Fracking by Stealth Campaign

Following the government’s announcement on 2 November 2019 to put a partial moratorium on fracking, we sent an open letter to Government based on the recommendations of our legal briefing  Acid Stimulation: Fracking by Stealth, co-authored by Brockham Oil Watch and Harrison Grant Solicitors, with scientific advice from David K. Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow (available on request).

We asked the Government to 1) replace the current moratorium with an outright ban and 2) extend this ban to all other forms of well stimulation using acid and other similar techniques to enhance the productivity of onshore oil and gas wells (at exploratory or production stage).

The reason behind this is that multiple communities are still threatened by fracking, even with the current partial moratorium in place (see the list below).

Over 600 individuals and groups have signed our letter including academics, parliamentarians and political groupings, councillors, NGOs, health professionals, environmental professionals and organisations, anti-fracking groups and other campaign groups. Signatories include Bill McKibben, Jeremy Leggett, George Monbiot, Vivienne Westwood, Joe Corré, Professors David Smythe, Stuart Haszeldine, Anthony Ingraffea, Robert Howarth and Denis Hall; Caroline Lucas, Jenny Jones, Natalie Bennett, Jonathan Bartlett, Alan Simpson, Paul Kennedy, Doug Parr on behalf of Greenpeace UK, Alistair Beaton – playwright and the author of Fracked!, actors Susan Jameson and James Bolam, Josh Fox – Director of Oscar Nominated Film Gaslands, Dr Gail Bradbrook of Extinction Rebellion and many more.

Here is a response we received from the energy minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, on behalf of the Government. Our comment on this response is here.

Fracking sites where communities are threatened (the ones we know about – let us know if we missed one you’re familiar with!):

  • Brockham, Horse Hill & Dunsfold in Surrey
  • Balcombe in West Sussex (testing plans unanimously refused by councillors in March 2021!)
  • Bradford Bridge in West Sussex
  • Arreton on the Isle of Wight (exploration proposals unanimously rejected by councillors in October 2021!)
  • Ellesmere Port and Ince Marshes in Cheshire
  • Wressle in Lincolnshire (n.b. the permeability of the target Ashover Grit is reported as c.55 mD)
  • West Newton in East Yorkshire
  • Preston New Road in Lancashire (Cuadrilla surrendered environmental permit for key operations in Dec 2020)
  • Harthill and Woodsetts in South Yorkshire
  • Marsh Lane in Derbyshire (planning permission lapsed in Aug 2021)
  • Altcar Moss near Formby, Lancashire (withdrawn!)
  • possibly Third Energy’s sites in North Yorkshire, who were going to frack Kirby Misperton, but since sold the business and are now focusing on conventional sites (raising suspicions about what extraction methods those so-called conventional sites will require)
  • Springs Road, Misson, Nottinghamshire (now ordered to be restored YAY!)
  • Fermanagh in Northern Ireland 
  • Licenses on the coast of Somerset.

Acid Stimulation - Fracking by Stealth.png

Press Releases

Brockham Oil Watch 2 November 2019 press release

Brockham Oil Watch 24 February 2020 press release

Media Coverage

Minister dismisses call to extend fracking moratorium, Drill Or Drop, 4 May 2020

600+ sign letter calling on new ministers to extend fracking moratorium, Drill Or Drop? 24 Feb 2020

Government statement confirms fracking is still allowed under moratorium – campaigners, Drill Or Drop? 29 Jan 2020

Activists warn of ‘fracking by stealth’ and call for acid fracking ban, The Guardian, 17 Jan 2020

Guest post: What’s the fracking problem with the moratorium? Drill Or Drop? 12 Dec 2019

Call for fracking halt to be extended to acid stimulation in oil and gas industry, Drill Or Drop? 3 Nov 2019

Related Coverage 

Guest post: Mind your fracking language, Peter Styles, Drill Or Drop? 9 Nov 2019

UK government’s fracking ‘ban’ has a convenient loophole, Keith Baker and Peter Styles, The Conversation, 8 Nov 2019

Fracking moratorium – the unanswered questions, Drill Or Drop? 4 Nov 2019

Why I won’t be celebrating the so called “ban” on fracking, Josh Terry, 2 Nov 2019