Posts Tagged ‘British Wildlife magazine’

Rally for Nature to Westminster & the case for Fracking in Haxey?

December 8, 2014

Readers unable to visit Westminster tomorrow to connect with the various parties and politicians and ask them to “Rally for Nature” have hopefully dropped them a line asking them that they take a little time out from their hectic schedules to listen to erudite “Conservation” party people who have, the day before the end of the inglorious grouse shooting season felt compelled to travel to London to ask them to act in matters crucial for the wellbeing of the natural environment and the wildlife which is there (or should be) for all to enjoy.

Interestingly I received a request to validate my standing as a constituent and I was provided with a link, where I was told I could find out who my MP was.  It didn’t work!  I suspect that even if it had it would offer me a neighbouring MP (someone I generally get on with ok), oh the joys of Government funded software?  Anyway, let’s see what replies or excuses we get and let’s see what the media make of the “Rally” – good luck all and I wish I could be with you!

In the interim, another reminder that what looks like an excellent film is scheduled for local screening at Haxey Memorial Hall tomorrow evening at 7pm.  As with all propoganda pedalled by private companies whose principle motivation is profit I recommend that we should look behind the promises and seek out the facts, robust scientific evidence and then – ever an agnostic, analyse it and make up our own minds on the merits of any case.  Let’s hope that there are representatives of the fracking industry present to answer questions and provide assurances, after all both sides deserve the opportunity to present their case ….

Haxey Fracking Poster

I look for information through trusted sources and the October edition of British Wildlife magazine had an excellent item in its ‘Conservation News’ columns.

Apparently, according to recent research the UK holds enough shale gas to supply its entire gas demand for 470 years, promising to solve the country’s energy crisis and end its reliance on fossil-fuel imports from unstable markets. University of Manchester scientists say that they have now conducted one of the most thorough examinations of the likely environmental impacts of shale-gas exploitation in the’ UK in a bid to inform the debate surrounding fracking.  The paper Life cycle environmental impacts of UK shale gas by Laurence Stamford and Adisa Azapagic is available via Science Direct Applied Energy as a download.

As any reasonable person would expect, there  are pros and cons.  The review of recent research also identified an American study presented at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society in August.  The American study raised concerns over several ingredients of fracking fluids. The scientists say that, of nearly 200 commonly used compounds in fracking, very little is known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals. Among the compounds used are gelling agents to thicken the fluids, biocides to prevent microbes from growing, sand to prop open tiny cracks in rocks, and compounds to prevent pipe corrosion. The researchers state that there are a number of chemicals, such as corrosion inhibitors and biocides in particular, being used in reasonably high concentrations that potentially could have adverse effects, and some are of known toxicity to aquatic life. For about one-third of the approximately 190 compounds which the scientists identified as ingredients in various fracking formulas, very little information was found about toxicity and physical and chemical properties. 

Ready, steady ….

July saw the opening of the bidding process for companies seeking licences to explore for onshore oil and gas, with a very large proportion of England, and lesser areas of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, on offer. The primary intention of this licensing round is to enable companies to apply for licences to explore for shale-gas extraction. The Department of Energy and Climate Change will require detailed ‘Statements of Environmental Awareness’ to be submitted with licence applications covering National Parks, The Broads, World Heritage Sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ‘to demonstrate applicants’ understanding of the environmental sensitivities relevant to the area proposed’ – but there is no mention of SSSls or European Protected sites. This the government should urgently review, so say The Angling Trust, National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon and Trout Association, The Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.  Earlier this year, this coalition published a major review of the risks that shale-gas extraction could pose in the UK, which concluded that fracking includes a range of significant risks to the natural environment and that government policy to address these risks was not fit for purpose.


In the report, Are we fit to frack? the group put forward a number of other recommendations that dealt with how the fracking industry needs to be regulated.  These include, for example, the requirement that all applicants for fracking developments undertake a statutory environmental- impact assessment, and independent monitoring of key environmental risks such as methane leakage.  Not all of these recommendations have been addressed by the planning guidance issued on the launch of the bidding round.  Thus, the ‘conservation’ coalition [as oppossed to the political ConDem coalition] is calling again for all protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks to be frack-free zones, for full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal, and for the shale-gas industry to pay the costs of its regulation and any pollution clean-ups.  It is worth reading the coalition’s response to the government’s planning guidance.   Another report, providing the evidence base for the coalition’s standpoint Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the UK: Examining the evidence for potential environmental impacts’ is another document worth examining.


