Timeline: shale gas in the UK

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2011

  • 1 January: A report commissioned by the Cooperative says fracking poses 'significant potential risks to human health and the environment' in the UK, including 'on drinking water quality and/or surface waters/wetland habitats'. [1]
  • 23 May: A report by the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee says a moratorium on fracking in the UK is unnecessary, and any environmental and public health risks should be easily mitigated through regulations. [2]
  • 16 September: An anti-fracking activist group called Camp Frack occupy a field near Southport, outside the Lancashire village of Banks, in protest against the UK's first shale gas wells. [3]
  • 2 November: In a damning development for the UK fracking industry, a report commissioned by Cuadrilla says the company's own fracking operations at Banks, near Merseyside, were the 'probable' cause of 50 separate earthquake tremors in the Blackpool area. The company stopped fracking at the site while the government reviewed the implications of the report. Anti-fracking campaigners reacted in protest. [4]

2012

Francis Egan, head of Cuadrilla
  • 6 July: Three surveys carried out between April and June found that only 39-45 per cent of respondents knew what shale gas was. Nearly 53 per cent were in favour of fracking, with a further 20 per cent saying they did not know. [5]
  • 9 December: In an article in The Telegraph, Boris Johnson says that Britain 'should get fracking right away' and the green lobby's opposition to shale gas production is 'ludicrous'. [6]
  • 13 December: In a major decision, the government lifts a moratorium on fracking, allowing Cuadrilla to resume its gas production in Blackpool, despite public concern. The move gave the go ahead for future fracking planning applications. [7]

2013

  • 16 August: Amid heavy protests from resident groups, Cuadrilla announces it will scale back exploratory drilling in Balcombe, West Sussex. The company also says however that it will resume operations once the protests have passed. [11]
  • 4 October: Cuadrilla withdraws from fracking at its site in Blackpool, saying efforts would be better spent in other sites in Lancashire. [12]
  • 17 December: The government publishes a 'regulatory roadmap' setting out the permits developers need before exploration drilling for shale gas. Energy minister Michael Fallon said: 'today marks the next step in unlocking the potential of shale gas in our energy mix.' [13]

2014

January

Energy minister Michael Fallon: Coalition will 'step up the pace of shale gas exploration'
  • 13: Prime minister David Cameron announces that councils will receive 100 per cent of any tax revenue collected from local fracking schemes. Campaigners and MPs criticise the move, saying that this would give councils contradictory interests.[14]
  • 14: The UK blocks European Union proposals to set legally binding environmental regulations on the shale gas industry across the continent.[15]
  • 21: Energy minister Michael Fallon says the government will 'step up the pace of shale gas exploration', forecasting 20-40 exploratory wells will be drilled within two to three years. Fallon was giving evidence to the House of Lords economic affairs committee as part of an inquiry on the UK's energy policy of shale gas and oil. [16] On 28 January at the same inquiry, the environment secretary Owen Paterson says there is huge economic potential for shale gas in the UK, and that public fears about fracking had been exaggerated. [17]

February

  • 4: Cuadrilla announces it will apply to drill and frack eight wells at Roseacre Wood and at Preston New Road in Lancashire.[19]
  • 19: A report by the consulting group Poyry says UK's 'nascent shale gas industry will die without an overhaul of the planning system' , which could deter future investment. [20]
  • 20: Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne calls on environmentalists to drop their 'ideological' opposition to shale gas and nuclear power and says climate change should be addressed in 'as cheap a possible way"'. [21]

March

Caroline Lucas before trial in Brighton
  • 13: A report by leading UK wildlife and countryside organisations says current regulations on fracking are not fit for purpose and calls for a permanent fracking ban in all protected areas. [22]
  • 21: Balcombe Parish Council submits a formal objection to Cuadrilla’s planning application to flow test its exploration oil well, after a ballot shows 60 per cent of local residents were against its approval. [23]
  • 23: In a shocking revelation, chair of the Environment Agency Lord Smith offered Cuadrilla chairman and the government's lead non-executive director, Lord Browne, a reduction in the consultation time for a permit application by the company, at a meeting organised by UK environment secretary Owen Paterson. Smith also agreed to intervene with West Sussex County Council on Cuadrilla’s planning application at Balcombe and identify further risks to the company’s plans. Green party MP Caroline Lucas says the disclosures show a conflict of interest between government and commercial positions. [24]
  • 24: Green party MP Caroline Lucas faces trial for breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act and wilful obstruction of a highway outside the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe, at a protest event on 19 August 2013. [25]

