Woolston Protectors Are National Heroes


The Northern Spring wishes the Woolston Protectors good luck and positivity, and says that all Protectors should be regarded as NATIONAL HEROES

The Woolston Protectors are in court today, and for those of you, who are switched on with what is happening with the extreme energy industry in the UK, you should know that Woolston Community Protection Camp was set up as a result of the threat of the extreme energy industry, in this case Coal Bed Methane mining, to people and the environment, including the Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve, a huge Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that is located just 120 metres from the IGas site!

Many scientists, including Paul Mobbs (The Ecologist), consider Coal Bed Methane Mining to be worse than the very controversial fracking process and in Australia Coal Bed Methane mining is considered so dangerous that it is BANNED within 2 miles of urban areas

The Protectors are at the site to prevent an environmental disaster occurring, to inform local people about the dangers of the extreme energy industry and to exercise their democratic right to protest

Community Protection Camps are set up around the country as a visible presence of peoples’ opposition to the extreme energy industry and to educate and inform local people about the dangers of the extreme energy industry

Local people in Warrington are exceptionally perturbed at an extreme energy site in very close proximity to a family pub with a childrens’ playground, the M6 motorway and an internationally important nature reserve

There are protectors throughout the country who are camping in fields to stop the extreme energy industry and these people are heroes who should be officially recognised as heroes

The Northern Spring has seen the Habitat Survey that the planning permission for the Woolston site is based on and have conducted a critique/review, the results are published here

Critique of Woolston Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey


In December 2009, Nexen Exploration UK Ltd published an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey, prepared by Rob Nicholson (Wardell Armstrong Ecologist) and approved by Estelle Linney (Associate Director/Principle Ecologist) and Malcolm Watson (Regional Director)

The Survey was conducted on an area of land adjacent to the Woolston Eyes Site of Special Scientific Interest, an internationally important nature reserve

In May 2015 James Walsh (B Sc University of Salford) of the Manchester Ship Canal World Heritage Group conducted a review/critique of the Survey and found a number of mistakes and inconsistencies


The report includes contradictory statements regarding the distance of the extreme energy site to the Woolston Eyes SSSI

In 2.2.2 the report states “The survey was conducted by two suitably qualified ecologists” although it does not state what “suitably qualified” actually means

In 3.2.1. the report states “Woolston Eyes SSSI is located approximately 120 metres to the south of the site”

However, in the Conclusion/Recommendations 6.1.1. the report states “Woolston Eyes SSSI is located approximately 1.2km south of the site” contradicting the earlier statement of 3.2.1. and therefore strongly calling into question the validity of the surveys’ conclusions

Obviously, there is a big difference as to the effects on the environment whether an extreme energy site is located within 120 metres or 1.2 kilometres

The report also gives no valid reasons as to why the operations WOULD NOT affect the environment or wildlife, this assertion is not backed up with any evidence at all

The survey was conducted in 2009 and subsequently huge amounts of scientific evidence have been produced to prove the harmful effects of the extreme energy industry and in 2011 the Queensland (Australia) government banned exploration for Coal Bed Methane in and around urban areas, with State premier Anna Bligh stating “no exploration would be allowed within a 2 kilometre buffer of centres with a population of 1000 or more”

6.1.3. states “Due to records of Otter and Water Vole within 2km of the site it would be advisable to maintain a 30 metre stand off from the banks of the River Mersey” however, previous study of IGas operations at Barton Moss has shown that IGas do not respect or maintain the “Water Vole buffer zone”

6.1.4 states “A summary of recommended further ecological surveys is given in Table 11” although we have no evidence to suggest that further ecological surveys have been conducted

6.1.5 states “It is not anticipated that any other ecological issues would constitute a constraint to the proposed development” but there is no evidence whatsoever to back this claim up

6.1.6. We require evidence that a further survey was conducted in June 2010 as the report states

We are also currently, May 2015, in the bird breeding season (March-August) so Table 11 says that a Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) MUST be conducted if work is to take place during the breeding bird season so we require evidence that this has taken place


All bat species are protected by European and listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention, Appendix II of the Bonn Convention and Annex IV of the Habitats Directive (1992) They are also protected in England under Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations 1994 and Schedule 5 & 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

As such they are a material consideration in determining planning applications

The 2009 survey states that Daubentons Bat were recorded within 2km of the site on rECOrd

The 2007 Woolston Bat Survey detailed here also confirms the presence of Daubentons Bat


Daubentons Bat is a National Priority Species and is reliant on waterways such as the River Mersey to feed

All bats in Britain are protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and are also protected by the Conservation Regulations of 1994


Since the 2009 survey was conducted Otter sightings have become more frequent with sightings along the River Mersey within metres of the IGas CBM Extreme Energy site and on the Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve suggesting that this species is re-colonising the area


Otters are strictly protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and by the EC Habitats Directive, (transposed into domestic law through the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c) Regulations 1994 (as amended) (the Habitats Regulations). Under the Habitats Regulations otters are classed as a European protected species and therefore given the highest level of protection. The deliberate capturing, disturbing, injuring or killing of an otter is prohibited, as is damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place (for example an otter holt). Legal protection does require that due attention is paid to the presence of otters and that appropriate actions are taken to safeguard the places they use for shelter or protection or breeding.


Woolston Eyes SSSI is home to many rare and protected species, such as the Black-necked Grebe and during casual ecological surveys of the adjacent grassland site, Barn Owl, a Schedule 1 species was found to be present


The report states “it is not considered that works within the development site will have a direct impact upon the SSSI or species that use it” however, there is no evidence to back this statement up

CBM uses underground drilling techniques and can lead to fracking, so there is a substantial chance that IGas, if the drilling process is not prevented from going ahead, is going to be drilling directly under a SSSI

The 2009 Ecology Report contains mistakes and inconsistencies, and since the survey large amounts of new information have come to light regarding rare wildlife species being seen in close proximity to the site, and also regarding the huge amounts of environmental damage that the extreme energy industry, including Coal Bed Methane, causes

Globally, business people are turning away from the environmentally damaging fossil fuel industry and moving money (a process called divestment) to renewable energy and green industry

This case is not just about one site it is about the future and what sort of future we want to create, whether we want to carry on with dirty industry or whether we want a clean and green future


2 thoughts on “Woolston Protectors Are National Heroes

  1. Hi there do you mind if I use the first section of this and make copies to give to people in Warrington on Saturday?


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