20/01/2014 Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire


20/01/2014

Investigating claims by an industry expert that unregulated fracking could soon be a reality around the region. And, on the trail of the energy thieves.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Inside Out from Sutton Look North. Wel

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Welcome to Inside Out from Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire.

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Good evening. I'm Toby Foster. Beside me lies the Vale of York and

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to the east the Vale of Pickering. But soon this beautiful countryside

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could be covered in fracking bills, to shale gas lies beneath. We

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investigate claims unregulated fracking could lead to an

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environmental disaster. Also tonight, we join the

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investigators trying to track down the energy thieves.

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It had a fake seal. An oil industry expert has warned

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Inside Out that unregulated fracking by energy companies could lead to an

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environment disaster. With hundreds of exploration licences already

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granted to energy companies and more in the pipeline, Danni Hewson's been

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looking at this controversial method of extracting shale gas.

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CHANTING. On the battle ground where environmentalists and big business

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square up, this is the front line. Shale is important for this country.

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I can't see a huge shale gas industry developing. Yorkshire isn't

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Texas. As energy companies prepare to drill

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across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire who'll be making sure it's safe?

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Nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers. I think

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people can be reassured by that. You cannot put a price on children's

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health. It doesn't matter what the money is, unless they are going to

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do it right, we can't have it, it's too dangerous.

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All that people have to ask themselves, if the government is

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having to bribe communities to accept this, something is very

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wrong. Is the government pushing ahead with

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fracking at any cost? How can we be sure our water will not be polluted

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and health affected? And will the mistakes made in the USA be repeated

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here? Mining companies are lining up to

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drill the rock thousands of feet beneath us so they can sell the gas

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that's been locked in there for millions of years. From here in

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Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast, across the country to here in

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Blackpool, a band of shale rock as much as a mile deep stretches the

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width of England thousands of feet beneath us. It's known as the

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Bowland shale. The 200 licences granted to explore for shale gas in

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Yorkshire and Lincolnshire so far are seen here in red. The blue area

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indicates how far that might extend. And this is what all the fuss is

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about. A geological quirk means this shale at Mam Tor in the Peak

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District is on the surface rather than deep underground. But exposed

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to the air, this shale no longer contains gas. The only way of

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extracting that is by fracking or hydraulic fracturing. Banned in some

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countries including France, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, and some states

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of the US, fracking involves pumping pumping millions of litres of high

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pressure water and chemical mixture deep underground and extracting the

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gas from the well. Test drilling for shale gas in

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Lancashire has been suspended after a small earthquake...

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But the first time a high pressure fracking procedure was carried out

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in the UK, it didn't end well. The earthquake triggered by the UK's

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first foray into fracking effectively stopped the industry in

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its tracks. But that is all changing.

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For two decades, Mike Hill has worked on oil and gas rigs all over

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the world. He has fracked for gas in Africa and was aboard the drilling

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rig when it caused the earthquake in Blackpool just miles from his home.

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His subsequent recommendation for a seismic activity warning system has

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been adopted by the Government. But he says a further 11 safety

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recommendations he made have been ignored despite three years of

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lobbying. We are in a situation in the UK where we are going to have

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unregulated fracking and not only regulated, uninspected and

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unmonitored. I want fracking done right. And I want it regulated and

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monitored. If you are not going to do that, you should not be doing it

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at all. The fracking industry in the United

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States was exempted from water and air pollution laws in some states.