April

Anti-fracking protest at Balcombe in 2013
  • 17: Green party MP Caroline Lucas is acquitted of all charges arising from last year’s anti-fracking protests at Balcombe. Four other protesters were also cleared. [27]
  • 29: In a major development, West Sussex county council approves Cuadrilla's planning application to test oil extraction in Balcombe. The announcement is condemned by anti-fracking campaigners and local residents.[28]

May

  • 9: In a deal worth £120 million, IGas buys rival shale gas company Dart Energy to become Britain's biggest shale gas explorer. [29]
  • 23: The government publishes plans to change trespass laws, making it easier for fracking companies to negotiate rights of access, and a new compensation scheme for people affected by shale gas developments. [30] A YouGov survey finds 74 per cent of people oppose the move. [31]

June

  • 4: The Queen's speech, which sets out the broad legislative programme for the coming year, features proposals to allow fracking companies to drill under land without homeowners' permission. [32]
  • 13: A Balcombe residents’ group issues legal proceedings in the High Court against Cuadrilla’s planning permission for drilling in the village. West Sussex County Council and Cuadrilla are given until July to respond.[33]

July

Department of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall place, London
  • 22: In a landmark decision, West Sussex County Council votes against approving Celtique Energie’s application to drill exploratory oil wells between Kirdford and Wisborough Green. Local residents and campaigners celebrate the refusal - it is also the first time a council has rejected a shale planning application.[35]
  • 28: The Department of Energy and Climate Change publish an official consultation on the environmental impact of fracking. The report shows a substantial majority of bodies consulted were against licensing fracking schemes. [36] Despite the findings, ministers announce that planning rules will change to allow fracking in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty in "exceptional circumstances". [37]

August

  • 1: A legal challenge to overturn Cuadrilla's planning permission for test drilling in Balcombe is granted by the High Court.[38] On 21 August, the date for a judicial review is set for 6 and 7 November.
  • 10: The government is criticised by MPs and campaigners for censoring a report into the impact of shale gas on rural economies. [39]
  • 25: The Labour Party table a series of amendments to a proposed infrastructure bill in the House of Lords to strengthen regulations on fracking. [40]

September

  • 3: Officers from the South Downs National Park say Celtique Energie should not be given permission to drill an exploratory oil well at Fernhurst in West Sussex. [41] On 11 September, the planning committee formally rejects the application. [42] The decision is celebrated by anti-fracking campaigners.
  • 19: Following many complaints, the Environment Agency instructs Rathlin Energy to stop the smell coming from its exploratory oil and gas well at West Newton in the Yorkshire Wolds. [43]
  • 26: The government changes trespass laws to allow underground access to oil and gas drilling companies. The decision goes against over 40,000 responses to a Department of Energy and Climate Change consultation, of which more than 99 per cent opposed the proposals. [44]

October

John Manzoni, former oil man appointed chief executive of the civil service in 2014
  • 15: Celtique Energie says it will appeal against the decision by West Sussex County Council to refuse planning permission for an exploration well near the villages of Kirdford and Wisborough Green. The decision is condemned by local MP Nick Herbert.[47]

November

  • 11: The government debates plans to create a sovereign wealth fund with the receipts of shale gas revenue. [48]
  • 12: A new report by the Overseas Development Institute says the UK is failing on its promise to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and is still providing £1.2 billion annually to support oil, coal and gas. [49]
  • 20: INEOS says it will invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration in the UK. [50]
  • 24: Lancashire County Council announces a new public consultation on Cuadrilla’s two planning applications for exploratory gas wells in the Fylde. The Environment Agency (EA) says it is 'minded to grant' the company its permits. [51]

December

  • 3: The government goes ahead with plans for a shale gas wealth fund. Anti-fracking campaigners call the move premature. [52]
  • 5: After a a two day hearing, Balcombe's anti-fracking group loses their High Court bid to overturn the planning permission granted to Cuadrilla for oil and gas exploration in Balcombe, West Sussex village. [53]
  • 8: Labour MPs table amendments to the Infrastructure Bill calling for more environmental regulations on fracking. [54]

