Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Protector arrested for singing protest songs in Beverley town centre

At approx 2pm on Saturday Darren, a protector camping at Crawberry Hill well site, was arrested on the main shopping street in Beverley while shocked shoppers looked on, apparently for singing anti fracking protest songs.

He was stood on a bench outside Wilkos, playing an acoustic guitar and entertaining shoppers by singing anti fracking versions of popular songs. Between songs he was explaining the issue of the risky method of extreme gas extraction.

He was suddenly arrested, we believe under Section 35 Public Order Act.

"The police turned up and caused a disturbance and tried to find people who would make complaints (e.g about the music ). Beverley usually has musicians playing. The police had several vans and everyone was asking why there were there…What a waste of public money!"

The reason given for the arrest was abusive language. The volume had already been turned down as requested and Darren had just announced that he was on his last song, to the tune of, 'She'll be coming round the mountain', and had moved on from the opening verse with the lyrics, 'You can stick the new world order up your ..."

Alina Friedman, who was among the protest group, said: "We were holding a musical outreach for the local people of Beverley and telling them about the dangers of fracking.

"No one had come to complain to us and we were getting a good response.

"There were a lot of children about and they were quite disturbed watching him being arrested.

"We were just holding a peaceful gathering."

Video here, with the arrest at 13:30:

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sleepy Village Awakes

A public meeting was held in Walkington Village Hall last night, jointly called by:

- local villagers involved in the planning process in 2011
- protectors, camping at Crawberry Hill wellsite
- H.E.Y. Frack Off, a campaign group opposing extreme energy extraction in Hull and East Yorkshire.

Overwhelming support for Crawberry Hill Protectors anti fracking camp at Walkington Village meeting

Around 100 people packed out the hall and had to stand around the edges, with residents keen to get more informed about what's going on, meet the protectors, express opposition to the oil and gas operations a mile up the road from their village, and get organised in their opposition.

The meeting concluded with cheers and a loud round of applause:
"In Bentley Australia there's a large camp of protectors, with several thousand members of the community joining a blockade against the industry.
Last week the company's licence was pulled.
This industry CAN be defeated"

Villagers explained why they fought so hard to get a "no fracking" planning condition on the well site, and why they "feel the spirit of that condition is about to be broken".

Protectors from the camp explained why a group of individuals, including many educated to degree level, would take the extraordinary step of giving up jobs, family and a comfortable lifestyle to camp at the side the road during a grim northern winter (Barton Moss) and why they have now come to East Yorkshire in this local, national and international campaign.  "We're here to defend you and your community against the impacts of this industry."
They also allayed fears about litter, showing images of the former sites at Barton Moss and Balcombe after clean up.

H.E.Y. Frack Off gave a factual presentation including evidence of the devastating impacts of fracking from the US and Australia, covering topics of health, water, air and property values, among others.
They also explained exactly why this was of immediate concern, even though Rathlin claim they, 'aren't fracking'.

"Rathlin are just prospectors mining for data in the shale rock, and if they strike gold they'll sell out to the big guys like Total, and these 2 wells will just be the first of hundreds across the East Yorkshire countryside."

There followed an extended Q&A running an hour over time.  Walkington villagers typically being highly educated and wealthy, offered well informed comments, and various media extracts included the British Medial Journal, "Public Health England ... ignores many of the inherent risks of the industry that no amount of regulation can sufficiently remedy" , and "Conservative peer Lord Howell sparked disbelief today when he repeated his call for fracking in the “desolate North-East” – and not in “Tory areas” - Northern Echo.

There was overwhelming support for the camp, with offers of food, water, tools and donations to pay for camp infrastructure and campaign materials.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Respected Beverley residents arrested for meditating

A retired Director of Education a retired English teacher, residents of Beverley, were arrested at Crawberry Hill wellsite yesterday approx 3pm after meditating in front of the gate, following what he described as a "major H&S breach".

They were on their way for a weekend break, and visiting site to drop off sun cream for sunburnt protectors.

"Arrest me then. We believe that fracking is going to ruin the East Riding. We are local people, I was born here and I am NOT going to move. And sooner or later there are going to be a lot more people like me saying the same thing. This isn't leaving me any option. There are some things more important than getting arrested."  (at 4 minutes).

After the accident, Jon wanted the vehicle H&S investigated before work continued.

Val Mager said, East Yorkshire is one of the last corners of England's green and pleasant land. I am a Buddhist so for the sake of the place where I was born and out of compassion for all those who live here I support the Protectors and will use non-violent protest as I see morally right.

