Star date: 25th November 2013


Every day, the army of tents is growing as more people from Salford and beyond join the eco protection camp at Barton, set up to oppose the IGas drilling mission.

Now Friends of the Earth has challenged Salford Council's granting of planning permission, "concerned that fundamental environmental impacts have not been taken into account" and convinced that "residents have been kept in the dark about IGas' real plans" – fracking.

Full details here…

Barton Community Protection Camp Salford Barton Community Protection Camp Salford Barton Community Protection Camp Salford
Barton Community Protection Camp Salford Barton Community Protection Camp Salford Barton Community Protection Camp Salford
Barton Community Protection Camp Salford Barton Community Protection Camp Salford Barton Community Protection Camp Salford
Barton Community Protection Camp Salford
click image to enlarge

Just past Barton Aerodrome on the A57, and down the lane at the side of a cottage festooned with Save Our Green Belt banners is a growing army of tents and mini-vans making up the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp.

Local street music guru, Markus, has arrived from his home in Irlam to join the camp and show his support for those who have come from far and wide to oppose the IGas exploratory drilling site, a concrete and steel-fenced bunker which is just a bit further up the lane in the midst of what is currently beautiful green land.

"I'm astounded that this is about to happen around here" Markus explains "This place keeps people sane; they spread their loved one's ashes here and walk their dogs and most people's best memories are up here. Those I've spoken to who are aware of what's going to happen here are totally against it. It's just not worth it."

IGas has planning permission from Salford Council, dating back from 2010, to do exploratory drilling for coal bed methane. But everyone here and beyond believes the true intention is to extract shale gas, via the process of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing - which involves drilling down thousands of feet and injecting liquid into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release huge amounts of gas.

Ex United States oil man, Ian R Crane, who has arrived at the camp, paints a truly gruesome picture of the fall out to the area and its community if, or when, fracking takes place…

"Based on my experience what is potentially going to be unleashed here, and elsewhere in the UK, is an ecological time bomb, a nightmare scenario" he explains "There are numerous examples of people who have had their water contaminated, the soil is contaminated to point where it can't sustain any crops and the air is contaminated because of the migration of methane. The oil industry claims that long term exposure to methane is not a problem but the oil industry has shut down all research into it.

"What you will see in this area is between six and eight `pads' per square mile and the whole of the land under the surface will be fracked" he adds "You've not only got the issue of the unknown in the geology, there's also four hundred truck movements just to get each pad operational. And each pad has a life expectancy of around fifty years, so you've got fifty years of thousands of truck movements. Wherever this industry moves into town property prices tank."

Ian explains the exception, oft quoted in the media, is North Dakota, but that's in the middle of nowhere. Nearer home, he recounts that Santander actually withheld a mortgage offer on a property eight miles from the drilling site of Balcobme because of the uncertainty of the fracking process.

"There was a meeting last week with IGas and the bottom line is that they are either deceitful or wilfully ignorant when they claim they are not aware of the problems that this process has caused in the US, Canada and Australia" he says "And they're also very deceitful when they claim they are not going to frack here.

"We know they're not going to frack in the exploratory well but you wouldn't be drilling an exploratory well unless you had the intention of using the hydraulic fracturing process to extract shale gas" he explains "There is no other way to get it out. There is not a single shale gas play [area] in the world where the shale gas can be extracted without hydraulic fracturing.

"The licence may be for coal bed methane but the motherload is in the 5000ft thick shale play that lies beneath the coal measures" he adds "That's why they're spending approximately £1.5million drilling 5000ft beneath the coal measures into the limestone bed rock here. This is the southern end of the Bowland shale play which harbours enormous resources.

"The reality is that we do not have a safe technology to extract it and that's why the French have recently banned it, with President Francois Hollande saying `The only thing that is proven is that the technology does not work in the way the oil industry claims'" Ian concludes "With IGas, the ultimate game plan is to make it look as though anybody who objects is off their trolley…"

The Barton camp citizens are definitely not `off their trolley'. They're camping in sub-zero temperatures to draw attention to the eco-blitz on Salford's green doorstep. Sean has been here for two weeks…

"The public just doesn't know what's been going on and that's the reason we're here, to shake the cages of these companies and wake people up" he explains "I'm just trying to expose what people don't know. I'd say `Educate yourself'; it doesn't take much, turn the tv off and find out what IGas, Cuadrilla and other companies are doing. The general public around here are absolutely furious about what is going to be going on here under their feet."

