Archives For fracking

1) Record numbers of people on low-pay

A report by the Resolution Foundation has found that there are record numbers of people stuck on low pay in Britain.

After an additional 250,000 people joined the workforce last year on or around the minimum wage, there are now around 5.2m people on less than two thirds of the median hourly pay, £7.69.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

The minimum wage was recently increased to £6.50 but after years of failing to keep pace with inflation, the minimum wage is rendering an amount that leaves millions in poverty.

The coalition vowed to ‘make work pay’ but the report from the Resolution Foundation suggests that the bottom-heavy jobs market will see less tax paid as lower incomes are taken out of the tax bracket, and a growing benefits bill as workers are unable to make ends meet.

“All political parties have expressed an ambition to tackle low pay, yet the proportion of low-paid workers has barely moved in the last 20 years.”

Matthew Whittaker, Resolution Foundation

Part of the increased difficulty in low pay is the increased amount of time many are spending trapped on low pay. In 2004, around 11% of the workforce were within 5p of the minimum wage for over 5 years. In 2013, this figure was 23%.

Read more about this story here.

Read our earlier interview with the Resolution Foundation here.

2) Child Poverty rising in UK because of austerity measures, says Unicef

child poverty

More than 1 in 4 children are now living in poverty, and it is only going to get worse, says charity Unicef.

The charity found the UK’s attempts at reducing poverty “disappointing” in comparison to 18 other wealthy countries who had actually cut down on the issue during the recession.

The UK was also ranked 25th out of 41 developed nations for allowing the economic crisis to affect vulnerable families.

Ahead of further austerity measures, Unicef warn that these problems will only get worse.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions has hit back at the report which compiled data from 2008 to 2012. The DWP said that the report makes ‘distorted comparisons’ due to a change in the reporting used, which switched from ONS figures to ones compiled by the DWP in the last year of the report.

A spokesperson for the DWP said (with reckless disregard to the previous story and other reports of growing child poverty):

“Our reforms are improving the lives of some of the poorest families by promoting work and helping people to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Read more about this story here.

3) Leaked memo shows continued struggle to rollout ‘Universal Credit’

A leaked memo shows that the government is still struggling to rollout the flagship Universal Credit scheme.

The memo titled ‘Ideas Please: Sinking’ was sent by a jobcentre manager to her staff in a plea for help with ways to deal with the increased workload from the new social security system.

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The memo was uncovered by Channel 4’s Dispatches and shows that in one of the centres where the scheme has been rolled out “is generating such a substantial backlog of claims, centre staff will have to work three times more than their limit to clear it.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Fracking company applies for licence in London

A new fracking company has applied for a licence to frack in London in an area that reaches from Harrow to near Downing Street in Central London.

Nick Grealy, who runs London Local Energy is outspoken in his support for the fracking industry, and says that fracking in London will make it easier to overcome the complaints about noise pollution raised in the mainly rural areas where fracking has previously been proposed. He also said:

“We want to light a fire under the debate and we want to make money as well.”

Quite.

Read more about this story here. 

5) One-man protest over ‘slave labour’

John McArthur, 59, has been staging a one man protest against slave labour, outside the charity he used to work for.

McArthur has not claimed benefits since August after refusing to participate in a six month work placement at LAMH Recycle in Motherwell. He is now struggling to pay bills and rent as a result.

Still, McArthur protests outside LAMH Recycle for two hours every weekday, handing out leaflets and informing the public of the government workfare scheme LAMH Recycle use.

Image: The Motherwell Times

Image: The Motherwell Times

McArthur used to work for the same company he protests against, and was paid the minimum wage. After falling into unemployment, the jobcentre attempted to place McArthur on a workfare placement at LAMH Recycle, which would see him work for free at his previous employer.

“He said; “It’s essentially slave labour which bypasses the minimum wage regulations.

“My trade is electronics, but I’ve been applying for every kind of job. I make around 50 applications a week, but I refuse to work for nothing.”

Mr McArthur, who is single, said it’s not the first time he’s had his benefits stopped – he went without for 18 months after pulling out of another Government programme.

Although he has a works pension, he is struggling to survive without jobseeker’s allowance. He said: “I can’t put the heating on and I’m living on 16p tins of spaghetti.”

Motherwell Times

Read more about this story here.

6) Ritzy Cinema’s Living Wage Campaigners WIN!

The owner of Ritzy Cinema in Brixton made a huge u-turn on threats to job cuts for a third of staff, instead implementing the Living Wage which staff and campaigners have been demanding.

The news that the cinema would cut jobs sparked a fightback from staff, seeing public protests and boycotts. The campaign was supported by several celebrities including Will Self, Owen Jones and Russell Brand.

Now managers have backed down and said that no one will face redundancy.

Image: citizensuk.org

Image: citizensuk.org

Cineworld managers say that there were crossed wires in communication with Picturehouse, who manage Ritzy, and these played out in the ‘public domain,’ adding they were not consulted on the measures to cut jobs.

Read more about this story here.

