Report rules out fracking say protesters

A view of a f typical fracking rig in the USA. Opponents say hydraulic fracturing for gas can cause health issues locally

A view of a f typical fracking rig in the USA. Opponents say hydraulic fracturing for gas can cause health issues locally

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Opponents of fracking say an updated medical report into the controversial process shows that it should not be allowed to go ahead on the Fylde.

Residents and groups opposing plans to frack at two sites on the Fylde say the report by Medact links hydraulic fracturing to health problems with people living near gas sites.

There is also strong evidence that shale gas will accelerate climate change with health implications worldwide

But industry supporters say that gas can be extracted safely with no threat to the environment and residents and said it was wrong to compare problems in the USA with the UK due to the regulatory system and monitoring.

The report, Shale Gas Production in England – an updated public health assessment, draws on a much larger body of evidence (350 more reports) published since the first report was produced last year.

In particular, the report states that there are potential risks of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals which could affect reproduction; a risk of respiratory effects resulting from ozone and smog formation; and stress, anxiety and other psycho-social effects arising from actual and perceived social and economic disruption.

A special consideration in England as compared with the US is that there may be a greater risk of well integrity failure and therefore leaks due to the heavily faulted nature of the geology.

Dr David McCoy, the report’s lead author, said: “The biggest threat posed by shale gas is via global warming.”

Dr Rugman of Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, said: “I have evaluated the accumulating evidence from peer-reviewed research as cited in this updated Medact Report. Should this industry proceed, I fear for the health and safety of the children of Lancashire who will be forced to live close to fracking.”

Pam Foster, of Frack Free Lancashire, said: “Mounting medical evidence proves that there are many potential health – both physical and mental - risks for people living close to fracking sites.

“There is also strong evidence that shale gas will accelerate climate change with health implications worldwide. For these reasons the government needs to impose a long-term energy strategy that halts any further exploration and production of fossil fuels and invest in clean, green renewable energy.”

But Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG (the representative body for the onshore and oil and gas industry), said: “We reject the conclusions of this report. The report by Medact came on the same day as the Committee on Climate Change confirmed ‘onshore petroleum extraction on a significant scale’ is compatible with the carbon budgets provided three tests are met.

“Medact, by its own admission, sees benefits from shale gas production. Public Health England concluded in 2014 that health risks from shale gas production are low if operations are well regulated and well run, and earlier this year re-confirmed their view based on more recent evidence.”