A committee of the United Nations has recommended the UK government consider a complete ban on fracking.
The call follows an appeal by a group of academics, human rights campaigners and environmentalists to a meeting last month of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
DrillOrDrop reported that the actor and UN human rights champion, Amber Heard, was among the group which called for the ban to protect the health of women in the UK.
Other signatories to the group’s letter included the fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood, and Wenonah Haunter, founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe.
CEDAW responded last week with a recommendation that the UK government should:
“Review its policy on fracking and its impact on the rights of women and girls, and consider introducing a comprehensive and complete ban on fracking;”
The report of the meeting concluded:
“while the Committee commends the measures taken in Wales and Scotland to halt the practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract fossil fuels, known as fracking, it is concerned that women in rural areas in other territories of the State party are disproportionately affected by the harmful effects of fracking, including exposure to hazardous and toxic chemicals, environmental pollution, and climate change.”
Jennifer Robinson, the human rights barrister with Doughty Street Chambers, said today:
“We welcome CEDAW’s recognition that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by the harmful environmental and climate change impacts of fracking and its recommendation that the UK consider a comprehensive ban on fracking. Climate change is a gender issue and the UK must treat it as such.”,
Wenonah Hauter said:
“This UN committee is rightly taking the harmful impacts of fracking seriously, and calling on the United Kingdom to strongly consider ban fracking entirely.
“There is a wealth of scientific evidence showing that women are particularly at risk from this dangerous form of drilling. Fracking creates unacceptable public health risks, threatens clean drinking water, and deepens our global climate crisis. This report is one more sign that there is an urgent need to ban fracking anywhere and everywhere.”
CEDAW took up the issue of UK fracking in summer 2018 when it asked the UK government to provide information on the measures being taken to mitigate and address the health and environmental impacts
The government responded in November 2018, writing that it has “a robust regulatory system” and ”tough regulations in place to ensure on-site safety, prevent water contamination, and mitigate seismic activity and air pollution.”
This was strongly disputed by the letter signatories, who also included Talk Fracking, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, Frack Free United, Concerned Health Professionals UK, the National Union of Students and academics Dr Damien Short of the Human Rights Consortium and Professor Peter Strachan of Robert Gordon University.
DrillOrDrop asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the government’s Equalities Office to comment on CEDAW’s recommendation.
A BEIS spokesperson said:
“The UK has an excellent, long-standing reputation for safe oil and gas exploration. Our world class regulations will ensure that shale exploration maintains robust environmental standards and meets the expectations of local communities.”
This post will be updated with any response from the Equalities Office.
Updated on 15 March 2019 with response from BEIS