7) Disabled woman steals food after benefits are stopped

In a case that highlights how the poor are being criminalised for their poverty, a disabled woman in Poulton faced charges over theft from a supermarket after her benefits were stopped and she was left penniless.

Wendy Rogers, 51, plead guilty to two charges of theft from Asda, where she stole Lamb and cheese. She had no previous convictions.

Read more about this story here.

8) AltGen & Co-operatives UK offer start-up money for new co-operatives in Young Co-operator’s Prize

AltGen, a co-operative dedicated to enabling young people to create their own employment as a solution to the insecure jobs market, are offering several prizes of £2000 along with mentoring and business advice in the Young Co-operator’s Prize.

To enter or find out more, visit the website and check out their video below!

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Talk Fracking

kamsandhu —  September 24, 2014 — 2 Comments

The good people over at Talk Fracking have been putting together some excellent images and opportunities to ask questions through myfrackingquestions.org. Make sure you stay up to date with their Facebook page here.10672086_671651686257808_5888096633691595870_n10639644_676434185779558_1463879865118667333_n10609560_678663918889918_4825434597110864993_n156069_673302519426058_6336188721860896265_n997038_670130973076546_5920146353886731185_n10655421_670155349740775_7076460839077549909_o

1) Benefit claimants will face new ‘attitude to work’ tests

Benefit claimants will have to undergo new ‘attitude to work’ tests to assess whether they are psychologically resistant to work, in new plans proposed by  employment Minister, Esther McVey. The tests are already being trialled in 3 job centres.

“It will be scales of eager, despondent, maybe apprehensive. There are factors within that: somebody who is apprehensive but willing is different from someone who is reticent but disengaged,” said Ms McVey.”

Those who seem reluctant to work will receive intensive training from the job centre. Those who seem more willing to work will be put on less rigorous schemes.

Image: Birmingham Mail

Image: Birmingham Mail

Read more about this story here.

2) Police increasingly telling the public to solve crimes themselves

A police watchdog has warned that there is an increasing trend for the police to tell the public to investigate and solve crimes such as criminal damage and car crimes themselves, by checking CCTV footage or searching secondhand websites for their goods.

The watchdog warns “that in areas where the police have given up investigating these offences, they are “on the verge of being decriminalised”.

Read more about this story here.

3) Daily Mail shuts down Black Triangle website

The Black Triangle website received a cease and desist letter from the Daily Mail’s lawyers and was taken offline following a blog post looking into inconsistencies of the tabloid’s reporting.

The Daily Mail ran a story on a woman who claimed she was £400 worse off for not claiming disability benefit and working instead. Black Triangle decided to look deeper into the story and ran a post that challenged the story.

Image: Black Triangle

Image: Black Triangle

They then received a notice from their host Orange, which claimed the photos used were a breach of privacy laws, thus giving reason for suspending the site.

The host has now given permission to get the site back up after removing the offending post, but the situation smacks of an attempt to silence a challenging voice.

Black Triangle will never be silenced from telling the truth. Anyone who defames disabled people can expect us – it’s in our name” – Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights

Read more about this story here.

4) Fracking bosses sit at heart of coalition government

The government may be pushing forward with damaging and controversial new energy plans to benefit fracking industry links at the heart of the coalition, campaigners have warned.

Image: Dragonfly1

Image: Dragonfly1

Despite having overwhelming opposition from the public, the government has aggressively pushed ahead with plans to frack for shale gas, going as far as bringing in laws to end a need for permission to frack under homes. The reason for this tactic, according to anti-fracking campaigners, is that some government figures will personally profit from the industry.

Conflicts of interest?

“Lord Browne

“The former BP boss is chairman of Cuadrilla, which is exploring for shale gas in Lancashire and West Sussex. He is lead “non-executive” across Government, meaning that he helps recruit other non-executives to Whitehall.

“Baroness Hogg

“The non-executive for the Treasury sits on the board of BG Group, which has significant shale gas assets in the United States.

“Sam Laidlaw

“The non-executive to the Transport Department is also chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica, which recently bought a 25 per cent stake in Cuadrilla’s most promising shale gas prospect.

“Ben Moxham

“A former executive at BP when Lord Browne was at the helm, he followed the peer to Riverstone Holdings, which owns 42 per cent of Cuadrilla. Moxham was energy adviser at No 10 but quit in May.

“Lord Howell

“George Osborne’s father-in-law is also president of the British Institute of Economics, whose backers include BP and BG Group.”

Read more about this story here.

 

From http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk:

TRTP 2014his summer stand up for social, environmental and economic justice.

Thursday 14th – Wednesday 20th August 2014

BLACKPOOL

We’re excited to stand in solidarity with the community groups on the front-line of the fight against fracking.   Transport info here.

Support the community fightback

Get skilled up and take direct action

Build the world you want to see

SEE A FULL PROGRAMME HERE.

Reclaim Our Energy

kamsandhu —  August 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

We know that if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change we need to leave 80% of Fossil Fuels in the ground.