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More than a decade after the industry took off in North America,

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there have been a raft of independent studies into the health

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implications of living near shale gas sites. In a recent report,

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independent researchers revealed that the health of new born babies

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within two miles of fracking sites can be severely compromised. Others

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directly link fracking chemicals with birth defects as well as

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neurological and respiratory problems. The film Gasland which

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shows igniting tap water has been dismissed by some as activist

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propaganda but independent research by Duke University did find

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dangerous and combustible levels of methane in drinking water near

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fracking sites. This directly contradicts the industry's own

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research. In the UK, there are no specific regulations designed for

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the shale gas industry. Current ones are 25 years old, and were designed

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for the offshore industry. There's a number of dangers from fracking. In

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terms of water contamination, when you frack a well and you pump

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millions of gallons of chemicals and water at high`pressure, the bulk of

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that fluid goes into the shale formation. Fracking fluid contains

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lead at 1500 times the level of safe drinking water, it contains cadmium,

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radioactive material, and all these things flow back, hopefully, up the

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centre of the well. However, you have drilled through rocks to get to

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the shale, you have then linked those shales and all the potential

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toxic fracking fluid directly to the ground water at the surface. The

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only thing protecting that water from contamination is the cement

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around the borehole and around the casings.

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The Health and Safety Executive is in charge of making sure these wells

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don't leak. But they don't, in fact, inspect them in person. They will

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rely on reports from expert examiners who are often employed by

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the gas companies themselves. But Energy Minister Mikaeel Fallon

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says the regulatory regime is robust.

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It says it doesn't have the resources to check each individual

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well, it would be impossible for them. It's not possible for the

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Health and Safety Executive to stand and inspect every single factory in

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this country, or every single chemical plant. The onus of

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responsibility, rightly, has to be placed on the owner and operator of

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that site. They must take the legal responsibility for compliance. But I

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assure you that the Health and Safety Executive have all the

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resources they need to come in and check it's being done properly. I'm

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satisfied that the regulatory system we have at the moment is sufficient.

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We've added new safeguards and I think we've got the balance right.

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Protecting the environment and the local community but ensuring that

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the burden of regulation is not so oppressive that it stops any kind of

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exploration, which some people who are explored `` opposed shale gas

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would want to do. The other main regulatory body is

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the Environment Agency. It's in charge of ensuring the toxic water

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that flows back is disposed of safely. Having lost 1,500 jobs,

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there are doubts it has the expertise or manpower to regulate

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effectively. Questions remain about how millions of litres of water with

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radioactive contamination would be dealt with. The EA is also supposed

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to monitor abandoned wells. They are totally clueless when it comes to

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what happens to a well after it has been abandoned. All the equipment,

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the instrumentation and hardware that is used to drill wells, they do

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not have that equipment. They are not monitoring these wells, they are

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just being left. The key work they do in protecting the environment, I

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can assure you that there `` that there is no risk of contamination of

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water supply and that any waste involved has two be properly

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disposed of. These are legally binding requirements.

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This is Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Test ruling has been

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carried out here. Screened by those trees just behind me is the site of

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test drilling carried out by Viking Gas last October. Officially, the

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company says it has no interest in shale gas. But its own planning

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application appears to contradict that as it specifically targets the

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Bowland shale. Viking Gas wouldn't give an interview but did eventually

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concede it is now analysing shale samples with a view to further

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drilling. A mile away, Lendales Farm produces beef cattle. It's been run

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by the same family for three generations. If they could prove 100

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per cent that it was safe, yes, I would approve of it. Our animals in

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the summer drink from the river and if it gets into the water courses,

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it could affect the drinking water. This is why farmers have to adhere

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to stringent rules so we don't affect the water courses and I think

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the fracking companies should do the same. You would hope the council

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would be on board. And they would be monitoring it with the environment

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agency. Whether that is going to happen, we do not know. No`one from

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North Yorkshire County Council would give us an interview, but the

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council leader did tell Inside Out that there was no official policy on

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fracking and that each application would be considered on its merits.

