Thursday, 31 October 2013

Illegal Demolition? Can't be Arsed!

I am normally slow to anger, but one thing that winds me up is a well paid bureaucrat who can't be arsed to do his/ her job properly. Case in point on 27th October I e-mailed  the Council's Chief Executive, Sue  McGonigal (salary at least £113,000 a year)  expressing my concern about what I believe to be illegal demolition works on Ramsgate High St.
In that e-mail I clearly set out the reasons why I believed the company Panther was acting illegally - namely because they were carrying out demolition works beyond the scope of what was  agreed with the Council and which had been set out in in Sue McGonigal's e-mail to me of 23rd October. A copy of my e-mail of 27 October  is in my previous post about this demolition

Here is a copy of Sue McGonigal's reply to me of 30th October  

Dear Cllr Driver,

So that I can instruct the appropriate officer to visit, please could you give me details of what you believe the breach to be.
Regards,
Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council

So the highest paid employee of Thanet District Council, who is supposed to support elected councillors in resolving  problems raised by the public, has clearly failed to read my previous e-mail which set out the reasons why Panther appeared to be acting illegally. Perhaps this could possibly  be because she is one person doing 2 jobs?

Here is my reply to the Chief Executive

Dear Ms McGonigal
 
I am perplexed by your reply.
 
In my e-mail to you of 27th October I provided you with an explanation of the potential breach namely
 
"that the works being carried out by the developers or its agents appear  to have  far exceeded the permitted limits you described to me (in your email of 23 October). I have been advised that the developers or its agents have now demolished property beyond the roof and gables including the total demolition of another building".
 
I am do not believe I could have been any clearer. I also understand  that local residents have contacted the Council about the demolition work which is causing them considerable concern
 
I would be grateful if you could now arrange  for officer to visit the site and ascertain if the developers have exceeded any permissions granted by the Council.
 
This is a potentially serious issue and merits urgent attention.
 
I look forward to your reply
  
Cllr Ian Driver
 
I have occasionally speculated  in my previous posts about Pleasurama and TransEuropa Ferries,  that Thanet Council  might not be  well served by some of its civil servants. I will leavereaders to view this correspondence and make up their own minds.
 
What annoys me most is that members of public are being forced to endure potentially illegal actions because the most senior officer of TDC, appears not have read her e-mails. I think Thanet taxpayers deserve much better.
 
Here's some music from one of my daughters' favourite TV programmes. Very apt I think.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Illegal? Demolition Ramsgate High Street Pt2

The saga of the possible illegal demolition works on Ramsgate High Street continues, When I first reported the matter last week the Council's Chief Executive told me that an agreement had been reached with the developers, a company called Panther Securities?, that they could remove the roof because it was unsafe.
Well it seems as though the developers have done a lot more than this. Over the course of the weekend  they have totally demolished another building. An action which appears to breach the agreement with the Council. I understand that the developers may have also unlawfully tampered with the electricity and gas supply on the site causing some residents to lose power, These matters have been reported to the proper authorities who are investigating. If this company is flouting planning, and any other regulations, which on the basis of the evidence I have seen might be possible, then it should prosecuted and the highest possible penalties imposed. Here are some pictures of the demolition at the site over the weekend.  There a lot more including video. I have written to the Council's Chief Executive asking for an update and requesting copies of documents.

Dear Ms McGonigal
 
Further to your letter of 23 October I am writing to express my concern that the works being carried out by the developers or its agents appear  to have  far exceeded the permitted limits you described to me. I have been advised that the developers or tis agents have now demolished property beyond the roof and gables including the total demolition of another building. This additional  demolition work has been filmed and photographed.
 
Please provide me with an urgent briefing as to the situation at the site. 
In addition under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act I wish to know 
 
1.The legal/ procedural grounds on which the demolition of the roof structure to the outbuilding was permitted, including copies of any letters or e-mails sent to the developer or its agents about what the Council permitted it do on the site and copies of any notes of  meetings with the developers or between council staff on this matter.
 
2. Copies of communications (letters/ e-mails,  notes of meetings note of telephone conversations) with local residents about the Council's decision to allow the demolition   of the roof structure to the outbuilding and the dates of these communications.
 
Local residents are very concerned about ongoing developments and I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.
 Yours sincerely 
 Cllr Ian Driver  


Dear Councillor Driver,

Thank you for your emails regarding the works being carried out at High Street Ramsgate. I have now received updates from the officers dealing with the case and can now advise you of the current position.