Jon Mager said, I was arrested while meditating peacefully. It was not necessary to arrest me, there was room for the contractors to proceed with what I judged to be their unlawful activity. I will continue to support the Crawberry Hill camp. However we are both now banned from Walkington and the roads around the camp until our court appearance. Fracking is wrong, bad for local landowners and all of  us using Yorkshire Water and only hastening the destruction of future lives by carbon emissions.

Banned from the Public Meeting

The result of our bail condition is that we are banned from attending the Public Meeting on Mon, 7:30pm Walkington Village Hall as it is north of the B1230, until our appearance Beverley Magistrates Court  on Wednesday 28th May 2014 at 9.30.

"I was a student leader  in anti-apartheid; we never thought we would be banned from lawful public activity but guess this shows the way things are going in Cameron's Britain."

[See Guardian page 2 this morning
" Police under fire for criminalising protest after fracking trial acquitals"]

They were arrested under the Trade Unions Act (?!) (Thatcher's anti picket laws) and not released until midnight.

Val peacefully protesting, while Jon meditates shortly before being arrested.

They weren't released until midnight, 9 hours later, and although clearly shaken, are as determined as ever to continue the campaign.


Jon Mager former Director of Lifelong Learning and later Director of Children and Adult Services East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Also National Director contracted to the Department for Education ( London)

Val Mager retired English teacher, born in the East Riding and nationally established artist ( pictures in the Royal Academy etc. 

We are charged with acting 
"Contrary to section 241(1) of the Rade Union and Labour Relations(Consolidation) Act1992 as amended by schedule 7 and 17 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005"
i.e." we beset a place where that person carries on a business, wrongfully and without legal authority."

Rathlin's Operator runs down Crawberry Hill protectors

Yesterday at 13:30 a crane contractor at the Crawberry Hill well site was involved in an accident that hospitalised protector Ben Deevoy.

Pete Marsden, a Hull resident who was visiting site at the time witnessed the accident, and said: "I was behind the vehicle as it approached the gate with 3 protectors in front of it.  The driver suddenly accelerated, and 2 protectors managed to dive out of the way to each side, but Ben was hit in the front and sent flying 2 or 3 yards."

Ben Deevoy, a protector camping at site, was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary.  He was discharged later in the day with possible sprained back and shock.  

The driver was taken away in a police vehicle.  We have not yet been able to confirm whether he was arrested, as reported by witnesses yesterday.

Post incident video:

Thursday, 15 May 2014


Val, Beverley resident and her husband Jon, former Director of Education for Humberside freed after being held for about 10 hours for taking a stand and peacefully protesting against fracking.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Protectors Day 3- Hull Daily Mail, profiles on Look North, and Voice of Russia (?!)

Also, Protector's profiled on Look North


and, somewhat bizarrely, Voice of Russia, jumbled into a story about Burnley:

Letter to East Riding of Yorkshire Council / Beverley Guardian from Beverley Friends of the Earth

I wrote to the Council in April, sharing concerns about the drilling process which has begun in the area, and the Beverley Guardian published a copy. No reply has been received, yet the matter has become more serious.

The Environment Agency has given permission to the Canadian owned company, Rathlin Energy, for another bout of exploration at two local sites: one between Bishop Burton and Walkington (Crawberry Hill), and West Newton, near Sproatley.

In their EA Permit Application Rathlin explains they are testing for possible high volume fracking in future. Rathlin has stated that it has no plans to frack, but always qualify this as no immediate plans to frack, or no plans to frack these wells, or not by them. When pressed they refuse to rule out fracking in future, and admit that if the conventional reserves aren't viable, but the shale is, there could be fracking.

Despite claiming to be interested only in conventional reserves Rathlin actually drilled far deeper, right down to the Bowland shale formation. They will have taken samples of shale rock when they drilled the wells, and tested the samples in the lab. We can assume the tests were promising as they are due to return to site to conduct a minifrac test on the shale rock in the next few days
Gas can only be extracted from shale by fracking.

The Application describes a 'mini fall off test', aka a mini-frac, which Rathlin describes as injecting liquid in to shale rock "pressured up to the point where the rock would begin to fracture". 

This test is therefore in breach of the Council's Crawberry Hill Planning Condition 15 - no fracking.

Rathlin admit they plan to inject liquid at pressure into the shale rock. However, they claim it is not fracking simply because they are not injecting sand to hold the fractures open.

