Anti-frackers’ new blast over published report

A fracking rig at Preese Hall
A fracking rig at Preese Hall

Anti-fracking campaigners have blasted the Government after a heavily censored report on fracking’s impact was finally published in full.

The DEFRA report, Draft Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, was released days after Lancashire County Council rejected two bids to frack on the Fylde and came after the Information Commissioner ordered it to do so.

Bob Dennett

Bob Dennett

The report has been described as explosive and protesters said it was no wonder the Government wanted to keep it secret before the crucial hearings.

The report, which on its release earlier this year was redacted 63 times in just 13 pages, said house prices would fall by around seven per cent in areas close to drill sites, insurance costs would rise in case of explosions risk and residents could be hit by traffic, noise and air pollution along with visual impact of the rigs.

Bob Dennett, from Residents Against Fylde Fracking, said: “The fact the Government left it for over a year until after the hearings shows they had something to hide.

“Industry and the Government have been spouting the same rhetoric on how fracking would not affect house prices, but this shows otherwise, and it already has on the Fylde.”

The fact the Government left it for over a year until after the hearings shows they had something to hide

Bob Dennett

A spokeman for the Preston New Road Action Group said: “This report is full of warnings of adverse impacts. It is admitted that we would lose out on tourism and our farming would be put at risk.

“Our health could be put at risk, we would suffer from traffic, noise and other disruption. We would see our house prices drop.

“Even worse is the report says we will face increased insurance costs because of the risks of explosions on-site.

“The reality is that house prices near the proposed Preston New Road drilling site have plummeted and properties have been made unsaleable.

Ken Cronin

Ken Cronin

“Although this report is still a damning indictment of the effects of fracking, in our view the negative impacts are greatly understated.

“But even as it stands this report fully validates Lancashire County Council’s decision this week to refuse Cuadrilla permission.”

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “No wonder Defra sat on this explosive report until after the Lancashire decisions.

“Businesses could also suffer as it reveals that fracking threatens agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation businesses.”

But UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) pointed out that DEFRA itself now said that the report was “not analytically robust”.

UKOOG said several positive impacts were acknowledged– on jobs, energy security and local public services – which would benefit financially from operations in local areas.

The report also claims that insurance costs may have to go up for homes near shale gas sites, yet the Association of British Insurers has contradicted this and has not indicated any increase in costs for homes near fracking sites.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said: “It is a shame that this report has become such a cause celebre as it is merely a review of literature and brings nothing new to the debate or any new information in a UK context.”

The report can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439686/strategic-fit-letter-to-lord-deben-chair-of-committee-on-climate-change.pdf