Protected Landscapes 2019

Capt. 'Bob''s picture

"Among the main issues highlighted in the authority’s response to the review, being led by writer and ex-Government advisor Julian Glover, who visited the North York Moors in September, was the disparity between its  powers to look after the landscape and buildings and its impotence to protect wildlife.

An authority spokesman said: “The current contrast between our extensive and accepted powers under planning legislation and our lack of statutory powers to protect wildlife is extreme.

“A lack of powers to ensure positive change happens means that, even if, say, after 20 years of the most extensive consultation it was agreed by all parties bar one that a certain activity should take place to save a critical species, the national park authority has, in general, no power to make the activity happen.

“This contrasts with, for instance, the powers other local authorities have to deal with matters even including abandoned shopping trolleys where there is specific statutory provision...”


"“While it is quite possible for a national park authority to have such powers, on wildlife the report suggests the panel should consider whether powers should be transferred or shared with the park authority.  “We are not trying to say we should have all these powers, but that we should have some to ensure that our management plan does happen.”  Member Jeremy Walker said the implication of the recommendation was that other bodies' enforcement of wildlife protection was not good enough. He warned the authority against arguing for extra powers without having financial back-up.  Another member, farmer David Hugill, said he had become increasingly concerned about plans for the introduction of some species.

He said: “We have just had a failed attempt to bring lynxes back. There’s calls for wolves’ release in the Highlands, and for some reason Greater London, to curb growth and also brown bears to control deer. We can play a crucial part in any future consultations on the introduction of species.”   Ahead of members agreeing to call for the review to consider granting national parks some wildlife protecting powers, member Janet Frank said: “If we can’t look after the animals in the park I don’t see a point in us being here.”"

"The government’s 25-year Environment Plan states it will commission a ‘Hobhouse review’ of national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The UK’s first national parks were created by an Act of Parliament in 1949 following the 1947 Hobhouse Report, which remains the basis for most protected landscape designation in England.  It states: “This will consider coverage of designations, how designated areas deliver their responsibilities, how designated areas are financed, and whether there is scope for expansion.“It will also consider opportunities to enhance the environment in existing designations, and expand on the existing eight-point plan for national parks to connect more people with the natural environment.”

Chairman of the North York Moors National Park Authority Jim Bailey described the review as “a welcome step”. He said it was important to check that all areas of the national park were still fit for purpose and there was nothing missing 66 years after it was created. Mr Bailey said considering changes to the park’s boundaries would prove controversial, costly and time-consuming, but other work could include schemes such a “a nod to the historic value of Whitby” .




Captain Qahn's picture

Bluffer Zones Back

"AN intense battle over how much protection communities should be granted from exposure to fracking operations has resumed.

Amid tight security in a packed council chamber at County Hall, lawyers lined up alongside shale gas companies, including Ineos, Cuadrilla and Third Energy, green energy campaigners, residents and planning authorities to debate the county’s proposed mineral extraction policies.

Since North Yorkshire’s minerals and waste plan was examined in public last April, the Government has issued a ministerial statement on shale gas and the hearing was reopened for two days to examine whether the Whitehall guidance would impact on plan developed jointly by North Yorkshire and City of York councils and the North York Moors National Park Authority.

The key issue facing the hearing followed the Government statement that planners should not set thresholds or have areas within their minerals extraction plans that unjustifiably restrict shale gas development, while the county’s proposed plan had set out a 500m buffer zone between shale gas developments and homes and other sensitive buildings, such as hospitals and schools.

The hearing, the conclusions of which could shape planning policy on fracking across the UK, saw industry representatives show an interactive map of what the impact of the 500m buffer zone would be...

They said there was no justification for the buffer zones and the 500m limit that had been set was arbitrary.

Campaigners and the planning authorities told examiner Elizabeth Ord that the claims the proposed minerals policy would create “no-go areas” were nonsense.

Speaking outside the hearing, Chris France, planning director for the national park, around which a 3.5km buffer zone has been proposed, said: “We’re saying that when an energy firm is within 500m of where somebody lives they’re going to have to increase the mitigation measures to stop that development impacting on that property.”

The planning authorities said firms could laterally frack and site surface developments outside the buffer zone and still access the gas under people’s houses from 2.5km away.

The hearing also featured lengthy debate between acoustics experts over the impact of noise at different distances.

Energy firms said they could fully mitigate against noise and showed the hearing a photograph of a gas rig close to a house, but separated by a stack of shipping containers.

Mr France said: “It clearly would reduce the noise, but you have still got shipping containers bang next door to where somebody lives. The mitigation in itself can have a harmful amenity impact.”

After speaking at the hearing, Mayor of Malton Councillor Paul Andrews added the 500m buffer zones were essential to “balance the interests of residents against those of the industry, because the industry want to build multi-acre fracking sites right up to the fences of anybody’s and everybody’s back yard”.

He added: “Five hundred metres is not far enough, it should be a mile..."

Captain Qahn's picture

'Glacially Slow'

“They are playing politics with the future of the country. We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards an energy crisis that will do long term and irreparable damage to the economy and the government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable UK onshore gas industry,” said Ratcliffe.."

"In a statement issued on Monday, Ineos attacked the government for setting the limit at 0.5, which it called “a level that has no sound basis in science and betrays a total lack of understanding of the shale extraction process”.

"The firm pointed to other countries that have much more relaxed rules on seismicity and fracking. But the UK government has repeatedly said that one of the virtues of a UK shale gas industry is that it would be tightly and robustly regulated.

Tom Pickering, chief operating officer of Ineos Shale, said he “would not speculate” on whether the company would scrap its fracking plans if seismic rules are not reviewed. But he said: “What we are saying is the time is now. We really do need to get clarity.”

The company has spent more than £150m on shale gas plans so far, and its fracking arm employs has 10 staff.

Ineos claimed the government was “shutting down shale by the back door” and branded the planning regime “archaic, glacially slow, inordinately expensive and virtually unworkable”.

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'One More Regulation'

"Cuadrilla, the only company currently fracking in the UK, joins private energy giant Ineos in criticism of the current limits.

Ineos, which has licences for sites in Cheshire, Yorkshire and the Midlands, said earlier this week that the government was insisting on "absurd seismic thresholds" which were too low..."

"All we ask now is that we are treated fairly, with comparable seismic and ground vibration levels to similar industries in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK who are able to work safely but more effectively with significantly higher thresholds for seismicity and ground vibration," said chief executive Officer Francis Egan.

The company said recent testing "confirms that there is a rich reservoir of recoverable high quality natural gas present" beneath the Preston New Road exploration site.

But it says a "micro-seismic operating limit during hydraulic fracturing, set at just 0.5 on the Richter Scale, had however severely constrained the volume of sand that could be injected into the shale rock".

"In a presentation, the firm quotes a seismologist explaining how the limit could potentially be raised...

"Ben Edwards, Reader in Seismology at the University of Liverpool, is referenced in the Cuadrilla presentation as saying: "If you want to go to a risk-based approach, where you allow events that do not pose any risk to humans or structures, then there is scope to review the current system.

"That could be raised to 1.5 and that would still arguably be conservative.

"The company says "the threshold within North America has been set as high as 4.0"."

OOh tis like a Premier Inn ad ... without the duct tape.