The work that is being undertaken, being the removal of the roof structure to the outbuilding, is not considered to comprise development under the Planning Acts. Planning consent will be required before any further demolition works beyond the roof and gables can take place, the need for Conservation Area consent has been removed by a recent change in national legislation.

This work is considered to be necessary due to the unsafe condition of the roof structure and both the developer and the demolition contractor are fully aware of the limitation on the work.

The work itself is being overseen by the building control section, appropriate notices have been served by the developer and regular site visits undertaken, including out of hours to reports of alleged danger. Issues that have been raised by local residents have been addressed including those of site security, but those relating to the Party Wall Act and the site safety of workers undertaking the demolition are outside the remit of this authority. The HSE have been notified of the unsafe working practices and are currently investigating and the immediate neighbours have been advised to seek advice from either a Party Wall Surveyor or Solicitor regarding any lack of notice under the Act.

I hope that this clarifies the current position.
Yours sincerely,
Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council

Here's a song probably in bad taste


Lyrics
"Panther  waiting planning  for far too long
Now they gonna  dance  to a different song
They gonna scream and shout and  talk dissent  
Gonna smash  up Ramsgate  High Street without Planning Consent
 Chorus
 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Pleasurama Walls Have Tumbled Down

 

 

 A few shots from the Pleasurama site taken this morning after the storm blew down the walls. What an eyesore. Time to sack  SFP V and their spokesperson Terrence Painter and take back the land. What's happened here is a disgrace!

 
 
 
 

And as usual a song


Here are the lyrics  - very apt I think

You don't have to take this crap
You don't have to sit back and relax
You can actually try changing it
I know we've always been taught to rely
Upon those in authority -
But you never know until you try
How things just might be -
If we came together so strongly

Are you gonna try to make this work
Or spend your days down in the dirt
You see things can change -
YES an' walls can come tumbling down!

Governments crack and systems fall
'cause Unity is powerful -
Lights go out - walls come tumbling down!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Thanet Council Shake Up at the Top

One thing which is emerging from the Transeuropa and Pleasurama scandals is the Council's lack of robust financial  due diligence of the external companies it works with. Time after time financial due diligence has not been done, or done in such a perfunctory manner as to render it useless. There is also a tendency to take  what external organisations  have to say at face value and not seek independent verification. This is why projects have been massively delayed, assets destroyed and damaged and public money lost or wasted.

The  other thing is of course secrecy. Despite the  claims  of Council  leader Clive Hart that the Council is open and transparent the  truth is TDC  has a culture of secrecy reminiscent of the Cold War Soviet Politbureau.  Virtually every document  I have asked for about Transeuropa, for example, has been refused by the Council's Monitoring Officer and Head of Regulatory Services, Harvey Patterson  for what I believe to be extremely spurious reasons.

Much more sinister is the way in which  senior council officers and their political bosses in the Cabinet manipulate the Council's constitution  to keep important issues secret from back bench councillors and the public. The secret  Transeuropa  £3.4 million debt is a prime example of this undemocratic culture which seems to be gripping the Council. Its often been said that without openness and transparency, and an ability to learn from mistakes,  bad practice and corruption thrive. Shame Thanet Council has ignored this advice!

There is no doubt about it, a lack of financial due diligence, a regime of secrecy and what some staff have described to me as,  institutional bullying by bosses and politicians, have turned Thanet District Council into a thoroughly dysfunctional organisation which has brought itself into massive public disrepute.

So what's the solution?  Well  the election of councillors who are committed to openness and transparency in 2015 who will transform the Council into an accountable and listening organisation would be a good start. But in the meantime there needs to be some major changes in the  management structure  at TDC.

First of all why is the Council's Chief Executive, Sue McGonigal also moonlighting as  the Chief Financial Officer? Holding down 2 jobs sometimes means that instead of doing one job well, two jobs are done badly, which might explain some of the issues I have raised about financial due diligence and secrecy.

Also one person holding down the 2 most senior jobs at the Council  makes that person far too powerful and undermines the checks and balances which must be there to prevent one person dominating an organisation. Last but not least, being in charge of the Council's finances and also it strategic development can be a recipe for conflicts of interests which might possibly harm the Council. This is why most Council's do not combine the  posts of Chief Executive and Head of Finance.

