Research

Fracking is affecting our health, neighbours of shale gas site tell UK experts

181119 Professor Middleton DoD1

Professor John Middleton,(centre) president of the Faculty of Public Health, with campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 19 November 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

One of the UK’s leading public health experts heard testimony today about the stress of living with fracking from neighbours of Cuadrilla’s shale gas site.

Professor John Middleton, the president of the Faculty of Public Health*, met people whose homes are within a few hundred metres of the Preston New Road site in Lancashire.

The residents, all of whom oppose fracking, told him and Professor Patrick Saunders, of Staffordshire University, that their health and wellbeing had been affected by Cuadrilla’s operations.

Graham Daniels, who lives at Carr Bridge residential park, said he felt his health had deteriorated.

“I now have problems with blood pressure which I didn’t have before. My wife now is being treated for blood pressure. She also was clear – she never had any illness of any sort or any medication.

“I think it is the worry, the stress of what is going on here, that has exacerbated our conditions.

“It is a worry about what is going to happen if this takes off. When the flaring starts, for one thing, the air quality could be a problem. We just don’t know what the effect is going to be.”

Susan Holliday lives 350m from the site perimeter and can see the pad from her bedroom window. She said she had worked in a stressful job and was used to being under considerable pressure. But she said:

“The difference is that this is your home that is affected. It is the place we chose to buy to retire to. People get very emotional about the situation. It is stressful.”

As current chair of the Preston New Road Action Group, she continues to represent local residents. But she said a small group of neighbours of Preston New Road had been opposing the proposals for at least four years.

She said residents challenged the application through the local planning system, then went through a six-week public inquiry, followed by a judicial review and finally the court of appeal. When work got underway at the site, they began carrying out their own independent noise, air and water quality monitoring.

Her husband Chris described how, unlike a job, the workload and stress was round the clock.

“People are online 24/7. Susan is getting emails at all times. It is relentless.”

181119 Professor Middleton DoD2

(l to r) Professor John Middleton, local physician Dr Frank Rugman and Professor Patrick Saunders visiting campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 19 November 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Dianne Westgarth, who lives 850m away from the site, said she had previously been very healthy.

“I donated a kidney to my brother and you have to be very healthy to do that. Now my blood pressure is so high it is not controllable.”

Ms Westgarth said the original application was 4,500 pages.

“That is what the community had to get its teeth into. That is huge for a little community to take on. We have fought this for four years, primarily self-funded.”

With fracking now underway, Moggsy Marsh, said:

“It is very, very scary. It’s not just for me. It’s for my grandchildren and everybody else, even your animals. I’d love it to just stop. It’s not fair on ordinary people.”

The residents said the recent series of earth tremors caused by fracking at the site had alerted more people in the area to what was happening at Preston New Road. They said the overwhelming local feeling was against the operation.

Peter Watson, who lives about 370m away from the site perimeter, said there appeared to be no accountability for problems:

“We have invested a lot in our houses. They have old-style foundations. If we do get earthquakes there will be a lot of damage and there is no recourse.”

James Marsh said:

“We cannot afford to get out of the house. If the house is damaged we have nothing to leave to our son.”

The residents described how some local houses were not selling as quickly as they had before Cuadrilla’s application and how some had lost value. But they stressed their concerns were not about money.

Dianne Westgarth said:

“I do not think we will ever be the same. We don’t laugh like we used to.”

 

The professors also visited campaigners opposite the site gate and were due to meet Lancashire’s Director of Public Health.

Professor Saunders said the number of scientific studies on the effects of direct exposure to fracking were very small. Based on them, he said:

“No serious scientist would come to the conclusion that fracking is safe or unsafe. You could not come to that conclusion.

“But you can say that your experiences are real.”

Professor Middleton said:

“We wanted to see and hear directly how this is affecting you. We have a clear view of how it is impacting you day-to-day.”

He said the Faculty of Public Health would be arguing against fracking on climate change grounds but he said:

“At the same time no one should have to suffer what you are having to put up with.”

He promised to investigate the progress of a review by the government’s adviser, Public Health England (PHE), of the latest evidence of the health impacts of fracking.

  • The Faculty of Public Health is a membership organisation that sets standards for public health specialists in the UK. It was formed in 1972 by the Royal Colleges of Physicians.

Reporting from this meeting was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

68 replies »

  1. There speaks the voice of the dreadful implications of dirty wheels on lorries! (Even prior to any drilling activity on site.)

    Too many wolves crying, too soon.

    How’s Sellafield doing? A little way away, but not, in terms of wind drift.

