Ben Lucas

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Ben Lucas is currently pursuing an Investigative Journalism Master’s degree at the City University of London. He has a particular interest in UK and international politics, economics and environmental issues.

EU Countries Failing to Implement European Commission’s ‘Weak’ Fracking Guidelines, Finds Report

Read time: 5 mins

The European Commission’s (EC) guidelines on fracking are being criticised as weak and vague, and have been found to be widely ignored by EU member states, according to a report published today.

The report, entitled ‘Fracking Business (as usual)’, is written by Friends of the Earth and Food & Water Europe, and states that the “weak wording” of the guidelines document is to blame for its poor implementation so far.

It also shows that there is little evidence that the 28 member states are using the guidelines “as a basis to build more stringent rules for fracking”. Instead, it argues the Commission’s report has had “no positive impact” on the way states regulate the industry and the measures they have taken to protect their citizens or the environment against any potential negative impacts. 

Renewable Energy Triumphs in Lancashire as Solar Farm is Approved Next to Rejected Fracking Site

Read time: 2 mins

Anti-Fracking campaigners have welcomed a local council’s decision to approve the development of a solar farm just across the road from where Cuadrilla has spent years trying to get permission to carry out hydrolic fracturing.

The solar farm is expected to produce enough electricity to power around 1,300 homes and save approximately 2,310 tonnes of carbon emissions every year, the equivalent of taking 513 large family cars off the road.

Fylde Council unanimously approved the application for the Staining Wood solar farm subject to the completion of a habitat regulation assessment, which it looks likely to pass. The site is expected to be operational by March 2016

Edelman's Ties to Fracking and Climate Denial Still Cause for Concern, New Petitions Show

Read time: 4 mins

Edelman PR’s credibility continues to wane as two separate petitions highlight the company’s ongoing support for the fossil fuel industry – in particular, its relationship as secretariat to the Task Force on Shale Gas.

Anti-fracking campaign group Talk Fracking have produced a statement and encouraged groups and individuals to pledge their support to stop the government listening to the Task Force, which is funded by Cuadrilla and other big companies in the oil and gas industry.

The open letter was drawn up in reaction to the publication of the Task Force’s second report and its stubborn refusal to answer the organisation’s letter, sent on 17th March, asking questions about the nature of the Task Force’s relationship with PR company Edelman, which used to be the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas.

Fracking Focus Shifts to Yorkshire as Pro- and Anti-Fracking Groups Emerge

Read time: 4 mins

Yorkshire county has become the new focal point of the UK fracking debate after Cuadrilla’s planning applications in Lancashire were defeated over two weeks ago.

Third Energy’s application to hydraulically stimulate the well at the Kirby Misperton site near Pickering, submitted at the end of May, is the latest fracking proposal pending a decision from North Yorkshire County Council.

UK Climate Deniers Invite American Sceptic Judith Curry to Speak in the House of Lords

Read time: 5 mins

Lord Lawson’s climate denial charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), invited climate sceptic Judith Curry, a professor of School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, to speak in the House of Lords on Monday.

The organisation, which DeSmog UK has revealed to be supported by several Conservative Party donors, invited Curry to talk about the “The state of the US climate debate”.

Curry, who has been invited several times by Republicans to testify at climate change hearings regarding alleged uncertainties on manmade climate change, focused on how the climate debate has been politicised and that science has been “caught in the crossfire” leading to “oversimplification” of the problem of and solutions to climate change.

ExxonMobil ‘Nimby’ CEO Makes Fresh Calls for Fracking in Europe

Read time: 3 mins

Rex Tillerson, chief executive of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, has called for European governments to support fracking, despite being called out as a ‘nimby’ last year.

Speaking at the World Gas Conference in Paris this week, he claimed that the large number of wells already fracked in the US and Canada have proven that the technology is safe.

However, just last year, Tillerson joined a lawsuit citing fracking’s consequences in order to stop the construction of a 160-foot water tower as it would harm the value of his $5 million home in Texas.

Wave of Fracking Applications Submitted Since Conservative Election Win

Read time: 3 mins

Since the Conservatives won a majority in the general election just over three weeks ago, there has been an increase in the number of planning applications submitted relating to hydraulic fracturing.

This observation comes after a marked rise in the share price of many fracking companies since fracking-friendly Amber Rudd was selected as secretary of state for the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

And while fracking did not get a direct mention in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, it was noted that “measures will be introduced to increase energy security and to control immigration.”

Anti-Fracking Activists-Turned-Politicians Challenged MPs at the Polls in Lancashire

Read time: 4 mins

While climate change barely got a mention in the national election debates, in Lancashire the issue of fracking was by no means sidelined in the run-up to election night.

Since the news of Lancashire County Council’s announcement to further delay its decision on two Cuadrilla fracking licences until after the election, fracking stories have continued to make the news and some polls even suggested that this issue would impact local election outcomes.

Most recently, Lancashire fracking made headlines on April 27 after pro-fracking Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames was branded a ‘nimby’ for saying Lancashire – not his home county of Sussex – should be used as the test bed for fracking.

Who is Cuadrilla’s New Chairman, Roy Franklin?

Read time: 3 mins

Last week it was announced that Roy Franklin OBE, age 61, had been appointed as the new Chairman of Cuadrilla Resources. Franklin originally joined the board of Cuadrilla Resources back in 2012.

Unlike Lord Browne (his predecessor who has now joined Russian firm L1 Energy), it seems he is not well known in the UK government. He is also not big in celebrity circles or active on social media.

Franklin graduated with a degree in Geology in 1973 from the University of Southampton. He now funds some undergraduate and post-graduate research there. After graduating, he worked his way up through BP for 18 years.

Scottish Government's Position on Fracking Remains Unclear

Read time: 2 mins

The Scottish Government have been accused of kicking the issue of fracking into the long grass.

Alex Salmond said recently: “I think fracking has a long way to go before it convinces populations across the country. Fracking in a heavily populated area is a totally different proposition from fracking elsewhere and I think the Scottish government is pursuing a wise policy on it.”

The government has been told that the technology is necessary to secure the future of the country’s energy industry, but it seems it will not make the conclusions of its own research known until after the general election.