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Living with Fracking

Over sixty people came to Staintondale village hall on 7th September to learn more and discuss their concerns about fracking. Organised by the recently formed Frack Free Scalby, Burniston & Cloughton, it was one of a series of events organised to raise awareness about the potential consequences of unconventional extraction of gas from shale through ‘hydraulic fracturing’.

Local concern has been prompted by the recent decision by North Yorkshire County Council to grant planning permission for fracking operations by Third Energy at Kirby Misperton (a decision currently subject to judicial review), and by the granting of a licence to a consortium including Third Energy and Europa Oil Gas Limited to explore for oil and gas over a 110 square kilometre block to the north of Scarborough. Europa’s CEO Hugh Mackay is on record as saying that they will be exploring prospects for unconventional (fracking) as well as conventional oil and gas.

The meeting saw a film produced by Steve and Joanne White from Ryedale who went to Pennsylvania in the USA to hear from local residents what it is like to live in an area where fracking has been a feature for several years. Their experience convinced them that fracking is against the interests of local people. The film showed how communities have suffered from toxic chemicals in the air, pollution of families’ groundwater sources, massive trucks carrying sand, water and chemicals to fracking sites – and toxic waste water in the other direction. In the discussion that followed, concerns focused on the potential impact on traffic in the area, threats to our health through water from polluted boreholes used in homes and on farms, air quality, and climate change through the escape of methane from the fracking process – and the fact that there is no clear plan for how the millions of gallons of toxic waste water would be disposed of. A key question was how local people can influence, even stop, fracking in the area.

Steve’s response was to encourage us not to sit tight and let it happen, but to find out more about the process and the dangers, and bring these findings to the attention of decision makers and elected representatives at all levels from Parish Councils to MPs. In particular it is important to be able to counter the industry’s bland statements about safety and benefits of fracking through informed and reasoned argument.

The next regular meeting of the Frack Free Scalby, Burniston and Cloughton group is on Monday 19th September at the Cloughton Reading Room at 7.30pm. Then on Wednesday 21 st September at 7.30 pm a presentation and panel discussion on ‘Facts before Fracks’ will take place at Burniston and Cloughton Village Hall. Invited speakers from Ryedale and York at this event are Dr Tim Thornton, Dr Liz Garthwaite and Rev Graham Cray. Their expertise includes the public and human health consequences of the kinds of pollution that can come from fracking, and the moral and ethical dimensions of fracking. All are welcome to both meetings. You can contact the group at

FFS is delighted to share Pickering and Hull Area Quakers‘ June statement on fracking:

“Following the decision by North Yorkshire County Council to allow fracking at Kirby Misperton we wish to make a statement on behalf of Pickering and Hull Area Quaker Meeting (representing Quakers in Ryedale, the Yorkshire Coast and East Yorkshire), emphasising our objections, on the basis of our spiritual discernment, to fracking on any scale.

Most fossil fuels need to stay in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. The impact of climate change globally is understood to be the greatest threat facing our generation, and our children’s generation. It is widely recognised that we need to reduce and eventually eliminate our dependence on the use of fossil fuels and that we urgently need to turn to renewable sources of energy which do not contribute to increasing damage caused by human induced climate change.

We believe that the search for new fossil fuels and new methods of extracting fossil fuels is incompatible with the responsible use of the earth’s resources. In 2011 Quakers in Britain made a corporate commitment to become a low-carbon, sustainable community. Local Quakers support this commitment through our management of our meeting houses, our choice of suppliers of goods and services, and in our personal, daily lives. For example, we have invested in sustainable energy with solar panels at Scarborough Meeting House and an air-source heat pump at Pickering Meeting House. The refurbishment of our retreat centre, Worfolk cottage, created the first fully ‘carbon- neutral’ development within the North York Moors National Park.

We believe that all people have the right to affordable energy that does not harm the planet.

Lack of current technology to support this goal should drive us to greater effort, not endorse technologies which increase the damage confronting us.

We believe in sustaining life before profit. Quakers are not opposed to business, but we are committed to ethical business decision-making and strongly urge companies to adopt best practice in considering the full social impact of their activities.

As Quakers we believe that we do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. We seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world and work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life.”

Read the societies’ statement in full here: Quakers Statement.

Signed on behalf of Pickering & Hull Area Quaker Meeting.

Phyllis Wicks, Heather Woolley, co-clerks.

15 June 2016