My most recent letter to the Council calls their attention to two things
  • Rathlin is about to conduct a drilling process which will be a direct contravention of the planning restrictions placed on its work by the Council. To argue that the “mini fall-off test” is not fracking is pure sophistry, and the Planning Committee should be aware of that.
  • The successors to Rathlin, should their findings be ‘positive’, will be setting up well-heads every few hundred yards apart across the whole County. Is ERYC making the community at large aware of this, with the damaging impact on the rural heritage in their charge, or is the Council able to give cast iron assurances that such developments will never take place?
I await a reply from the Council, and hope they can reassure the community on these matters

Yours sincerely,
W J Rigby
coordinator Beverley Friends of the Earth

Monday, 12 May 2014

Look North headline story - anti fracking campaigners set up camp

Crawberry Hill Protectors - Day 2

Kirsty from West Hull is camping at the site and said, 'The reasons I am here are many, the most important of which is the protection of my family and the wider community.  Fracking, if not halted, will effect every one of us.  Water is the key to life and the practice of fracking is proven to pollute and poison not only water, but also the air and land.  We need look no further than the US to confirm the devastating impact of this practice.  Profits are being placed before people at every turn.

Please help to halt this practice- your future and your families depend on you taking action NOW.  Come to camp!"


Protectors Camp established!

Day 1

Peaceful Protectors Arrive at Crawberry Hill well site

With test fracking imminent at the 2 well sites in East Yorkshire, Protectors have set up camp at both sites.

Tents were being pitched, a kitchen area assembled and people arriving until late into last night.

People from the local area, including the neighbouring village of Walkington, nearby Beverley and Hull were helping out on site and offering support.

The atmosphere was peaceful and friendly, and the protectors are welcoming people to visit at any time, to find out more about what Rathlin's plans, or just to say hello.  Location here.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

EA Permits granted - testing for fracking to commence

The Environment Agency has now granted the Mining Waste Permits for Rathlin to conduct testing at their two wells in East Yorkshire, including a minifrac on the Bowland Shale (mini fall off test).

West Newton Permit and Decision Document
Crawberry Hill Permit and Decision Document

In breach of Planning

The Permit describes a 'mini fall off test', aka a mini-frac, which involves injecting liquid in to shale rock "pressured up to the point where the rock would begin to fracture".

This test is therefore in breach of Crawberry Hill Planning Condition 15- no fracking.

Rathlin admit they plan to inject liquid at pressure into the shale rock.  However, they claim it is not fracking because they are not injecting sand to hold the fractures open.

Testing for fracking

Rathlin are clearly testing for possible fracking in future, and even state this in the EA Permit Application (see highlighted extract below).

Yet Rathlin have repeatedly and categorically stated they are not planning to frack.
But all they mean by this is no immediate plans to frack, or no plans to frack these wells, or not by them.

Despite claiming to only be interested in conventional reserves they drilled way deeper, right down to the Bowland shale formation.  They will have taken samples of shale rock when they drilled the wells, and tested the samples in the lab.  We can assume the tests were promising as they plan to return to site to conduct a minifrac test on the shale rock in May 2014.

Gas can only be extracted from shale by fracking.

Rathlin have stated that they plan to abandon the bottom section of the well after the mini fall off test and that these wells are not capable of fracking.  They are suitable for conventional extraction.

They admit that if the conventional reserves are not commercially viable, but the shale gas is, then they would consider exploiting it.

High volume fracking would require new planning permission.

Extract from EA Permit Applicaiton Mini Fall-Off Test within Upper Visean/Lower Namurian
A mini fall-off test is a short duration formation test designed to gather reservoir engineering data (characteristics and properties of the reservoir rock formation). The test is carried out to establish the pressure at which injection of fluid occurs into the formation and analyses how the pressure permeates through the formation over a given period of time (usually 14 days). For clarity, the intention of the mini fall-off test is not to fracture the formation but to establish if and at what pressure the formation becomes permeable. The information gathered during the mini fall-off test will help determine whether the formation is capable of being hydraulically fractured. Hydraulic fracturing is not being considered as part of the application which this plan supports.

from: EA Permit Application,  03 EPRA - Crawberry Hill - Non Technical Summary, p12

Rathlin's Description

9. Does Rathlin accept that the mini fall-off test is also known in the industry as a “mini frac”?
This test is referred to by a number of different names/acronyms. Rathlin is simply testing the formation integrity. ‘Frac’ or ‘mini-frac’ are terms that appear to be used interchangeably by some organisations without clear definition. This is Rathlin’s description of the mini fall off test: The well will be pressured up to the point where the rock would begin to fracture and then will be shut in to monitor the pressure fall off. No hydrocarbons or other formation fluids be will recovered during this test. Once the test has been completed the zone will be plugged and abandoned.
from Rathlin's Official Statement