19th January 2016
FFBRA and many other like-minded organizations and individuals keep a watchful eye on the government's call for comments on their proposed policies where they are relevant to onshore Oil & Gas exploration, especially where fracking may be involved. The more of us who respond to these consultations, the more likely the government is to realise that we are not prepared to allow them to industrialise our green and pleasant lands (time to sing!) to the detriment of our health and that of future generations.
The Environment Agency is consulting on their approach and the standards they are proposing for the onshore oil and gas sector. They want to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions on their guidance.
The closing date for comments is Thursday 3rd March 2016 @11:45pm.
Click the logo to visit the government's website for this consultation.
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16th January 2016
Members of Frack Free Sussex, NoFiBs (No Fracking in Balcombe Society) and FFBRA (Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association) invite you to the event
This is a national gathering happening in many cities, towns and villages across the country. Let's stand together and say
NO FRACKING WAY!
This is a spur-of-the-moment event, riding on the outrage against the government's backtracking on their promise not to frack beneath our national parks and AONBs. It is picking up momentum right across the UK.
We shall be gathering outside the Lower Stumble drill site at 11am on Sunday January 31st for a group photo. We need as many of NoFiBs and FFBRA members and residents of Balcombe to attend to send a clear message to this government, that they cannot ignore.
Watch this space for more info.
15th January 2016
Tickets for the 3rd annual FFBRA dinner (Café Elvira, Borde Hill, Friday 29th January) are selling fast. We have already exceeded last year's numbers, so if you want to join in the fun and celebrations please telephone Kathryn (01444 811682), Sue (01444 819329) or email Kathryn. If you have any dietary requirements, do please let us know.
Doors open at 7:30 pm, eating at 8pm.
5th January 2016
A coachload of wannabe Panto Dames from FFBRA visited Greenwich Theatre to see Little Red Riding Hood.
Oh how we enjoyed booing as the evil Count Fracula promised Red Riding Hood he wanted to protect nature; oh how we booed Fracula as he supplied Dame Granny Fanny with drink; how we hissed as he took her land deeds to continue with his evil drilling plans. Writer, director and dame, Andrew Pollard has created a deliciously political pantomime where the baddie is a fracker who has his eye on Granny's gas! It's up to Red Riding Hood and her prince in disguise to try and stop him. Riding Hood's song about fighting alone was particularly resonant to the coach of residents from Balcombe, whose tiny community fight helped bring fracking to the Nation’s attention. Count Fracula has all the tricks, even some beautiful frackademic scientists to dance with him. Luckily not only Granny Fanny but Herr Brush (the inn keeper), the Prince, and the 3 little piggies all see through his tricks and retrieve the deeds to Granny's lands. Unfortunately for them, count Fracula will stop at nothing - finally transforming into a wolf to pursue his evil plans...
This was a wonderful day out for Balcombe campaigners and so refreshing to find a theatre that is not afraid to address real political issues. So many pantomimes now are bought in packages - and it shows. This was everything a panto should be, original, daring and hilarious. Andrew Pollard's Dame is a joy to watch as he sends up his actors and audience creating much laughter on and off stage. He brings contemporary issues into his mix of song, dance and audience participation as any great panto should. If only more of our established theatrical and television institutions were brave enough to confront real political issues that matter to real people, instead of pretending politics is a naughty subject that shouldn't get a public airing. This seems to be the case particularly when it comes to energy policy and fracking, which has been sadly neglected by both the BBC and political parties despite the election. This panto is the kind of thing we have been waiting for; let’s hope more directors are bold enough to make fracking a headline subject where it belongs. Fracking will be coming to more and more of us following recent legislation, and the government needs to be exposed, just like Count Fracula, for the evil stealth it is using to foist unconventional oil and gas on us. Last performance is this Sunday, it's a cathartic must-see for all anti-frackers and their families!
Thank you to the theatre manager and the lovely Anthony Spargo (Count Fracula) for letting us take photos afterwards - we converted him in the end!
Reporter: Helen Savage
A summary of the meeting of the APPG: Unconventional Oil and Gas, with Andrea Leadsom MP, Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, can be viewed via the menu on the left.
Ms Leadsom has a degree in Political Science from Warwick University.
The latest Newsletter is now available from the Residents Association Details and Newsletter menu above.This refers to Kent now seeming to be a frack free zone, the county where Andrea Leadsom MP attended school at Tonbridge Girls' Grammar. Hmmmmm.
The next annual dinner has been booked for the 29th January at Café Elvira at Borde Hill. More details to follow when final arrangements have been agreed.
It's time to elect a new committee. See the latest newsletter.
Coffee mornings have now been transformed into afternoon tea in the Social Club, at 2.30 pm. Please join us for the latest news on fracking and everything else!
14th October 2015: Updated report by the Concerned Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility highlights further damning evidence of the risks and harms of fracking
From the report's introduction:
"As this unconventional extraction method (collectively known as "fracking") has pushed into more densely populated areas of the United States, as fracking operations have increased in frequency and intensity, and, as the transport of extracted materials has expanded, a significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities are dangerous to people and their communities in ways that are difficult - and may prove impossible - to mitigate. Risks include earthquakes and adverse impacts on water, air, agriculture, public health and safety, property values, climate stability, and economic vitality."
"Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical and public health literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health."