 

Image: Climate Revolution

Image: Climate Revolution

 

We also know that if we meet our climate change targets we will be 62% less dependent on foreign oil and gas.

Finally we know that the ‘Big 6’ energy companies have a basic monopoly over our gas and electricity bills and that they are rising them year on year despite falling energy costs for them.

Yet our government is determined to continue the dash for gas – building more gas power stations and bribing/forcing communities into having fracking on their doorstep. 

Why? So these six companies can keep making enormous profits and destroying the planet?

We need to reclaim our energy.

We can create jobs, save money on our fuel bills and make sure that our communities have a safe, clean source of energy for a long, long time.

Our governments and large corporations should be supporting and investing in energy efficiency, house insulation and renewable energy. But as they have vested interests to do the opposite, to maintain profit and power for themselves, we must look to ourselves.

We can follow energy projects like the carbon coop and create renewable power for our community that keeps us off the grid and saves us money.

We can invest in retrofitting our houses, and creating energy efficiency.

All of this creates jobs, and brings communities together. We can do this now. We don’t need to be told what our energy future is, we can create it ourselves.

We can reclaim our energy.

Thomas Barlow

So we’ve been offline for a little while for maintenance, hence a bumper edition of WWLLW, and a lot has been going….

1) Green Party proposes wealth tax

So let’s start this bumper edition with some news that makes sense and deals with the biggest problem of our times (and the most avoided by most of our politicians) – the wealth gap. The Green Party have proposed a wealth tax of around 2% on the assets of top earners. It would only affect the top 1% of the population (yeah, the 1% who currently have around a fifth of the wealth in the UK).

Presenting the radical new proposal, Natalie Bennett, the Green leader, said other political parties only offered minor tweaks to the UK’s failed economic system, instead of major changes to deal with inequality.

Although seen as a radical proposal, this is only seem through the prism of the last decade’s political discourse which has shied away from dealing with what is an extreme circumstance of widening inequality that systematically continues to funnel money from the poorest to the richest. Curbing the excesses of the rich has to play a part in any move towards a fairer society and we welcome this announcement.

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2) Two MPs to sue government on DRIP bill
 
An ‘artificial emergency’ was created in parliament in order to rush through a bill that infringes on the public’s privacy and allows greater surveillance. The Bill was designed as a response to the European Court of Justice ruling in April that the current practices in the UK, under the Data Retention Regulations Act of 2009, were illegal. 
 
The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill was agreed by all three major political parties and rushed through in a week. The urgency with which the bill was pushed through allowed no time for research, debate or opposition. 
 
Now, 2 MPs have begun an official fightback against the legality of the bill. 
 
Mr Davis and Mr Watson, backed by human rights charity Liberty, have written to the Home Office to give them seven days’ notice of their intention to apply for judicial review.

Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, said: “The three party leaders struck a private deal to railroad through a controversial bill in a week. You cannot make good laws behind closed doors.

“The new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act does not answer the concerns of many that the blanket retention of personal data is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy.”

Read more about this story here.

3) Company pulls out of workfare scheme, days after George Osbourne visits to publicise scheme

Byteback IT Solutions received a visit from chancellor George Osbourne earlier this month in an attempt to publicise the Help To Work programme the company had signed up to.

Image: Bristol Post

Image: Bristol Post

 

However, following the visit, Byteback were sent messages online about the detrimental effects and infamy of the Help To Work programme which forced the long-term unemployed to work for the payment of their benefits. Shortly after, Byteback IT Solutions announced they would be backing out of the scheme as they were not previously aware of the effects.

They made the announcement via their Facebook page, insisting that they had taken part with “the best of intentions”, but had come to the conclusion that “we were wrong to get involved with workfare.”

A company director explained: “We are a small community-serving business that wanted to help the local unemployed in our community to find work by offering our time and expertise to give jobseekers valuable work experience.”

An embarrassing event for Osbourne and the government. The workfare scheme has no place here. Despite the greatest protestations and attempts by our government to retain the secrecy of workfare employer names, judges have repeatedly ruled that the government must name the providers (though of course, that doesn’t mean they will). Thankfully, the shame of taking part in this scheme is one even the government can’t deny.

Read more about this story here.

4) Did you hear? The economy has fully recovered! We are at the 2008 peak! (Dies laughing)

From russelljonespersonal.com

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5) Malnutrition soars by 70% as doctors report an increase in illnesses associated with the Third World

The drive of cuts and austerity is seeing a 70% rise in malnutrition and illnesses associated with Third World countries, says a new hospital admissions report.

“People unable to feed themselves saw a staggering 6,686 admissions where malnutrition was the primary or secondary diagnosis during 2013/14.

“This is a rise of 71% from 3,899 in the year up to April 2010.

“Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre released today also revealed admissions for scarlet fever were up by 110% and cholera by a staggering 450% since 2010.

“Scurvy – a disease associated with pirates stuck at sea for long periods – has increased by 31% in England since 2010.

