolution on fracking to be considered at the full council meeting on 27 November.
The resolution reads: ‘This Council is concerned by the prospect of fracking and related drilling activity in the Dover District area and requests that a report is brought forward to the next meeting of this Council to inform the Council of the nature of the process, the potential impact on subsurface water resources and geological formations, the type and scale of the surface structures, and the impact of anti-fracking demonstrations in the light of recent experience in Sussex on the local communities and on the police.’
Keep Shepherdswell Well will be lobbying councillors to request that Dover District Council declare Dover district a FRACK FREE ZONE.
We still Object!
Read our letter to Kent County Council
Coastal Oil and Gas may have withdrawn their application to drill in Shepherdswell, Guston and Tilmanstone but our campaign not only goes on but will be stepped up. The minister, Michael Fallon, has made his government’s intention clear: ‘fracking is coming soon’. We must be prepared! That is why Keep Shepherdswell Well action group has still forwarded its letter of objection to Kent County Council. The letter will be widely circulated in Shepherdswell and neighbouring villages and edited versions will appear in our newsletter and other publications. We still have a job to convince people of our arguments. We must fight the barrage of propaganda from ministers and other supporters of the unconventional gas industry. You can read the letter by clicking this link: Final Consultation letter
Kent Wildlife Objects
We are pleased to publish the objection by Kent Wildlife Trust to the application to drill in Shepherdswell. Keith Nicholson, the trust’s Planning & Conservation Officer writes: ’Only the most superficial survey of wildlife interest has been undertaken for both the application site itself and for habitats within the development site’s zone of influence. The ecological survey report provides no information about protected species sightings in the wider area. I am concerned that a 24 hour, 7 days a week operation will give rise to noise and light pollution of significant disturbance to birds and bats using the wider area for navigation, foraging, roosting and breeding [...] The submitted habitat survey acknowledges that “the site is adjacent to a species-rich woodland” yet offers no assessment of the impact of development on these species or the fauna that it supports. Astonishingly, the report makes no mention of Puckland Wood being Ancient Woodland and an acknowledged Local Wildlife Site (LWS – DO36 – Woods near Shepherdswell). On the face of it, the installation and operation of the exploratory drilling plant in such very close proximity to the edge habitat of this woodland is likely to have a severe impact on foraging, animals, especially bats and birds. I find it hard to accept that an effective mitigation strategy could be devised to address this impact.
In the circumstances, I urge the County Council either to refuse permission or not to determine the application unless and until it is supported by adequate information to enable a proper assessment to be made against national and local planning policy and, if necessary, against the requirements of national and international wildlife legislation’
You can read the full letter here:
Kent Wildlife Trust
A Victory… but the fight continues!
Keep Shepherdswell Well Action Group met tonight (Thursday 7 November) and discussed the news that Coastal Oil and Gas (COG) has withdrawn their application to test drill for coalbed methane in our village and at sites in Guston and the old Tilmanstone mine near Eythorne.
All agreed that this is a victory for local people. It is a victory for our campaign. The company and Kent County Council have been shocked by the strength and breadth of the opposition. They hoped to push through their plans with the minimum of fuss, as they did previously with the application to drill at Woodnesborough. Instead hundreds of people in Shepherdswell have turned up to meetings and sent letters of objection. Four Parish Councils covering the areas of the applications have objected to the plans.
The intervention of the Environment Agency, which described their application as lacking in ‘awareness and knowledge’, was decisive. In effect, the company had no alternative but to withdraw their application to consider a series of objections raised. We demand that their permission to drill on the Woodnesborough site is now withdrawn by KCC – as similar objections can be raised about its threat to the environment.
The COG polluters have been forced to retreat but they have ‘advised that they intend to collate the additional information requested and resubmit their applications in due course’. In other words, they plan to regroup. They will be back.
Keep Shepherdswell Well agreed that we will celebrate our victory, but that we will also step up our preparations for the next stage of the fight.
A strategy for the next phase of the campaign was agreed.
• New editions of the newsletter
• A Christmas celebration to inform the village of the next stage of the campaign and to raise funds
• A campaign to help establish action groups in other local villages
• A legal strategy
• Lobbying and media strategy
• Establish telephone trees and links to help protect our village in the event that the application is granted
The polluters will be back, but we will be ready!
Meanwhile, let’s celebrate with this great anthem from the Oysterband
You can bring your JCBs
You can bring your drills and your ‘drivers
You’ve got the might
But you’ve got no right
We’ll be there, we’ll be there, we’ll be there!
Charlie Elphicke MP: Water Company Is Objecting To Drilling Application
Campaigners from Keep Shepherdswell Well joined other Shepherdswell residents at a question and answer session organised by Charlie Elphicke MP on Saturday 2 November in Shepherdswell Village Hall. Residents were happy to see that councillors from Parish, District and County were in attendance to hear our views.
Mr Elphicke repeated his opposition to drilling and fracking in the Shepherdswell area. His opposition is based on concerns about contamination of the aquifer. He reported that his concern was now shared by the local water company, Affinity Water, which intends to object to the planning application. Shepherdswell and Guston are both in the aquifer protection area.
Campaigners raised concerns about reports that the Environment Agency, which criticised the lack of ‘awareness and knowledge’ demonstrated by Coastal Oil and Gas’s planning application, is now facing cuts. (See article below)
The cuts are far bigger and are being introduced faster than previously expected. They will reduce staff by 15% to 9,700 by October 2014, making monitoring of this expanding risky industry even more difficult. Mr Elphicke failed to give any assurances on this matter.