Not only are people furious about what IGas are doing in Barton, but green organisations are furious with what Salford City Council has done. At the weekend Friends of the Earth (FOE) put out a press release publicising a letter it had sent to the Council, warning that `plans to drill for shale gas in Barton Moss, Salford, are in breach of planning permission'

"We believe there are major discrepancies between IGas' planning application and their current plans" said Friends of the Earth's North West campaigner Helen Rimmer "It's clear that IGas have intentions to drill for shale gas, which could lead to risky fracking."

The letter set out fifteen points of concern, including the fact that no Environmental Impact Assessment had been carried out before planning permission was granted. And that the planning permission was granted for coal bed methane… "However documents submitted by IGas to the Environment Agency in connection with its application for a mining waste permit make clear its intention to drill for shale gas at the site."

Freedom of Information requests by campaigners show that the ecological horror fall-out have barely been considered. Given the earth tremors that occurred near Blackpool when Cuadrilla began `exploratory drilling', the request to the Council asked…

"In the event of an earthquake, can the Council confirm if it has undertaken evaluation or been advised of the local aqueduct and its role in water supply and whether it would be either compromised or contaminated from the site?"

Response: The Council consulted with the Environment Agency when the planning application was considered 2010. No objections were received.

"What precautions has the Council taken to ensure the company will have the resources / funds to fulfil their liabilities in the event of contamination, seismic disturbance or other event given the potential impact their activities may have on the local community?"

Response: We can confirm no information is held as there was no requirement for the Council as local planning authority to impose such measures.

Salford Mayor Ian Stewart, tweeted at the weekend "I can GUARANTEE that #nofracking is taking place in Salford. Needs permission from 3 public bodies - and that has not been given! #calmdown"

Salford Council and the Mayor seem to be implying that all will be okay if it is left to them. But the Council's environmental record isn't the best. It turned a blind eye for years as ecologically precious `raised bogs' were destroyed for peat at Barton Moss on land owned by Peel Holdings (see here and see here and see here).

And local residents are wondering whether the Council will give Peel Holdings planning permission for building huge amounts of housing on the Green Belt in Barton (see here). Meanwhile, another Peel project, Port Salford, to be built across the road from the IGas drilling site with £30million of public funding and loans, will also see huge traffic pollution and congestion in the area (see here).

Virtually all the green land surrounding the exploratory drilling site is owned by Peel Holdings – and that should certainly be setting off alarms in the local community, as the company tries to exploit every single square inch of land it owns…

The first person to arrive three weeks ago at the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp was Gary… "I want my children to drink clean water" he says "And these dudes have got no concern for my children really. I'll stay here for as long as it takes."

And Markus will be trying to get the local young people he knows to join him… "I've got a tent here and I'll stay as much as I can" he says "I'm going to encourage my nieces and nephews and their friends to come and spend some time here and I urge everyone to support this camp as much as they can. This has just been sneaked upon us."

For more news on the progress of the Camp see Facebook site Say No To Fracking On Barton Moss. The site also has a `wish list' of things people can donate to support the Camp.

See also original Salford Star article on planning permission for coal bed methane drilling - click here

* The North West Green Party European elections candidate, Peter Cranie, has also voiced his approval of the Camp...

"The protestors who've set up camp have my support and the support of many Salford residents who are worried about what drilling will mean for their community" he said "The Green Party is the only political party to oppose fracking, with election candidates standing on the platform of 'Stop Fracking Now' in areas such as Blackpool. In the protests at Balcombe our MP, Caroline Lucas, was arrested for voicing her strong opposition to this dash for gas which favours corporate profits at the expense of local people.

"Fracking for shale gas seriously undermines efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Indeed if we're serious about meeting our climate change obligations we should be directing more money towards community owned renewables, rather than giving tax breaks to corporations wanting to frack on our greenbelt. If shale gas is discovered in this area I very much hope that Salford and Trafford councils will refuse planning permission and leave it in the ground, where it belongs."