Interestingly, CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) the well respected organisation which speaks on behalf of  Council Finance bosses said in their publication "The Role of the Chief Financial Officer in Local Government that

"There is a growing trend for CFOs to hold a range of different responsibilities beyond finance, including managing other services or leading change programmes. Whilst these can develop the individual as a corporate manager, authorities must not let the CFO’s core financial responsibilities be compromised through creating too wide a portfolio. Dilution and/or overload in the role of the CFO can result in poor financial outcomes for the authority. Setting out the core CFO responsibilities in this Statement is intended to allow local authorities and their CFOs to assess their job descriptions to ensure that their core finance responsibilities can be properly performed".

Next there needs to be a careful examination of the role of the Council's Monitoring Officer and Head of Regulatory Services. The Monitoring Officer is charged with ensuring that the Council's decision making processes comply  with its Constitution and the law of the land.

Sadly evidence suggests especially with regard to TransEuropa and issues about openness, transparency and accountability, that the Council's constitutional rules are  not always properly applied and that legal requirements are not always observed. I have raised my concerns  with the District Auditor, the Chief Executive  and the Local Government Association  and will continue to complain about and  expose abuse of process whenever I encounter it.

I also think that the current set up in which the Monitoring Officer is also  the Head of Regulatory Services is wrong . Just like the case of the Chief Executive, we have the possibility of 2 jobs being done badly rather than one being done well, which could again explain why  TDCs constitutional  and legal framework might sometimes not be the highest priority. In fact I would go so far as saying that the role of Monitoring Officer is so important that the post holder should do nothing else. Thanet being a relatively small Council means that the post could be part-time or perhaps shared with a neighbouring Council.

So there we have it. To improve Thanet's record on the effective monitoring of external organisations and improving its record on openness, transparency and accountability we need an urgent review of the role  and functions of the Chief Executive and the Monitoring Officer. Radical changes and a more focused approach at  the top might well percolate down the ranks and make TDC an organisation fit for purpose which commands more respect than it does at the moment.

One final thought, even if these changes happen I do not personally believe that TDC is sustainable in the long run. There needs to be a debate about reviewing local government in East Kent which, in my view, might mean the setting up of an East Kent Coast Unitary Council independent of KCC. But that's for another time.  

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Saudi - Sisters Are Driving Themselves

Women driving in Saudi Arabia need I say more. Solidarity with our Saudi Sisters. What sort of pathetic medieval dictatorship bans women from driving?  Mind you what sort of pathetic democracy attacks  the disabled, vulnerable and poor? Watch this film and cheer like mad. Listen to the music and dance like crazy.





TransEuropa, EU, £14million, Sex Pistols

The European Commission has rejected  my complaint that Thanet Council provided Tanseuropa  Ferries with illegal  state aid. But in rejecting my complaint the European Union revealed that Transeuropa also owed its fuel supplier Oilchart International NV a staggering $20 million USD or £12.5 million!!! 

So the debts owed by Transeuropa include  £3.4 million to Thanet Council, £2. 5 million to  Ostend Port and £12.5 million to Oilchart International. A grand total of £18.4 million built up over a 3 year period. This is an absolutely staggering amount of money and it does not include monies owed by Transeuropa  to its employees, to P and O for the hire of a ferry and various other sundry debts which at a conservative estimate must bring the grand total of debt to about £20million!  

This was a company in extremely serious financial difficulties. To invest in such a company, or to extend credit to it  would have been extremely risky and reckless for anyone to have done. The question must therefore be asked what  did Thanet Council  do to check the financial position of Transeuropa Ferries when it agreed to defer payments in 2010-11. What steps did it take to evaluate risk to the taxpayer and how often did it review these risks? Quite frankly Thanet was bonkers to defer payments for anything more than  an extremely short period and certainly not for 3 years!

One thing which mystifies me  more than anything else  is why would a commercial organisation, such as Oilchart International, which has the sole purpose of selling fuel for profit and who's terms and conditions of business require immediate payment, allow a 2-bit ferry company running a fleet of 2, and towards the end,  3 rust bucket vessels to have a line of credit of up to £12.5 million? This is a medium sized company which I am sure could not afford to bear such eye-watering  unpaid bills. This action defies business logic and leads me to wonder if something other than charitable motives might have been at work here. But as I say this is pure speculation on my part.

Here is a link to the Olichart Website http://www.oilchart.com/ .


They say strange things happen at sea, especially piracy and skulduggery where public bodies like Thanet Council  are divested  of their funds by unscrupulous, swashbuckling jolly jack-tars, who might have links to  secretive tax havens in Cyprus.  But I'm seriously out of my league here.

