Tuesday 29 July 2014

Cluff Natural Resources reveals Warwickshire intention to leader of County Council by letter.

By letter on 14th July 2014 to Cllr Izzi Seccombe from Cluff Natural Resources, and confirmed by the office of County Council chief executive John Graham.

This morning 29th July the following news reached this group, which we have confirmed as being accurate.

The leader of Warwickshire County Council Cllr. Izzi Seccombe has received a communication from Cluff Natural Resources stating that they intend to allow their conditional UCG licence application to lapse as they search for more suitable areas to conduct UCG.
This was confirmed by the office of Jim Graham at WCC.

At this stage this does not mean that the licence may not be issued, however it is reasonable to assume that in line with The Coal Authority's own policy on licencing and in particular to onshore applications (Warwickshire being the only such application) that The Coal Authority should refuse the application. Their own licencing policy clearly states that onshore UCG licences will normally only be granted if the developer can demonstrate that the project has a reasonable chance of success and of obtaining planning consent.
We have contacted The Coal Authority pointing this out and would expect them to follow their own policy and deny the application.

This is of course potentially great news for Warwickshire. We would prefer to hear that CNR are withdrawing from UCG entirely. Many areas of the nation are still under threat from this insidious technology and the 14th round of licencing by the government for other unconventional gas developments threatens on a large scale huge areas of the country. The implications for both the environment, climate change and those who will be directly afflicted are enormous.

We plan to focus now towards ensuring that locally WCC has a robust and sound Minerals Planning policy that can protect our local environment from these kind of threats in the future. We continue to network and stand alongside other communities around the country that face similar threats.
Obviously the coal beneath our feet is of interest to other companies with ambitions similar to Cluff Natural Resources so we must be on our guard for future applications for both this and other areas of the County.

To confirm, our interpretation of Cluff's intent is the following:

Should the licence be granted by The Coal Authority, then Cluff claims that they do NOT intend to develop it and to allow it to lapse out of time. Conditional UCG licences are valid for 4-6 years.
However, that does not mean he can not change his mind in future, perhaps under a different regime at the council after the forthcoming election SHOULD he win the licence.

Considering The Coal Authorities licencing policy it would seem unreasonable for them to now grant the licence in light of Cluff's claims to the leader of WCC. I.E. he has not shown a clear intent or commitment to develop or progress the licence should it be awarded.

If Cluff's claims are genuine, then a request to The Coal Authority to withdraw the application or make his intent clear to them would seem the reasonable thing to do. The current situation does not mean that UCG by CNR will not happen in Warwickshire.

We will be watching The Coal Authority for their reaction, we would fully expect them to now deny the application in progress. We strongly recommend that you seek comment from The Coal Authority on their position.

The Coal Authority and DECC currently have a working group investigating UCG regulations and licencing policy. When this work is completed we can expect amendments to the current policy. This may explain the large delay in making a decision on their part for this application while this work is still being carried out.

We receive many emails from concerned residents who are either considering moving out of or into the proposed zone and are looking for the latest information to make decisions. This is a source of uncertainty and anxiety. Particularly in regard to property values. The Coal Authority should therefore clarify the position by refusing this application as soon as possible. This should not be a source of uncertainty for the next 4-6 years.

Our current petition at http://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/NoUCGWarks is still valid so please do share and sign. In addition Councillor Bally Singh of Coventry has launched a petition to compliment at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/warwickshire-county-council-say-no-to-proposals-for-toxic-coal-gas-extraction-in-warwickshire .

In all probability the petition's will combine as attention turns fully towards Warwickshire County Council and the new Minerals Planning Policy to have in place a robust policy that can ensure protection from these kind of threats in future. Please do support and share these important petitions.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Birdingbury residents have organised a community meeting. This will be at 8pm in the Village Hall on Wednesday 6th November, it is scheduled to last around an hour. We will be doing a UCG specific presentation with a focus on the plan for Warwickshire.