Photos by Steven Speed


scott jones wrote
at 16:09:45 on 10 December 2013
as someone who supports fracking and a true irlamer{ie.my family have been living in irlam before 1969;after that irlam became part of salford and then was forced to take in the riff raff of salford} irlam/barton moss has always had different industries,all of which have contributed greatly to the growth of irlam/barton.i would also like to point out to protesters that all of irlam/barton and cadisheads water comes in pipes from the pennines so fracking would not and could not affect our drinking water,FACT.....I SUPPORT PROGRESS in my local area and my local POLICE force.....so best wishies to the police and keep up the good work against the ageing hippies and good luck to IGAS.
ross wrote
at 22:16:09 on 02 December 2013
History teaches us a great deal so lets look at peel holdings track record, and there lies a cause for concern. Truth is the council is well in their pocket, yet we keep voting this bunch in. So in Wolfie smiths words, POWER TO THE PEOPLE! at Barton
Ken Mckelvey wrote
at 14:59:15 on 29 November 2013
Ned I am quite aware of what the motives were of the people who introduced the technology into the factories and Farms What my contentions are /Is if Technology do's not take all the people forward with it /Then to ordinary people it is just going to impede their chances of a better existance/All what is happening in the modern world is (More Technology less Jobs) to me that is not progress,When the jobless are Blackguarded treated like lazy SCUM then called Scroungers THAT TO ME PERSONALLY IS NOT PROGRESS
Ned Ludd wrote
at 07:09:14 on 29 November 2013
Ken - the looms (not just looms actually) weren't smashed out of frustration - it was a tactic to make it more expensive for employers to use labour-displacing machinery than to pay decent wages. It had some success, but the State threw a huge army at the North and Midlands
Chaz wrote
at 23:46:11 on 28 November 2013
English getting bent over and thingied yet again because we are so utterly bovine...the French won't have it, its banned,the Irish won't have it, its banned, the Germans won't have it so its about to be fully banned...but they know that us English are dumb as a box of frogs so loads of French oil companies are coming over here to roger us lol Fracking is highly questionable at the very best but our government, authorities and police think that its perfectly OK to conduct mass health experiments upon its own bovine people lol and there are even people cheerleading for it to happen LOL
Ken Mckelvey wrote
at 23:45:46 on 28 November 2013
David you are right about luddites But they smashed up the looms out of sheer frustration Now we are in a World where. TECHNOLOGY's taken over WHAT do you do with the Folk who have been displaced by it. Give them 72£ a week then send them on Fools errands looking for jobs With No Rights /no Health and Safety/ No unfair dismissal / No Union Representation / Z hour Contracts / Low Wages/ No pensions /That's what these UselessCon Dems Expect. people to do IF TECNOLOGY IS BENIFICIAL IT HAS GOT TO BENIFIT ALL NOT JUST THE TAX DODGING EMPLOYERS
Ned Ludd wrote
at 22:24:01 on 27 November 2013
David - the Luddites were skilled working class people who fought back like real terriers against the employers who were introducing machinery during a depression with the main aim of reducing wages and deskilling. Sound familiar? There was no attempt at negotiating by the employers, all of this was imposed during a time when trade unions were illegal and unemployment meant starvation. Again, sound familiar? At the same time, common land was being enclosed, meaning ordinary people no longer had any rights over it, it being turned over to commercial exploitation. Once again, does this sound familiar? There is no shame in ordinary people from the North of England being called 'Luddites' In my eyes, it's an honour to be compared to them, and we need to get back to both their spirit, and their methods. Urgently. Please stick your modern, pejorative and historically incorrect use of the term 'Luddite' where it belongs. We're re-claiming it. Best wishes and good luck to all the Neds at Barton Moss! @luddites200 ludditebicentenary.blogspot.com
John C Simpson wrote
at 22:23:49 on 27 November 2013
2nd video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV94W5PFXs8
John C Simpson wrote
at 22:23:41 on 27 November 2013
Re-post re the videos I'll separate them out - the way they run together wouldn't encourage anyone to make the effort. As I said, IMHO they're important: http://www.downdeep.com/index.html
John C Simpson wrote
at 14:36:53 on 27 November 2013
An awful lot of miss information floating about. Find time to look at these two vids. It's important that people are well informed on the subject of fracking. http://www.downdeep.com/index.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV94W5PFXs8
Ken Mckelvey wrote
at 14:36:27 on 27 November 2013
Why do Tory Supporters always try to infer that all protesters are on Benifits/ a Slate Short /or robust raving Commies / Thatcher Was they same She called it rent a Mob /She could not understand that her and her gang of Morons had Binned 3-7Million of our Production jobs/ Same with the Aldermaston marchers People who were concerned about the Arms Race/ Remember That bag of SHI# Heseltine Strutting in his Army Flax Jacket,At Greenham Common The People did not want H BomBs on American planes based in the UK, When you look back it is the people who do not protest that are the LOONEYS TO ME SWAMPY WAS A HERO AT LEAST HE WAS NOT A TORY NODDY RIGHT OR WRONG HE STOOD UP FOR WHAT HE BELIEVED WAS (RIGHT)