Perhaps the son of the now deceased owner of Transeuropa Ferries, Dexter Dias QC,  might be able  to help. They say he is a brilliant barrister who also writes detective stories. Maybe he can solve the mystery
http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/barristers/dexter_dias_qc.cfm

I must confess that like Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols  I get a strange feeling that someone, somewhere  might have  been cheated by the now defunct Transeuropa Ferries or its pals.




Letter from EU -

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Disabled Pensioner Thrown Out of Council Meeting for Filming



Here is a film which shows a 71 year old disabled pensioner being thrown out of a  Tower Hamlets Council meeting earlier this year for filming. This is exactly what Thanet Council does to people who want to film meetings. Appalling anti-democratic fools!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Energy Price Rises Kill

Recent inflation-busting energy price rises will kill at least 70 Kent residents this winter and  force thousands into fuel poverty, claims the Kent Green Party.

According to the latest figures, 53,272 Kent households (an average of 9% of total households) are in fuel poverty (1). In some areas of Kent the number of households in poverty is much higher than the county average. In Canterbury, Thanet, Swale and Dover fuel poverty rates of between 17-22% are concentrated in some of the most deprived wards (2).

“With wages and benefits frozen or reducing in value and energy price rises many times greater than inflation thousands of Kent people will find themselves in fuel poverty with many having to make the choice between eating and heating,” said Green Party Thanet Councillor, Ian Driver.

Energy affordability could also make the difference between life and death. Based on the latest available figures, it is estimated that during the winter of 2011, approximately 70 people in Kent died as a direct result of living in cold homes. At least 50% of these deaths were concentrated in Thanet, Swale, Shepway and Dover, some of the poorest areas in the county (3).

Said Driver: “It’s intolerable that  people are allowed to die in Kent and the rest of the country simply because they can’t afford to keep warm. It should be a basic human right to be able to live in a warm home with affordable fuel bills. The Green Party calls on the Government to massively expand its programme of insulating the homes of people at risk of fuel poverty and installing more fuel-efficient heating systems.  The Government should also take steps to ensure that a significant portion of the massive profits of the energy companies are directed towards making electricity and gas more affordable, rather than lining shareholder pockets.”

 
 Notes
1.   Figure extracted from the latest Government Fuel Poverty Statistics for 2011 (low income/high cost table) , which can be found here:
 https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-sub-regional-statistics

2.   Figures extracted from above table and attached to this e-mail.
3.   The 2011 Hill’s Report on Fuel Poverty developed a methodology for calculating deaths directly attributable to cold homes. 10% of all excess winter deaths (700 in Kent in 2011)  can be directly attributed to cold homes = 70 deaths. 50% of  all excess winter deaths in Kent in 2011 were in Thanet, Swale, Shepway and Dover. See

and
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15359312

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Illegal Demolition Ramsgate High Street?

Here is a short film taken on Monday of the demolition of a property at 79-85 High Street by Panther Limited. To the best of my knowledge Panther does not have planning permission or conservation area consent to carry out this demolition work. They have not notified adjoining residents who share party walls with the property of the work they will be carrying out. The Council warned the company when they  previously tried to demolish the property. The workers turned up again on Saturday, Sunday and Monday to continue with the demolition. Despite being alerted by local residents and myself the Council has taken no action whatsoever to prevent what appears to be  illegal demolition work. Nor have they yet communicated with very worried residents who are concerned  about what is going on. A terrible example of shameful TDC incompetence, or is the Council deliberately turning a blind-eye in the hope of removing the old buildings by stealth?



One of the demolition workers came round to the house where I was filming from  and started banging on the door and shouting. This was witnessed by 3 people. Sadly I was unable to film it.

Greens Welcome Environment Agency Opposition to East Kent Gas Drilling


The Kent Green Party has welcomed the Environment Agency’s objections to planning applications for exploratory drilling for shale and coal bed methane gas at Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell, which could lead to the use of fracking techniques in East Kent.
The applications submitted by Coastal and Oil and Gas Ltd were due to be decided by Kent County Council in December but, following the intervention of the Environment Agency, it is extremely unlikely that decisions will be made until 2014.

The Environment Agency’s objections focus on the possibility that drilling operations may pollute the chalk aquifers which provide drinking water for thousands of homes in Kent (1). Despite warning Coastal Oil and Gas of their concerns during pre-application discussions, the Environment Agency has criticised the company for failing to explain what steps it will take to eliminate the risk of water pollution.
Thanet Green Party Councillor and anti-fracking campaigner, Ian Driver, said: “Ever since these applications were submitted we have warned about the danger to the water supply. The Environment Agency’s objections support our concerns and demonstrate that exploratory drilling for shale and coal bed methane  gas is incredibly dangerous and should not be allowed.”

Ashford Green Parliamentary Candidate, Mandy Rossi, said: “Many Ashford residents have water piped from the aquifers of East Kent and I will be objecting to KCC about these applications. There is no safe way of exploring for, or extracting coal or shale bed methane gas. The risks to water supplies and the environment are simply too high.”
The Green Party is the only party to oppose the exploration and extraction of coal and shale bed methane gas and the associated use of fracking techniques to aid extraction.

Ends

FURTHER INFORMATION:  Ian Driver, Tel: 07866 588766

Promoted by Stuart Jeffery for Kent Green Party, 82 Buckland Road, Maidstone ME16 0SD

KENT GREEN NEWS, free ezine, is available by subscription at www.kentgreenparty.org

Notes

1. Link to EA letters of objection
 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Manston Plane Stupid

Bought from bankrupt  Planestation for  £17million 8 years ago and sold this week for £1. By my calculations that’s a loss of £5,822 per day even before wages, energy, repairs & maintenance costs are taken into account,  which I am sure were  not being covered by the Airport’s  tiny  trickle of income. 
Was it worth punting £1 on Manston? . In my view no! Or at least no if you wanted  to buy  an airport which it was claimed would be  handling 5 million passengers and 400,000 tonnes of freight in the next 10 years.   As transport pundit, Simon Calder, pointed out this week the passenger catchment area is simply too small to make Manston  viable. Even with a Parkway Station and faster rail links to London, subsidised at great expense  by the taxpayer, Manston would remain hard to reach.  Frankly who in their right mind would chose Manston when, for most passengers, it’s easier to get to Gatwick, Heathrow, Stanstead or even Southend?  Who  in their right mind would choose Manston and its limited facilities and services when you have a choice of modern, international standard, airports within 2 hours travel?   Even as freight focused airport Manston’s opportunities are limited. Distances to and from major storage and distribution centres are too great and the additional transport costs too high, for Manston to be a serious player.

Sadly, like the Port of Ramsgate, Manston Airport lives in the shadow of modern  transport colossi against whom it will never be able to successfully compete. So instead of continuing to prop  up this ailing aerodrome at the cost of £millions per year, perhaps its time, just like the port, to think about other uses. Which gets back to my original question. Was it worth punting £1 on Manston? Too damn right it was! £1 gets you an awful lot of real estate which could eventually be sold off at massive profit for  housing, retail, leisure, or industrial use. No wonder Anne Golag is one of the richest women in the country.

 

Fracking Round Up

The public meeting in Dover last night was very well attended,  Some excellent presentations on the impact of fracking on the environment.  Guston and Sheperherdswell Parish Councils have both voted against the exploratory drilling applications. Local campaign groups are growing from strength to strength and communities are  mobilising against  gas extraction in their areas. Even local MP Charlie Elphicke, a supporter of fracking,  has decided to oppose the applications for exploratory drilling at Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone.

The big news is that KCC has delayed the decision date for the 3 drilling apparently. Apparently they have received an unprecedented number of objections to the plans and the Environment Agency and others have raised some extremely serious question about the safety and environmental impact of Coastal Oil and Gas' proposals. KCC has now asked the company to provide more detailed information about their plans and processes and they are expecting this to lead to "significantly changed plans". The Kent Green Party totally opposes fracking. There is no way of making it safe. Fracking in East Kent runs the risk of polluting the chalk aquifers which the people of Ashford, Dover, Canterbury and Thanet depend on for their water.

Finally, KCC was caught  out by the Kent Green  Party for investing  £153 million of its pension fund into fracking companies. Surely there must be conflict of interest by investing in companies you grant planning permission to? Apparently KCC doesn't think so. Just look at their record on tobacco. They are tasked with the job of reducing smoking in Kent, but invest more £12million in tobacco companies. When a senior public health manager speaks out against this conflict of interest on Radio Kent KCC threaten to discipline her! You can't  make this stuff up.