A sceptic might be forgiven for enquiring if the failure to require full open transparent conduct of business be another item on the catalogue of concerns that we need to issue to anyone interested in our vote come the General Election in just 149 days time?





Season’s greetings to all & random ramblings ….

December 24, 2013

As I travelled about earlier today the winds building up were quite noticeable.  The winter plover flocks were buffeted by them, the finch flocks foraging in the few fields still offering stubble were carried further by them whilst the thrushes struggled to find hedgerows amidst the local prairescape.  Later on the news reported in excess of 100 flood warnings and around 160 flood alerts across the country, power failures are also reported so it looks like it could be a cold and wet festive season for many.

Here in the Humberhead Levels, of which much is flood plain, we seem to escape the worst of the ravages that places like York experience.  If we head a little further north into the Lower Derwent Valley, where the rivers flood regularly it really can be a picture to behold.  The farming practice however is well used to these occurences and manage the cropping regime accordingly.


A spectacular aerial view across Wheldrake Ings in the Spring of 2012.

The turmoil suffered by many is tragic, but the fact that Government insist that local authorities build 20% of new housing in flood plains fails to make any sense to me, clearly a difficult policy to understand?

Government and its statutory agencies and authorities have often conducted business which appears to contradict their published aims and objectives.  Science seems to have been abandoned when our natural environment is under threat, instead developers are ‘advised’ or encouraged to mitigate for loss.  I suppose the resultant column inches from such gardening projects makes for nice political PR?  Guardians no longer seem able or willing to risk political displeasure by ensuring strict adherence to relevant legislation.

Thankfully though I’m not a lone voice, other well read bloggers such as Mark Avery whose excellent Standing up for Nature blog seeks to encourage, to motivate and to provoke,  Miles King’s a new nature blog is another thought provoking example.   These and others have and sadly continue to report horrendous shortfalls in action to halt decline of species and habitats.  ‘Twitcher in the swamp’ and ‘Naturally opinionated’ are both regular pieces in British Wildlife and they too are well worth the read.  I recall the 1997 masterpiece: “A muzzled watchdog” I sense there is an opportunity for a revised edition given the many and varied reports published by collaborations of NGOs, which read like obituaries rather than government marketing spin.  The conference at which the bold State of Nature report was launched brought the prospect of hope?  Nature Check 2013 and others followed, as Iolo said words …. I’m an agnostic, so await their update but fear that it will be variation.  Activism is what’s needed, so who will call conservation to arms?  Will Andrew Sells herald a new beginning for nature’s guardians, Owen Paterson introduces the Government’s preferred candidate …. but it seems George Monbiot is not too sure, nor is Miles King.  Ever our agnostic approach, we will observe evolution in action.

A plea that if you’ve not already done so, to consider signing the petition STOP & RETHINK   & just to re-iterate (again) that we’re NOT oppossed to the principle of open access, simply that we seek open and transparent process which adheres to legislation.

Spare a thought tomorrow when you ‘pull the wishbone’ with family and friends, what do we all really need?  Fundamental to human well being is surely a healthy planet, a functioning ecosytem (not a fractured one, fixed with financial ‘fiddling’) in which we play a part, albeit a major part.

So, here’s wishing all our readers a happy and healthy Christmas and on the morrow a determination to promote, to encourage, to persuade, to advocate, whatever it takes to repair decades of damage to sensitive and fragile habitats.

So, a big thank you to all the Forum’s volunteers and to our extensive network for the help and support provided throughout 2013, particularly to the many ecologists who have made significant contributions to our understanding of the biodiversity of Thorne and Hatfield Moors SSSI.  Here’s to 2014 and to ‘moor’ firsts for the UK!


Moody and evocative, therapeutic and energising – all these emotions are out there so please join us in seeking to champion the cause for nature conservation wherever you live!

Thanks to Ted Sabin for sharing this autumnal image of Crowle Moors. 

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Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

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Mark Avery

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

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