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We are announcing that the local council should keep 100% of the

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business rates. Some have dismissed as bribery the Government's new

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incentives for councils. In York, there are currently three licence

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blocks owned by Dart Energy who have indicated their intention to apply

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for exploratory drilling permits. We do not know what effect it has on

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seismic activity in a heritage city. We do not know what it does to the

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water supply. The evidence of an water supply. The evidence of an

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energy panacea does not seem to be there. I take with a pinch of salt

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the idea that we can take business rates. What is the difference

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between fracking and the forms of renewable energy and can we keep

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those business rates? I can understand people being against

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fracking, but planning departments are finding it difficult to find

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ways of upholding the policy. The pad is built, the well is drilled,

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the equipment is on and the operator is ready to frack. It would be a

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very brave council that then says, "No. You have gone that far, now

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stop, we are not letting you go any further." Because you can be sure

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that operator immediately appeals to the Secretary of State and you can

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be sure that that decision is immediately overturned. The prospect

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of lower gas bills has been dismissed by some ministers and even

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by the Government's key adviser, Lord Browne, also chairman of

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fracking company Cuadrilla. It could bring 74,000 jobs, over ?3 billion

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of investment. And there is scepticism about how many jobs would

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be created by a shale gas industry in the UK. Mike Hill says that once

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the Wells are up and running, most of the work is automated. You need a

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maximum of 50 guys to work 3,000 plus wells, C rollicking long`term

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at a small number of jobs. `` so you are looking at. The British

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Geological Survey was asked by the Government to estimate the extent of

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the Bowland shale and calculated a figure of 1,300 trillion cubic

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metres, but despite that, they doubt whether the industry is viable in

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this country. We shouldn't be distracted by this enormous figure.

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We might be lucky to get 1% out, we might get 0%. We have to be

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realistic about this. It is quite hard to imagine, you know, a big

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shale gas industry in a country so densely populated ` more so full of

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people who love their landscape and who value it. Across the Pennines,

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the IGas compound at Barton Moss, near Salford, is effectively

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besieged by the protestors camped outside. This convoy of lorries is

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just a few hundred yards from the expoloratory drilling site. That

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short distance will take over an hour. Keep walking. As long as they

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keep moving, this obstruction is not illegal, and for the protestors, it

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is the ideal way of making even the search for gas as difficult as

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possible. They waste eight million gallons of water per well. 3,000

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Wells, that is a lot of water. The lorries pass what has become a

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permanent protest camp, attracting campaigners from all over the

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country. They have been buoyed by the success of a similar protest in

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Balcombe, in Sussex, which stopped fracking operations. They see that

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battle as a template for stopping a whole industry in its tracks. It is

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not just the camps, it is all the local people. In Balcombe, the local

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residents did an amazing job. They were just challenging the

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Environment Agency permits and just challenging the whole process.

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Inside the compound, there is little activity today, despite the protests

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outside. Looking around, I mean, it is like an army camp in enemy

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territory. Can it ever be worth it? This is the first time we have ever

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had to resort to putting up some security around it of this sort,

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this order of magnitude, and that has been because of some of the

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activities of people who have a legitimate right to protest to the

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idea of fracking. But at the moment, IGas isn't even fracking on

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this site. It can only do so after a further planning application. We

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believe that it is worth pursuing this, because it has got an enormous

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benefit not just for the country as a whole, in terms of energy

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security, but for the region, in terms of jobs, training, employment

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and everything that goes with it. People are worried that their water

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is going to be contaminated. Should they be worried? There has been

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evidence of some contamination, but that has been caused because the

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well has not been constructed properly. There is absolutely no

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evidence that it has been caused by fracking per se. In terms of the

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water specifically, we do our own baseline monitoring of that,

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pre`arriving on site, during and post. Many believe independent

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testing is the only way to hold energy companies to account over

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water contamination. To that end, the British Geological Survey is

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conducting its own tests on water supplies across the country in

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advance of any shale gas extraction. These tests on the North

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York Moors will establish methane levels before any fracking is

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carried out. I have no issue with fracking going ahead, but not going

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ahead unregulated. It has to be controlled, it has to be monitored,

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it has to be inspected. Otherwise the risks to the public and the

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environment are very severe. It is an absurd situation to be in. It is

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a situation where the industry is more pro`regulation than the

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Government. The industry is less pro`fracking than the Government. It

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is a completely weird and absurd situation to be in, but that is the

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situation we are presently in. So it is dangerous. It is dangerous for

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the public in Yorkshire and, indeed, across the UK. Because if we get

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fracking by stealth, we also don't get any regulations either. People

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get concerned about whether we should be burning gas and what about

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renewables? The reality is we need energy and we need various types of

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energy and gas is much cleaner than coal and gas is a way of, as we

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continue to grow the renewable side of things, it can be part of the

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overall energy mix. The Government wants the fracking industry to

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succeed in this country. Those who oppose it have a massive fight on

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their hands to stop it. If you have any views on fracking or

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know about a story we should be covering, please contact us on

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Facebook or Twitter. Now, whilst fracking is being touted

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as a solution to sky`high energy prices, in the meantime, most of us

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are just trying to find clever ways of keeping our bills down. Some,

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however, are taking matters into their own hands and stealing gas and

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electricity. Mark Jordan has been finding out more.

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Energy prices are making headlines, as our bills hit an all`time high.

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Honest households pay up, but ?30 a year of our bill is paying for

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stolen power. The meter has definitely been interfered with,

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because it has a fake seal in the top. This is the story of the power

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thieves and the people who track them down.

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The British Gas training academy in Leicester. Here, engineers learn how

:18:35.:18:40.

to spot tampering of gas and electric supply. It has never been

:18:41.:18:46.

more needed. A difficult economic climate and more people feeling that

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this is the only way that they can get their energy. I think the trend

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is upwards. This is a huge problem and we believe perhaps that ?500

:18:56.:18:58.

million worth of gas and electricity is stolen across the industry across

:18:59.:19:02.

the year. In terms of what that means for a customer, potentially

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?30 a year on their bills, it is a lot of money for our customers and

:19:06.:19:08.

money that they shouldn't have to pay. For the next few days, I am

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riding along with Piers and Malcolm, power theft investigators. The most

:19:15.:19:19.

bizarre case that I think I have dealt with is probably a nursing

:19:20.:19:22.

home. And when we caught him, it cost him ?25,000. But this

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morning's call is for much smaller fry. The first three we have got are

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domestic. A routine meter reading on an east London estate has discovered

:19:33.:19:35.

a single mother of three tampering with here gas meter. There was what

:19:36.:19:41.

appears to be a cooker hose at the time that actually had replaced that

:19:42.:19:46.

gas meter. Even with gas central heating, they only paid ?15 last

:19:47.:19:52.

year. How many people live in the property? My mum, my two sisters and

:19:53.:19:59.

myself. The meter is back but hasn't been installed correctly. Because

:20:00.:20:02.

the mother has children, she is considered vulnerable and cannot be

:20:03.:20:06.

cut off. Potentially, this one will go to the police and we try to trace

:20:07.:20:11.

back who is doing this. We do find trends of where people are going

:20:12.:20:14.

around estates and tampering with the same meters in the same way.

:20:15.:20:18.

These people will charge a range, we have heard, from ?10 up to ?500 a

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time. So they can do 10`15 a day. They are not putting themselves at

:20:23.:20:25.

risk. If something happened there, it is all the adjoining properties

:20:26.:20:28.

and everyone in there who is going to be affected by a potential

:20:29.:20:31.

explosion. NEWS REPORTER: This was the scene

:20:32.:20:35.

that people on Dundas Road worker to this morning. Whatever the cause,

:20:36.:20:40.

gas explosions can be deadly. REPORTER: a suspected gas explosion

:20:41.:20:44.

inside a terraced house. In Sheffield last year, this entire

:20:45.:20:48.

terraced house was blown apart. Miraculously, no one died but it is

:20:49.:20:51.

a chilling reminder of the dangers of gas. The damage of that explosion

:20:52.:20:57.

was so great that authorities were never able to pinpoint the exact

:20:58.:21:01.

cause. Emergency services were worried about other dangers, so they

:21:02.:21:09.

decided to conduct a Test. The police were on site and the networks

:21:10.:21:12.

were on site. And they asked us whether or not we felt it was right

:21:13.:21:16.

to have a look at some of the other supplies in the street. And, yes,

:21:17.:21:20.

from looking at about 20 houses in a single terraced street, sure

:21:21.:21:23.

enough, we found five gas thefts and two electricity thefts. That's a

:21:24.:21:30.

great example of what the scale of the issue is.

