20/01/2014 Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire


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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Welcome to Inside Out from Sutton Look North. Wel


Welcome to Inside Out from Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire.


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


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


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


investigate claims unregulated fracking could lead to an


environmental disaster. Also tonight, we join the


investigators trying to track down the energy thieves.


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


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


environment disaster. With hundreds of exploration licences already


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


looking at this controversial method of extracting shale gas.


CHANTING. On the battle ground where environmentalists and big business


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


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


Texas. As energy companies prepare to drill


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


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


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


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


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


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


having to bribe communities to accept this, something is very


wrong. Is the government pushing ahead with


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


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


here? Mining companies are lining up to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


pressure water and chemical mixture deep underground and extracting the


gas from the well. Test drilling for shale gas in


Lancashire has been suspended after a small earthquake...


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


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


first foray into fracking effectively stopped the industry in


its tracks. But that is all changing.


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


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


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


His subsequent recommendation for a seismic activity warning system has


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


recommendations he made have been ignored despite three years of


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


unregulated fracking and not only regulated, uninspected and


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


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


at all. The fracking industry in the United


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


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


there have been a raft of independent studies into the health


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


independent researchers revealed that the health of new born babies


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


directly link fracking chemicals with birth defects as well as


neurological and respiratory problems. The film Gasland which


shows igniting tap water has been dismissed by some as activist


propaganda but independent research by Duke University did find


dangerous and combustible levels of methane in drinking water near


fracking sites. This directly contradicts the industry's own


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


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


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


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


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


that fluid goes into the shale formation. Fracking fluid contains


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


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


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


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


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


only thing protecting that water from contamination is the cement


around the borehole and around the casings.


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


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


rely on reports from expert examiners who are often employed by


the gas companies themselves. But Energy Minister Mikaeel Fallon


says the regulatory regime is robust.


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


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


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


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


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


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


assure you that the Health and Safety Executive have all the


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


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


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


Protecting the environment and the local community but ensuring that


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


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


would want to do. The other main regulatory body is


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


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


there are doubts it has the expertise or manpower to regulate


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


water supply and that any waste involved has two be properly


disposed of. These are legally binding requirements.


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


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


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


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


application appears to contradict that as it specifically targets the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


those business rates? I can understand people being against


fracking, but planning departments are finding it difficult to find


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


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


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


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


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


be sure that that decision is immediately overturned. The prospect


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


permanent protest camp, attracting campaigners from all over the


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


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


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


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


residents did an amazing job. They were just challenging the


Environment Agency permits and just challenging the whole process.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


well has not been constructed properly. There is absolutely no


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


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


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


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


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


conducting its own tests on water supplies across the country in


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


York Moors will establish methane levels before any fracking is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


overall energy mix. The Government wants the fracking industry to


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


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


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


Facebook or Twitter. Now, whilst fracking is being touted


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


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


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


electricity. Mark Jordan has been finding out more.


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


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


stolen power. The meter has definitely been interfered with,


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


thieves and the people who track them down.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


explosion. NEWS REPORTER: This was the scene


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


great example of what the scale of the issue is.


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


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


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


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


that. Hello. We have come here to inspect


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


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


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


evidence for prosecution and the bill for years of stolen


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Thank you. Where is the light switch for this


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The latest comes from Chinese community newspapers. They openly


advertise telephone numbers for someone to come round and meddle


with your meter. TRANSLATIONS: Take control of your


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


unravels the crude scam from China that is being uncovered in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


This former Merseyside detective warns that thieves, like good


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


picking up. Immunity from prosecution is not included.


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


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


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


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


electricity stolen in Britain goes on cannabis farms.


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


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


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


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


orders to destroy everything that makes growing cannabis possible.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


centre. Looking And the effects of so`called


legal highs. And finding out what happened to the


Bradford car company that was once a world beater.


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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