2015

January

Protesters gather outside outside Westminster on the day the Infrastructure Bill is voted upon.
  • 21: Lancashire County Council (LCC) planners recommend refusal of Cuadrilla's fracking application.[55]
  • 26: George Osborne requests cabinet ministers intervene in local planning to fast track fracking as a 'personal priority'. [57]
  • 26: MPs vote against amendments to the Infrastructure Bill proposing tougher regulations and a moratorium on fracking, but agree on Labour proposals for 13 new conditions to be met before shale gas extraction can take place.[58]
  • 28: The Scottish government announces a moratorium on fracking planning permissions. [60]

February

  • 6: Cuadrilla receives permits for fracking at Roseacre Wood from the Environment Agency, ignoring the recommendation against approval by Lancashire County Council (LCC) planning committee. [61]
  • 9: House of Lords revises amendment to the Infrastructure Bill to remove Labour's proposed pre-conditions on fracking exploration. [62]. The revised amendment then passed in parliament on 12 February. [63]
  • 25: LCC’s development control committee refuse permission to Cuadrilla for shale gas testing at Singleton in the Fylde.[64]

March

INEOS PEDL licences 2015-16.
  • 5: INEOS buys IGas' north-west shale gas assets, and becomes third UK’s third biggest shale gas licence holder. [65]
  • 17: Neath Port Talbot council permit UK Methane Ltd to drill an exploratory borehole for coal bed methane and shale gas at the Afan Valley beauty spot, the first such application to be approved in Wales. [67]
  • 18: Dart Energy challenge plans for a public inquiry into its fracking application at Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere. [68]
  • 26: The government calls upon local councils to not 'gold-plate' human rights law when evicting protest camps. [69]
  • 28: The government rejects the need for a moratorium on fracking to not exceed the UK’s carbon budget, disregarding the advice of the Environmental Audit Committee. [70]

April

  • 23: Over a quarter of general election candidates sign frack-free pledge. [71]

May

  • 5: Cuadrilla drills in Lancashire are found to be in breach of planning conditions.[73]
  • 8: IGas chief executive Andrew Austin resigns following the official completion of the company's landmark acquisition of Dart Energy, announced in late 2014.[74]
  • 11: Following the Conservative Party’s general election victory on 8 May, prime minister David Cameron appoints Amber Rudd as energy and climate change secretary, Liz Truss as secretary for environment, food and rural affairs and Greg Clark as communities and local government secretary. [75]
  • 22: Third Energy submit application to frack near Kirby Misperton in Ryedale, North Yorkshire.[76]

June

Protests outside Lancashire County Hall in Preston 2015
  • 4: East Yorkshire council approves Rathlin Energy’s application for two exploratory wells at West Newton.[77]
  • 8:One of the UK's largest trade unions, the GMB, comes out in support of fracking. [78]
  • 11: The government announces it will standardise the environmental requirements fracking companies must meet to explore for shale gas. Anti-fracking campaigners criticise the plans, which they say will lessen the importance of local advisers and relax environmental scrutiny in the early stages of shale gas developments. [79]
  • 25: In a breakthrough decision, Lancashire County Council (LCC) rejects Cuadrilla's fracking application at Roseacre Wood. [80]
  • 29: LCC rejects Cuadrilla planning application to explore for shale gas at Preston New Road. [81]

July

  • 1: After much delay, the government releases Defra's full report on the impact of fracking on rural economies. [82] It previously resisted the report's release, claiming it was incomplete and against the public interest, but was forced to publish after an appeal to the Information Commissioner. The report warns of significant risks to human health, house prices, tourism and farming. [83] It is later revealed in November 2016 that the report's release was deliberately delayed until after the decisions on Cuadrilla’s shale gas applications. [84]
  • 16: The Task Force on Shale Gas calls for for greater safety and transparency measures on fracking, as well as 'full disclosure' of all chemicals to be used by the industry, and independent monitoring of the fracking process. [86]
  • 23: The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, an international opinion tribunal, grants a trial hearing on how fracking breaches human rights. [87]

August

  • 8: Europa wins an appeal against Surrey County Council to carry out exploratory drilling in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Leith Hill. [88]
  • 13: In a significant policy intervention, the government announces new “fast-track” measures to remove the decision making power of local authorities on fracking planning applications. [89]
  • 18: The government releases details mapping where new licences to explore for oil and gas have been awarded across England, 59 of which fall in wildlife protection sites. [90]
Former local government secretary Greg Clark
  • 19: The government reveals proposals that drilling of seismic monitoring boreholes be exempt from application for planning permission. [91]