Scepticism was also expressed about the claim by government representatives that fuel bills will be reduced by the exploitation of methane and shale gas.
Councillors in attendance informed the meeting that should Coastal Oil and Gas amend and resubmit their planning application after attempting to respond to the objections and requests for more information, there will be a further consultation process and opportunities for representations to be made.
Huge Cuts in Environment Agency Announced
The government has announced that it is to cut the staff of the Environment Agency by 15 per cent. The agency is facing a much bigger cut in funding than previously expected. The cuts will have a serious impact on the monitoring of planning applications and activities by the unconventional gas industry, an industry that has already an international reputation for cutting corners and putting health and the environment at risk in pursuit of profit.
Craig Bennett, director of policy and campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said: “This will make it impossible for the Environment Agency to do what it is already expected to do. Let alone regulate new threats like fracking.”
New! November issue of Newsletter now out!
Download it here: November Newsletter
Coming up in Shepherdswell: Friday 8 November, 7.30
Shepherdswell Parish Council says No!
This is Shepherdswell and Coldred Parish Council’s response to the application from Coastal Oil and Gas to test drill for methane gas. It takes into account many, if not all, of the objections raised by villagers who have packed the Village Hall on several occasions over the past few weeks.
Read it here: Notes for the Parish Council
Wednesday 22 October: It’s ONE-NIL to SHEPHERDSWELL, GUSTON and TILMANSTONE
But the fight goes on!
KCC has postponed the decision on the three applications from Coastal Oil and Gas to test drill at Shepherdswell, Guston and Tilmanstone. This is because of People Power from the local communities and also due to the intervention of the Environment Agency (EA).
The EA criticises the Coastal Oil and Gas and the Industry for its general lack of ‘awareness and knowledge’ of the threat of water pollution.
The Agency’s main concern is the threat to the Aquifer. It also raises concerns about the ‘impact of vibration’ as ‘a human health concern’.
In a letter to KCC, the EA says: ‘The applicant has not provided sufficient information… [and] we are therefore unable to advise whether or not the environment (in particular groundwater quality) can be protected from this development. We recommend that planning permission should not be granted on the basis of the information provided… If it is not possible for this information to be provided, then we would be minded to object to the application.’
The drilling company, Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, have been asked to give further details on 17 issues.
It also been told to engage with Kent Wildlife Trust as the site is adjacent to a local wildlife site.
We can expect that Coastal Oil and Gas will be back. But this is round one to us! We will keep the pressure up. We will remain mobilised! Nothing less than a rejection of plans to drill for gas in our area will be accepted
You can read the Environment Agency’s letter here:
Letter from EA dated 14 October 2013 – DO 0218 2013
Monday 21 October: Tilmanstone says No!
In a packed village hall, with local residents and visitors from Shepherdswell, Tilmanstone Parish Council tonight voted unanimously to oppose the application for test drilling in its parish. In the last 10 days, Guston, Shepherdswell, Eythorne and now Tilmanstone Parish Councils have said NO TO DRILLING!
Wednesday 16 October: Good News No 1
Shepherdswell Parish Council Votes No to the Application for Test Drilling
In front of a packed hall of villagers opposed to the plans of Coastal Oli and Gas to test drill for methane gas in the village, Shepherdswell Parish Council voted unanimously to oppose the application with one abstention. The council supported a detailed report drawn up by two councillors outlining the environmental and ecological dangers of the drilling.
Good News No 2
Discussions between Kent County Council and the Environment Agency have led to KCC agreeing to put the consideration of Coastal Oil and Gas’ planning application on hold. KCC will now draw up a ‘full and proper assessment of the impact’ of the application. The company has been asked to give more information on a series of issues. The process is therefore on hold while the council receive ‘the full facts’.
This is a u-turn by KCC, who previously have seemed intent to rush the test drilling through behind the backs of our communities. They have been put on the back foot by the strength of the campaign against drilling and fracking in Shepherdswell and elsewhere in East Kent. It is a small victory, but we won’t be lulled into any false sense of security!
Drop In Sessions to Prepare a Letter of Objection
Keep Shepherdswell Well is organising two ‘drop in’ sessions to help residents draw up letters to Kent County Council objecting to the planning application to drill by Coastal Oil & Gas. The sessions are: Saturday 19 October and Saturday 26 October. You can drop in any time between 9 am and 12 noon. Venue: Shepherdswell Village Hall
Join the legal block of residents refusing permission to drill under their homes
Your home is in one of the areas the government is considering for drilling and possible fracking. Greenpeace lawyers have revealed it is unlawful for companies to drill under your home without your permission or a statutory right. Doing so would be trespassing. Residents around the country are refusing permission for drilling and creating a legal block to fracking across the country. Add your name and say no to drilling under your home.
Click link below to download.
October campaign newsletter
Kent Council Council and Drilling Firm plotting behind the backs of local people.
East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) has obtained documents under a Freedom of Information request. It reveals that Kent Council Council and Coastal Oil and Gas have been in correspondence since May 2012 with the express aim of getting through plans to start drilling in our area behind the backs of local people. It also shows that plans to test drill for coal-bed methane gas could be just the first stage of an long extraction process. Read more here: