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Never trust a green

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the National Trust have just issued a joint report into the impact of shale gas development on the UK's environment. These being green organisations it's always fun to go and do some fact checking.

I picked on the "Wildlife disturbance" section, because in itself this seemed a bit unlikely. When I visited Dart Energy's sites near Stirling I noted their proximity to the M9 motorway. The iGas site near Manchester is right alongside the M62. And besides, the drilling process only lasts a few weeks, so it's hard to imagine any long-lasting impact.

The report makes this claim: the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, 64 compressors (associated with shale gas extraction) outside the protected area, resulted in an average 34.8 decibel (dBA) rise above typical ambient sound within the park. Along the eastern border of the park, nearest to the highest density of compressors, sound levels increased by a mean of 56.8 dBA above ambient conditions. This compares to the US Environmental Protection Agency recommended “safe noise level” of 55 dBA.
The source cited for this claim is a paper by an NGO called the National Parks Conservation Association, which reveals a very important detail about the study that somehow didn't make it into the RSPB/NT paper.
A recent study modeled the impacts that compressors from oil and gas operations might have on Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. The study found that the sound of 64 compressors outside Mesa Verde elevated the sound level within the park by 34.8 decibels on average, and by 56.8 decibels on the eastern side of the park (which sits closest to the compressors).

Yes folks, you read that right - it's not a measurement of actual sound levels, this is a simulation (the original study is here) that has been reported as fact by our green friends.

As an aside, you might also like to consider how realistic this simulation is. As I understand it compressors are used as part of the drilling and fracking process. So I wonder about the likelihood of 64 sites operating simultaneously within a relatively small area.

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Reader Comments (56)

At Beckingham Near Gainsborough there is an oil field still in use that has been Fracked several times and the RSPB has now put a Bird Sanctuary on the top of it. The Oil company paid for the car park for the Sanctuary.
The Nodding Donkey's can be clearly seen on Google maps in Old Trent Road, Beckingham The pipeline goes to the nearby power station. The Birds don't seem to mind!

Mar 13, 2014 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterForester126

The once-laudable National Trust was infiltrated by the crypto-communists some time ago, following the path of so many once-great organisations. As somebody recently wrote "The National Trust is a national disgrace; the NaionalTrust is a national disaster".

Mar 13, 2014 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

I'd lay odds that a number of the RV's camping at Mesa Verde run generators all day and night to keep their A/C nice and cool inside the movable hotel room that are louder than the faked fracking model.

It's not only 'never trust a green', but also never believe a green as their bias levels are far into make believe land.

Mar 13, 2014 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Don K, thanks for the short list of typical noises and their associated sound levels.
To put things into further perspective, I was tasked, many years ago, with establishing various sound levels in our city so the citizens of a nearby country town would have good information to base possible objections or aprovals to the building of a motor racing circuit on the outskirts of that town. I was stunned to be howled down by said greenies and branded a liar by various said greenies when I informed the press of the readings I had taken; The noise from a starting line-up of forty large racing two-stroke motorcycles leaving the grid at the fall of the Starter's flag at a similar circuit to the one proposed proved considerably less noisy than heavy traffic at 8.00 am on a weekday morning as measured at a major intersection in our city.
Perception of any noise is obviously more important and persausive than actual measured noise to any person of the NIMBY persausion; because I was then heavily involved with motorcycle racing, I was immediately accused of being a person of inferior intellect posessing the social skills and attitudes of a hard core Hell's Angels gang member.

Mar 14, 2014 at 3:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

BH, the compressors are used to boost gas pressure up to levels sufficient to pass into the pipelines. Although initial Wellhead Pressure maybe be sufficient to flow naturally compression is eventually required. thus there will be some noise but hardly sufficient to scare the birds next to a motorway.

Mar 14, 2014 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

The other aspect is how much control that people have about ambient noise.

If I choose to play Motorhead at top volume, that is very different from having a kid with a muffler-free minibike riding up and down outside my house for a couple of hours (as happened this morning).

Noise stress is very subjective, but I would put at No. 1 the degree that people chose to undergo it.

If you decide to live somewhere where there is a lot of highway noise, that is one thing. If your previously quiet home is suddenly invaded by noise because a highway was built nearby, that is another.

It's a complicated issue.

Mar 15, 2014 at 7:02 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

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