The UKOOG Community Engagement Charter that Aurora sent to Halsall Parish Council with their letter of 27th April 2016 states:
Openness and transparency has to be at the heart of everything we do. This document sets out the industry’s charter for community engagement. All operators displaying our logo will adopt these as minimum standards and will be measured against them on a regular basis.
To ensure open and transparent communications between industry, stakeholder groups and the communities in which we operate.
As Borough Councillor for Halsall Maureen Mills asked Aurora Energy Resources Ltd. on 6th June 2016:
I write to you as West Lancashire Borough Councillor for Halsall. I have received very many communications from concerned residents both in and around Halsall about the above survey and I request your urgent response to the following as holder of PEDL 164:
1. Please let me have an updated Ordnance survey map marked with the full acquisition details in the same format as the one that was produced to Halsall Parish Council by Tesla, your contractors, last year (attached for reference).
2. Exactly when do your contractors intend to:
a. commence the survey;
b. publish the promised Public Notice of the survey in the local press and in which local newspapers will it be published;
c. commence the promised leaflet drop and will you leaflet every property within the survey area? A concerned resident who spoke with one of your contractor’s employees on Saturday has advised me that she was told that you/they will not be leafleting every property within the survey area. If that is to be the case, why not?
3. I understand that your contractors have advised a resident that they will be having 24-hour security to deal with “activists”. What exactly does that mean for residents and why do you/they feel this is necessary?
4. Many residents are extremely concerned that your contractors have advised that they will be using explosives 5m from their properties and that damage of many kinds may well occur that will not be covered by what your contractors describe in their letter to Lancashire County Council dated 28th April 2016 as “adequate” insurance. There are many very old properties in your proposed survey area. Please let me have full details of your/your contractor’s insurance cover and let me know what do you/your contractors consider that residents need to do to protect themselves against your insurers refuting claims for damage to their properties?
5. Please can you confirm that your contractors will not be using vibroseis methods on the many already very badly damaged, small highways within the survey area.
6. Please can you confirm that your contractors will adhere strictly to the time frame they have agreed with Sefton MBC and Lancashire County Council and that the survey will therefore be fully completed before 15th August 2016.
They responded on 7th June 2016:
Thank you for your email of 6th June, containing your letter regarding Aurora’s proposed geophysical survey. Although your recent election to the Borough Council post-dated my recent letter to councillors informing them about the survey, you indicate that you have seen the related correspondence with Halsall Parish Council which was in substantially the same form.
Please find below responses to the points raised in your letter:
1. It is not our intention to issue any more detailed maps of the proposed survey than those which we have already supplied. The reason for this is the same as that given by the OGA in response to your FOI request in July 2015 namely to protect the privacy of landowners who either have or have not granted access for the survey.
a. The exact timing of the survey is dependent upon when the necessary land access agreements are finalised. We hope to undertake the survey this summer.
b. The press notice will appear in the local press (Champion and the Advertiser) in the week prior to the commencement of the survey.
c. Similarly, the resident leaflets will be distributed in the week prior to the survey. Please be assured that it has always been the plan that all residents and businesses within the survey area will receive an information leaflet notifying them about the survey.
3. It is normal to employ security on such surveys, principally to deter theft.
4. There seems to have been a misunderstanding on this point, as such operations are subject to established guidelines and British Standards controlling limits on vibration levels to ensure that no damage to property or infrastructure occurs. To ensure compliance with the above standards, the minimum standoff distance from residential property for explosive charges is 50m not 5m.
5. All routes for vibroseis operations will be agreed in advance with either LCC or SMBC Highways departments
6. It is expected that the survey will be completed prior to 15th August.
I trust the above information answers your current queries regarding the survey; should any further questions arise please do not hesitate to contact me.
It will be seen that not all questions have been fully answered, notably the question about insurance cover! She will be going back to them on that point and others.