“This is caused by a lack of vitamin C and can be caused by a diet without enough fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Thousands of people are unable to feed themselves, and a million are in need of a food bank and will have skipped meals and cut back before they have reached there. This is a form of violence and torture inflicted on people in a place with a wealth of resources and a wealth of wealth hoarded for the decadence of a few at the cost of malnutrition, poverty and destitution for others.

Read more about this story here.

6) 200 strangers stop eviction of cancer patient from home

Tom Crawford, 63, posted a plea on YouTube calling for help for his peaceful protest against his eviction from the home he has lived in for 25 years, over a disputed mortgage.

The father of 3, who also suffers from prostate cancer, said in the video;

“Please come and help us, there will be a lovely cup of tea waiting for you.

“But don’t use violence, they are the ones who use violence. This is a war, for the people. It may only be a small bungalow, but it is my bungalow, my land, my home.”

More than 200 strangers from across the country came to Tom’s home in Nottingham on the day of the eviction. Some came from Wales and Newcastle and others were neighbours. Bailiffs were unable to enter the home.

Hundreds stand outside Tom Crawford's property Image: Daily Mail

Hundreds stand outside Tom Crawford’s property Image: Daily Mail

Following the event, Tom said:

“I can’t believe that people have come from all over the country to support me. It’s really overwhelming and I really didn’t expect it.

“This is something I feel very passionate about – I’ve been here more than 25 years and have brought three children up here. I’ve worked hard all my life.”

A great show of solidarity and an example of how we can fight back.

Read more about this story here.

7) Victory against sell-off of student loans

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Another fantastic victory won last week when Vince Cable, Business Secretary announced that plans to sell-off the student loan book have been stopped. This excellent triumph is in no small part down to the student movement that has fought heartily against it, despite the ignorance of media and politicians. This message was left on the Facebook Page:

“WE’VE WON!!! The government has dropped its plans to privatise the student loan book in an announcement made by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills yesterday (July 21st).

“This government u-turn represents a major victory for the student movement. If the student loan book had have been sold off to private debt collectors there is no doubt that in a bid to maximise profits interest rates on repayments would have soared. To put it bluntly, privatising student loans would have been a retrospective hike in tuition fees.

“But students and graduates have shown that we won’t tolerate being burdened with even more debt without a fight.

“The Student Assembly Against Austerity (the student wing of the People’s Assembly) has been at the forefront of the campaign to #StopTheSellOff. Alongside hundreds of student activists across the country, we have organised national days and weeks of action involving more than 50 campuses which has resulted in over 76 MPs signing our Early Day Motion against the privatisation of student debt.

“With the General Election just around the corner and the student movement on the rise it is no surprise that the Lib Dems have decided to back off on their assault on students.

“Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part – all the banner drops, occupations, mass petitioning, stunts, protesting and lobbying together made a huge difference and proves once again that campaigning works!

“There are, however, many more fights ahead.

“There will be those who will want to revisit plans to privatise student loans in the future – we need to make sure they never succeed.

“As a result of the trebling of tuition fees, higher education in the UK is the most expensive in the whole of Europe and student debt is rocketing as a result. At the same time the slashing of EMA and savage cuts to education are hitting students hard.

“With a General Election just months away, now is the time for the student movement to step up our campaigning efforts and loudly raise our demands for free education – against all fees, cuts and debt. That is why The Student Assembly Against Austerity is joining a coalition of groups to organise a national student demonstration this autumn on Wednesday 19 November.

“Join the fight back – get active with the Student Assembly! If you would like to get involved in organising the national demonstration or would like to set up a Student Assembly on your campus get in touch with us today on info@thestudentassembly.org.uk”

Read more about this story here.

8) Wisborough Green fights off fracking

Even more to celebrate as a West Sussex town fights off the application of an energy company to explore for oil and gas near the village of Wisborough Green.

The proposals were met with over 2,500 objections with reasons such as the lead to controversial fracking in the area and noise pollution from lorries having to travel through the town 24 times a day.

Campaigners celebrate the decision to stop exploration for oil and gas Image: The Independent

Campaigners celebrate the decision to stop exploration for oil and gas Image: The Independent

The decision was announced on Monday 21st July.

“Andrew Jackson of Wisborough Green parish council said the villagers had felt that it was important to make a stand. “If this was to be allowed today, it sets a benchmark for all other villages like ourselves,” he said. It’s clear that earlier applications that have been approved have all had direct access to the major lorry routes. This one does not and it’s not an appropriate location.”

“Local landowners were so determined to stop the exploration that they launched a “legal blockade” against Celtique, informing it that it did not have permission to drill under their properties and that they would go to the courts if it proceeded as planned. A similar tactic was employed by campaigners in nearby Fernherst, which sits inside South Downs National Park.”

Read more about this story here.

Oh, and in other news Cameron did some reshuffle and let some women in as a desperate stab at portraying himself as some sort of feminist or lover of equality whilst overseeing (and completely congratulating via the allowance of IDS to remain in his post) welfare reforms that disproportionately affect women and particularly single mothers and also overseeing the widening of the pay gap which is now in some parts 13%.

