Yesterday the government published an uncensored report on the impacts of shale gas development on rural areas.
The document had first been published 11 months ago with more than 60 sections blanked out. But llast month, the Information Commissioner gave Defra, which commissioned the report 30 days to publish it in full under the Freedom of Information Act. What the report said
Here’s some of the reaction to the long-awaited publication
“No wonder Defra sat on this explosive report until after the Lancashire decisions. Instead of hiding information and trying to force through fracking, the UK Government should follow the lead of Wales and Scotland and put fracking on hold.” Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner
Vindication of Lancashire decision
“This report gives the lie to the shale lobby and ministers’ claim that there’s no evidence of negative impacts for fracking whilst questioning many of the arguments made in favour of it. It’s a complete vindication of Lancashire County Council’s decision to reject Cuadrilla’s bid to frack in their region, and provides other councils with compelling reasons to do the same.”
Greenpeace also accused the Government of attempting to “bury evidence” of fracking’s impacts by “sneaking out this study late on the day of the Davies Commission announcement”. Daisy Sands, Greenpeace UK energy and climate campaigner (Quoted in The Telegraph)
House prices and insurance
“No wonder Defra redacted this bit: up to 7% off house prices & higher insurance costs in case fracking site explodes”, Emily Gosden, Daily Telegraph Energy Correspondent, on Twitter
“It’s no surprise at all that the Government has been so reluctant to release this damning report. The evidence in this report – that local communities could suffer from deafening noise pollution, surface water contamination and hikes in insurance costs – adds further weight to the growing case against fracking in Britain.
“The Government has conducted itself appallingly in holding back this crucial evidence. The Environment Secretary should now offer a full apology to communities facing the threat of fracking and guarantee that such deceitful behaviour won’t happen again in the future.” Caroline Lucas MP
Impacts could be worse than believed
”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.
“We believe the information from the US used in the report is already out-of-date and the impacts could be far worse than DEFRA suggest.The reality is, for example, that house prices near the proposed PNR [Preston New Road in Lancashire] drilling site have plummeted and properties have been made unsaleable. 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. The impacts could be far worse than the committee thought. The bottom line is, fracking is not acceptable in the midst of our community.” Preston New Road Action Group
Not the view of officials or ministers
“This document was drawn up as a draft internal discussion paper – it is not analytically robust, has not been peer-reviewed and remains incomplete. It does not contain any new data or evidence, and many of the conclusions amount to unsubstantiated conjecture, which do not represent the views of officials or ministers.” Defra spokesperson (Quoted in The Guardian)
“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.” Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG)
Vague unsupported assumptions
“This paper is an early draft of an internal document; it is not analytically robust. Work on it has since been discontinued. The draft paper was intended as a review of existing literature. It includes early, often vague, assumptions which are not supported by appropriate evidence. These were never intended as considered Defra positions or as statements of fact. Containing no new evidence, the paper simply refers to data from overseas studies which cannot be used to predict impacts in the UK with any degree of reliability. The author of the paper was not asked to consider, and did not have an in-depth knowledge of, the UK regulatory framework” Introduction to report