Bernard Brough wrote
at 14:34:32 on 27 November 2013
Wrote, what has it got to do with you?
Ken Mckelvey wrote
at 09:48:20 on 27 November 2013
Wrote/ wants to know what the protesters do during the day to help the Economy Maybe a lot more than What the Frackers do /They have already been told by our Tax DodgingChancellor/ These foreign Frackers will be exempt from any Tax/ So every penny dodged by them has to be made good by PAYE TAX PAYERS. Rises in VAT ETC. DON'T Forget if they Frack near your Home your House Insurance go's through the roof That is if you can get any. / All the pro Frackers will be NIMBYS. When or if it go's into Action
alan davies wrote
at 06:43:17 on 27 November 2013
Calm down,try telling the guy who got smacked in the face foir exercising his right to peaceful protest,on a private road,are gmp now security guards for igas??
at 06:43:11 on 27 November 2013
Wow! The bovver boys are getting into a real tizz! Wonder what they do to benefit the economy in their day job?
Tell us the truth wrote
at 22:18:10 on 26 November 2013
Wow, just seen a link on BBC News to Salford Star site re this subject. At last a local news site which is massively supported by Salford people gets a bit of a link by the selfish nationals. Maybe now the loco is rolling those sat in their Ivory tower in Swinton might start listening??? Or then again, maybe not... And Yes Mr Mayor you have not "given permission" for fracking, but IGAS are exploring the options for fracking with their test drilling, now can anyone tell me what would be the point in doing that if they did not think they could get planning for fracking??? Look Stewart if Scotland gets independence you can't take our gas with you when you get deported so stop thinking it's in anyway going to benefit you.
David wrote
at 22:16:50 on 26 November 2013
All these reactionary Luddites (look up Wikipedia, boys)think they can hold back progress. I can guarantee that, if it had been down to them, we would never have developed beyond the horse-drawn carriage. These people think they are progressives but they don't understand innovation and the inventiveness of the human mind. Go get a real job like the rest of us.
Steve Wallis wrote
at 22:15:51 on 26 November 2013
I've included below the text of an article in a newsletter I co-wrote in September: Cameron's fracking defence demolished (economic and environmental arguments) by Maria Nelson and Steve Wallis An interview with "respected" (capitalist) economist Lord Stern in The Independent (4 September, tinyurl.com/frackdefence) says that he was puzzled by David Cameron's claim in August that "fracking has real potential to drive energy bills down…gas and electric bills can go down when our home-grown energy supply goes up". Stern argued that it is "baseless economics" since gas is a commodity that can be traded on the international market, sold to the highest bidder. Although fracking has so far brought down prices in the USA, the new liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, shrinking gas to 1/600th of its original size, will allow gas to be easily shipped long distances to gas-hungry economies in Asia, so fracking may not bring down prices there for much longer either. It is the environmental effects that have particularly worried campaigners – including global warming, mini-earthquakes, subsidence and noise for those who live nearby (hence reduced house prices), heavy use of water, radioactive contamination, carcinogenic chemicals and particularly pollution of the water supply (which means that some people in the USA can't even bathe in tap water never mind drink it – there were 19 cases in the town of Dimock alone which the US Environmental Protection Agency covered up, see tinyurl.com/frackdimock). Incredibly, fracking is exempt from their Safe Drinking Water and Clean Air Acts. So is it irrational for the ConDem coalition government to give the green light for fracking? Not with all the lobbyists from big business, never mind the Tories who financially benefit from such schemes. Their proposals on lobbying reforms would do less than nothing to stop corporate lobbying (a register of lobbyists would allow politicians to check if they are being set up), but threatens the ability to put pressure on the government by trade union members, socialists and campaigners like Avaaz, 38 Degrees and Friends of the Earth.
Aunty Fracking wrote
at 16:44:11 on 26 November 2013
Salford City Mayor ‏@MayorofSalford 23 Nov I can GUARANTEE that #nofracking is taking place in Salford. Needs permission from 3 public bodies - and that has not been given! #calmdown BBC North West news 26.11.13 - Exploratory fracking has today started at Barton Moss. More arrogance, lies and conceit from our 'upstanding' Mayor. Will he explain his twitter comment?
at 16:44:05 on 26 November 2013
The mayor has given his guarantee so perhaps we should quieten down and let him take control and sort things out. After all he has the best interests of we Salford citizens at heart. I’m sure that he won’t allow anything untoward to occur. Oh; sorry. For a moment I thought I was Michael Felse.
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