September

  • 16: The Task Force on Shale Gas advocates fracking as an alternative to coal while the UK transitions to renewables, but green campaigners insist pursuing fracking will increase the UK's net fossil fuel use. [92]
  • 16: The local government secretary Greg Clark announces plans for government to commandeer decision-making power on shale gas appeals from “underperforming” local councils. [93]
  • 16: The RSPB warns nearly 300 protected wildlife areas across England could be harmed by new fracking licences. [94]
  • 28: Northern Ireland’s environment minister Mark H Durkan disavows fracking, but does not impose a moratorium or permanent ban. [95]

October

  • 9: Ryedale District Council vote for a five year moratorium on fracking, although the final decision for fracking applications rests with North Yorkshire County Council. [96]
  • 22: A High Court judge grants a judicial review of the decision by Lancashire County Council to approve Cuadrilla’s seismic monitoring scheme at Roseacre Wood. [97]

November

Andrea Leadsom with John Blaymires, chief operating officer at IGas, 6 August 2015.
*4: The government introduces a fracking planning licence condition which bans any exploration in protected wildlife areas or designated landscapes. [99]
  • 17: At least 16 business leaders included in a letter co-ordinated by the North West Energy Task Force urging Lancashire County Council (LCC) to approve Cuadrilla’s planning applications insist their signatures were used without consent and demand they be removed. [100]
  • 25: The government cancels a £1 billion competition for carbon capture and storage technology, days ahead of a UN climate summit in Paris, thereby breaking a Conservative manifesto pledge. [101] On 15 December, the Task Force on Shale Gas criticised the move for damaging the long term viability of shale gas production. [102]
  • 26: In a controversial move, the task of determining Cuadrilla’s appeals against the refusal of planning permission for fracking at two sites in Lancashire is passed to secretary of state for communities and local government Greg Clark. The move is hotly contested by Lancashire County Council. [103]

December

  • 15: The Task Force on Shale Gas releases its final report, recommending further exploratory drilling in order to accurately assess how much shale gas is recoverable. Greenpeace criticises the report, released only days after the Paris Agreement on climate change. [104]
  • 16: In a controversial vote, MPs approve the government’s Draft Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations, allowing fracking under national parks. [105]

2016

January

Greenpeace erect a model fracking rig outside Westminster, 9 February.
  • 4: Lancashire County Council (LCC) ask the government to reverse their decision to give Greg Clark the final say in determining planning applications on fracking. On 28 January, the government refuses LCC's request. [107]
  • 8: Senior INEOS executive, Tom Pickering says his company is focusing efforts in shale gas exploration away from Scotland, towards Cheshire and other areas of England. [108]
  • 9: An investigation by Spinwatch and The Independent reveals property damage caused by fracking, including water contamination or polluted water from fracking sites being spread during a flood, will not be covered by insurance. [109]
  • 12: Bailiffs evict an anti-fracking protest camp at the IGas Duttons Lane site near Chester. More than 175 officers from four police forces were involved, and nine arrests.[110]
  • 19: Nottinghamshire County Council approves IGas’s application for up to 12 groundwater monitoring boreholes at a proposed shale gas site to the north-east of Misson in Bassetlaw, despite 314 public objections against it. [112]
  • 31: A leaked government letter from July 2015, signed by energy secretary Amber Rudd , local government secretary Greg Clark, and environment secretary Liz Truss, reveals proposals to take decisions for fracking wells away from local councils were tabled shortly after Lancashire County Council refused permission to Cuadrilla to frack wells in the Fylde. Campaigners say the letter shows the government conspiring with fracking companies to take power away from local councils and communities. [113]

February

Protesters gathered outside the public hearing of Cuadrilla's appeal inquiry.
  • 9: High-profile inquiry begins on the planning appeals by Cuadrilla against Lancashire County Council (LCC)’s refusal of its applications to drill up to eight fracking wells, and seismic monitoring plans, across sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.[117]
  • 23: The Planning Inspectorate grants permission to Cuadrilla for site restoration and monitoring at the Grange Hill exploration site near Singleton in Lancashire, despite LCC refusing permission in May 2015.[118]