On the subject of community and public meetings - Until the County wide umbrella organisation is finalised, if you live in the license zone (or anywhere outside it actually) and you wish to have your own community meeting - can you let us know if you are intending to arrange something on any particular date? This way we can let you know if it clashes with other events and avoids them competing. Besides, we may be able to help you arrange and promote it, help with materials and assist with Questions and Answer's.

Here is a message from Gas Field Free Leamington:

Plan to write to your councillor this weekend ? Here's a list of UCG risks to help ...

Irreversible pollution of the aquifer and waterways
Uncontrolled underground coal fires...
Subsidence and seismic activity
Methane gas escape (potent greenhouse gas) & increased carbon emissions
Toxic spills on the land – accidents and lapses in controls happen
Surface and subterranean explosions
Air pollution with associated health risks

Natural habitat destruction
Massive infrastructure development of the land, including a chemical or power plant
Increase in heavy traffic
Light, noise and odour pollution
Devalues homes

Underground fires can burn for decades
Wells last 'forever'. Many fail and leak poisons as they decay.
Health impact on residents can occur over the long term

Thursday 24 October 2013

We have a project coming up but may need some assistance. If there is anybody that lives in Eathorpe that might be willing to help us we would be thrilled to hear from you as soon as possible. Please email us at noucgwarks@gmail.com Full details published here very soon so please do check back in.

This week it has been announced that amongst other projects, of which 24 are shrouded in secrecy for commercial reasons. The Government has agreed to underwrite the cost of UCG company FiveQuarter Energy's gas plant in the 'desolate' North East should it not attract the required investment. This means, they have been gifted some of the nations coal reserves and will operate a plant, for profit, for which we will have paid. During these dark days of austerity, does it seem slightly crazy that this Government will support this dirty, dangerous and experimental UCG by using our money in this way? As has been pointed out on Facebook, the renewable projects are and should be commended, which makes it all the more tragic that a UCG project should be bundled quietly along with them. The majority of the Directors of FiveQuarter energy are academics from Newcastle University who have wrote many pro-UCG papers but critically lack the experimental data and only have theory for the most part. One must assume that FiveQuarters UCG projects will provide them the experimental data they crave, as well as a significant cash lump sum if they sell the projects to commercial developers.

It is also worth pointing out that massive UK landowner, the Duke of Buccleuch own a 5% stake in Five Quarter and have expressed an interest in cashing in on the dash for gas. Chiefly by allowing unconventional gas operations on their land. If you are aware of any land owned locally by the Dukes estate, then of course we would be happy to hear from you.

Also this week, news that French energy firm EDF have bailed out the Governments ambition to build the new nuclear power plant at Hinkley point by Chinese contractors. This is another one of those magical plans that politicians claim will lower energy bills. They decline to mention that the plant will not come online for at least another 10 years by which time current energy prices will already have doubled.. at least.
Today it has been anounced that another French company GdF Suez (merged Gaz de France with Suez - who also own Sita waste have taken a stake in UK fracking prospectors Dart Energys UK licenses. Dart now has the capital available to execute its UK licenses, alongside its Scottish operations it is also exploring the Marches and South Wales.
We already know that British Gas owners Centrica have a large stake in infamous frackers Cuadrilla, now GdF Suez have joined the club by taking a stake in one of the other major UK frackers. Igas and Shale Gas plc have also been looking for investment.


Topical this week with all the coverage about energy prices, and especially if your concerned about any of the extreme energy so called unconventional gas methods and policies then please do consider 'unfracking yourself', the major energy providers are involved and I highly recommend considering switching suppliers - in fact it could be your first step. This site :
http://unfrack.me/ is very good.
The big 6 do not neccessarily mean the cheapest or reliable 6, I have switched to a supplier not in the big 6 committed to investing 100% into renewables, which is where it sources 100% of the energy it currently sells. they have also just improved their guarantee of matching big 6 prices by promising to be consistently cheaper. If you do switch please do feedback to your traditional supplier why you decided to do so.

Just in today, and as usual the headlines are always about Fracking and not often enough about the 'nuclear option' of UCG. The National Trust talks to The Times about its land and policy to unconventional gas. Please do contact them if you are a member and let them know your opinion.

As always please do continue to share our petition, it has come alive again recently due to people informing others of it. If we all continue to do so it will only get bigger.