Whether you are for or against fracking, you need to read this report. It has been produced by a group of Physicians and Health professionals in the USA. Fracking first started in the USA at least a decade ago; consequently they have experience of the implications of widespread use of this method. This report was not written by nimbies or greens, but by highly professional people who take their responsibility for public health seriously, unlike our current Government who seem to completely disregard any negative reporting on this industry, and fail to directly address the real concerns of the public.
Get the report here:
9th October 2015:
I apologise to all who have been trying to contact FFBRA via our website.
We're currently in the process of rebuilding the website as a lot has happened since it was first set up. In the meantime, please contact us at the temporary email address below and we will endeavour to respond.
9th October 2015: Sewer pipe breakage close to fracking site
Engineers have been working for over 2 weeks to replace a fractured sewer pipe on the verge close to the entrance to Lower Stumble, Balcombe, the site where Cuadrilla undertook exploratory drilling for oil and gas in 2013.
A temporary pump has been installed whilst the fractured pipe is replaced and residents will have noticed the resulting traffic lights in place.
It is probable that we'll never be able to prove a link to Cuadrilla's activities but it seems highly likely that the two are related. Similar problems are regularly encountered in the US around fracking sites where heavy traffic combined with vibrations from drilling can lead to instabilities in structures in the surrounding areas, both above and below ground.The verge being dug up is where many police vehicles were parked during the demonstrations and we know that the horizontal drilling went under the road.
This event raises grave concerns on Government moves to relax planning laws for oil and gas companies. The most recent proposal would allow companies to drill a number of holes in an area and then drop explosives down them to be ignited for seismic testing.
This potentially puts underground water, sewage and gas pipes, and electricity and communication cables at risk along with fresh water sources.
17th October update: The extent of the works has increased, but still remains on the verge. Temporary traffic lights are still operating.
16th July 2015:
The DEFRA paper entitled Draft Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts has been released, unredacted.
You can obtain a copy of it, with the redacted sections highlighted, from the menu on the left.
3rd July 2015: Newsletter 36
Now available in the Residents Association section
29th June 2015:Great news from Lancashire
Cuadrilla's Fracking Plans REJECTED!!!
Congratulations to Lancashire Councillors for not succumbing to pressure from central government.
See more here: www.frackfreelancashire.org.uk
Government buries lethal chemical (used to dissolve corpse in Breaking Bad) in oil and gas waste proposal
FFBRA's response to the Environment Agency's proposal is now available. See top item on the left-hand navigation menu.
8th June 2015
New proposals from the Environment Agency would do away with site-specific permits for many onshore ‘oil and gas activities’. They would issue permits to oil and gas operating companies provided they promise to follow ‘standard rules’.
These standard rules include a sinister successor to fracking: ‘acidising’, with hydrofluoric acid.
Tucked quietly away in Waste Management Plan WMP3-1 (a link within the proposal) is the suggestion that hydrofluoric acid (HF), one of the world’s most caustic and toxic chemicals, should be permitted as a means of releasing oil and gas from shale. Even small splashes of HF on the skin can be fatal. Inhalation causes permanent lung damage. It was used in the TV series 'Breaking Bad' to dissolve both human bodies and metal.
‘Site workers and local communities should not be exposed to such risk,’ says Balcombe resident Charles Metcalfe. ‘Do we want to see tankers full of this deadly substance travelling up and down our English country lanes? Statistically 1% of wells ‘blow out’. If a well containing hydrofluoric acid were to blow out, what would the consequences be?’
In America the steel workers union (USW) are campaigning to have its usage stopped. "If released in the atmosphere, HF rapidly forms dense vapor clouds that hover near land and can travel great distances. Like other powerful acids, HF can cause deep severe burns and damage the eyes, skin, nose, throat and respiratory system. But the fluoride ion is also poisonous. Entering the body through a burn or by the lungs, it can cause internal damage throughout the body. At high enough exposures, HF can kill. '' (Executive Summary vi 'A Risk Too Great' United Steel Workers 2010)
The new ‘catch-all’ permits ‘will have a positive impact on business’, according to the Environment Agency. ‘If operators can meet the requirements of standard rules they do not have to apply for a bespoke permit, thereby saving them time and money." (Standard Rules for the Environmental Permitting Regulations - Consultation No.11, Summary iii).
‘Now it all becomes clear,’ says Balcombe resident Helen Savage. ‘All the while our government tells us this industry has “the strictest regulations”, it is quietly making moves to erode protections and make way for business. The concerns of ecology and local inhabitants ('receptors' as we are called in this document!) are most definitely a secondary consideration.’
The consultation on the new ‘standard rules’ closes on Monday, June 15th – there now remains one week for members of the public and other interested parties to lodge their objections.
Experience and regulation of acidation using hydrofluoric acid in California:
Facts about hydrofluoric acid:
Nebulised hydrochloric acid incident last year in Germany (note that hydrochloric acid is much less toxic than hydrofluoric acid):
Summary: A cloud of nebulised hydrochloric acid from an Exxon Mobil gas flare near the village of Wittorf in North Germany is said to have harmed residents and vegetation, in April of last year. Inhabitants of a nearby village reported a cloud of what looked like steam and 'terrible smells' around the Söhlingen Z5 well. People even a few km away experienced breathing difficulties, coughing, headaches, red and streaming eyes, inflammation and bleeding pores, burning skin and general malaise. Some were treated in hospital. Exxon Mobil admitted they had flared off the gas 'for technical reasons'.