———–

We also cannot ignore the odious war taking place right now. A war that has some innate commitment to the murder of children, which nothing can ever be worth. We are staring into the sickness of man, the amalgamation of fake moral justifications for selfishness, arms and suffering. The focus must be, as Jon Snow says, to resolve this, at any cost.

“Leaving Israel and beleaguered Gaza far below me, I lay back in my BA seat headed for London. I donned my headphones and listened to Bach’s heavenly violin concerto in E major, and wept, as I rarely have as an adult.

“I wept for two peoples with remarkable similarities. Two peoples of extraordinary gifts and ability. Two peoples living in an area far smaller than England, one of which besieges the other, both of which target each other’s civilians.

This is humankind’s most grievous cancer, for its cells infect conflicts in every corner of the world. We fail as humankind if we do not devise a coming-together. Our leaders, as a vast priority, have to try and try again to use every mechanism in our rare animal capacity – our considerable intellects – to bring these peoples to resolution whatever the cost.”

Jon Snow, Channel 4

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Fracking could be happening anywhere within areas that cover 60% of the country.  Yet most of us barely know what it is.

In this article we cover some of the key questions about fracking, and the key claims made by those who support rolling it out in the UK.

It is important to note that the detail of this area is huge and cannot be adequately covered by us in one article, so please check the links – and if you feel like being involved in the government consultation that is ongoing now please check the links at the bottom.

What is fracking?

Fracking is currently being used as a blanket term for a lot of extreme energy extraction like coal bed methane – and underground coal gasification in some quarters, but we are going to refer to the new process called hydraulic fracturing.

It is important to make clear at this point that despite claims to the contrary this is not the same process that has been going on since 1974 in the UK.

In fact this process has only been done once in the UK – in Blackpool, where it caused a memorable earthquake.

What are the environmental concerns?

80% of the fossil fuels we know exist should remain in the ground if we can hope to stop catastrophic climate change.  We should not be trying to find more and coming up with new ways to get it out of the ground.

When the survival of the planet is at stake that should be all we need to know, but as there has been false bias given to the climate change deniers within the media, it is common for many people to be sceptical of climate change science.

Image: ASAP Science

Image: ASAP Science

Below, then, we look at the other potential effects of fracking.

What will be the local environmental effects?

It is likely there will be earthquakes caused by the Fracking drills as occurred in Blackpool.  Though engineers say these will be relatively minor (3-4 on the richter scale), it is enough to be concerned about.

In this context it is worth noting that the UK has 400 times the number of fault lines than the US where fracking has been done on an industrial scale. The UK is also far more densely populated.

There will be a massive increase in trucks and lorries in rural (and even urban) areas, numbering from 50 a day for each drill site.  The noise of that combined with the noise of the gas compressors – used on site to make the gas useable – can be deafeningly disruptive, to people and wildlife.

The compressor sound levels are equivalent to the constant sound of jumbo jets taking off, non-stop.

Lord Howell (George Osbourne’s father in law, of ‘desolate north’ fame believes fracking should only happen in the north – where no one votes Tory anyway – because of this.

“Spending time and money trying to bribe and cajole rural communities is a complete waste, as well as putting backs up and losing rural votes on a major scale. Villages and their environs where homes are worth a million will be unimpressed by £100k offers, and by assurances that ‘only’ two years of heavy truck traffic will disturb them. Those who have visited sites in America will also know that even after installation, the thump of compressors can be sensed up to two miles away, as well as the whiff of diesel from the compressor pump engines.”

Health Concerns

MedAct, an organisation of doctors, have expressed their concerns over the impacts of fracking on the health of communities.  In Pennsylvania, health professionals have recently been asked to not record people with having fracking related illnesses to hide the true numbers.

However records like the list of the 6000 harmed verified cases of fracking related illnesses have shown there are negative health impacts associated with fracking.

Water, Costs and Health

There will be considerable water loss locally.  Each drill uses 2-10 million litres of water, 30% is untreatable/poisoned and shipped off site.  Water is a precious resource and may be one to become scarce, even in the UK, in the future – the ramifications of which we will discuss later on.

Fracking companies in the US have been losing large amounts of money, and as it is a very expensive method of obtaining energy (we are going to need £33bn of investment to do it).  Also, we know that 5% of well casings (for the drill to go into the ground) fail immediately, and 50% fail over time.

How does this all affect health?

Disposal of poisoned water onto fields and into rivers has occurred surreptitiously and illegally to save money in the US.  Because of cheap and shoddy health and safety precautions, water has accidentally also leaked out of trucks and containers into the local environment.

The other place the water is disposed of is into empty drill wells.  Although it has been claimed (in treasonous but entirely typical act of lying to Parliament) that because the wells go 3000 metres down there is no contamination to ground water, this is false.  There are documented cases of this contamination occurring.

This contamination of the water supply has lead to clusters of unexpected illness that may be related to fracking, most recently in the case of Terry Greenwood’s death.

Regulating Fracking – Protecting Fracking

We are supposed to have a ‘gold standard’ of regulation in this country that will stop these things from happening.