  2. How many of the [edited by moderator] people who rubbish this article a tually live near a fracking site?

    • I do, just driven past PNR site. Five protesters huddled around a heater trying to keep warm for the day then off home to put their Gas central heating on.
      Is the wood they are burning in their shack dried? Or are they emitting more CO2 than burning coal?

        • Good point Judith…

          Just driven past PNR again and the small amount of protesters are huddled around their little heater. I couldn’t count them this time as they were so closely packed together.

          Why are they not using a micro wind turbine or solar panels to heat themselves???

          Antis keep saying its free???

          It isn’t that cold at the moment. What will happen when it is freezing? The protesters will be pumping out the CO2 and Methane from their little heater with no insulation (tut tut) all in an effort to continue to import Gas from foreign shores at much higher CO2 Emissions than producing our own…

          • Are you sure it wasn’t another site completely as we have already noted your inability to locate the site on a map, perhaps you have the same issues on the ground. Just asking x

      • No burning wood is carbon neutral – so some research instead of trying to demonise people who are trying to protect their homes and environment.

        • No, renewables are displacing the coal in the energy mix; do keep up Kishy……..Kishy; damn, he’s gotten lost again…….

          • Gas is displacing Coal…

            Intermittent renewables are increasing their potential capacity but no wind or daylight, zero power…

            Gas producing twice the electricity at this very moment, obviously solar zero…

            Wind drops now… ooops,

            I rely on intermittent renewables get me out of here!

            http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk

          • Lazy responses sher, no substance to any posts then pulling the old worlds gonna end prophecy…

            No backing up all the burn wood it grows on trees mob?

            • ‘Electricity generation in the UK in 2017 was broadly stable compared to the previous two years at 336 TWh, with a continuation of the shift in fuel mix away from coal. Unlike previous years, this shift has tended towards a growth in renewable generation aided by the increase in renewable capacity (Table 5.1).
              • In 2017, the share of renewables’ generation increased to 29.3 per cent from 24.5 per cent in 2016. (Table 5.6). This increase resulted from an 12.8 per cent increase in renewables’ generation capacity in 2017, reaching 18.3 GW (derated to reflect intermittency), accounting for 22 per cent of generating capacity. (Table 5.7).
              • Low carbon electricity’s share of generation increased from 45.6 per cent to a record 50.1 per cent. This increase was driven by the increase in renewables generation, as nuclear generation decreased by 1.9 per cent compared to 2016. (Table 5.6).
              • In contrast, coal’s share of generation fell to 6.7 per cent in 2017 from 9.0 per cent in 2016. This continued the decline observed in 2016, with generation from coal falling from 31 TWh in 2016 to 23 TWh in 2017. Unlike in 2016 when the gap was filled by gas generation, this also fell in 2017. Gas generation reduced from 143 TWh in 2016 to 137 TWh in 2017, resulting in its share of generation falling to 40.4 per cent. (Table 5.6).’
              https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/736152/Ch5.pdf

              Recycles your bits of paper, Kishy; this one is done and dusted.

            • “And again, all missing the point. You can quote numbers and sneer at protestors until the very air we breathe has gone [that’s a gas by the way]…..”

  3. Here we go again. The same old sad agument from the same old sad frackers. Of course we turn on our gas central heating, that is what is there. Are you seriously trying to say that we are well into 21st century and the only way we can heat water is by gas. Get real.

    • So you have turned away from Gas, no problem that is your choice.

      What is your experience changing to ASHP etc? How much did it cost? Should we all do it? Pros and cons?

      • ‘So you have turned away from Gas, no problem that is your choice’

        Natural gas use is projected to fall by 24% between 2016 and 2035. Currently, the amount of natural gas used for electricity generation approximately equals that used for cooking and heating in households. However, the amount of gas used for electricity generation is projected to decrease by 70% whereas the amount used by households is projected to increase by around 17% over this period.

        By 2035 renewables will be producing 180 TWh of electric generation whereas gas will only be producing 40 TWh.

        After 2025 our import requirements will be dropping

        https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/599539/Updated_energy_and_emissions_projections_2016.pdf

        A few days ago

        https://www.renewableenergyhub.co.uk/blog/uk-renewable-energy-capacity-triples-as-it-overtakes-fossil-fuel/

        • A few days ago:

          “The capacity from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass has tripled in the last five years making the yield 42GW compared to that of fossil fuels 40.6GW, this would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago according to experts!”

          Further down JP’s article we get to what really matters – actual output:

          “This is great news for the UK and our never-ending battle to combat climate change. These figures will need to rise continuously in the future as the power from fossil fuels was still greater overall at 40% compared to the 28% from renewables.”