March

  • 15: Ryedale District Council votes against Third Energy fracking near the village of Kirby Misperton, and recommends North Yorkshire County Council opposes fracking at the existing KM8 well.[119]
  • 16: Closing day of the public inquiry into Cuadrilla's appeal against Lancashire County Council to drill up to eight fracking wells and seismic monitoring plans, across sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. [120] The determination of the inquiry will be announced on 6 October.
  • 26: Welsh natural resources minister Carl Sargeant extends Wales' moratorium on unconventional gas and oil developments to underground coal gasification. [122]
  • 30: Surrey Council approves extending IGas oil and gas production sites near Bletchingley Central. [123]

April

  • 6: Regulations on fracking well depths come into force. [124]
  • 11: Third Energy is granted environmental permit for the KM8 shale gas well at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire. [125]
  • 28: Public support for fracking in the UK falls to an all-time low according to a government poll. Most notably, just 19 per cent of people backed fracking while support for renewables surged to 81 per cent in the Department of Energy and Climate Change's long running public attitude tracker poll.[128]

May

“Raslik Vasland on Third Energy’s plans in North Yorkshire. ITV News interview starts at 0.53secs”
  • 5: INEOS sets out summer timetable for seismic surveying and monitoring across England.[129]
  • 18: Francis Egan, the head of Cuadrilla, urges government to fight councils on planning application delays.[130]
  • 23: In a landmark decision, North Yorkshire County Council approve Third Energy's application to explore for shale at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale, despite overwhelming local opposition.[131]

June

  • 1: The Scottish Parliament votes for a ban on fracking.[133]
  • 6: Northern Ireland legislates for mandatory planning applications for unconventional oil and gas exploration sites.[134]

July

Prime minister Theresa May's cabinet, 13 September 2016.
  • 8: IGas's application for an exploration well at Tinker Lane in Bassetlaw, north Nottinghamshire, is rejected by local planning committee. [137]
  • 13: Surrey County Council approves IGas plans to convert a shale gas exploration site near Guildford to gas production.[138]
  • 14: Following the UK’s referendum vote to leave the EU on 24 June, the resignation of David Cameron, and Theresa May’s victory in a Conservative Party leadership contest and subsequent assumption as the new prime minister on 13 July, Andrea Leadsom is appointed environment secretary, Sajid Javid becomes communities and local government secretary, and Greg Clark is appointed secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS). [139] In a widely condemned move, Theresa May abolishes the department of energy and climate change. The previous brief of the department for energy and climate change integrates into BEIS. [140]
  • 19: Director of INEOS Tom Crotty announces plans to apply for over 30 fracking planning applications within the next 6 months, with the expectation of extracting gas in about 18 months. [141]

August

  • 2: Rathlin Energy receives an environmental permit to frack at West Newton, East Yorkshire.[142]
  • 7: New UK prime minister Theresa May proposes compensating people affected by fracking with cash payments. Green campaigners accuse her of attempting to bribe individual residents to pass fracking applications. [143]

September

First INEOS shipment of US shale gas
  • 6: In a House of Lords hearing, new business, energy and industrial strategy minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe refuses to disclose what level of carbon emissions from fracking wells is considered acceptable by the government.[144]
  • 14: South Western Energy announces it will not pursue four of the its awarded licences to explore for shale gas in the Forest of Dean and Wiltshire. [147]
  • 26: Shadow energy and climate change secretary Barry Gardiner says a future Labour government will implement a nationwide ban on fracking. Reaction is mixed: Green party MP Caroline Lucas and campaigners say the move is welcome by the public, while the GMB union, Cuadrilla and former shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint call the decision short sighted.[148]
  • 27: Nottinghamshire County Council planning officers say IGas's application to drill two exploratory wells at Springs Road, Misson, should go ahead. The decision to approve the application will be taken on 5 October by the council's planning committee. The site is a former cold war missile launch base.[149]
  • 27: First ever shipment of shale gas from the US arrives at INEOS' Grangemouth plant in Scotland. [150]