However we were supposed to have a gold standard of regulation for the banks – and we all got robbed.  We were supposed to have a gold standard of food regulation – and we all ate horses. I assume the BBC and the NHS thought they had a gold standard regulation against paedophilia – and we got Jimmy Saville.

We have just changed regulation to ignore EU safety law and have decreased the Environment Agency budget by 10%These are not signs of gold standard regulation.

But if even if we are serious about regulation, accidents will happen.  Engineers thought Fukushima was impenetrable until a typhoon that no one could predict came their way.

Cheaper Bills!

This idea should be quickly dismissed.  Lord Browne (the head of Cuadrilla a fracking company) has clearly stated that fracking will not reduce energy bills, and Lord Sterne has dismissed it as baseless economics.

So why do we still hear this myth repeated?

Image: Climate Revolution

Image: Climate Revolution

Fracking and our liberties

The fracking industry has an interesting relationship to our government and that is affecting our rights in unexpected ways.

Lord Brown (de-facto perjurer), former head of BP implicated in the gulf oil spill disaster (renowned for his ‘cut, cut, cut’ philosophy) is the non executive advisor for energy for the government.

fracking_organogram-sml

 

He is also the chief executive for Cuadrilla, the fracking company leading the charge for UK shale gas.

We are about to sell off 60% of the mineral rights of the UK in licensing at the same time as we change laws to allow drilling under your house to go on without your permission.

The policing at Barton Moss protests was an exceptional example of police repression, not least because despite many hundreds of arrests being thrown out of court and daily videos of police brutality being posted, the police continued their tactics for months – suggesting influence from the top.

Image: Dragonfly1

Image: Dragonfly1

Jobs and costs

The cost for all of this brutal policing has been passed on to the taxpayer.  As will regulation and environmental protection.  As will the clean ups when they have to occur.

But this is all supposed to provide jobs, and lot of them.  A lot of us could live with all of the above for jobs.

According to the government’s AMEC report, there will 5,000 to 32,000 jobs created by fracking.  This will be over two decades, with a two year peak in about ten years. The jobs will be for skilled foreigners, some local truckers and security guards.

The work is temporary because once the drill is set up there is not much more work to be done.

Job Losses

Potential job losses include agriculture (from loss of water), brewery work (from increased expense of water), tourism (rural England and Blackpool will suffer heavily from noise and air pollution) and small business (businesses secured against houses will suffer).  Unfortunately we cannot put figures on these because no empirical research has been done – the governement has not included it in any reports.  It is plausible to assume though, that a lot a more jobs could be destroyed than created.

Houses prices may drop by around 25% near fracking sites, and houses may be hard to insure anywhere near a fracking site.  In the US insurers have walked away from insuring any houses within a two mile radius of a fracking site.

Boom Town Problems

Boom towns tend to see massive decreases in earnings in the long term (and average of $7,000 in the US).  We know this from the fact that Lancashire, South Wales and other places are scarred with the decline of a previous fossil fuel boom – Coal.

We haven’t recovered from that, but the fracking boom will last barely 2 years in a bad case scenario. Coal lasted well over 100 years.

The net loss to the economy hasn’t been calculated yet, because the government doesn’t want to know.  They even misrepresent their own figures to make them seem better.

Studies from Duke University suggest that the net loss will be considerably more than the very limited gains economically.

What about energy security?

It has been suggested that we don’t want to be relying on Russia for our gas.  Which is a fair point, we don’t.

At the moment we don’t rely on them for gas.  Our gas comes from Norway and Qatar.

It must be said though that we don’t want to rely on anyone for gas really – especially as the gas market is interdependent.  Which is fine.  Because if we stick to our climate targets we can reduce our dependence on foreign gas and oil by 62% by 2020.

By 2020 fracking will still be in it’s exploratory phase.

Image: Dragonfly1

Image: Dragonfly1

Is there enough gas to give us energy security?

According to Prof Robert Gatliff of the British Geological Society, the Weald Basin could be a ‘difficult play’ and at best only 10% of the gas found would be able to be fracked.  However that is unlikely.  A more likely scenario would be 1% of it according to Professor Andrew Aplin – Durham Universities head of petroleum studies.

This would produce enough energy for the UK’s entire consumption for 2 months.  In a best case scenario we will produce enough for 20 months.

The best case scenario is unlikely because of the ponzi scheme nature of fracking hype.  To get investors the companies massively oversell what is available.  They have had to reduce the estimate in California by 96%, and after 4 years in Poland they are about to stop production after having to reduce estimates by 90%.

Which makes it a pretty insecure investment and an insecure method for securing our energy future.

Energy Monopoly

The most insecure aspect of fracking is that it is part of the government’s dash for gas.  This will commit us to a gas future.  If the UK is locked into gas for the next 30 years because of fracking then we will also be locked into a monopoly of the big 6 energy companies.

These are the energy companies that have heightened prices (sometimes by as much as 20%) year on year.  If we don’t take energy provision out of their hands we will constantly be subject to their profiteering whims.