Many thanks to Chuck in the USA who agreed to modify the Warwickshire coat of arms into a banner / group logo. The latin remains from the original - Non Sanz Droict - Not Wthout Right. The bear chained to the ragged staff has been changed bear and a drill derrick from which the bear has broken its bonds.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

As you may be aware, Warwickshire County Council is writing a new Minerals planning policy. This of course is the focus of our petition at http://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/NoUCGWarks.
The current out of date policy does not deal with unconventional gas because at the time of preparing it, it was not considered likely that anybody would approach them to conduct it. Fast forward to 2013 and here we are with an out of date wholly inappropiate policy.
 At the Leamington meeting, a rather hostile man in the audience tackled me about 'fracking' in Warwickshire not being an issue as there is 'no shale in Warwickshire'. Well thats not actually true..

'Of the main potentially prospective shale gas rocks, none are present in Warwickshire in thicknesses or depths that would be expected to be commercially viable'
 Ed Hough, Geologist at British Geological Survey.

15 years ago, nobody would expect that a company would be proposing to exploit unmineable coal under Warwickshire by setting it on fire, so how about 15 years from now in the future??
 To suggest that fracking or CBM is not a threat here is both foolish and arrogant. If government policy continues as it is into the future it is not difficult to imagine that ALL and ANY exploitable gas resources will become fair game. In any case, who is to say that it will not be commercially viable even 5 years from now.
 Warwickshire County Council are well placed to write the best achievable Minerals policy that covers all of the so called unconventional gas and oil technologies. Indeed, now armed with advance warning of this UCG threat and residents concerns we believe it is there duty to do so.
Please do sign and share our petition.

Monday 21 October 2013

Update on local affairs

It has been a while since any blog posts have appeared, apologies for that.
To those that do not use social media sites it must seem like we have vanished into thin air, nothing can be further from the truth. We have remained busy locally on a number of fact finding and other initiatives.
It is a promise that from this day forward (until a better website is in place) that important local information that would get posted on social media will also be reproduced here on this blog. We are fully aware that many do not use Facebook etc and that this blog is perhaps the best vehicle to keep people informed.
Facebook is quick and helpful in building social contacts but will never reach all the people that we hope too in this particular scenario.

So.... what has been happening locally?
Firstly, as a result of the first Warwickshire meeting held in Rugby in September- two new groups have been founded. Significantly the historic Spa town Leamington which is just a stone throw to the West of the proposed license zone has formed 'Gas Field Free Leamington' and held its first public meeting last week. Additionally a group 'GasFieldFree Rugby' has also been founded. Both groups can be found on social media.
Between us we are supporting people who have expressed an interest in forming their own groups within their own communities.
We will, in future, have an Umbrella parent group that represents all the local groups as they emerge.
To compliment this we will be launching a website as a resource for all. Stand by for further news on this.

The Leamington meeting was a good useful launching night for the new Leamington group, attracting plenty of media interest. Many thanks to the organisers for all the hard work and time in putting an event like that on and finding time to speak with the media, its harder than it looks!
Gas Field Free Leamington have produced some postcards which can be smply filled out and mailed to your Councillor expressing your concerns about the potential for UCG here. I know they have many so please contact them directly if you can help distribute any.

The most significant thing to report in regard to the Cluff license bid is that Councillors in Warwickshire have begun organising 'educational' seminars on UCG. Recently one was held at Shire Hall in Warwick where a representative of The Coal Authority explained the UCG process, it was also indicated that it was LIKELY THAT THE LICENSE WOULD BE ISSUED, PERHAPS AS EARLY AS CHRISTMAS, it was also indicated that any future commercial UCG operation MAY be for the purpose of producing gas as a chemical feedstock for industry and not as a fuel for any power station.
The council were also given a presentation on the entire licensing / permit process right up to planning application and beyond.
The minerals policy currently being written by the Council and which will be published and become effective next year is clearly critical. Many people will be hoping and expecting that an appropiate policy will be constructed that makes life difficult for the gas developers in future. Not just this UCG plan but ANY potential threat in future.

