Thursday, 31 October 2013

EKAF PR: Local Opposition mounts to Drilling Applications


LOCAL OPPOSITION MOUNTS TO DRILLING APPLICATIONS After 4 east Kent parish councils recently voted against applications for exploratory drilling at 3 sites in east Kent, a new campaign group has sprung up in one of the affected villages. Eythorne, which together with Tilmanstone, Guston and Shepherdswell parish councils opposes planning applications by Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd, has created its own group and a website called Eythorne in the Side of Drilling. 

This follows the formation of another village campaign group Keep Shepherdswell Well which has just published its second letter Newsletter. (See attachment). 

Julie Wassmer Vice Chair of East Kent Against Fracking says "Local MP Charlie Elphicke opposes these applications on site specific concerns and Kent County Council recently cancelled a public meeting as well as deferring a site meeting for its planning committee members after the Environment Agency wrote that it was '…unable to advise whether or not the environment (in particular groundwater quality) can be protected from this development.' I was told by KCC's Chief Planning Officer Sharon Thompson that no decision can now be made by KCC's planning committee until 2014 which is a significant step forward for campaigners considering original deadline given by KCC for consultation was October 6th."

Pam Mudge Wood a member of both EKAF and Keep Shepherdswell Well says 'the delay allows villagers to access more information and a number of activities are now planned to raise local awareness of the negative impact of the drilling. These include letter writing clinics and screenings of "Fracking in the UK - The Truth Behind the Dash for Gas" by Marco Jackson on Saturday 2 Nov, 2-4pm and Friday 8 Nov, 7:30 - 9:30 pm. At the weekend we will also be embarking on door-to-door canvassing of Shepherdswell and Coldred Parish, knocking on doors, not just dropping in letterboxes, with a hard-hitting leaflet urging villagers to write letters and attend the films. We will be offering a simple letter to sign on the doorstep to register support for the parish council decision and the report upon which it was based, as well as a copy of our latest newsletter."

 Rosemary Rechter, Chair of EKAF said 'I am very pleased to see local people organising themselves so well to fight the applications. We have also had a number of requests from our members to stage further public meetings in east Kent following our successful meeting at Dover Town Hall on October 16th. There may be a delay in the planning process but I would warn everyone against resting on their laurels. We have won two rounds with all four parish councils deciding against the applications, and the Environment Agency demanding clarification from Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd, but the fight is by no means over."

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

EKAF Press Release 21/10 - East Kent says NO to test boreholes

PRESS RELEASE  Monday 21st October 2013


During a week when Dover MP Charlie Elphicke shared his concerns with East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) regarding the possible contamination of an aquifer supplying 70% of the county’s water, 2 parish councils voted against applications for exploratory boreholes in East Kent.

On Monday 14th October, Mr Elphicke met with EKAF’s Vice Chair Julie Wassmer in Westminster and said ‘the energy resource is a huge opportunity but I’ve always said we must balance this with the risk to the aquifer and the risk is too great.’

On Tuesday 15th October Guston Parish Council voted to reject the applications, with Shepherdswell following suit on Wednesday (16th October). Shepherdswell villager Pam Mudge-Wood said ‘Keep Shepherdswell Well’, our local anti-drilling campaign group, is delighted with the result but we must emphasise to our village that we should still write and submit letters of objection to Kent County Council by Nov 15th.  We are delighted to have our Parish Council's support!” (NB SEE FULL STATEMENT FROM PAM MUDGE-WOOD BELOW.)

Ms Mudge-Wood and other villagers left the Shepherdswell Parish Council meeting early to break the news to EKAF which was holding its own public meeting on the same evening at Dover Town Hall.

EKAF Chair Rosemary Rechter said “We were extremely pleased by the Shepherdswell vote and our meeting proved to be a very informative, if disturbing evening. Ex-oil company executive Ian R. Crane explained the context and gave a very full account of the downside of this technology, citing countless examples of water contamination, and damage to the environment and health of people in the U.S. and Australia.  He also pointed out that the industry could cover 65% of the country. Graham D. Warren of CPRE Kent explained why the local geology presented a very high risk of water contamination and seismic events and Sue Taylor, a Balcombe resident, spoke movingly of the birds that had vanished from her garden and the effects of noise and vibration from drilling there. She explained that most villagers welcomed the protection camp and her personal account of the events at Balcombe praised the demonstrators, offering a very different account to that which people have seen on the TV. We were grateful for the attendance of district councilors including Cllr James Back (Con) and Cllr Peter Wallace (Lab) who also shared their concerns.”

200 people attended the meeting after which a show of hands revealed that only one person remained in favour of the unconventional gas/oil industry.

Thanet Green Party Councillor and EKAF member Ian Driver said "A Freedom of Information request made by the Green Party reveals that Kent County Council has invested £153million of its pension fund in companies which carry out fracking across the world. It is massive conflict of interest for KCC to decide on planning applications that could lead to fracking, when it is simultaneously investing in this extremely dangerous and damaging industry. KCC should do the right thing and sell off its shares in the fracking companies".