So what can we do?

In a general sense we can embrace the idea of the push for ‘A million climate jobs’.  Retrofitting houses, energy efficiency and producing renewables could save the planet, save cash and create long term sustainable jobs for everyone in the UK.

Paul Mobbs, like many environmentalists, suggest we are going to have to accept and create an economy that doesn’t grow, that in fact degrows, and we will have to work towards that.

Locally, groups have started creating their own energy cooperatives – putting power literally into the hands of communities, who save money and control their own energy future.

To stop fracking happening you can engage with this consultation, and you should most definitely write to your MP and local councillors.  They are often as clueless as the rest of us about fracking, and unaware it could be on their doorstep and out of their control very soon.

Also contact your local union branch and the TUC, and check out Frack Free and Frack Off for more information.

Also try and find out if you have a local group and if a fracking site is planned near you, your family or old friends.  You might be surprised.

Image: Telegraph

Image: Telegraph

Thomas Barlow 

 

1) Rebekah Brooks walks free, Andy Coulson faces jail, David Cameron desperate to limit reputation damage 

Astoundingly, Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the infamous News Of The World, walked free from court, escaping all charges, despite extensive evidence of industrial scale phone hacking across News International newspapers.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Andy Coulson on the other hand, faced jail for his part in the scandal, with evidence that Coulson continued to be paid by News Interational after his departure and during his employment by Cameron. PM David Cameron was forced to apologise for his appointment of Coulson as his spin doctor, despite the fact the PM was warned repeatedly against hiring Coulson. Cameron was reprimanded however, for speaking out against Coulson during the trial, which could have jeopardised the 8 month long case, costing millions of pounds.

Cameron called Coulson a liar before the decisions were handed down. On BBC Question Time, Conservative MP Anna Soubry claimed that Cameron had never called Coulson a friend, which is a complete lie. Cameron said Coulson was a ‘close friend’ and this attempt to remove himself from his actions should not be tolerated.

Read more about this story here.

2) Wonga sends out thousands of fake letters from fake law firms to threaten customers

Between October 2008 and November 2010, Wonga, a company with only a few dozen staff, sent out 45,000 threatening letters from fake law firms threatening to take action against customers.

Though reluctant at first, the Metropolitan police did a u-turn on committing a criminal investigation, following public outrage that the matter was not being taken seriously.

Image: Periscopix

Image: Periscopix

Wonga released a statement admitting they were a smaller company then, though refrained from mentioning whether the management knew anything about the letters. Though one could wonder how 45,000 letters could leave an office of 31 (excluding the IT dept) and it was all some sort of initiative taken on by workers which was not known by management. Maybe they had a rogue reporter letter writer, eh?

Read more about this story here.

3) ‘Cries for help’ found sewn into Primark clothing

Primark is beginning an investigation into it’s own stores and supply chains after three ‘cries for help’ were found by shoppers sewn into garments.

Two of the tags read ‘Forced to work exhausting hours’ and “Degrading sweatshop conditions.”

Image: Daily Star

Image: Daily Star

 

Primark has batted off allegations of bad working conditions for workers abroad, and say they have a strict code of ethics.

Though, it does not seem appropriate for Primark to investigate themselves, as they will want to limit reputation damage and their interests are in the profit of the business. They have also already said they believe the labels are a hoax.

Read more about this story here.

4) Protestors mock Tesco with fake price tags about the Living Wage

Living Wage protestors have targeted Tesco stores by changing price tags on shelves to read the below:

 

Image: The Mirror

Image: The Mirror

 

Tags end with “‘Wow! £1.39billion pre tax profits in the six months to August 24 2013.’

Stefan Baskerville, Citizens UK organiser, said

“Working with ShareAction we are calling on Tesco to consider how implementation of the Living Wage could help tackle in-work poverty for their lowest paid staff.

“The Living Wage is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.”

The protests come before the Tesco annual general meeting, and with the previous Primark story coming to light, it seems the issues to do with low pay and working conditions cannot be ignored.

Read more about this story here.

5) Tory MPs demand early break up of coalition

Senior Tory backbenchers have demanded the early break up of the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition following reports that Conservatives could lose up to 12 seats to UKIP at the next election, forcing them to fall short of winning a majority.

The Bow Group who put forward the estimates have pushed MPs to put forward proposals to break up before the 2015 Election, saying that the Conservative party needs to make drastic moves on policy of immigration and Europe if it is stand a chance next year, and these issues are where the coalition strongly differ.

It should also be noted that the Conservative party have won by a lesser and lesser majority at each election over the last 3 decades, with the election in 2010 forcing them into a coalition to gain any power. The membership of the Tory party has also halved since they came to power.

Read more about this story here.

6) Labour backs trespass laws on fracking, says Energy Minister

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said that the Labour Party has confirmed it will back new trespass laws on fracking which allow shale gas companies to frack under homes without permission, despite public feeling going against the laws.

“A recent YouGov survey of 1,898 people found that 74% opposed the controversial move, which underpins efforts to drive a “shale gas revolution” that could see fracking across swathes of the UK.