October

  • 6: In a landmark decision, communities secretary Sajid Javid overturns the refusal by Lancashire county council of Cuadrilla's fracking application, allowing for drilling to start at Preston New Road next year. Outraged local resident groups vow to continue their opposition; the fracking industry welcomes decision. Approval for fracking at Cuadrilla's Rosacre Wood site remains undetermined. [151]
  • 6: The Scottish government announces a ban on underground coal gasification techniques. [152]
  • 13: A long running poll shows public support for fracking has fallen to an all-time low in Britain. [153] A second government led survey released on the 27th shows the same result. [154]
  • 19: The Preston New Road Action Group, a community group in Lancashire, launches a legal challenge against the government's decision to overrule Lancashire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for fracking in Fylde, Lancashire. [156] A separate challenged is later issued against the government's decision to re-open the inquiry into fracking at Roseacre Wood. [157] A third challenge is issued in December by a campaigner for climate action. [158]
  • 24: A week of organised protests against Barclays Bank for their involvement in fracking and ownership of Third Energy begins across the country. [159]
  • 29: Cuadrilla announces it made a loss of $17.68 million in 2015. [160]

November

  • 3: The British steel union Community comes out in support of fracking and agrees a partnership with the shale gas trade lobby group UKOOG, saying the industry has the 'potential to support thousands of jobs'. It is the second trade union to back fracking, following GMB's announcement in June 2015. [161]
National anti-fracking demonstration, Manchester
  • 4: The Scottish Labour Party launch a private member's bill aiming to ban fracking in Scotland. [162] However the Herald reports that 'current Holyrood arithmetic is against [Claudia] Beamish's bill becoming law'.
  • 12: The UK’s largest ever anti-fracking gathering is held in Manchester with an estimated 2,000 people in attendance. [164]
  • 15: Nottinghamshire County Council approves IGas application to test drill for shale gas at its Springs Road, Misson site. [165]
  • 21: UK parliamentarians debate the government's 'shale wealth fund', led by Labour MP Caroline Flint. Flint calls for the fund to be divested to making households more energy efficient. [166]
  • 22: A legal challenge is heard in the High Court by Friends of the Earth and campaign group Frack Free Ryedale against North Yorkshire County Council decision to approve test drilling at Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site in May. [167] Meanwhile, the government announces changes that will make future challenges by activist groups more expensive. [168]

December

Tina Rothery
  • 2: Cuadrilla announces six 'commitments' to ensure Lancashire benefits from its fracking operation, including increased energy security and support for local businesses and suppliers. [170] Soon after, the company announced it had awarded the construction contract for the fracking site to AE Yates Ltd, a Boston based civil engineering firm. [171]
  • 7: Gloucestershire council unanimously votes to condemn the government’s plans for individual payments to people living in areas affected by fracking, and criticised by green campaigners as 'bribing'. [172]
  • 9: Following a long running legal dispute, anti-fracking campaigner Tina Rothery is spared jail after she was held in contempt of court for refusing to pay Cuadrilla £55,000 in legal costs. In 2014, Rothery challenged an injunction tabled by the company that would have prevented protesters from gathering on land being considered for shale gas exploration. Campaigners and locals were jubilant. [173]
  • 20: The high court backs Third Energy's plans to frack at Kirby Misperton, rejecting a landmark bid by Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale to the block the decision by North Yorkshire County Council's to grant the company planning permission. [174] Campaigners and Ryedale residents were 'devastated' [175], insisting the council had disregarded concerns about climate change in its considerations, but vowed to 'continue to campaign on behalf of local communities for the sake of our children and their children’s health and wellbeing, and the long-term prosperity of our area.' [176]

2017

January

Protests obstructing Cuadrilla's Preston construction site
  • 1: A freedom of information request reveals INEOS plans to conduct seismic surveying in Sherwood Forest, a national nature reserve. [177]
  • 4: The Advertising Standards Authority forces Friends of the Earth to withdraw misleading leaflets claiming fracking increases the risk of cancer for local residents. Energy companies hailed the decision as a victory against 'anti-fracking myths'. [178]
  • 5: Cuadrilla starts construction for its fracking well at Preston New Road, Lancashire, sparking a series of protests at the site that last throughout the month. [179]
  • 6: INEOS reveal plans for a shale gas site near Eckington, in north east Derbyshire. [180]
  • 11: North Lincolnshire Council refuse planning permission to Egdon Resources for an unconventional oil production site at Wressle near Scunthorpe. Councillors expressed a lack of confidence in the Environment Agency's commitment to regulate the industry. [181]
  • 15: UKOOG release a 'digital visualisation' report on the impact fracking would have on the UK countryside. [182] Kevin Hollinrake MP said the report would build confidence among residents in fracking areas, while campaigners criticised it for deliberately underestimating the number of wells being proposed in a given area. [183]
  • 24: Parish councillors in the area picked by INEOS for its first shale gas planning application vote unanimously against fracking proposals. [184]