:21:31.:21:33.

Little now shocks Mark. He has seen all sorts of dangerous ways of

:21:34.:21:41.

stealing power. This is one that really impacts on safety. A bicycle

:21:42.:21:44.

inner tube and they have used it to bridge the gas meter, so instead of

:21:45.:21:48.

the gas meter being here, this tube would literally be across here like

:21:49.:21:49.

that. Hello. We have come here to inspect

:21:50.:21:56.

the electricity meter, OK? We've got a bypass on the electric meter. This

:21:57.:22:00.

flat's total bill of just ?5 for last year led them to find this

:22:01.:22:08.

dangerous bypass. Tell me what's the problem is. Malcolm produces

:22:09.:22:11.

evidence for prosecution and the bill for years of stolen

:22:12.:22:18.

electricity. It is actually back`billed since 2008, when you can

:22:19.:22:24.

start it. `` from when the account started. It is going to be a big

:22:25.:22:28.

bill. It will be, yeah. Hard times may drive some, but we are now in a

:22:29.:22:32.

very rich part of Essex. Homes here often sell for over a million, but

:22:33.:22:36.

the team have a tip`off about an eight`bed bit mansion with ?300,000

:22:37.:22:40.

worth of cars on the forecourt. But the house is suspiciously

:22:41.:22:45.

energy`efficient. Can I come in and just have a look at what you got?

:22:46.:22:50.

Thank you. Where is the light switch for this

:22:51.:22:56.

room here? Within minutes of the team's arrival, the power to most of

:22:57.:23:02.

the house mysteriously goes off. My suspicion is that all the back of

:23:03.:23:05.

the house and that garage is on a meter supply that is now switched

:23:06.:23:13.

off. But where to look for the illegal supply? I'm just looking to

:23:14.:23:19.

see if any of it has been taken up. The owners insist the only meters

:23:20.:23:22.

are the ones outside, but an hour and a half into the search, Piers

:23:23.:23:30.

finds another supply. I can see the pipe. Ah. Another electricity meter.

:23:31.:23:38.

Moments later... OK. There we have another gas meter. All the power, be

:23:39.:23:43.

it gas or electricity, used through these two meters, is not being

:23:44.:23:46.

billed, it appears. So they are getting it for free. For now. But

:23:47.:23:53.

very soon, it is a mansion without power. The illegal supply is cut

:23:54.:23:58.

off. It won't be restored until an estimated ?6,000 of stolen energy is

:23:59.:24:03.

paid for. These people can quite obviously afford to pay for all

:24:04.:24:05.

their energy and yet they are not. Theft is being made all the easier

:24:06.:24:17.

by the internet. MAN: "There you go, it is going slow now." Video guides

:24:18.:24:22.

on stealing energy. A new local scam can go global in days.

:24:23.:24:29.

It is a cat and mouse game. Close one scam and another quickly opens.

:24:30.:24:35.

The latest comes from Chinese community newspapers. They openly

:24:36.:24:38.

advertise telephone numbers for someone to come round and meddle

:24:39.:24:46.

with your meter. TRANSLATIONS: Take control of your

:24:47.:24:49.

meters with this super money`saving device. Especially suitable for

:24:50.:24:55.

takeaways, restaurants and houses. That Chinese scam has now spread

:24:56.:25:00.

across Britain. We are from British Gas, we have come to inspect the gas

:25:01.:25:06.

mete, if we can. Piers and Malcolm think they have found it in this

:25:07.:25:11.

fish and chip shop. Just put something on that is using the gas.

:25:12.:25:15.