KCC has now cancelled a public meeting which was due to be held on 7th November. Julie Wassmer said “Sharon Thompson, Head of KCC Planning Applications, has confirmed to me that because of the many questions raised, from both the public and councillors, KCC now says it requires more information from Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd and that there will be no decision made by the KCC Planning Committee until at least the New Year regarding these applications.”

Monday, 21 October 2013

Parish Council votes against test bore holes

Tilmanstone Parish Council joined Shepherdswell, Guston and Eythorne and Elvington to vote against Coastal Oil and Gas's planning applications for test bore holes. 

A great example of people power by people wanting to safeguard their communities and landscape - well done too to the parish councillors for listening...

Dover District is the next layer of planning cycle Monday 11th November ...

Plus we recieved some further clarification from KCC Planning on how objections need to be and whether general points about 'Fracking' may be made:

Dear Mrs Rechter
Thank you for your email. 
The planning applications for exploratory boreholes are required to be determined against the development plan and any other material (relevant) planning considerations.  This includes the Government’s advice set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and the recent Planning Practice Guidance for onshore oil and gas to which you refer to.  I have to determine the applications as they are submitted.  In this case, the applicant does not seek planning permission for fracking.  I therefore will have to decide on a case by case basis whether representations that also raise concern about fracking are relevant to the determination of the current applications.  It is not a simple case of saying this representation refers to fracking so it is not relevant.  
I will certainly not be binning any representations that are received, but may conclude that some issues are not relevant to the determination of the current proposals. This is not an uncommon practice for a planning authority to follow.
I am happy to receive either one letter covering the three applications, providing it is clear that it is relevant to all three applications or to receive individual letters depending upon the preference of the sender.
The Environment Agency’s Consultation on Technical Guidance for onshore oil and gas exploration is separate to the planning guidance and sets out the guidance that the Environments Agency will follow as part of its regulatory process.
I hope that the above is helpful.
Kind regards

 Sharon Thompson

Head of Planning Applications 
Planning and Environment,
Enterprise and Environment
Kent County Council  Invicta House, County Hall, MaidstoneKent ME14 1XX

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

EKAF Public Meeting In Dover

We had a great meeting in Dover on Weds 16th Oct with over 200 people coming to listen to speakers Ian R Crane, Sue Taylor from Balcombe and Graham Warren from Protect Kent CPRE.

A big thank you to every on in EKAF who made it successful - Fantastic to get the news from Shepherdswell voting against Coastal Oil & Gas's application.

KCC Cancells Public Meeting 16th Oct

16 October 2013

Discussions between Kent County Council, the Environment Agency and other interested parties have led to the cancellation of a planned public meeting on three planning applications for exploratory boreholes in the Dover area, which was due to take place early next month.
 In order to allow a full and proper assessment to be made of all impacts of the proposals, the applicant Coastal Oil and Gas is being asked to provide more information, which in turn could lead to significant changes to the proposals.
John Davies, Chairman of the Planning Applications Committee at Kent County Council, said: “It would be wrong to hold a public meeting and ask for local opinion on these proposals when we are not in possession of the full facts. It is possible that there could be substantial changes in information. For the same reason, it would also be inappropriate for my Committee Members to visit the three sites.”
 Upon the receipt of additional information that Coastal Oil and Gas will need to provide, further consideration will be given to their proposals by KCC in consultation with other relevant bodies and the local community before any decisions are made.
 The three applications are KCC/DO/0216/2013, KCC/DO/0217/2013, and KCC/DO/0218/2013 for temporary use of land for up to 52 weeks to allow drilling of an exploratory borehole top test insitu coal measures for methane gas, including provision of drilling rigs and associated site compound at Guston Court Farm, Guston; former Tilmanstone Colliery, Eythorne; and Shepherdswell respectively.
 For more information on these, please visit our planning pages.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Planning Steps to make your objection effective ...

The three planning applications for Test Bore Sites at Guston, Shepherdwell, Tilmanstone from fracking company Coastal Oil & Gas will go to Kent County Council (KCC) for approval:

Public will be able to start commenting on the planning applications from Monday 16th September and the cut-off date 15th November 2013. 

EKAF Petition against test bore holes - please circulate asap 
or you can sign Online here

However the Petition will only count as one objection regardless how many people sign it.

So please make an objection direct with KCC by the 16th November 2013

Planning Refs & Details:
Shepherdswell - KCC/DO/0218/2013
Guston -KCC/DO/0216/2013
Tilmanstone - KCC/DO/0217/2013

You have the option on commenting/objections online on the links above [there is a limit of 3900 characters] or you can email them direct to KCC at but quote the planning references (ideally do one per planning application).

We have some template letters for each site if you want to make an objection. But please download it and modify it to reflect your concerns:


Full advice on commenting on planning applications at KCC can be found here

But remember objections can only be on the specific planning issues rather than general concerns over fracking etc.

Those concerns are:
• Noise
• Dust
• Air
• Light
• Landscape
• Archaeology
• Traffic
• Contamination
• Soil
• Agriculture
• Flood risk
• Subsidence risk
• Risk to protected natural habitats
• Site restoration

If you want to make your point about fracking, energy policy etc please also write to your MP, District, Parish and KCC Councillors as well.

KCC Planning Meeting - Decision Meeting (earliest date)  -December 11th Maidstone County Hall