Dover Public Meeting














Tuesday, 15 October 2013

KCC Conflict of Fracking Interest

On the day of a major public meeting in Dover to discuss applications for exploratory drilling for shale and coal bed methane gas at Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell (1), which are likely to lead  to full-blown fracking in East Kent, the Green Party  has revealed  that the planning authority which will be deciding these applications in December - Kent County Council -  has multi-million-pound investments in several fracking companies.

Following a Freedom of Information request the Kent Green Party has discovered that KCC holds £153 million of shares in 8 companies actively or wholly involved in extracting shale oil and gas (2). 

Thanet Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, said  "We are calling for the decision making on fracking applications to be taken out of the hands of Kent County Council. They have a huge conflict of interest which may explain some of the reason that they are so intent on destroying our environment. They cannot be trusted to make unbiased decisions and therefore they should be stripped of this power. Until fracking is banned in this country, we want decisions on fracking to be made directly by local people.

"Kent County Council's huge investments in these eight companies that are exploiting and polluting the environment demonstrates how unfit the Conservative County Councillors are to lead Kent.

"Fracking has no place in an ecologically sustainable world. Instead, energy companies should be putting their money into renewable resources - resources that won't run out and that don't pollute."

The Green Party remains the only party opposed to fracking.

 FURTHER INFORMATION:  Ian Driver, Tel: 07866 588766

Promoted by Stuart Jeffery for Kent Green Party, 82 Buckland Road, Maidstone ME16 0SD

KENT GREEN NEWS, free ezine, is available by subscription at www.kentgreenparty.org

Notes


1. The meeting in Dover has been called by East Kent Against Fracking and is supported buy the Kent Green Party. The meeting takes place at
Wednesday, 16th October 7.30pm-9.30pmConnaught Hall, Dover Town Hall, Maison Dieu House, Biggin St, DOVER   CT16 1DL see http://eastkentagainstfracking.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/fracking-in-garden-of-england-meeting.html
2. Kent County Council’s fracking investments include

- £7m invested in EOG which proudly declares that: "EOG outproduces other horizontal shale oil producers by 2:1" http://www.eogresources.com/investors/annreport.html
-£2. 9m invested in the Wood Group: "Wood Group's activities to support oil & gas production from shale fields in the US are growing, with annualized revenue totaling approximately $500 million"
http://www.woodgroup.com/news-events/news-releases/pages/1851669.aspx
- £16m in BHP Billiton: "Our production volumes increased 40 percent over the prior year driven by the acquisition, successful integration and continued development of our Onshore US shale assets."
http://www.bhpbilliton.com/home/businesses/petroleum_potash/Documents/20120101_PetroleumPotash_Petroleum_AnnualReview2012.pdf
- £12m invested in Centrica, a company that has a 25% stake in the Bowland Shale in Lancashire: "This transaction presents an attractive opportunity for Centrica to explore the potential and commercial viability of natural gas from shale in the UK" http://www.centrica.com/index.asp?pageid=29&newsid=2778
-. £10m invested in Total: "Unconventional gas is a major strategic challenge for the future of the natural gas industry." http://total.com/en/energies-expertise/oil-gas/exploration-production/strategic-sectors/unconventional-gas/shale-gas-1/international-deployment/europe
-  £15m invested in BP AMOCO: "Natural gas, including gas from unconventional reservoirs, has an increasingly important role in meeting the world’s growing energy needs." http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/investors/6423_BP_Unconventional_Gas.pdf
-  £27m in ROYAL DUTCH SHELL: "Abundant global supplies of natural gas and oil lie locked tightly in rock formations such as tight sandstone and shale. Shell is using advanced, proven technologies – including hydraulic fracturing – and follows global operating principles to unlock these resources safely and responsibly." http://www.shell.com/global/future-energy/natural-gas/gas/shell-operating-principles.html
-  £31m in BG Group: "BG Group explores for and produces unconventional gas in two regions: coal seam gas in Australia; and shale gas in the USA." http://www.bg-group-ara.com/pdf/bg-ar-2012-full-report.pdf

Monday, 14 October 2013

Public Meeting Fracking in East Kent

Fracking in the Garden of England?
What you should know
Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd has recently submitted three applications to drill exploratory boreholes in East Kent to test for the presence of coal bed methane and/or shale gas. If these applications are approved and the extraction of unconventional gas or oil is found to be feasible and profitable, the companies involved would eventually - if not immediately - apply to carry out fracking at these sites.