February

May

  • 19 May: Rotherham Council rules that environmental impact assessment (EIA) is not required for Ineos's proposed vertical test drilling site at Harthill. [185]
  • Conservative Party election manifesto backs increased fracking for the UK and proposes to change planning law to make it easier for companies to do exploratory tests and drilling. All non-fracking drilling would be classified as 'permitted development' with no need for councils to review applications.

June

  • Queen's Speech does not include Tories' manifesto pledges on fracking and other shale gas production
  • A task force set up by the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas publish a critical report on fracking in Texas, USA. It found that the process pollutes the air, erodes soil and contaminates water, and that the shale oil boom had also degraded natural resources and overwhelmed small communities.

July

  • 1-31 - Anti-fracking and climate change campaigners launch a month of protests against the shale gas industry
  • 28 - Ineos Shale secures an interim High Court injunction against anti-fracking protestors. [186]

August

  • UK government research by its Department of Business and Energy finds drastic fall in people backing drilling for shale gas since the department first started polling the public on the issue in 2012. Just 16 per cent supported fracking, down from 21 per cent in 2016.
  • 7 - Nine protestors in court over protests against Cuadrilla's site in Lancashire. The group includes three local councillors.
  • 17 - Academic research by a team of scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh concludes that the potential for extracting UK shale gas is ‘overhyped’ and 'unlikely' to be economically viable. ' 'The science shows that our country's geology is simply unsuitable for shale oil and gas production,' explained chief scientist Professor John Underhill. 'It would be extremely unwise to rely on shale gas to ride to the rescue of the UK’s gas needs.'
  • 18 - Cuadrilla begins drilling a 3.5km well at Preston New Road site, the first such work in six years since the firm's fracking operations were shut down after they were found to be the 'probable' cause of 50 separate earthquake tremors in the Blackpool area. Cuadrilla also made its first payment of £100,000 to a fund that will support community projects around its Blackpool site.[187]

December

  • 21 Conservative MP and leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom confirmed in a question tabled in Parliament by Derbyshire MP Lee Rowley that the Government was considering how it could move forward in 2018 on its election manifesto pledge to make "major shale gas planning decisions ... the responsibility of the national planning regime.” Rowley's constituency includes Marsh Lane, one of the sites designated for exploration by petrochemical giant INEOS, which in November filed a 'non-determination' complaint against Derbyshire County Council for delays in deciding on shale gas plans for the area.[188]

Notes

  1. George Monbiot, The UK's lack of fracking regulation is insane, The Guardian, 31 August 2011, accessed 27 October 2016.
  2. Shale gas gets support from MPs in new report, Parliament.uk, accessed 12 October 2016.
  3. John Vidal, Camp Frack mobilises against UK shale gas well, 16 September 2011, accessed 27 October 2016.
  4. Tom Bawden, Exclusive: Fracking company - we caused 50 tremors in Blackpool – but we're not going to stop, Independent, 3 November 2011, accessed 12 October 2016.
  5. What is fracking? Public awareness of shale gas extraction is low, The University of Nottingham, 6 July 2012, accessed 27 October 2016.
  6. Boris Johnson, Ignore the doom merchants, Britain should get fracking, The Telegraph, 9 December 2012, accessed 27 October 2016.
  7. Gas fracking: Ministers approve shale gas extraction, BBC News, 13 December 2012, accessed 13 October 2016.
  8. Jonathan Brown, Gas extracted by fracking in Britain could fuel British homes within three years, Independent, 1 April 2013, accessed 27 October 2016.
  9. Damian Carrington, Emails reveal UK helped shale gas industry manage fracking opposition, The Guardian, 17 January 2014, accessed 5 January 2017.
  10. David Cameron, We cannot afford to miss out on shale gas, The Telegraph, 11 August 2013, accessed 13 October 2016.
  11. Fracking firm scaling back operation at Balcombe, BBC News, 16 August 2013, 13 October 2016.
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