          Note the word used in the headline grabber is “capacity” – not “output”. With wind at around 35% Load Factor and PV at 11% LF the picture is somewhat different when comparing actual electricity generated vs installed capacity.

          https://www.statista.com/statistics/555654/wind-electricity-load-factor-uk/

          https://www.statista.com/statistics/555697/solar-electricity-load-factor-uk/

          Gas (CCGT) LF should be decreasing as less CCGT is used for base load and more CCGT is used for demand load to back up wind / solar when it is not windy / at night which it can be seen doing in 2010-2103. However as the amount of renewables increases rapidly so does the LF for CCGT as more on demand back up is required. 2010 shows LF for CCGT at over 60% when operating in more normal conditions.

          https://www.statista.com/statistics/548794/plant-load-factor-combined-cycle-gas-turbine-stations-uk/

          And nuclear 77%

          https://www.statista.com/statistics/548830/plant-load-factor-nuclear-stations-uk/

          Don’t forget that wind and sun are free…….oops – how much are those CFDs / ROCs / FITs ?………

          • And again, all missing the point. You can quote numbers and sneer at protestors until the very air we breathe has gone [that’s a gas by the way]…..

            And don’t forget the stress caused by the influx of other humans looking for food; conflict even wars. In the mean time, and stress on the mean, suggest you all wake up and forget the petty number battles and start working on saving the human race; just saying……

          • The bit that matters. Actual output.

            By 2035 renewables will be producing 180 TWh of electric generation whereas gas will only be producing 40 TWh.

        • The first link is out of date by at least 18 months

          The second link talks about capacity, in other words, if the wind blows strong it has the potential to produce a certain amount…

          Also lots of Crystal ball statements making definitive claims about what will happen in 17 years from now???

          No electric vehicle statement! ie petrol and diesel out of the energy mix replaced by electricity…

          Let’s look at what I saw today at the PNR site. 5 people huddled around a stove emitting more CO2 and Methane than if they were burning Gas in a shed. Is this some kind of display as to what life would be like if we didn’t have Gas???

          The antis could have made a real statement with their roadside HQ. A shelter well insulated with solar panels on the roof and micro wind turbine all dressed in hemp. But no, they have chosen to advertise something akin to living in the stone age with hypocrical tap tap tap on their mobile phones then driving home to their houses and putting their Gas central heating on [edited by moderator]

  4. Really Fifi!

    I can do something about a lot of things but your comprehension is your responsibility. DYOR may be a good start. It really is quite easy and then you can harvest the joy of making your own points. And then you would hold a fairly unique position-an anti(?) who is knowledgeable and joyful.

    ASHP are quite good Kisheny. Mine works a treat. 4 degrees today and damp outside, lovely and cosy and dehumidified inside. Use it for the conservatory and kitchen in the winter, then reverse it and get air conditioning in the summer. Only downside for the antis is it isn’t paid for by someone else! Not so sure about the GSHP. Friend of mine installed one and found it took so much heat out of the ground it ruined part of his garden. Perhaps you need to have particular care with planting?

  5. Anyone hear that id**t that is in charge of those greenie gangster protests in London at weekend on LBC this morning? No? Well to save listening to a podcast it basically went like this:

    GG: We wear balaclavas and look menacing because we are rebels, we are bringing attention to the fact we need to protect the climate. We will hold more protests and inconvenience everyone.

    Nick: Ok so now you’ve brought your cause to our attention what do we need to do to help, what are your ideas to help reduce global warming?

    GG: We don’t have any.

    Then hangs up.

    That’s the standard story of the leftie lambs folks, moans n groans but no ideas of their own.

  6. The dirty wheel ‘implications’ were a condition of the Planning Application. The site contained the highly invasive Japanese knotweed. It was to prevent the spread of Japanese knotweed. That is why it was supposed to be a drive through wheel dip and not a wheel wash. They did not provide either.

    • Please don’t spoil Martin’s point with facts, it is not called for. Martin has it much worse because his white car gets dirty when he drives it on his local roads but does he complain about it? No he doesn’t he just tells us about it over and over and over as if it is in some way comparable.

  7. I have no problems with a car becoming dirty. I lived in Suffolk and experienced the joys of sugar beet time. And that was when I had a company car that needed to be kept clean, and my clients were farmers. Rain keeps my car clean enough now, for most of the time. When it gets a bit colder then it may get a treat to remove salt. (That toxic substance spread over our roads routinely.)

    Please do continue to show how your platform is built on such poor foundations. You will then claim converts are not being achieved because of the huge sums being spent by the exploration companies on PR (oh no it isn’t), when the reality is that the majority have no truck (lol) with spurious grievances, including when it is possible to record a mole breaking wind that must signal disaster. It is obviously necessary within the shrinking group of antis for such and that is the best and cheapest PR the exploration companies could want.

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