To that end please support our petition by signing and sharing as widely as possible so that we may deliver it to the council in good time. The petition can be found on the following link:


It is unclear at this time if the Council intend to hold more of these seminars, we would certainly hope so to give them the best grounding in this insidious technology.

We would like to reiterate our offer of assisting with local meetings, so if you think your  community deserves one and you want some help setting it up, please DO CONTACT US. We are only to happy to help, we can help arrange speakers if needed and/or do it ourselves. We would like to focus now on UCG specifically and where we are with it locally and most importantly what we might do about it, rather than just discussing the bigger picture nationally which includes the 'frack' word and CBM (coal bed methane). Do not wait for somebody else to do it, where nobody does. If you want one, tell us and we will help. This thing is creeping up and although we were fortunate to have been alerted early it does not mean we can afford to waste time waiting to see if the license is granted or not. It is far better to take the precautionary approach and assume this threat is real.

Thats all for now, keep an eye out for future updates as this blog will now be used much more regularly.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Diagram How Shale Extraction Can Contaminate Water

Methane in UK groundwater research overview

Thanks To http://www.bgs.ac.uk

House destroyed by methane explosion at Loscoe

This article was written by the The British Geological Survey, which is a part of the Natural Environment Research Council (
NERC) and is its principal supplier of national capability in geoscience. They have some concerns over ground water and shale gas extraction. They have several good articles please browse their site.
Shale Gas and Ground Water
iHydrogeology, Shale Gas Source Rocks and Aquifers
Shale Gas FAQ's
New Shale Gas Resource Figures - Central England

Methane in UK groundwater research overview

Methane (CH
4) is an important greenhouse gas and a common trace component of groundwater.
We are currently undertaking a national survey of baseline methane concentrations in groundwaters across the UK. This work will enable future changes to be measured, which is of relevance to current issues such as possible shale gas extraction.
The BGS has been studying methane in UK groundwaters since the 1980s to investigate:

Groundwater methane contribution to total atmospheric emissions

Using baseline methane concentrations for the main groundwater supply aquifers in the UK, Gooddy and Darling (2005) estimated that water supply groundwater sources contribute only 0.05 per cent to total UK methane emissions (up to 3.3 x 10-4 Tg/year).
In terms of a global budget, the groundwater methane input was estimated to be two orders of magnitude smaller.

How does methane get into groundwater?

Methane in groundwater is derived from two main sources:
  • biogenic methane, which is bacterially produced, and is often associated with shallow anaerobic groundwater environments, such as peat bogs, wetlands, lake sediments and landfills, although it is detectable in nearly all groundwater.
  • thermogenic methane, which is formed during thermal decomposition of organic matter at depth under high pressures, and is often associated with coal, oil and gas fields.
In the UK most methane in groundwater is likely to be biogenic in origin, although thermogenic contributions may be locally important where gases have migrated from depth or there is slow release from previously deeply buried, low permeability, organic-rich rocks.
Dissolved gas and stable isotope analysis of groundwater samples can be used to identify the different sources and potential origin of methane.

Baseline concentrations in UK groundwaters

Sampling dissolved gases in groundwater with an evacuated flask.
Understanding the 'baseline' concentrations of methane in UK groundwaters can help us to assess future methane survey or incident data.
Measurements of potable waters from the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic carbonate and sandstone aquifers reveal methane concentrations of up to 500 µg l-1 but a mean value of < 10 µg l-1.
Aquiclude and thermal waters from the Carboniferous and Triassic have concentrations in excess of 1500 µg l-1 (Darling and Gooddy, 2006).
BGS scientists are building on our previous work and surveying methane concentrations (and other chemical parameters) in groundwater in a range of UK aquifers.

When does methane become explosive and create a potential safety hazard?

Methane becomes an explosive hazard at concentrations of 5–15% by volume in air.
Assuming complete outgassing from water, this requires a minimum dissolved methane concentration of 1600 µg l-1.
This figure is considerably above the general methane baseline (see above), but concentrations of up to ten times higher have been found in tunnels drilled in organic-rich shales.


Contact Dr George Darling for further information