Ian Crane, ex-oilfield executive of Fracktured Future fame, will share his valuable experience of working in America and present a comprehensive introduction to the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), including information about regulation and safety issues in the UK.

Graham Warren, hydrogeologist and Chair of the Environment Group of CPRE-Protect Kent, will give a presentation about the local geology and explain the high risk of contamination of the water resources of more than 70% of the population of Kent from exploratory drilling at these sites.

Sue Taylor of Conservatives Against Fracking will also be present to provide us with a first-hand account of what it is like to live near Cuadrilla's exploratory borehole at Balcombe. 

In the last half hour of the evening, Rosemary Rechter, Chair of East Kent Against Fracking, will introduce and chair a Question and Answer session, giving you the opportunity of putting your own questions to this distinguished panel of speakers.
Wednesday, 16th October
7.30pm-9.30pm
Connaught Hall, Dover Town Hall,
Maison Dieu House, Biggin St,
DOVER   CT16 1DL −      Free event

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Greedy Filmstar Thanet Councillors

Here is a short video  about filming at Council meetings and   the unbelievable decision of your elected  Councillors to increase the level of gifts and hospitality they can trouser  before declaring,  from £25  to a staggering £100 per treat. Two words Snouts and Troughs come to mind and that's being polite!  Then some discussion about Victoria Pavilion and fracking/ gas exploration in East Kent

 

The fracking/ gas exploration meeting takes place Wednesday, 16th October, 7.30pm-9.30pm, Connaught Hall, Dover Town Hall, Maison Dieu House, Biggin St, Dover CT16 1DL. For more details see http://www.eastkentagainstfracking.org.uk/

I would recommend you go. This is a very serious issue with big implications for Thanet.

Here's a song which  I think is appropriate for Thanet's greedy grasping Councillors. People have  said to me that its possible  for elected councillors to enjoy a lot of secret undeclared hospitality for £99.99. Enjoy.



Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ramsgate It's Time Is Coming

Its great news that the Council has finally got possession of Dreamland. There's £10million in the bank to begin development work on the site which should result in a first class visitor attraction which will create jobs for local people and new business opportunities. But what about Ramsgate? Is there  a danger that it might get overlooked and side-lined by Margate? I hope not. If anything, Ramsgate has more development potential than Margate. There's the Pleasurama site, the Pavilion, the Port and of course things are already happening with the caves and former motor museum. These sites if developed properly and in consultation with the community could kick start the economy and provide much needed jobs, training and business opportunities. I believe Ramsgate is a town who's time is coming again. The local community and the Council needs to seize the opportunities.

Here's a short film I have made about this. 


Kent Green MEP Votes to Tighten Fracking Rules

Kent Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor voted today (9 October) to bring hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for unconventional hydrocarbons within the scope of the European Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

This major change to European environmental protection rules was passed by 322 votes to 311. Once enacted in 6-12 months’ time, the impact of fracking operations on the environment will have to be thoroughly and independently evaluated by qualified experts before permission to begin drilling is granted. The changes also require that local people are provided with more information about fracking applications in their neighbourhood and that public consultation about these applications will have to be strengthened (1)
Keith Taylor said “I’m convinced that an EU-wide fracking ban is needed, but in the meantime, requiring a full environmental impact assessment on every shale gas or oil project is an important safeguard to determine the risks associated with fracking. Taking baseline environmental readings in advance of drilling will also enable effective monitoring of operations."

Thanet Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, who is campaigning with East Kent Against  Fracking to oppose exploratory drilling for coal and shale bed methane gas at Guston, Shepherdswell, Tilmanstone and Woodnesborough,  said “I’m  delighted by the news. The new rules will give more power and influence to local communities who, more often than not, are forced to oppose big drilling companies with one hand tied behind their back and without any proper advice or information from council  planners”.
The Kent Green Party is supporting a major public meeting Fracking in the Garden of England? What you should know on Wednesday, 16th October, 7.30pm-9.30pm, Connaught Hall, Dover Town Hall, Maison Dieu House, Biggin St, Dover CT16 1DL.

Ends
 FURTHER INFORMATION: Ian Driver, County Press Officer, Kent Green Party: Tel: 07866 588766, or Keith Taylor MEP on 0207 250 8415

Promoted by Stuart Jeffery for Kent Green Party, 82 Buckland Road, Maidstone ME16 0SD

KENT GREEN NEWS, free ezine, is available by subscription at www.kentgreenparty.org

 Notes
(1)            See European Parliament press release