That is good. It doesn't seem to be moving. We are going to take that

:25:16.:25:18.

meter and leave you off supply, so cutting off the gas. Piers soon

:25:19.:25:21.

unravels the crude scam from China that is being uncovered in

:25:22.:25:25.

restaurants across Britain. OK, remove that and I'm now going to

:25:26.:25:29.

remove the index mechanism. He then exposes the cogs that drive the

:25:30.:25:33.

meter mechanism. It is the moment of truth. I don't know if you can see

:25:34.:25:40.

that. It has got teeth that have been taken off. Cut off half the

:25:41.:25:46.

teeth, and you halve the bill. This one has just a single tooth left. So

:25:47.:25:50.

only a fraction of the gas has been recorded on that index. And you

:25:51.:25:53.

still don't know anything about it? You don't know when that happened or

:25:54.:25:57.

who could've done it? Meanwhile, Malcolm produces an estimated bill.

:25:58.:26:01.

It is ?1,782.10 for the past four months. Can you pay that now?

:26:02.:26:08.

Otherwise I have got to tell the engineers to make sure that supply

:26:09.:26:12.

is kept off and we will walk away with the meter. It sounds tough, but

:26:13.:26:18.

they can only charge for the few months he has been with British Gas.

:26:19.:26:21.

This former Merseyside detective warns that thieves, like good

:26:22.:26:26.

consumers, keep changing supplier. You can just change supplier very

:26:27.:26:30.

easily, as it is now, if you get caught extracting electricity from

:26:31.:26:32.

one company, you can leave and then go to another one. This is a

:26:33.:26:41.

problem. If you say to them, right, there is ?1 million of electricity

:26:42.:26:43.

extracted from the company, their profits and income will be exactly

:26:44.:26:46.

the same, because that ?1 million loss will be spread over all of the

:26:47.:26:49.

honest bill`paying customers, so they have lost nothing. Back at the

:26:50.:26:58.

chip shop, the owner's credit card means this is one bill we won't be

:26:59.:27:01.

picking up. Immunity from prosecution is not included.

:27:02.:27:08.

There is one area of power theft where police, not power companies,

:27:09.:27:13.

take the lead. Step away from the door. Nationwide, police uncover

:27:14.:27:21.

over 20 cannabis farms a day. Most are stealing their electricity.

:27:22.:27:28.

Essex police raid up to six a week. It is thought a third of the

:27:29.:27:31.

electricity stolen in Britain goes on cannabis farms.

:27:32.:27:35.

So they followed the wires all around the house and they think that

:27:36.:27:38.

this electricity is being stolen from the neighbours. You can see

:27:39.:27:43.

there is a power cable, that is power that is coming from next door,

:27:44.:27:46.

so they have taken the power from next door. Police are now under

:27:47.:27:51.

orders to destroy everything that makes growing cannabis possible.

:27:52.:27:56.

Power theft, whether on cannabis farms or in the chip shop, it is

:27:57.:27:59.

booming, and unless detected, we get the bill. A total invoice amount is

:28:00.:28:10.

?7,702 .88. Catching the thieves is costly. Few will ever see prison.

:28:11.:28:15.

Here, cheeky enough to ask for a discount. We don't offer a discount.

:28:16.:28:21.

It seems just too much. OK, do you want to get the electrician in? The

:28:22.:28:26.

lights may go out, but the bill is still on us. Pop the electricity

:28:27.:28:28.

off, OK? Well, that is all for tonight here

:28:29.:28:36.

at Sutton Bank. Make sure you join us next week...

:28:37.:28:38.

When we will be investigating claims of abuse at a youth detention

:28:39.:28:41.

centre. Looking And the effects of so`called

:28:42.:28:45.

legal highs. And finding out what happened to the

:28:46.:28:49.

Bradford car company that was once a world beater.

:28:50.:28:50.

In an Inside Out energy special, Danni Hewson investigates claims by an industry expert that unregulated fracking could soon be a reality all over Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and Mark Jordan is on the trail of the energy thieves.


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