Readers' letters - February 4

MPs must stop fracking
Protesters campaign against  fracking. See lettersProtesters campaign against  fracking. See letters
Protesters campaign against fracking. See letters

Tomorrow (February 5), a Labour Party MP from Swansea, Geraint Davies, is due to present the second reading of his Private Member’s Bill, Fracking (Measurement and Regulation of Impacts) (Air, Water, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill 2015-2016, to Parliament.

Readers should urge their MPs to attend this debate and support better monitoring and regulations.

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Our MPs must, however, go further to put a stop to fracking.

The issues are many and complex.

When I initiated the Green Party campaign five years ago, a major concern was the risk to our drinking water resources.

Since then, bans have been confirmed across such culturally comparable populations to ours such as those of France and New York State.

Our own seismically faulted geology may create pathways through which this gas and toxic chemicals contaminate our precious freshwater aquifers.

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We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of understanding all of the social, public health and safety implications of this industry, so opposing fracking isn’t politically dogmatic or scaremongering, it’s common sense.

The main parties have so far failed us, and better regulations are about as good as it gets from Labour.

Once set loose, how many wells will be drilled before UK MPs are prepared to reject this industry?

Estimates vary, but the potential for 6,000 wells would not be unreasonable across the industry-attractive Upper Bowland Shale of northern Lancashire, with many more across the rest of North West England.

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MPs must step up to the mark and put their constituents first.

Philip Mitchell

North Lancashire Green Party

No guarantee on shale gas safety

Just days after Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s plans for shale gas wells, three Cabinet ministers wrote to George Osborne, outlining their “ambitious strategy” to ensure that, within 10 years, Britain “will” have a maturing shale gas industry.

Details of this letter were reported in the Daily Telegraph at the weekend.

They are not sure that gas will flow, saying: “Alongside geology and investment, the biggest challenge we face is...”

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At least they have the grace to acknowledge that geology has a part to play!

A paper was submitted to the European Geosciences Union this week, entitled Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins.

One of the conclusions of the paper is that faulting in this thick shale is evidently difficult to recognise, and, if UK shale is to be exploited safely, more sophisticated seismic imaging methods need to be developed and applied to both basins.

Faults are important for two reasons: there is an inherent risk of groundwater resource contamination via these faults, both during or after hydraulic fracturing, and, as happened at Preese Hall, they can trigger tremors and damage the well itself.

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Even large faults are problematic, the Woodsfold Fault is the most important fault in the region, and the paper highlights that there are four possible interpretations of the location of the Woodsfold Fault – three by the BGS, who hold the 3-D seismic data from Cuadrilla’s survey, and (at least) one by Cuadrilla themselves.

I rather doubt that the signatories to the leaked letter, amongst them Liz Truss, the Environment Secretary, will read this paper.

So we may get shale gas forced on us by Truss, Rudd and Clarke, but ‘safely’? No, they cannot give any guarantee.

T Froud, Lytham

Clarifying car park charges

My attention has been drawn to the LEP’s misleading headline, Preston parking charges are set to rise by 33 per cent (LEP January 27). As reported in the second sentence, the 33 per cent rise applies ONLY to the cost of a day’s parking in the Avenham car park. There are no increases for the popular Hill Street and Markets car parks.

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It seems that, from comments in Web Words (LEP January 30), many readers were misled by the headline and failed to read any further. Incidentally, the council owns only 40 per cent of car parking spaces in the city. The rest are run by the private sector, for example, Fishergate centre, or the county council, for instance the bus station car park.

Coun Peter Rankin, council leader,

Preston City Council

My anger over parking fine

I have been a customer of Asda Fulwood since it opened many years ago, finding the store very convenient for all my needs.

I arranged to meet my daughter and grandchildren for lunch in mid December. I arrived early, did a bit of Christmas shopping, then we met up and enjoyed lunch.

Imagine my amazement when, just after Christmas, I received a demand from a company named Smart Parking.

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It stated that I had overstayed my parking time by several minutes and I had to pay £40, which would rise to £70 after a short period of time.

I wrote to this company challenging this, informing them I was a genuine long-term customer.

I also took the trouble to write a polite letter to the store manager, informing of these facts.

I received a letter from Smart Parking which basically stated “pay up or else”.

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I did not receive the common courtesy of a reply from Asda, but it is a massive organisation and they are active in maintaining profits against the threat of the discounters, so my 20-year plus association as a customer ends. I have paid the fine but do feel that Asda Fulwood have brought customer care to a new level.

Jennifer A Slater via email

An Asda spokesman replied: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we have a policy in place to ensure there’s space for customers to park in our car parks while they shop with us. We’d like to thank Ms Slater for her letter making us aware of her experience over Christmas and look forward to welcoming her in store again soon.”

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