“More than 45,000 people around the country have already joined legal moves to block energy companies from fracking under their properties, but a change to the trespass laws could allow companies to explore for shale gas without needing their permission.”

Click Green, June 2014

Image: BBC - Gas test Well

Image: BBC – Gas test Well

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Queen’s Speech confirms move to frack under homes without permission. Greenpeace turn PM’s home into drilling site.

The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday confirmed that government would overhaul trespass laws to allow energy companies to frack under homes without permission.

Greenpeace responded by sending a bunch of activists to the Oxfordshire home of David Cameron, in order to turn his home into a drilling site.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Greenpeace also have a petition to sign to protest against these new laws. Sign the petition here.

Talk Fracking are holding their debates around the country this week too, so don’t forget to get down to one near you.

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Read more about this story here. 

2) Tories spark outrage in report to UN claiming welfare reforms would help the nation’s poorest children out of poverty

The government was branded “dishonest” following a report given to the UN that claimed welfare reforms and benefit cuts would help the poorest children out of poverty. Reforms are actually pushing more people into poverty with some reports claiming we will have 5 million below the poverty line by 2020, and food bank usage continues to rise.

The Scottish government tried to get the claim removed from the report, but were blocked from doing so.

Image: backbencher.co.uk

Image: backbencher.co.uk

Children’s Minister, Aileen Campbell commented:

“This report is downright insulting to the thousands of children driven into poverty by the Tories.

“The Scottish Government are straining every sinew to help families hit by welfare cuts but tens of thousands more children are facing poverty in coming years because of the Tories. That is the reality.

“In a country as rich as Scotland, food banks have never been busier. That is a national scandal.

“Instead of telling the truth, the Tories are censoring Scotland’s view and refusing to tell the UN the reality of their cuts. That is simply dishonest.”

Read more about this story here.

3) Mass strike likely for 10 July

Several large unions along with other civil servants are making plans to strike on 10 July against damaging austerity and public sector pay freezes.

It will be the largest co-ordinated action for two years if the strike goes ahead, with over 1 million workers taking part.

Unions involved include Unison, Unite, GMB, PCS and the NUT.

Read more about this story here.

4) Tory donors given £1.5bn in NHS contracts

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has uncovered links between tory party supporters and the companies awarded NHS contracts worth £1.5bn.

NHS logo

NHS logo

Circle Health, the biggest profiters, were given £1.36bn in contracts after several investors donated £1.5m to the Conservatives. Burnham said:

“Nobody gave David Cameron ­permission to sell the NHS to his friends.

“It’s shocking the same Tory donors who ­bankrolled the development of their NHS reorganisation policy are now ­profiting from the sell-off of NHS services.”

Circle’s biggest contract was £1bn to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital. A Tory spokesman responded that the decision to contract out Hinchingbrooke was taken by Andy Burnham.

Still, Circle profits in the time of the coalition government have gone up from £64.6 million in 2010/2011 to £170.4 million in 2011/2012.

Read more about this story here.

5) 25 employers named and shamed after failing to pay minimum wage

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

The government have released a list of 25 employers who were breaking the law by paying below the minimum wage, following laws that came into effect last October.

Employers were investigated by HMRC after staff called a free helpline to report they were being underpaid.

“They include a school in Edinburgh which underpaid an employee by £3,739 and a garage in Bradford that failed to pay a worker £6,426.”

BBC News

Employers found to be underpaying staff can face a penalty of up to £20,000. Legislation is underway to change this to a maximum penalty of £20,000 per employee that is underpaid.

Read more about this story here.

6) ‘Studs’ designed to deter rough sleepers from central London flats condemned by public

Anti-homeless metal studs have been installed outside a block of flats in Southwark to deter rough sleepers. Andrew Horton, 33, took a photo of them and posted it on Twitter as he walked to work on Wednesday starting a Twitter condemnation of the tactic.

The images posted on Twitter by Horton

The images posted on Twitter by Horton

Other photos were posted of the studs used elsewhere. Homelessness charities say the studs have been used for over a decade.

“Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns at Crisis, said: “This is happening in a context where rough sleeping has gone up massively. Over the last three years rough sleeping has risen by 36% nationally and by 75% in London. More than 6,400 people slept rough in London last year.”

“The reason for that increase is the continuing economic downturn, thehousing shortage, and cuts to benefits, particularly housing benefit.”

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Talk Fracking are holding 5 free debates around the country with some excellent speakers, in a bid to have a serious conversation about fracking – involving all sides. Make sure you make it down to one of these!

“This is a critical moment for Britain. The Government’s plans to introduce fracking will change the UK forever.

“Some claim that this new technology will create thousands of jobs, lower energy bills and reduce our reliance on foreign oil and gas. Evidence shows that this new industry has very damaging effects to our health, land and the environment.

“We are a coalition of concerned groups and individuals who are seeking to have an open and honest conversation about all of the issues before we forge ahead with this next extraction industry.”

 

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